Ramphele intends "contesting 2014 elections"

Mamphela Ramphele has launched 'Agang', a 'party political platform'.

Academic and political activist Mamphela Ramphele announced a new political party platform on 18 February 2013 in Johannesburg. Picture: Alex Eliseev/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Academic and anti-apartheid Mamphela Ramphele has announced her plans to launch a "party political platform".

Ramphele has ended weeks of speculation on Monday by announcing her political plans.

She briefed media at Johannesburg's Constitution Hill.

According to the website, Ramphele said she was "consulting widely with fellow South Africans on forming a party political platform with a view to contesting the 2014 elections.

"Over the coming months we will work together to build this party, its policies and its leadership. We will be talking to, engaging with and empowering active citizens to help us create that new foundation together," the site reads.


During the media briefing, Ramphele said South Africans must unite and govern their country.

"Today I announce that I am working with a group of fellow South Africans to form a party political platform that will focus on rekindling hope that building the country of our dreams is possible in our lifetime."

She took her audience back to the early 1990s and asked the country to help take back the dream of a free and equal South Africa.

"Do you remember the dream we embraced to build ours into a great society; a prosperous constitutional democracy united in our diversity?"

Invoking the spirit of Nelson Mandela and the hope and optimism that prevailed at South Africa's first all-race elections in 1994, Ramphele said the dream of the "Rainbow Nation" was dying under the ANC.

"Our society's greatness is being undermined by a massive failure of governance."

The 65-year-old medical doctor and former World Bank managing director commands respect among many of the black majority as the partner of activist Steve Biko, who died in 1977 as a result of beatings received in an apartheid prison.

She was also placed under house arrest for seven years by the apartheid government because of her political work. Even since 1994, she has seldom shied away from challenging authority and questioning the ANC's leadership.

Although political support for the ANC is weakening 19 years after the end of white-minority rule, it remains a formidable political machine and commands a nearly two-thirds majority in parliament.

A group of ANC heavyweights split off in 2008 to form the Congress of the People (Cope), but the party fared poorly in elections the following year and has since all but imploded under fighting between its leadership.


Ramphele has in recent weeks resigned from the boards of major companies to clear her schedule for whatever lies ahead.

She has been criticised for being disconnected from her so-called constituency.

Opposition parties say a new party will not add a relevant dynamic to the country's politics.

At a business breakfast last week, she described the ANC as "authoritarian, intolerant of criticism and unaccountable".

The website stated that "the initiative is called Agang, or in the Nguni languages of our country, Akhani, which can be interpreted in English as Build South Africa".

More details of the new platform will emerge at a media briefing later today.