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Sat Nov 29 07:03:42 SAST 2014

A courageous new voice in the service of South Africa

The Times Editorial | 19 February, 2013 00:14

The Times Editorial: Activist and human rights campaigner Mamphela Ramphele has finally revealed how she intends to rekindle hope for a better South Africa. In a speech at the women's jail on Constitution Hill yesterday, Ramphele said she would establish a political "platform" to change the lives of South Africans, who she said were being failed by the current political system.

Though the road ahead for Ramphele will be hard, and lined with energetic sceptics shouting that she is destined to fail, we should celebrate the fact that there are those among us who love this country so much that they are willing to forego their comfort zone to challenge the status quo. As expected, those who favour the ruling party have labelled her efforts as grievance driven. Others say they see no future for her political party.

But, judging by her speech yesterday, Ramphele's vision is focused on progress, prosperity and love for this country.

It was refreshing to hear her say that, though the current government, led by the ANC, was failing on most fronts, her engagement would not be centred on opposing the ruling party.

We have seen in the past how opposition politics , crucial as they are to our democracy, have sometimes robbed us of opportunities to change the lives of our people for the better.

It is, therefore, important that space be given to any citizen, including Ramphele, to contribute to our future.

Our democracy, which many fought and died for, gives us the right to question and seek new ways to take the nation forward.

Though the ANC has an impressive record in struggle politics, it does not have a magic formula for solving the many problems we face.

The more voices we have the better, as long as they are raised in pursuit of better lives for the majority of our citizens. It would be folly to shut the door in Ramphele's face. South Africa should be a land of possibilities, centred on human rights and the freedom to disagree.

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