Talking manifestos: Agang SA

2014-03-23 14:00

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Agang?SA leader Mamphela Ramphele tells Sabelo Ndlangisa that the party is realistic in its assessment of what it can achieve

Do you think Agang?SA still has a life after its failed merger with the DA?

We are in the Agang office now. If it hadn’t survived, it would be dead. Rumours of our death have been premature and exaggerated. There is no doubt there could have been a positive campaign between the DA and Agang.

It would have provided South Africa with the two brands that would have enabled people who can’t bring themselves to vote for the DA, to vote for Agang in the umbrella [of the merger].

And it would have made those who are traditional DA voters continue to vote for their traditional party without feeling something has gone out of kilter.

South Africa is the poorer for that failed partnership?...?Nkandla would not have happened if the ANC knew it ran the risk of losing [the elections].

What is your target for the upcoming election?

Anybody who tells you they can predict what the outcome is going to

look like is not telling the truth. We will be able to have a better feel for the targets in the middle of next month because we are doing our own polling. Current polls don’t talk to my people in my village?...?most of our supporters are old ladies who don’t use WhatsApp.

Why is your national candidates’ list so short?

[Agang is] hardly a year old. We are realistic in our assessment of what we can achieve. We are very choosy with regard to the people we put in. Everyone has had their criminal and credit records checked. If you are found to be in breach, you will be out.

According to your election manifesto, you will sell state land, which amounts to a mere 17% of total land area, to achieve land reform. Surely this can’t be enough as a large portion of that land is occupied in townships and rural areas by people who have no title to it?...

I’m a very practical person who has been involved in development in the last 30 years. Solve the problems that have easy solutions first, the rest follow. If we were to give title to everybody who lives in a four-roomed or RDP house, we already empower those citizens to feel that they are now owners of land. We know your homestead or house is your primary foundation for wealth creation.

Why not solve that problem, which immediately empowers millions? Your manifesto also emphasises the production of industrial crops like hemp and bamboo instead of food. Why is that?

I’m talking about land that has been sterilised [by] the mining industry.

You can’t grow crops because it’s contaminated. If you can grow bamboo, why not?

Do you think your proposal for a graduate community service is likely to endear you to young people given the pressures they have?

You must not talk about the graduate service in isolation from everything else we are proposing in terms of education. We are the only party proposing free education from Grade 0 to higher education. And our national service is not compulsory. If you want to opt out, you can pay back half of what has gone into your higher education and training or you can work for three years like I did as a doctor.

Your manifesto seems to be proposing a review of economic policies to create jobs and stimulate the economy. Wouldn’t this take years if you were to be in power?

We are not proposing any review. Let’s take entrepreneurship: this country spends more money promoting small and medium enterprises. All we are saying is that all those institutions like the Small Enterprise Development Agency, the Industrial Development Corporation and the National Empowerment Fund are doing the same thing. We are saying, let’s have a one-stop shop. How is that broad?

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