Johannesburg - Respected anti-apartheid activist Mamphela
Ramphele resigned as chairperson of Gold Fields [JSE:GFI] on Tuesday,
intensifying speculation she is about to launch a political party to challenge
Gold Fields said Ramphele had decided to retire "to
further her socio-economic and political work".
Former South African Airways chairperson Cheryl Carolus will
succeed Ramphele as chair, the company said.
Ramphele said: "I am pleased that during my tenure at
Gold Fields significant progress has been made in entrenching the
sustainability of the company’s operations worldwide. I also believe that the
separate listing and unbundling of the company’s KDC and Beatrix mines into
Sibanye Gold will provide the South African operations with the dedicated and
focused management as well as full control over their cash flows to extend
their life of mine in a sustainable manner to the benefit of investors‚
employees and communities.
Ramphele was appointed to the board of Gold Fields on 1 July
2010 and chaired the board from 2 November 2010.
She also served on various board committees during her
'Dynamic woman of action'
Ramphele, 65, commands considerable respect among South
Africa's black majority as a partner of Black Consciousness leader Steve Biko,
who died in 1977 as a result of beatings received in an apartheid prison.
She was also placed under house arrest for seven years by
the apartheid government because of her political activities.
"She is an amazingly powerful woman," said
political analyst Nic Borain, adding that Ramphele would not be taking a leap
into direct politics against the might of Nelson Mandela's 100-year-old
liberation movement without having a solid plan in place.
"She would have done her homework," he said.
Another political analyst, Allister Sparks, said a
Ramphele-led party would be likely to take votes from the ANC, which has ruled
virtually unchallenged since the end of apartheid in 1994, rather than the main
opposition Democratic Alliance, still seen as the party of white privilege.
"She is not just a fine academic; she is a dynamic
woman of action," he wrote in an editorial in Wednesday's Business Day
A consultancy working for Ramphele said she would be making
a statement about her political plans on Johannesburg's Constitution Hill on