Gold Fields chairwoman quits for politics

South Africa’s Gold Fields (JSE, NYSE: GFI) chairwoman, the recognized anti-apartheid activist Mamphela Ramphele, is leaving the miner "to further her socio-economic and political work," said the company in a statement.

Ramphele’s resignation fuels local rumours indicating she is planning to create a new political party to challenge the ruling African National Congress (ANC), according to local paper Mail&Guardian.

Ramphele, 65, will outline her political plans at a Feb. 18 press conference. In the meantime, she has left most of her private sector directorships and will relinquish all other remaining private positions to focus on these activities, added the Johannesburg-based company.

The departing executive was known for being 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 South Africa's apartheid government because of her political activities.

Gold Fields appointed her to the board in July 2010.

(Image by Wikimedia Commons)