Late last year, Dr Mamphela Ramphele invited me to two meetings where she asked if I would join her in building a new political project, which was to become Agang SA.
She again recently asked me about my views on the party.
While I acknowledge Ramphele as one of the country’s most gifted public intellectuals, Agang SA, like any other political formation, must be judged by the quality and sincerity of its leadership and by the validity of its policies.
Here are seven reasons why I did not join:
» Firstly, I couldn’t understand how Ramphele never offered any regret for her position in the World Bank.
In fact, she regards her time there with pride.
The reality is that Africa is in an ongoing crisis of developmental and political instability as a result of the bank’s imposed structural adjustment programme.
These policies have been blamed for poverty, deindustrialisation and increasing both infant and adult mortality rates in Africa.
In other words, the good doctor finds no problem with World Bank policies that kill Africans;
» Secondly, Ramphele has an unsavoury past in the mining industry. As chairperson of Gold Fields, she was accused by her colleagues of procuring mineral rights through questionable connections.
Unforgivably, as a board member of Anglo American Platinum, she went to “investigate” claims that her company was part of a group that was alleged to have been forcibly removing communities in North West, Limpopo and Mpumalanga. She went, she saw and kept quiet.
In earnest, Ramphele saw nothing wrong in legalised theft, exploitation and the forced removals of people for profit. She stood with mining bosses against the people;
» Thirdly, I have tried to understand the impact of her transformation endeavours at the University of Cape Town (UCT), where she served as vice-chancellor.
Evidence suggests that while she was outspoken on gender policy, she remained silent on transforming white domination.
By the end of her term, UCT remained a white institution that continues to promote the Western canon.
Ramphele was never going to upset white sensibilities and interests for a “silly process” of transformation.
In the end, all she managed to achieve was provide the university with “transformative” legitimacy, but in reality maintained the status quo.
For this, the white establishment loved her;
» Fourthly, a careful study of Agang SA’s policy pronouncements comes to one thing – a deep-seated fear for a radical transformation of the economy and society.
Agang SA just wants the same things as the ANC and the DA, only more efficiently.
They will give blacks RDP houses a little faster than the ANC.
They will, in reality, protect white domination of the economy and only hope for some trickling down of crumbs from the masters’ table;
» Fifthly, I’m concerned about the antilabour sentiments expressed by Agang SA. For them, the labour market must be made more flexible.
In other words, bosses must hire and fire at will. Agang SA believes South African workers have too many rights.
The animosity towards teachers’ union Sadtu must be seen within this context and not from a view of the real problems facing the education sector under ANC rule, where teachers have been made to be factory workers.
Teachers work under bad conditions, are badly educated, not supported and are
» Sixthly, Agang SA’s crusade against corruption is superficial and misleading.
Its lopsided focus on petty theft by politicians provides cover for the billions stolen by private capital through both illegal and legalised schemes.
Their silence on corporate superprofits as a basis for unethical accumulation cheapens and hollows out “concerns” around corruption.
This is to say nothing about accusations that Ramphele has taken NGO funds and turned them into coffers for her political project; and
» Lastly, Agang SA doesn’t inspire confidence as a new party towards a new vision.
One searches in vain for what’s new in Agang SA. Change can’t come from doing more of the same. Agang SA doesn’t prioritise black interests.
This was demonstrated well when Ramphele publicly rejected black consciousness for an amorphous and ill defined “South African consciousness”.
This chimes well with the rainbow-ism of the past 20 years, which has left South Africa an antiblack and racist society.
To break the racist stranglehold on the black majority, one must overcome the fear of radical land redistribution and nationalisation of the economy as a basis for true transformation.
I’m afraid Agang SA is too terrified of change to lead us in a new direction.
» Mngxitama is a member of the central command team of the Economic Freedom Fighters, follow him on Twitter @mngxitama
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