SA not a caring democracy – Ramphele

South Africa is anything but a caring democracy, Agang leader Mamphela Ramphele has said.

“It is the sad common truth about our democracy, which was forged precisely to make sure that our democracy would be known for being a caring democracy,” Ramphele told reporters today at the Thusong Youth Centre in Alexandra, northern Johannesburg.

“Where ubuntu would be the standard ... [where] public services would be made available, and how quality and respect for citizens would be the hallmark. We have anything but that.”

Ramphele was visiting Alexandra as part of Agang’s consultation period.

When Ramphele launched Agang earlier this year she said she intended to contest the national elections next year.

Asked how close the political platform Agang was to registering as a political party, Ramphele said it was still in “listening mode”.

“The response is overwhelming, people want to register [with Agang]. People are tired of waiting. People are attracted to Agang because it’s not promising them the moon,” she said.

Young people were being trained to go out into the communities and register people for Agang in a systematic manner.

She said South Africans she had spoken to were conscious that changing the country would take time.

“People are resonating with Agang.”

Ramphele said she would also be consulting with business, opposition parties, labour, and civil society.

Most people complained about housing, health, and education.

“People feel that they have been lied to about what to expect since 1994.

“They tell stories that are very sad about the corrupt allocation of housing,” Ramphele said.

Young people spoke about how education had failed them, and how there was a lack of training opportunities.

Then there were questions about the healthcare system, she said.

“People tell horrific stories of a healthcare system that doesn’t care for ordinary people.”

Earlier, Ramphele visited the Ratang Bana orphanage in Alexandra, where she engaged with community members.

She also visited the Alexandra Heritage Centre and former president Nelson Mandela’s old home in the township.

After visiting the heritage site, Ramphele said the country had failed to transform Alexandra into a proud human settlement.

“Alex is an icon and has been an icon even during the struggle ... Visit [the] Alex heritage centre and what you find is a room [with bare walls]. God knows what’s happened to that money from 2007.

“For me [this] is a metaphor for the lack of respect for people.”

Ramphele said she was disappointed in the state of Mandela’s old home.

“How can we fail to preserve a simple little structure like that, to make it deserving of the heritage plaque we have put there.”

The little brick structure had a painted yellow door and a plaque reading “Alexandra Heritage Site. Mandela’s place 46 7th Avenue”.

When Mandela arrived in Johannesburg in 1941, from the Eastern Cape, he rented a room in the house for a short while.

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