A check on the ANC

Prominent South African anti-apartheid activist and co-founder of South Africa's Black Conscious Movement, Mamphela Ramphele, has announced the formation of a new political party to take on the African National Congress (ANC) of Nelson Mandela.

Ms Ramphele's new party will be called Agang which is the Sesotho language means "To Build".

She was Steve Biko's political as well as personal partner and has two children to the former anti-apartheid martyr. She said

"Our society's greatness is being fundamentally undermined by a massive failure of governance," she said at a launch event on Monday at the historic women's jail at Constitutional Hill. "Our country has lost the moral authority and international respect it enjoyed when it became a democracy."

"I don't have any inferiority complex against anybody, nor do I have any grudge against anybody. So I feel I am in a position to encourage other South Africans to put the country first. Let us self-identify as South Africans, not this shameful status right now where less than 10% are able to say 'I am a South African'. We can't talk about black consciousness. We must talk about a South African consciousness."

I have always been a supporter of the ANC as well as their armed wing Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK). Sinn Fein and the IRA have had links with both the ANC and MK going back to the 1960's. Every year at the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis there are international guests and without fail there are always representatives from the PLO, Basques and the ANC.

I remember attending a Sinn Fein event back in 2005 with former South African Minister of Intelligence Ronnie Kasrils.

That said for all those bonds of unity I can't help but feel that Ms Ramphele may have a point.

The ANC has had almost total control of South Africa since the end of Apartheid. There is no doubt that a lot has improved from the bad old days but what have they done with this freedom? How have they improved the lives of the poor and destitute in South Africa?

With an aids epidemic, gang crime, crippling poverty and social unrest there is no doubt that they have failed to lead the people of South Africa into a period of peace and prosperity.

The ANC have been more focused on internal infighting, allegations of fraud and anti-democratic attacks on the main opposition.

Their wasteful use of public funds to wine and dine internal party members and their introduction of the Protection of State Information Bill shows that their focus is not where it needs to be.

I don't believe that this new party will be a challenge to the ANC but if they are able to put pressure on them to address the issues that matter then it will be a job well done.

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