8 July 2014

South Africa: Ramphele Leaves Politics

Photo: Agang SA
Mamphela Ramphele speaking on "Fear in South African Politics" (file photo).

Johannesburg — Agang SA leader Mamphela Ramphele has decided to leave politics, she announced on Tuesday.

"I have decided to leave party politics and return to working alongside my fellow citizens in civil society to pursue the dream of transforming ours into a more just and prosperous society," Ramphele said in a statement.

"I will therefore be leaving party politics, having accomplished my aim of creating a political vehicle to enable those who remain outside the political mainstream to have a voice."

She said those who took Agang SA forward must continue to strengthen and build the party.

"As to my future contribution, as the months have passed by after the election in May, I have become increasingly convinced that my experience and knowledge is best utilised to help build an empowered and aware citizenry.

"I return to civil society to continue to pursue the idealism that has driven me all my life as an active citizen," she said.

Ramphele's decision to leave politics takes place at a time when Agang SA has been divided, as a faction tried to wrestle the leadership of the party from her.

One faction held a national executive committee meeting in Alexandra at the end of June where it was decided that Ramphele was not fit for the position.

The group adopted a motion of no-confidence in her leadership and questioned her leadership style.

She was subsequently suspended but a group supporting Ramphele retaliated by expelling those who attended the meeting.

This followed in the wake of Ramphele and Agang SA chairman Mike Tshishonga lodging separate fraud cases with police over a bank account opened to receive a refund from the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC), believed to be around R200,000.

The New Age newspaper had reported Tshishonga accused Ramphele of having direct access to party funds, and that she opened the account to access the IEC deposit without a mandate from the party.

Tshishonga claimed his signature appeared on the bank account's paperwork without his knowledge.

In the May 7 general elections, Agang SA received 52,350 votes, 0.28 percent of the 18,654,771 votes cast, which earned it two seats in Parliament.

In early 2014, the Democratic Alliance announced that Ramphele would stand as its presidential candidate. Within a week, however, the partnership collapsed.

Ramphele and DA leader Helen Zille gave conflicting reasons for their political break-up.

Zille said it would have been impossible to meet Ramphele's demand that she simultaneously lead Agang SA and be the DA's presidential candidate. She described Ramphele's proposal as "electoral nonsense", "unconstitutional" and confusing to voters.

Ramphele said: "Some cannot or will not transcend party politics. The time for this was not right. We see people trapped in old-style race-based politics."

She said the technicalities of the merger were not ironed out properly.

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