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Politics

South Africa's new party set to challenge ANC

South Africa’s renowned academic and anti-apartheid activist, Mamphela Ramphele, has launched a new party political platform. Ramphele says the new party, known as "Agang", will contest the 2014 elections.

Mamphela Ramphele, 65, announced the formation of her party political platform at the Constitution Hill in Johannesburg in a room fully packed with academics, political analysts, civil society leaders and journalists.

Ramphele accuses the ruling African National Congress of neglecting the people and destroying the country through corruption. She says her new political platform will provide a new beginning that will give all South Africans access to the country's economy.

“My journey is a journey of a searcher. He never gives up on dreaming for a better tomorrow for all of us. The country of our dreams has unfortunately faded for many of my fellow South Africans,” Ramphele told reporters during Monday's launch.

South African President Jacob Zuma delivers a speech in Parliament. STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)

President Jacob Zuma has been accused of corruption.

The medical doctor turned business woman said during the launch that the political platform is set to develop into a fully fledged political party after intensive consultation with South Africans across the divide.

According to News 24, a South African online news service, Ramphele said her new party - called “Agang” which means "build" in Sesotho - is still a platform because the party is still in the consultative stage.

Political shivers

Ramphele says the party will contest the country's 2014 general elections to bring about a South Africa that all citizens dream of. The renowned author, economist and business woman commands a lot of respect from academics and civil society across the country.

After the launch, South African political analyst Moletsi Mbeki told DW correspondent Thuso Khumalo in Johannesburg that he had been impressed by the powerful reminder of South Africa's fading dream which formed the core message in Ramphele's speech.

“It certainly brings a threat to the ANC which is the ruling party,” Mbeki said. ” The failure of the education system sits right on the lap of the ANC government. To the opposition party of DA (Democratic Alliance) to some extent the DA is also government of one of our largest regions which is the Western Cape,” Mbeki added.

The DA said Ramphele shared the party's core values of non-racialism and constitutionalism and that the party is an "important realignment of politics".

"Her move is another step in the long process of realigning South African politics around these values," the party said in a statement.

Mixed reactions

South Africans have reacted with mixed feelings to Ramphele's party. 40 year-old Brian Mazibuko, a staunch supporter of the ruling ANC, says he is not convinced Ramphele has anything new to offer.

“I'm not attracted because I already have my home, I am comfortable where I am. I belong to the ANC,” Mazibuko told DW correspondent Thuso Khumalo.

A woman collecting plastic bags carries her cart through the streets of Johannesburg's Alexandra township. ALEXANDER JOE/AFP/Getty Images)

Despite being Africa's biggest economy, many South Africans still live in poverty.

However Sheila Litele, who is in her mid 20s, says Agang SA could be an alternative for the younger generation. “She was quite right to say there is a big gap between her age group and us, so as the youth we are actually excited that there is somebody who is bridging that gap,”

Long walk to politics

Born in 1947 in the Bochum District of the Limpopo Province in the northern part of South Africa, Mamphela Ramphele is one of the few South African women who have had a major impact on South African public life.

In her early days she was active in the student movements that fought the oppressive apartheid regime in South Africa. She was close to the assassinated activist Steve Biko and bore him two children. She was also placed under house arrest for seven years by the apartheid government because of her political work.

She then became the Vice Chancellor of the University of Cape Town and later the Managing Director at the World Bank. Since then she has regularly challenged authority and the ANC on their failings.

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