Activist leader Mamphela Ramphele suddenly exits South Africa presidential race

| February 12, 2014
Mamphela Ramphele

Mamphela Ramphele

(GIN)—A possible challenge to the leadership of South African President Jacob Zuma was crushed last week with the news that activist/banker Mamphela Ramphele would not be the candidate for the majority white Democratic Alliance.

Dr. Ramphele, a co-founder of the black consciousness movement who bore two of Steve Biko’s children, told the media: “I believed that we had the opportunity to transcend party politics and engage South Africans in a conversation about the future. The last week has demonstrated that, for some, this new way of thinking about our future will be hard to achieve right now …The time for this was not right.

“Did we rush in to it?” she asked rhetorically. “Yes, I am afraid so. Can opposition parties work together after the elections? Of course… We continue to engage with opposition parties. And I have spoken to the people across the country. The people’s trust in me will not waiver.”

Simultaneously, at a media briefing in Johannesburg, the DA leader, Helen Zille, said that Dr Ramphele’s “reneging” from the commitment demonstrated that she could not be trusted to see any project through to conclusion. The party needed to “cut its losses and move on”.

The spat left a sour taste for columnist Zama Ndlovu who reminded readers that South Africa’s economy is in dire straits.

“The Bank’s monetary policy committee statement is not just spine-chilling reading for investors and economists,” she wrote in Business Day Live. “These developments affect all South Africans. We are nearing elections, and while citizens battle to stay afloat, there is a clear dissonance between their anxieties and the political discourse.

“Maybe I have contracted a bad case of democracy envy. I yearn for candidates who put our lives at the heart of their political considerations.”

A friend recently said that “electioneering is indicative of how citizens will be engaged as a constituency”. If this is true, then we citizens are doing a good job of wasting a significant democratic moment.”

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Category: Africa Briefs

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