Mamphela Ramphele. File picture: Mike Hutchings

Cape Town - Agang SA leader Mamphela Ramphele was cheered by students in Cape Town when she re-affirmed her commitment to the party on Friday.

This was after a student at the University of the Western Cape stood up during her address on education and said: “We need exemplary leaders. We are confused. What happened last week?”

She explained that the failed merger with the Democratic Alliance had been influenced by logistics.

“No one can be able to reach every corner of South Africa in such a short space of time,” she said.

“But if we have an electoral pact, we are able to challenge the impunity of the ANC.”

She poked fun at herself by mentioning her “failed marriage” to the DA.

“How many marriages have failed in this country? How many engagement parties have been broken in this country? For as long as we allow the ANC to play the race card, that is how long we will remain in bondage.”

Around 300 students in green party shirts clapped and cheered for their leader.

Ramphele announced last week that she would stand as the DA's presidential candidate in the general elections in May. There were also talks to merge the two parties. On Sunday the DA announced that Ramphele had gone back on her agreement.

Ramphele told students that she had been an exemplary leader for 45 years.

“As (former president Nelson) Mandela says, you make mistakes, you fall, you dust yourself, you stand up.”

She said she continued to talk to various political parties as part of her founding promise to possibly establish partnerships.

Ramphele told students she would ensure every willing person got an university education if the party was voted into power.

“Every person will be able to walk into a university fully paid.”

Graduates would plough back money into education through tax when employed, or give back through public service.

She said education should not be a “debt sentence” in a country that spent so much money on that portfolio.

“In what proud democracy do you have universities shutting down because students can't afford to pay for registration?”

The Tshwane University of Technology suspended classes last week during protests by students at a lack of funding from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme. Teaching resumed on Wednesday.