New Groups Challenge Party Linked to Mandela’s Legacy

A famous young politician and a powerful former freedom fighter have launched new policial parties to challenge South Africa's long-governing party.

Posted: 07/12/2013 12:55 PM EDT
Former president of the ANC Youth League Julius Malema. (Photo: ALEXANDER JOE/AFP/Getty Images)

A new set of South African political parties have been launched to potentially topple the nation’s long-standing governing party, the African National Congress.

Former president of the ANC Youth League Julius Malema recently unveiled the Economic Freedom Fighters, a self-described “anti-capitalist” political group “inspired by people's suffering on the ground." Land redistribution and the controversial issue of mine nationalization are the top priorities of the party.

"We will share, Black and white. But failure to share means you will be forced to share," Malema told reporters in Johannesburg. "We all belong here, but we all have to show proof that we belong here." 

"Black people have nothing to show. Therefore we must give them something to show so they can say proudly: This is our land, this is our country."

The ANC expelled the widely known 32-year-old politician in 2012 for inciting party divisions. Malema has since campaigned for the removal of former ally and ANC President Jacob Zuma, accusing the South African president of neglecting the country’s poor Blacks.

"The government is caring only about themselves; they don't care about you," Malema told a crowd at a Thursday demonstration.

Also contesting the ANC is Mamphela Ramphele, a medical doctor and politician best known for co-founding the Black Consciousness Movement alongside anti-apartheid warhorse Steve Biko. Earlier this year, Ramphele launched a political party called Agang, which translates to “build” in Sotho. Aimed at tackling corruption and improving education, the party has already gained major support from one influential South African.

"I have known Dr. Ramphele for more than 30 years as a brave and principled leader who has been ready to take costly stands for social justice," retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu wrote in a statement released last month.

"If Dr. Ramphele formally enters the election race next year, and goes on to attract sufficient votes to become a parliamentarian, there is no doubt that South Africans will benefit from her experience and her knowledge – and from hearing her voice.”

South Africa’s presidential election will take place in 2014.

Analysts reported that a growing number of South Africans, particularly young people, have expressed discontent with the ANC, which has been the ruling party of post-apartheid South Africa since 1994. As a founding member of the ANC Youth League, former South African president Nelson Mandela shot to prominence in the party. He ultimately became president of the ANC, serving from 1991 to 1997. Becoming the country’s first Black president in 1994 further spotlighted Africa’s oldest Black liberation movement on a global stage.

This past May, video footage of a frail and distant looking Mandela surrounded by President Zuma and other ANC members sparked outrage throughout South Africa. Many accused the party of exploiting the 94-year-old for political purposes.

Hospitalized for a recurring lung infection in early June, Mandela remains in critical condition.

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