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South Africa: Leader of new political party supports gays

BY NATASHA BARSOTTI — "That we have homophobia today is a disgrace," says the leader of a new South African political party in a wide-ranging interview with the daily City Press.

"We have a formal system that protects everybody to be able to express themselves, but again we haven’t educated people to understand that being orientated sexually in a particular way is not a crime, is not a disease," former World Bank director and anti-apartheid activist Mamphela Ramphele is quoted as saying. "It’s not something you can cure. It is how God created us." 

Ramphele, a vocal critic of the African National Congress (ANC), has called the ruling party "corrupt" and "unaccountable" and says it has failed to improve the lives of impoverished blacks, the Mail & Guardian reports. 

Ramphele, who earlier this week launched her new platform, Agang, from the Sotho word for "build," says her goal is to defeat the ANC in the 2014 election. 

Asked how realistic her chances are of breaking the bond people have with the ANC, Ramphele says she feels people will vote for an alternative to a party that doesn't deliver on its promises. She notes that between seven and 10 million eligible voters didn’t vote in the 2009 election.

She plans to target women, young people and rural areas.

Others feel Ramphele's approach to South Africa's problems will not differ from that of other political parties.

Ramphele was a founder of the Black Consciousness Movement with anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko, has a doctorate in social anthropology, and was reportedly the first black woman to run a South African university.


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