Mamphela Ramphele has side-stepped questions about her political future, but asked whether South Africans were ready to redefine the nature of the country's politics.
Speculation was mounting about the launch of a new political party and whether Ramphele, a veteran activist and academic, would lead it.
Ramphele said that government be held accountable.
"We as a country need to demand nothing more than a competent, meritocratic, accountable public service," she said.
She spoke out about the state of education and a lack of training in the police, which she believed fuels violent protests.
The political activist slammed the ANC's threat to meet violent protests with an "iron fist", saying what was needed was good governance.
"We still have an authoritarian system of governance, which is why we have a government that is intolerant of criticism [and] that is unaccountable."
Speaking to EWN, Ramphele questioned whether South Africa was ready to redefine the nature of its politics.
"We don't want an additional player through what is happening; we need something that will transcend what is happening."
She said South Africans needed to stop waiting for a "messiah" and start governing with their votes.
There is speculation that she would announce a new political party in an attempt to steal the thunder from President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation address next week.