18 February 2013
South African activist, doctor and businesswoman Mamphela Ramphele officially announced the formation of a “party political platform” at Johannesburg’s Constitution Hill on Monday.
Last year Ramphele announced that she would embark on a campaign to overhaul South Africa’s electoral system through the Citizens Movement which was launched to encourage active citizens in South Africa’s democracy.
Ramphele resigned from her position as chairperson of Gold Fields last week.
“Dr Ramphele has decided to retire as chairman to further her socio-economic and political work,” spokesperson Sven Lunsche said in a statement.
“She has resigned from most of her private sector directorships and will relinquish all other remaining private sector directorships and positions to focus on these activities.”
The activities involve the launch of the initiative under the name Agang, or in the Nguni languages of our country, Akhani, which can be interpreted in English as “Build South Africa”.
“I am working with a group of fellow citizens to form a party political platform that will focus on rekindling hope that building the country of our dreams is possible in our lifetime,” Ramphele said in her speech.
‘Hunger for a new beginning’
“Our consultations and conversations across the lengths and breadths of our country have confirmed a hunger for a new beginning.
“I feel called to to lead the efforts of many South Africans who increasingly fear that we are missing too many opportunities to become that which we have the potential to become – a great society,” she said.
She highlighted the need to restructure the country’s economy by improving education and training in order to tackle poverty and inequality.
She also spoke of the need for an active citizenry to shape the country’s collective future.
“This is an opportunity for citizens to take ownership of their own country’s destiny and shape it,” Ramphele said.
“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,” she said.
Ramphele is a former director of human development at the World Bank and became the first South African to be appointed as one of four managing directors of the World Bank in 2000. Her responsibilities included overseeing the strategic positioning of the World Bank Institute.
She also became the first black woman to be appointed as a vice chancellor at a South African university when she was appointed the role at the University of Cape Town in September 1996.
Ramphele served as a trustee of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, as the director of the Institute for a Democratic Alternative for South Africa and as a board member of the Anglo-American Corporation and Transnet.