Gold Fields Chairwoman Ramphele Resigns for Politics

Gold Fields Ltd. Chairwoman Mamphela Ramphele resigned from her position and will leave all other private directorships to pursue “socio-economic and political work,” the company said.

Ramphele, 65, is a former managing director of the World Bank and ex-director of Anglo American Plc, the largest investor in South African mining. She was appointed chairwoman of Gold Fields in November 2010. A medical doctor and social anthropologist, Ramphele 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.

“She has resigned from most of her private sector directorships and will relinquish all other remaining private sector directorships and positions to focus on these activities,” the Johannesburg-based company said today in a statement.

Ramphele will outline her political plans at a Feb. 18 press conference following reports that she will start a new political party to challenge South Africa’s ruling African National Congress. The African National Congress has governed the continent’s largest economy since taking power under Nelson Mandela in the first all-race elections in 1994 and controls almost two-thirds of the seats in Parliament. Ramphele has criticized the party’s failure to reduce the 25 percent unemployment rate.

Other high-profile leaders have refused to join Ramphele’s effort to form a new party, Johannesburg-based Business Day reported on Jan 28.

Non-Executive Director Cheryl Carolus will replace Ramphele with immediate effect, the company said.

Gold Fields maintained gains, advancing 1.1 percent to 92.29 rand at 12.44 p.m. in Johannesburg trading.

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