Mamphela Ramphele. Picture: MARTIN RHODES
Mamphela Ramphele. Picture: MARTIN RHODES

CAPE TOWN — Struggle veteran and Gold Fields chairwoman Mamphela Ramphele on Tuesday again launched a scathing attack on the African National Congress (ANC) and President Jacob Zuma, saying the president did not understand what a constitutional democracy was and that the ANC was "too comfortable" in power.

Delivering an address on the "Marikana fallout" at the University of Cape Town’s graduate school of business, Dr Ramphele said that South Africans were "given dummies" after democracy through instruments such as social grants and programmes such as black economic empowerment. This, she said, was meant to allow the black elite to be comfortable and be able to live side by side with the white elite.

Dr Ramphele also criticised the mining sector for not transforming and using "19th-century business models in the 21st century". She said the sector was paying little attention to investments in human social capital, and the trade unions that were the most radical in the apartheid era had become part of the establishment through political alliances.

She said this establishment had led to "very little attention" being paid to workers "as people with rights, instead they are there as numbers in order to sustain the alliance in power".

"So it is not surprising that workers went up in arms … the virus of Marikana is spreading and it’s knocking at the door of the agricultural sector and who knows what next?"

"Marikana is a reminder of the unfinished business of our transformation from an authoritarian government to a democratic government … ours was a negotiated settlement … and so the elite pact excluded socioeconomic restructuring and fundamental transformation of our socioeconomic reality … the private sector literally and figuratively got away with murder," Dr Ramphele said.

"The exclusions of citizens at the (negotiating) table led to South Africans being given a dummy — not one, but a set of dummies. The nature of power and how we are governed was not changed, including of course the infamous ministerial handbook".

"The only language politicians understand is when they feel they risk losing power … come election time they will appeal to you to vote for the party of Mandela, to vote for the only liberation movement and not to vote for the DA because they will take you back to apartheid … they are almost treating you like children," she said.

ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu said on Tuesday the party had done a lot for the people of SA and therefore did not understand Dr Ramphele’s "passionate hatred for the ANC and the president".

" We do not know what we did to her … if she wants to be a politician she should start her own political party," he said.