Activist, leader and new play in the political game Dr Mamphela Ramphele recently visited and toured the historic township of Alexandra.
She visited various community initiatives and centres listening to residents speak about the problems they face daily. These include lack of housing, security and security concerns, unemployment, garbage collection issues which then lead to rats roaming the streets. “All these concerns must be raised with community leaders. Our government has enough money in the world to ensure that we can all live better lives. We just need to learn how to work together,” said Ramphele in response to the communities’ cries.
The tour started at Ratang Bana Orphanage which runs a food programme for 230 children and 80 pensioners. This centre is run by grandmothers who look after children who lost their parents to HIV/AIDS. Her next stop was at the Alexandra Heritage Centre that was designed to commemorate the history and heritage of the township. There’s also a room at the centre where Nelson Mandela lived in the 1940’s which is now used for accommodation. Lastly, she went to the Thusong Youth Centre, which hosts various programmes ranging from training and skills development, performing arts, support and counselling for offenders on parole, caring for orphans and vulnerable children as well as feeding schemes.
Ramphela also used this opportunity to promote her newly formed political party, Agang. She kept emphasising that Agang is a public service party that swears by the slogan, “come let us build together, not come let us build for you”. She promised that Agang would have numerous departments within the party that would solve every problem that arises, be it water and sanitation, garbage problems, corruption and many others.
“The reason I started a political movement was because I realised that people are dying with their dreams meanwhile government institutions are holding on to resources. South Africa is in desperate need of good leadership, “ she said.
Established in 1912, Alexandra was one of the so-called native settlements and is still one of the most disadvantaged urban areas in the country. It is home to 600 000 residents some of whom live in thousands of shacks.
Agang will be running in the 2014 elections.