News / Africa

New Political Party Launched in South Africa

Mamphela Ramphele (2013 photo)
Mamphela Ramphele (2013 photo)

A political battle is in the air in South Africa as the 2014 presidential election gets closer. A new party was officially launched Saturday named Agang, which means "to build" in the Sotho language. The party plans to challenge Nelson Mandela's historical party, the African National Congress or ANC.

She steps on the stage with her arm raised and her fist clenched above her head. Mamphela Ramphele, the leader of Agang, wants to make it clear : she is here to start the political fight against the ANC, which has been ruling South Africa since 1994 and the end of apartheid.

According to Ramphele, who is an academic and a former partner of anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko, the ANC hasn't done enough to transform the country and the life of South Africans.

"I say that 20 years is too long to wait for jobs. 20 years is too long to wait for quality education. This is not the legacy our great leaders had in mind. This is not the country dreamed of by of our beloved Madiba ((Mandela)), by Steve Biko or Lillian Ngoyi," Ramphele said.

Ramphele articulates her program around reducing poverty, improving the education system, and also tackles corruption which, she says, has been one of the main causes of the dysfunction in the country.

"Corruption and a culture of impunity have spread throughout government and society stealing textbooks from classrooms, stealing drugs from those living with HIV and stealing thousands of jobs and billions of rands of investment," Ramphele said.

A few hundred people, mostly young, attended the party launch event Saturday. Some of them were brought by bus from the neigboring province, where Ramphele is from. She announced her intention to create her own political party only four months ago and many Agang supporters are disaffected ANC voters, like Coleen Loyd.


"At the moment, they (the ANC) are not satisfying our youth. We are here for our youth," Lloyd said.

Despite recent scandals, the ANC remains very popular among South Africans, largely due to the role it played to end the white minority rule known as apartheid, back in the early 1990s. The party has been ruling the country ever since, winning each election.

Patrick Mphaphuli says he does not expect Agang to beat the ANC, but he hopes that the new competition can shake the ANC and force them to do change.

"What I'm looking for is just to reduce the number for the ANC. And I think reducing the number will make these guys wake up to think that maybe, we must start taking the people serious," Mphaphuli said.

The party certainly has a long way to go to beat the ANC, but Ramphele can already count on the support of South African Nobel peace laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who praised Ramphele for entering the South African political arena and challenging the ruling party.

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