08/03/2014. Agang members celebrating the launch of the party's manifesto in Atteridgeville. Picture: Oupa Mokoena

Johannesburg - Free university education, guaranteed protection for investors, secure borders and effective governance are some of the promises AgangSA has lined up, if it wins the May 7 general elections.

But in stark contrast to almost every political party that has promised to create millions of jobs and “job opportunities”, Agang says it will not try to create even a single job. In fact Agang leader Mamphela Ramphele said political parties that promised to create millions of jobs were dreaming.

“Governments cannot and should not try to create sustainable jobs,” Ramphele said on Saturday at the party’s manifesto launch in Atteridgeville, west of Pretoria.

Ramphele said her government would create a conducive environment for job creation. “We will do this through empowering citizens with excellent education, providing skills and training and creating opportunities for young people,” said Ramphele. On education, she said South Africa spent more than many countries, yet was among the worst in terms of performance.

“Higher education must be free for all willing learners,” she said to the applauding audience.

“We have the resources for full-cost funding of higher education. Graduates will be asked to pay back their tuition in public service.”

The former managing director of the World Bank suggested that the student loans provided by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme were entangling graduates in debt. “Education has become a debt sentence,” said Ramphele.

She acknowledged strides made by the government since the dawn of democracy. But said South Africans deserved better.

“A better life has also produced load shedding, tendrepreneurs, politicians who have abused our trust and who continue to lie, cheat and hide,” she said.

If “we” needed to make the changes that South Africa “desperately” needed, there had to be a new political mindset. “We need political parties to escape their narrow interests,” she said.

Ramphele is still reeling from a failed political marriage with DA leader Helen Zille that lasted for almost a week last month.

Ramphele had reneged on her deal with Zille to appear on the ballot paper as DA presidential candidate. Zille later blasted Ramphele and said she had proven to be someone who could not be trusted to see a project to conclusion.

Ramphele retaliated by saying some people “were trapped in old-style race-based politics”.

On Saturday, Agang chose Saulsville Indoor Arena in Pretoria to launch its manifesto, a small venue which its supporters struggled to fill.

Some who attended seemed to be too young to vote in the next polls. But Ramphele claimed those who attended the manifesto launch were only party leaders and locals and her party enjoyed popular support among ordinary people.

“They like the fact that Agang has no baggage, that it is led by a woman and that people who are in Agang know who they are.”

Ramphele said black South Africans should take control and refuse to be humiliated with food parcels and Reconstruction and Development Programme houses.

“Black people need to rediscover their pride, their dignity,” she said.

“To have 16 million people on social grants is a scandal,” she later added.

White people also needed to develop a new consciousness.

“White people need to acknowledge the benefits they enjoy. Black people took the risk of forgiving the injustices of the past to give birth to the freedom we enjoy,” said Ramphele.

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Sunday Independent