Anti- apartheid activist Mamphela Ramphele recently announced that she will challenge Jacob Zuma for South Africa’s top office this year. Ramphele, a former member of the troubled Agang SA party, will run on the Democratic Alliance (DA) ticket, making her the DA’s first Black nominee for the Presidency.

Ramphele is a longtime activist and former vice-chancellor of the University of Cape Town. She was also the partner of Black consciousness leader Steve Biko. Ramphele and Biko had two children together before he was beaten to death while in police custody in 1977. If she defeats President Zuma, Ramphele will become South Africa’s first female president.

At Tuesday’s press conference, Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille said Ramphele’s candidacy is a game-changer for South Africa.

“I can think of no better person to be our presidential candidate in this crucial election,” said Zille. “This is a game-changing moment for South Africa.”

Ramphele agreed: “I believe this decision is in the best interests of South Africa as we head into turbulent waters. The death of Nelson Mandela has changed many things for South Africa.”

She continued: “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 in us.”

Ramphele and the Democratic Alliance will have a difficult time beating President Zuma and the African National Congress (ANC). In year’s past, Ramphele called the DA “the white party,” but it has been steadily gaining traction among South Africa’s Black majority. Ramphele said her candidacy will remove the question of race and allow each candidate to be judged on the merits.

“We are going to take away the excuse of race and challenge the ANC to be judged on its performance. We are taking away that race card and putting it in the dustbin.”

Despite the Zille’s optimism, not everyone in the Democratic Alliance feels Ramphele’s candidacy is a good move.

The Guardian reports:

Eusebius McKaiser, a political analyst and author of the forthcoming book Could I Vote DA? condemned the party’s leadership for demonstrating “incredible insecurity” about its ability to win support. “If they were confident, why would they need to court the leader of another party?”

He added: “It is a tactical misstep on the part of the DA. It won’t cost them votes but it will cost them internal tensions. Not everyone in the party agrees with it, including senior black members I’ve spoken to.”

Gwede Mantashe, secretary general of the ANC, has also dismissed the announcement: “It’s a rent-a-leader and a rent-a-black-face.”

Nomboniso Gasa, an academic and an Agang SA member, criticized Ramphele for deserting the party: “I do think Mamphela has been extremely untidy in the way she’s dealt with this. I don’t think she’s been as open as she could have been. It raises questions about how she understands political leadership and it makes me uncomfortable. She has a problem of credibility because she told people one thing and she’s doing a completely different thing.”

According to the Guardian, Mamphela Ramphele is a medical doctor, academic, and former World Bank managing director and mining company executive. Last year she disclosed her net worth is approximately 55 million rand (nearly $5 million).

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  • Anthony

    I hope Dr. Ramphele gives President Zuma a very competitive election. Whoever wins, it would be good for South Africa to have competitive elections. Parties that are sure of power can more easily lose touch with the people.

  • Lola

    I wish her a lot of success in her candidature. I am happy to see so many African women involved in politics and being leaders.

  • stef

    “We are going to take away the excuse of race and challenge the ANC to be judged on its performance. We are taking away that race card and putting it in the dustbin.”

    While I wish her luck and i am a strong believer that legit multiple parties will make south africa stronger . she gets a side eye with this statement, it sounds to herman cain for my tatse, you can not take race out of Anything in south africa,its ingrained in everything just like America. the DA party is basically viewed a a white liberal political party and one of it aims after the last election was to gain more black voters who still support the ANC in overwhelming numbers . so what better way to attract black votes then by putting a black face in the front.

    anytime a politician talks post racial nonsense i see smoke

    • Anthony

      I see your point, and I do believe that the DA has some of the same issues that liberal critics of Obama have here in the USA, but the ANC really needs to be challenged in order for South Africa to have more responsive government. The treatment striking miners and the recent abuse of people demonstrating for better services shows a government that is growing arrogant towards the people who vote for it.

  • WhatIThink

    LOL! The whole political system in South Africa is nothing but one big minstrel show where black flunkies of the white elites are jockeying for attention in the minds of the black masses. None of these clowns plans on doing anything to address the core issue in South Africa: white control of 99% of the wealth and land in the country. No sane person on earth can justify a non African minority owning over 95% of the wealth in a African country. Miss Mamphela is simply another con job because she spent the last 20 years working for white institutions, including Ashanti gold mines, who basically has paid her off, along with many of the top politicians in the ANC. None of these people are planning on doing anything to redistribute the land and wealth in South Africa. Their whole job is to shuck and jive and play the good coon so that enough time goes by that the white elites will appear legitimate. They are simply the buffers between the black majority and the white elites. And once the masses get tired of this song and dance act, the whites will then put forward a white candidate to play the new messiah, in order to make it seem that all the problems in South Africa are due to the blacks in positions of political power. But how can that be when these black clowns have no real power? Power is in the control of land and wealth not in a token political position that has no power. Which means all the problems go back to the system of economic apartheid which is still in place. If blacks had power they would take the land and mines back and not talk about it. It has been 20 years since the fall of apartheid and if these fools haven’t taken back what is rightfully theirs then obviously they aren’t going to do it. I don’t think any of the current crop of leaders in SA is really interested in this at all, no matter how much they talk about it.