“But again we haven’t educated people to understand that being orientated sexually in a particular way is not a crime,” Mamphela Ramphele,
By Melanie Natha. March 09, 2013.
South Africa is a democratic country with one party that dominates the state. The African National Congress (ANC), has been holding power, with wide margins, since the first fully democratic elections were held after the release of Nelson Mandela back in 1990. Opposition parties are welcomed, and for the first time since 1994 there is widely held opinion that the support base of the ruling ANC is slowly starting to erode in favour of the main opposition, the Democratic Alliance. The parties run from progressive to super conservative, with new parties barely having any impact. However in this past month a new party has been announced which seems to be getting a lot of attention.
Mamphela Ramphele, (65) recently announced the formation of Agang (“Build South Africa”), which is expected to contest the 2014 general elections in a final form still to be confirmed.
Ramphele, was an activist against apartheid, and one of the leaders of the Black Consciousness Movement alongside legends such as the late Steve Biko. She is a medical doctor and holds the esteemed position of Vice Chancellor of the University of Cape Town and is also one of the of four managing directors of the World Bank.
Although South Africa has a Constitution that is fully inclusive, outlawing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, it remains an extremely homophobic country, with much violence exacted against the LGBTI community. It is in this context that Ramphele, has specifically pointed out in her comments to the press, that there is no place for homophobia in South Africa.
She notes that the party is still formulating its full platform and detailed polices have yet to be formulated, because it is still “consulting widely with fellow South Africans”.
Ramphele, however, in an interview with the City Press newspaper, published on Sunday, noted her views on the issue of LGBT equality:
“That we have homophobia today is a disgrace. We have a formal system that protects everybody to express themselves,” she said. “But again we haven’t educated people to understand that being orientated sexually in a particular way is not a crime, is not a disease; it’s a not something you can cure. It is how God created us,” Ramphele stated.
Ramphele has been a vocal critic of the ANC government. In her speech launching Agang, she said that it intends to revive the South African dream of “a prosperous constitutional democracy united in its diversity”. Many South Africans believe that the promises that came with the end of apartheid have yet to be realized, with corruption, high crime, high unemployment, exorbitant inflation, and poor delivery of basic services such as housing, electricity and water.
Parties represented in Parliament
- African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP)
- African National Congress (ANC)
- African Peoples’ Convention (APC)
- Azanian People’s Organisation (AZAPO)
- Congress of the People (COPE)
- Democratic Alliance (DA)
- Freedom Front + (Vryheidsfront+, FF+)
- Minority Front (MF)
- Independent Democrats (ID) – as of 2012 in the process of merging with the Democratic Alliance
- Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP)
- Pan Africanist Congress (PAC)
- South African Communist Party (SACP) – as part of the ANC-led “Tripartite Alliance” since 1994, the SACP has not contested elections in their own name
- United Christian Democratic Party (UCDP)
- United Democratic Movement (UDM)