Mamphela Ramphele. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL
Mamphela Ramphele. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL

FORMER Black Consciousness Movement activist Barney Pityana, who worked with Mamphela Ramphele in the 1970s, said last week he would back the academic and community leader should she launch her own party.

Dr Ramphele is widely expected to launch a political party this month.

Dr Pityana said Ms Ramphele would become a new voice in a country that had politics and an economic development trajectory that needed big changes.

While no leader has come out to be associated with Dr Ramphele officially, her party is expected to woo leaders of good standing.

Jay Naidoo, who is chairman of the Geneva-based Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition and who since 2010 has dedicated himself to philanthropy, said he had no desire to re-enter the world of party politics. He would continue to focus his attention on various civil society initiatives, especially related to eradicating hunger.

"I’m more and more cynical that formal processes of democracy are sufficient to guarantee people’s rights," Mr Naidoo said.

"What we need is an active citizenry and civil society is more important than ever." Last week, Dr Ramphele said she would speak for herself about any "future engagements".

"I would like to place it on record that I have been having conversations with South Africans from all walks of life about the state of democracy in South Africa, canvassing their views about ways in which South Africans can work together to tackle our pressing social, economic and political challenges." She said these conversations were in line with the national dialogue she was seeking to promote through her latest book, Conversations with My Sons and Daughters.

With Carol Paton