Gold Fields’ Ramphele Declines to Comment on Political Ambitions

Mamphela Ramphele, the chairwoman of Gold Fields Ltd., declined to comment on a report that she plans to start a new political party to challenge South Africa’s ruling African National Congress.

While Ramphele was expected to establish the new party on Feb. 12, she has failed to persuade other high profile leaders to join, Johannesburg-based Business Day reported today.

“There has been speculation about this story in different versions for the last three years,” Ramphele said in an e-mailed response to questions. “I will be the first to go public if there is a new development.”

Ramphele is a former managing director of the World Bank and ex-director of Anglo American Plc, the largest investor in South African mining. A medical doctor and social anthropologist, she was a one-time partner of anti-apartheid leader Steve Biko, who founded South Africa’s Black Consciousness Movement and died in 1977 after sustaining brain damage during a beating while in police custody.

“It would have to be something very dramatic that makes me want to go into active politics,” Ramphele told Bloomberg in an interview in October.

The ANC has ruled Africa’s largest economy since the first all-race elections in 1994 and controls almost two-thirds of the seats in Parliament. Ramphele has been critical of the party’s failure to improve schooling and reduce the 25.5 percent unemployment rate.

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