South Africa: Dr Mamphela Ramphele to form a new party political platform ‘Agang’ meaning ‘Build South Africa’- 180213 1030z

“Dr Mamphela Ramphele today declared her intention to form a party political platform for all South Africans that will focus on rekindling hope that building the country of our dreams is possible in our lifetime.

(Photo: Dr Mamphela Ramphele

In a speech delivered at the Womens Gaol on Constitution Hill, she said: Our country is at risk because self-interest has become the driver of many of those in positions of authority who should be focussed on serving the public.

She added: The great society to which we committed ourselves following our relatively peaceful political transition is rapidly unravelling before our eyes. The impressive achievements of the past eighteen years are being undermined by poor governance at all levels of society. An unchecked culture of impunity and the abuse of power as well as public resources rob children, young people, rural and urban poor people of the fruits of freedom.

Her decision to enter politics had not been easy, she said, and she had no illusions that the task ahead would be easy. She saw herself as a bridge between my generation and that of my children. She added: Bridges get trampled upon. But she nevertheless declared her trust in South Africans capacity to come together at critical times to do what others believe is impossible.

We have been here before, she said. We managed to pull ourselves from the brink of disaster before and surprised those who under-estimated our resolve as a people. The political party platform we are working on forming is an opportunity for all citizens to join hands in shaping it to ensure that it responds to the yearnings of citizens who have largely stood on the sidelines for lack of an appropriate political home.

At this stage of development, she said, We launch this initiative under the name Agang, or in the Nguni languages of our country, Akhani, which can be interpreted in English as Build South Africa.

During her speech, Dr Ramphele laid out several critical discussions her party would initiate across the country: the power and responsibility of active citizenship; enabling good governance; developing improved competency in the public service; how the economy can be restructured for growth, sustainability, and improved equality; creating education and training systems for the 21st century that better position youth in a competitive world; and raising South Africas standing in the world.

Dr Ramphele also reiterated her earlier call for electoral reform. She said: Our rallying cry during the struggle for freedom was for the people to govern, yet the system of choosing Members of Parliament from lists drawn up by political parties gives disproportionate power to party bosses at the expense of ordinary citizens.

We should be able to vote for the person in our own area we want to represent us in Parliament, so we can hold them accountable for the electoral promises they make. We want an MP for Marikana, an MP for De Doorns, and an MP for Sasolburg, so if the people are unhappy and the MP is not responsive enough, they will be voted out at the next election.

She announced a one million signature campaign calling for electoral reform and said it must be the first order of business of the post-2014 election parliament.

Concluding her speech, Dr Ramphele, a past student and community development activist, researcher, university executive, and former Managing Director at The World Bank, declared:

I invite all compatriots to work with us to build a South Africa we can all be proud of. We owe it to you, our children, and your children to leave them a legacy of a great country. I have put up my hand. I ask you all to join this effort. Our children and grandchildren deserve nothing less. Our mothers and grandmothers deserve nothing less. All South Africans deserve nothing less.

Latest: Agang intends to contest the next general election – eNCA

Who is Mamphela Ramphele?

Mamphela Aletta Ramphele has been a student activist, a medical doctor, a community development activist, a researcher, a university executive, a global public servant and is now an active citizen in both the public and private sectors.

She was born in the village of Uitkyk in the Bochum district of Limpopo Province, an area to which she still regularly returns to share in the life of her extended family and community. The daughter of primary school teachers, she was attracted to science at her rural high school and resolved that she wanted to become a doctor. After a year of studies at what was then called the University of the North, near Polokwane, she was admitted to the Medical School of the then University of Natal, aged 20.

She borrowed the train fare from Polokwane to Durban from an aunt, and was soon pitched into a life of medical studies and political activism. She served as a local office-bearer of the South African Students Organisation, working with leaders such as Steve Biko and Barney Pityana. She served her medical internship at King Edward Hospital, Durban, followed by a surgical internship at Livingstone Hospital, Port Elizabeth both urban hospitals serving black South Africans.

She next served as a medical officer at Mount Coke Mission Hospital near King Williams Town, where she re-connected with Steve Biko and other activists of the Black Consciousness Movement who were launching community programmes based on the principles of self-reliance and liberation through development. As part of this effort, she became the founding head of the Zanempilo Community Health Centre in the village of Zinyoka near King. In the wake of the Soweto uprising in 1976, she was detained without trial, released after five months but soon afterwards served with an apartheid banning order, banishing her to the Naphuno district of Tzaneen.

In Limpopo, Mamphela settled in the community of Lenyenye Township, where she started a clinic in the backyard of a local church and developed it into Ithuseng Community Health Centre. Apart from primary health care, the project promoted development initiatives such as brickmaking and vegetable growing. At the same time, she completed a B Comm degree, a Diploma in Tropical Hygiene and a Diploma in Public Health.

After her banning orders expired, after a brief spell back at Livingstone Hospital, she moved to Cape Town, where she first lived in Gugulethu and re-entered the academic world at the University of Cape Town, leading later to a PhD in Social Anthropology. She worked at the Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit at UCT, where she took an interest in the plight of people living in migrant-labour hostels, and worked for some time with the Western Cape Mens Hostel Dwellers Association in a project to secure better living conditions and their rights to family life. While working at UCT, she bought her first house, in Mowbray, Cape Town, in the face of initial protests from her white neighbours.” –