Brad Cibane
Brad Cibane

‘Ramphele, an agent of the imperial ghost’

The imperial ghost is alive and kicking. The big, bad, ugly angel of darkness is gearing-up to roam the streets of South Africa and has apparently found itself an unlikely host … Mamphela Ramphele.

The imperial ghost, as you might know is sometimes based in the US, sometimes the UK and sometimes the European Union. But now and again it roams the streets of Africa, tormenting villages, destabilising and tumbling legitimate governments. Be wary, stay sharp. Arm yourself with a mouthful of holy water and an arm-size crucifix!

The two paragraphs above are a summary of ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe’s response to the announcement of Ramphele’s political party Agang SA. Mantashe in a short interview said “we are hoping against hope that it is not an American initiative aimed at destabilising our country. Our worry is that when this initiative was announced, the foundation was in the US. We are very much alive to concerns by Western powers that liberation movements in Africa are too powerful”.

Mantashe’s caution about the US imperial reach into Africa through opposition parties is not new. Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF, for example, has often opted to deny people the free and fair elections in order to protect Zimbabwe’s sovereignty from the threat of the imperial ghost. Mugabe has staunchly vowed to protect Zimbabwe from the “international terrorists” — the US and UK — even if it means the death of countless Zimbabweans through violence and starvation. Eugene Puryear puts it all in perspective: “Whatever the shortcomings of the Zanu-PF government, the US-and-British-led destabilisation campaign has been the main culprit behind Zimbabwe’s woes.”

The US does in fact strive to influence governments around the world, sometimes through economic and military aid, but often through the gun barrel and murderous drones.

That being said, the US easily becomes a scapegoat for despotic regimes which rely on the US’s pathetic approach to foreign relations in order to divert any challenge to their illegitimate power. Anyone who dares to challenge a despot is declared an “agent of the imperial ghost”.

The ANC is not a despotic regime, not yet anyway. Mantashe’s comments are, however, very concerning. These types of comments simply mean the ANC has run out of real arguments, and no longer has the tolerance to engage in real debate. Instead the ANC is turning to every despot’s saviour — the ghost of imperialism. The imperial ghost turns all opposition into enemies of the state.

The ANC itself happily took foreign donation and accepted foreign assistance to fight South Africa’s liberation cause. Those donations were indeed used to destabilise the oppressive and illegitimate apartheid regime. In the end South African churned out better, not worse.

Ramphele’s platform is facing the same challenge. She and many others see a South Africa that is eating itself from within. And when all the big businesses and businesspeople are on the ANC bandwagon, Agang SA may need foreign funding to reconfigure the nation’s path.

For what it’s worth, Ramphele responded. She said the money Agang SA is currently using comes from South Africans. She admitted to engaging South Africans, including those in the diaspora (Australia and the US).

The ANC is correct, Ramphele’s platform “is grievance-driven”. Many South Africans are unhappy with the ANC — and possibly with all the other available alternatives — and they want fresh politics. Ramphele thinks her platform can fill the gaping hole. Her effort presents an opportunity for new voices and fresh engagements. The ANC must not resort to repulsive bully tactics, it must engage seriously.

Tags: , , ,

  • Zille and Zuma: A fading star, a black hole and the end of an era
  • 10 things Ramaphosa should do in his first 100 days as president
  • The fatal hermeneutic divide in South Africa
  • The pro-poor rhetoric of the ANC government has failed to translate into meaningful economic policy
    • nzwakazi

      So would he rather she was financed by the oh-so generous Guptas?

    • Themba

      The ANC should begin to clean its house if it want to retain its members.Nobody will deny the fact that a lot is not right from ANC government,but because of lack of viable opposition,people find themselves with no alternative but to vote ANC into power.Maybe Agang will be a viable alternative.

    • Tofolux

      @Brad, dont you think that my SG’s statement warrants further interrogation though. For one, you have relied completely on the utterances in media to conclude that this must be the truth. Secondly, you have completely ignored the fact that many statements especially word for word by leaders of the ruling party has on many occasions been ”doctored”. If one is going to put a debate on a statement which any person could argue as hearsay, I would expect that person to get confirmation and seek clarity. It makes for a weak and fallacious debate to discuss something which you yourself are not sure about. Now thats messed up.

    • Nkululeko


    • Sipiwo Pahlane

      Opposition politics in South Africa is doomed. We have so many opposition parties who define themselves around the individuals who lead them. We have tried unsuccesfully to find out what they are all about and came empty handed because the only thing they agree on is the unseating of the ANC and what thereafter? The only plausible explanation we could come up with is that by hook or crook their leaders want to draw a salary out of our hard earned money by having a meaningless seat in parliament and then we are made to believe that its democracy at its best.

