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

THE launch date of academic Mamphela Ramphele’s political party could be on Tuesday — pre-empting President Jacob Zuma’s opening of Parliament next Thursday.

News of her political party has ignited a fire in academic circles, with lecturers and intellectuals excited about the prospects that it will be launched in time to contest next year’s general elections.

While the 2014 polls are seen as the first step in planting the party on the political landscape, the 2016 municipal elections are regarded as a real opportunity for it to win a substantial slice of the electorate.

The initial plan was for Dr Ramphele to lead the way, and then hand over to a younger team ahead of the 2019 elections.

People advising her on the establishment of her party would not confirm the launch date on Wednesday, saying only it would be "soon".

The launch was initially planned for the University of Pretoria, but the venue has since been changed to Constitution Hill, said a source close to Dr Ramphele.

She has said she is not denying speculation that she is about to launch a political party.

"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," Dr Ramphele said last week.

These talks were in line with the national dialogue she was seeking to promote through her latest book, Conversations with my Sons and Daughters, she said.

"I have always been clear in articulating my views on matters of public importance and will speak on my own behalf about any decisions I might take about my future engagements," Dr Ramphele said.

On Wednesday at the Mining Indaba in Cape Town, she answered questions about her party with, "Just wait patiently."

She is expected to capitalise on her grassroots activism, mainly driven by the Citizens Movement — a nongovernmental organisation that, among other things, is aimed at cultivating an active citizenry.