I was wrong. I wasted my vote on Mamphela Ramphele and I’m now sorry that I did

The other day I wrote a piece explaining why I had voted for Agang SA’s Mamphela Ramphele, and why I was glad for having done so despite her party’s poor showing in the polls.

Mamphela Ramphele
Source: Agang SA

I argued that small parties can do good work and that somebody of her calibre could play a meaningful role in South African politics.

I finished with a plea that she not let me down…

Well, she has. And the new parliament hasn’t even been sworn in yet.  That has to be some kind of a record, even for a politician.

Tonight it emerged that she will not be heading to parliament. Her explanation in an Open Letter about why she is handing over the reins to two lesser known politicians – National Youth Forum Co-ordinator Nyameka Mgozulu and Chairman Mike Tshishonga – rang hollow.

She certainly has a right to feel disappointed in the results and to want “some time and space” to recuperate from the intense campaigning, and to “reconnect with a personal world”.

But I feel completely let down. I’m sure Mgozulu and Tshishonga are extremely nice people, but the implicit promise in Ramphele’s campaign was that if we voted for AgangSA we would get her.

We did…and we didn’t.

Even Cope took more time to let its supporters down in 2009 than Ramphela has now.

So, those who took the time to criticise my decision over the past few days are welcome to say they told me so.

Helen Zille must be laughing…

Here is Ramphela’s letter in full:

Dear Member, Friend, Supporter, Voter

The last year has been the most exhilarating, daunting, and challenging time of my life.

From the moment I announced my intention to embark on a listening tour, to the formation and launch of our political party, and the hundreds of visits to ordinary citizens around the country, the year has been filled with high points and valuable learning.

It all culminated in the election last week in which the people of South Africa spoke loudly and clearly, and showed a preference for the status quo.

Whatever the view we hold, it has been wonderful to see millions of people vote and uphold the political freedom so many fought for, and so many died for.

For an idealist like me, the national choice is disappointing, but I have to accept and respect it.

I have always said that I was the bridge and would make sure that the reins are handed over at an appropriate time to a new generation of leaders.

I am therefore handing over the Parliamentary reins to Agang SA to our National Youth Forum Co-ordinator Nyameka Mgozulu and Chairman Mike Tshishonga. Nyameka and Mike will continue to fight for our principles and to achieve our Manifesto within the Assembly.

I will forever cherish the excitement and learning, the spirit and determination, the successes (and failures) that we shared.

In the next short while I will take time to reflect on the Agang SA journey and will then return to contribute to building Agang SA and a winning South Africa together with all of you. This is where I believe I can make the most valuable contribution to the party and my beloved country. I will remain available to provide counsel and advice to the Parliamentary team and help them enrich the national debate. Let us continue to build the party for 2016.

After such a taxing journey I do need some time and space to settle my mind and body, enjoy time with family and friends, and reconnect with a personal world I have not had time to enjoy for a considerable time now.

I wish to extend my thanks to everyone who is on this journey with me and to everyone who fought such a valiant fight during the campaign: to members who worked diligently, to donors who gave generously, to supporters who cheered us along, and to voters who expressed confidence in us and sent two members to Parliament.

We have a beautiful country with huge potential. We can become a great society and we all need to continue to find ways to contribute to building our country into what we all know it can become, without allowing ourselves to be blinded by our own self-interest and point of view.

I wish you all well, and will keep every one of you in my prayers.

Thank you,


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Quentin Wray is a senior financial journalist, editor and publisher with a wealth of experience running some of the biggest news operations in South Africa. He has edited Business Report, the national financial daily that is part of the Independent Newspapers stable and has more than 1 million daily readers, been the general manager of Independent Online (IOL), South Africa’s second largest digital news provider, and been group executive editor of Business Day and Financial Mail, the best of South Africa’s economic and financial publications. Prior to becoming a journalist Quentin was an accountant for 10 years, serving articles at Deloitte in Zimbabwe and working in a variety of institutions. He moved to the UK with his family in December 2013. In the small amount of spare time that his sons allow him, Quentin is a keen fly fisherman, an avid reader and an ardent Springbok, Protea and Arsenal supporter.