      This is illustrated by the fact that we pay huge salaries and benefits to them yet day in day out we have Courts and NGOs doing a better job than all Opposition parties combined. Perhaps a better idea would be to strengthen the Courts, Section 9 institutions eg Public Protector, Auditor General, HRC etc, NGOs and Civic Organisations to fight a good fight for us and forget about these good for nothing parties. We could use the money paid to these politicians to increase accessibilty to these institutions by the general public so that the governing party accounts. Just for an example the eToll saga. Outa is battling it out alone and courts will pronounce on this. Where were the parties in question when this robbery took place? Soon Rampele will be another addition to this daylight robbery and will not add value to opposition politics.

    • Quite a White Ou

      Yintle lento, mhlekazi!

    • Truth be known

      “The ANC must not resort to repulsive bully tactics, it must engage seriously.”

      The ANC uses all sorts of tactics to undermine DA controlled electoral areas, not that I support the DA, but the ANC do not accept opposition even fairly won at the ballot box. They resort to the same tactics they used to make areas that do not support them ungovernable like they did during apartheid.

    • ian shaw

      Siphiwo: Excellent! “….the only thing they (the many small opposition parties) agree on is the unseating of the ANC and what thereafter? The only plausible explanation we could come up with is that by hook or crook their leaders want to draw a salary out of our hard earned money by having a meaningless seat in parliament and then we are made to believe that its democracy at its best.

      This is illustrated by the fact that we pay huge salaries and benefits to them yet day in day out we have Courts and NGOs doing a better job than all Opposition parties combined

    • Alan Wilson

      Mantashe is showing his true communist colours! Communists and Cosatu runthecountry

    • Momma Cyndi

      I do love your acid sense of humour, Brad :)

      Considering where some of the ANC money has come from (Libya and China come to mind), I would have thought that was an area that they would try and keep out of the spotlight.

      I love the way the ANC are frothing at the mouth about Dr Ramphele. It certainly improves her standing as they obviously see her as a big threat. They wouldn’t be so worried if they didn’t suspect that she would lure away a large number of their disappointed voting fodder

    • bernpm
    • Mr. Direct

      @Brad – oh no – not the Imperial Ghost again! Run, run away…

      @Sipiwo Pahlane and ian shaw

      So you are saying we should become a one party state, just get rid of democracy to save some money, time and effort. Interesting how quickly you would give up your freedom…

      Perhaps the opposition do not deliver solutions for the future as you would like, but it is still better to have them, than not. I am not a DA supporter, but their intervention in some of the more recent governmental scandals has been important, e.g. spy tapes, Nkandla, etc.

    • Momma Cyndi

      Sipiwo Pahlane

      Much of what you say is true but nothing has ever been won by a committee. You need a figurehead to focus the energy on. That is why the ANC trots out the past heroes every election. Humans require a face to follow.

    • Sterling Ferguson

      @Momma Cyndi, the ANC biggest source of funds have always come from the USA. The war against apartheid was fought around the world and the government didn’t change until the US began to lean on the apartheid government in SA. As a matter of facts, the president of the US, Obama was a big fundraiser for the ANC while he was at the university.

      Moreover, the labor unions in SA were financed by the labor movement in the US. COSATU was exposed for getting a million dollars from the US labor unions to stop Walmart from coming to SA.

    • Sterling Ferguson

      @Toifolux, there have been groups in the US that have been bankrolling the ANC for years and the apartheid government in SA didn’t change until the US lean on them. You should check out the people that fought to get the anti-apartheid bill passed in the US Congress, to stop Reagan from selling $10 billions of advance fighter planes to the apartheid government, that would have given them complete control of the skies in southern African. When Mandela came to the US, he went around the country thanking all the people for their help.

    • Sterling Ferguson

      @Wilson, if Mantashe had made this statement in the US, the US press would have talked about the money the ANC received from the US. The left wingers that took over the ANC setup a hostile trade policy with the US and a friendly policy with China. This is why there is a forty percent unemployment in SA and over half of the people are receiving family grants.

    • Sterling Ferguson

      @Pahlane, this is what goes on in a democracy citizens can form political parties to challenge the ruling parties. It’s one thing to talk about democracy and what’s in your constitution, however, when people exercise these rights don’t cry. The people should be fighting for direct elections, so the officials can be held accountable by the voters.

    • tony reeler

      Western interference is behind Zimbabwe’s woes. This is such ignorance. Not even the South African government believes this, but sees rather that the violence and intransigence of the Mugabe regime is the cause of all problems. the real issue is that Zimbabweans do not want Robert Mugabe or ZANU -PF and have not since 2000. Mr Cibane please research the world of politics more carefully and then you will not make such foolish and offensive (to Zimbabweans) statements.

