Mamphela Ramphele, a medical doctor who until recently had been working in the private sector as the head of a gold mining firm since her days as an anti-apartheid social activist, said the nation must address the widening gap between rich and poor.
"The country of our dreams has unfortunately faded," she said. "The dream has faded for the many living in poverty and destitution in our increasingly unequal society. And perhaps worst of all, my generation has to confess to the young people of our country: We have failed you. We have failed to build for you an education and training system to prepare you for life in the 21st century."
To address those problems, Ramphele, 65, has created the Agang ("Build") party, The New York Times said Monday. The party hopes to wrest power from the African National Congress, which has won every election since 1994, when apartheid ended. The ANC has come under increasing scrutiny for alleged corruption and failing to improve the lives of many poor black South Africans.
ANC leader, South African President Jason Zuma, has come under criticism for spending $27 million in tax money on "security upgrades" to his private residence. The party also bungled the handling of a protest at a platinum mine where police killed 33 striking workers during clashes, leading many to the conclusion the ANC had abandoned poor working people in favor of richer patrons.