There’s a buzz in South Africa this morning as Agang SA’s leader Mamphela Ramphele, has announced her acceptance of an invitation to stand as the Presidential Candidate for the Democratic Alliance in the 2014 elections.

Ramphela and Zille have known each other since the early '80s
Helen Zille and Mamphela Ramphela have known each other since the early ’80s. Photo: da.org.za

In a statement on the political group’s website, Ramphele said “I believe this decision is in the best interests of South Africa as we head into turbulent waters.”

She said the death of South Africa’s former president Nelson Mandela had changed things for South Africa and caused its  people to reflect on the journey of the past 20 years.

“South Africa has given the world wonderful icons. It has shown hope where there seemed to be none. It found leaders when journeys of hope had to be led.

“Today is another astonishing moment in what we offer the people of South Africa, and once again the world. A moment to once again glimpse the greatness that is us,” she said.

Helen Zille, leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA), also released a press statement this morning expressing her “great pleasure and excitement” at Dr Mamphela Ramphele’s acceptance of the DA’s invitation.

Zille added that “we are establishing a joint technical committee to manage the integration of the DA and Agang SA structures and volunteers” and called this a “game-changing moment for South Africa”.

“As the ANC breaks into its constituent parts, we are building a new political vehicle to bring about the South Africa we dared to dream of in 1994,” said Zille.

Zille and Mamphela have known each other since the early ’80s – working together on a Poverty and Development enquiry, raising children together and at one point Zille worked as Mamphela’s Director of Communications when she was the Vice-Chancellor of UCT.

Dr Mamphela Ramphele Leader of Agang SA
Dr Mamphela Ramphele Photo: agangsa.org.za/

Calling themselves “the government-in-waiting”, Ramphele said South Africa will be a place where “black and white, rich and poor, rural and urban, young and old, men and women, will come together at last.

“This is the South Africa we dreamed of. This is the place Madiba set out for us that we will now create.”

She also noted this was not the time to talk about the ANC (although she did then mention “the stolen money, the broken promises, the lost jobs, the sliding rand, the corruption, filthy hospitals, schools with no books, and streets, homes and places of work that remain unsafe”!).

“We want rather to talk about tomorrow,” said Ramphele, “The day that we begin anew to refresh the promise of 1994.” 

Agang means “build” in Sesotho. The party was formed less than a year ago by anti-apartheid activist Ramphele on 18 February 2013, to stand for ‘clean government’ and to restore the promise of freedom to all South Africans: equality, dignity and hope for all.

Today Ramphele repeated this saying “This is the time to bring all our country’s fantastic wealth and talent together. Not for the few but for the many, not just for insiders but for allsiders.”

She stated that “good people in the ANC have reached out to us, but are scared” and that “good business leaders have reached out to us but are nervous.”

According to Ramphele “millions want to make a different choice in this election. They say is enough is enough.

“In my language, Sepedi we say, “Mmage ngwana o tshwara thipa ka bogaleng.” (The mother always steps up to protect her offspring from danger.)

“We are coming together to fulfill the promises of 1994 and restore our journey to the country of our dreams. Together, we are greater than the sum of our parts.”

Agang also sent the following email to its supporters this morning:

Dear citizen,

The time for change is upon us.

Each day under this government takes us away from the country we yearn for.

We are presented in this election year with a moment of immense opportunity for change. We must seize it.

The agreement announced today between Agang SA and the Democratic Alliance that Mamphela Ramphele will be the only Presidential candidate allows both organisations to put together their strengths and their reach to take full advantage of this historic moment, and say to the African National Congress: enough is enough!

If we fail to use this opportunity, the risks we face will consume us.

Corruption seems to know no limits. Our children are dying – drowning in pit toilets. Jobs remain out of reach for millions. The few hold the many to ransom.

Our dream of a free, democratic, and thriving country with a government that works for the people, without corrupt self-interest, cannot be deferred any longer.

From the moment we set out on this journey last February we committed to give people a glimpse of the greatness we once knew and of the promise we once held. We committed to give a voice to those who could not be heard by those who did want to listen..

Today’s announcement gives both parties the tools to deliver a resounding message to the governing party: it is time for change.

Together, Agang SA and the Democratic Alliance will continue the journey towards the country and society we want.

All your effort and work over the past year has brought us to this historic moment.

This partnership will bring us closer to the country of our dreams. Together we will continue to work to transcend social division and the marginalisation of poor people. We will work to protect women and youth in our communities. Together we will ensure working hospitals and schools, hold the corrupt accountable, create a professional public service, and ensure leaders serve the people.

There is still work to be done. Agang SA and the DA bring complimentary strengths to the challenge of making South Africans believe in themselves again. We have an historic opportunity to mobilise South Africans from all walks of life to believe again that they can be agents of change.

The stronger Agang SA is in its efforts to mobilise South Africans who have remained excluded from the democratic process, the greater the opportunity is for us to win.

I am grateful for the efforts that each and every Agang SA member, volunteer and activist for successfully bringing us to this moment. I have full confidence that together we will restore the promise of freedom. I remain your proud, loyal and committed leader.

I ask each of you in Agang SA to re-double your efforts and intensify your commitment. We have an election to win.

Citizen Mamphela

The reactions so far by South Africans have ranged from “we can actually win this election if we stand united” and “Helen Zille and Mamphela Ramphele – what an awesome combination. This couple will take our country places we never believed possible” to “the future of South African politics lies towards the socialist left, not the capitalist right. The DA will be a footnote in history whilst the EFF is spending their money on breitlings with the spoils of nationalised mines”.