    • Falco Mazwelane

      Interesting…..Interesting and interesting, cannot wait to see what will happen after 2014. My advice will be that Dr. Mamphele should come up with a strategy to fodge partnership with other forces seeking the same results. I share the same sentiment with @Sipiwo in that it is green outside and people want proof of what is happening, it would be strategic if she can use the Patriotic Front strategies to forge these partnerships and they should start doing the ground work from now. She should not allowed to be used as it is clear that there are vultures out there….going alone will make all what she aims for to fail before everything has started……use Motlante scenario as an example to lear…………….

    • The Creator

      Momma Cyndi, that isn’t how ANC politics works at the moment. In 2009 the election slogan was “Defend the ANC” — so building up Ramphele as a possible foreign agent is a useful way of scaring people into the laager.

      Though it is quite possible that she is a foreign agent, I don’t think so — I think she’s just out for herself, looking to get a job with the DA if she can only fool enough people into voting for her. (She won’t.)

    • Brian B

      Unfortunately a a change of government in South Africa will not happen along western democratic lines.The only hope is to change the organisation from within. This will take some doing because the ruling elite are living off the fat of the land and will not easily give up their privilege. Sounds like deja vu NP/ANC !!

    • Mandisa

      It will seem that uncle Mantashe and co. are feeling just a tad threatened by Agang…goodness me it’s early stages yet and they know there just might be a mass exodus by those uhappy with the current leadership like me to Agang…FYI Mr.Mantashe you and your gang have lost the plot and we are tired of unfullfiled promises and greedy politicians…not personal but just politics

    • Lesego

      Brad Cibane

      “The ANC is correct, Ramphele’s platform “is grievance-driven”. Many South Africans are unhappy with the ANC”

      Ya well a majority of the people in SA a voting ANC anyway.

    • russell

      The manner in which the ANC has responded to AGANG’s emergence on the political scene says more about them than anything I could think of.

    • Enough Said


      “Moreover, the labor unions in SA were financed by the labor movement in the US. COSATU was exposed for getting a million dollars from the US labor unions to stop Walmart from coming to SA.”

      Can you please supply a reliable source for this information.

    • Yaj

      The ANC and SACP are quick to label opposition to their conservative neoliberal economic policies as either “ultra-leftist” or “counter-revolutionary”. This is all Orwellian-speak.

      I wish Mamphele well but I do hope she changes the name of the party soon.

      Furthermore , I hope she can pursue alternative policies on taxation and banking to revive this economy and I hope that she is able to deal honestly with the major economic headwind of Peak Oil.

      We need to replace income tax and VAT with a levy on all financial transactions and a land tax .

      We need a public bank to fund all new infrastructure and not borrow from private banks.
      We also desperately need a universal basic income to create stability in the labour market.The spin-off for the economy will be tremendous.

    • Sterling Ferguson

      @Lesego, why you think Agang is grievance driven and what do you mean by this. This was a dumb response by the ANC to this new party.

    • goonie

      Curiously, there is no mention of the “imperial ghost” embedded in the neoliberal policies embraced by the ANC during negotiations for democracy. Of course, the IMF and World Bank made these policies essentially compulsory, but many associated with the ANC have benefitted from privatization initiatives and the embrace of a more flexible labor force.

      This is a far cry from the different form of governance envisioned in the Freedom Charter and which drove, albeit in a flawed fashion, the UDF and other organizations during the 80s. In many ways, this whole neoliberal situation was imposed from international organizations with roots in Europe and the US … but if the ANC is going to discuss “imperial ghosts” they need to acknowledge that many of their elite members have accumulated massive amounts of wealth from the same globalizing currents that they claim are supporting Ramphele. The gulf between the rich and poor has increased since the end of apartheid.

    • Momma Cyndi

      The Creator,

      Dunno that will wash with the born-frees or with the many urban folk who are getting a little unhappy with the status quo.

    • http://n/a Manqoba

      Dear Brad

      I think we South Africans were mentally dominated by insultive History of the Imperialists. I adversely disagree with your point when tagging Mamphele Ramphele as the Big, ugly, bad angel’s ghost. You have really missed a mark on History Turning Point. We must accept other intelectuals to play their independent role in our Local History so as to bring new ideologies that would help strenthen forever delicate democracy. This is the African Renaisence in disguize. The Imperial ghost is not yet extracted therefore people of Ramphele’s ideas must be given chance to help change the forever lack of economic emancipation issue. What an independence without economic liberation? What does actually that look like?Economy is the backbone of every transformed Country, but here in South Africa, why is not questionable. Presently it’s indirectly swallowed by Walmart a foreign development that adversely twarted ours. Must we take a back seat and keep on smiling, more? Wake Ma-Africa, Lelizwe Ngelethu, every success now is in our hands nobody from somewhere will help us develop and improve our situation, let’s feel so strong and do it for ourselves!!!

    • Sterling Ferguson

      @Enough Said, Washington Post, MG, COSATU and US retail unions. As the big companies in the US go global the labor unions in the US are following them to set up unions. The US unions have been very successful in Canada, Mexico, SA, India, but in China the government will not give the workers the freedom to organize labor unions. Lula came to SA talking his talk, but the US labor unions gave his union a lot of money while he was the president of that union in Brazil. By the way, do you have the latest search engine of Google?

    • Enough Said


      You have not answered my request. Are you spinning a yarn and now trying to cover up?

      My previous post was: @Ferguson

      “Moreover, the labor unions in SA were financed by the labor movement in the US. COSATU was exposed for getting a million dollars from the US labor unions to stop Walmart from coming to SA.”

      Can you please supply a reliable source for this information.


    • Sterling Ferguson

      @Enough Said, you asked me for my sources of information and I gave them to you. The article appeared in the MG and during the time Walmart was trying to come to SA. All of my sources are reliable for me, but they might not be reliable for you. This article also appeared in

    • Belle


      In our 2009 national elections only 36% of the electorate voted for the ANC. The majority didn’t vote.

    • Enough Said


      I Googled “COSATU was exposed for getting a million dollars from the US labor unions”

      You are the only one who said that on the internet I could find.

      I think your imagination runs away with you.

      Sorry, your make believe references are not good enough for me.


    • Enough Said


      I see you have been making the same unfounded comments on the City Press web site:

      ” Sterling Ferguson The Blackman • 5 days ago

      Obama, when he was going to the university help raise funds for the ANC along with many other Americans. When Mandela came to the US, he went around thanking the people in the US for their support. The labor unions in SA were funded by the labor unions in the US and when COSATU were fighting to keep Walmark out of SA, it was the US labor movement that gave COSATU one million dollars to do so.”

      AMEN :-)

      I am still open to a real genuine traceable reference though, an internet link to such an article.

    • george orwell

      Curious that Ramphele is both a former trustee of the US Rockefeller Foundation and now delivering statements from the Ford Foundation offices.

      American NGOs tend to de-fang the true left, by pumping establishment dollar$ into controlling the opposition in tweedledee-tweedledum politics.

      Ramphele goes to the US to ‘chat’ to South Africans in the diaspora and comes back with the “AGang” Idea.

      The SA disapora exists, in the main, of rich, white types that couldn’t really bear the thought of a black-ruled SA and fled with their offshore accounts….

    • Sterling Ferguson

      @!Enough Said, if you think my information isn’t correct, you should write to the AFL-CIO for information on the amount of funds that has been given to the unions in SA. Also, while at the university Obama raised money for the ANC and this was the common practice in the US. One tip I will give you ACOA was founded in 1953 in the US and gave money to the ANC. I understand why you are asking all of these questions because this information is a shock to you because it doesn’t fit your mindset. You can write to the New York Times and the Washington Post on the US groups giving funds to the ANC fight against apartheid. You should write to the ANC and ask them if they ever received money from the US anti- apartheid groups. Another sources is black labor unions raise money to fight apartheid in SA headquarters in Washington,DC. The black students association in the US raised money for the anti-apartheid movement in SA.

      Moreover, while doing your research, check out the racism that’s going on in Cuba against the blacks in that country that many South Africans called paradise. You should read about Dr Ferrer a black Cuban that just released from prison for protesting racism in that country.

    • Sterling Ferguson

      @Enough Said, You should download Mozalla Foxfire, MSN and Yahoo if you haven’t already done so. There is a story about a black artists group led by Stevie Wonder raised one million dollars for the anti-apartheid cause. There is a stroy about the labor unions in New York raising money for the anti-apartheid cause. Until you can prove that what I wrote is a lie, I stand by everything that I wrote. The ANC received aid from private groups in the US.

    • Sterling Ferguson

      Enough Said,you should go into There is a very good article about the subject you and I were discussing. In this article there were a lot of US, German and English money involved in southern Africa.

    • Enough Said


      Just admit you are talking rubbish. You cannot justify your claim that “when COSATU were fighting to keep Walmark out of SA, it was the US labor movement that gave COSATU one million dollars to do so.”

      Stick to the facts next time to avoid embarrassing yourself.

    • Sterling Ferguson

      @Enough Said, that story has appeared in many SA papers and papers offshores. You are in denial that the labor unions and the ANC were getting money from US and the information you read isn’t going to be reliable enough for you. This guy from the ANC has accused Dr Ramphele of being financed by the US and both labor unions and the ANC have been taking money from them.

    • Enough Said


      “If the law is against you, argue the facts. If the law and the facts are against you, pound the table and yell like hell.”

    • Sterling Ferguson

      @Enough Said, did you go into the web site that I sent you and did you like it?