Mulder wins face-off with party
Freedom Front Plus (FF+) leader Pieter Mulder has brushed aside stiff internal resistance to his acceptance of a post in President Jacob Zuma’s executive and is expected to be re-elected at the party’s federal council meeting in Bloemfontein in a fortnight’s time.
A senior FF+ dissident was suspended for voicing opposition and another quit Parliament in protest.
Mulder faced strong opposition within his own ranks earlier this year when Zuma approached him to serve as deputy minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries after the election.
Mulder was approached after the Inkatha Freedom Party refused to be co-opted to the executive. At a hastily convened meeting of the Freedom Front’s executive committee on May 8 to discuss whether he should accept Zuma’s offer, Mulder cast the deciding vote when the committee was split, with three for and three against.
The mini-rebellion was sparked by fears that the party’s already diminished national role would be further weakened by the appointment. The FF+ received 0,83% of the vote in the national election.
Mulder’s casting vote in favour of taking the position drew the ire of some senior party members.
Some dissidents told the Mail & Guardian at the time that the decision was made in haste because he did not want to leave too much room for discussion.
ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe told business people in August that the ANC told Mulder that “if he didn’t want to take up the offer, we could nominate someone [else] in his party”.
FF+ spokesperson Pieter Groenewald told the M&G this week that the issue was resolved at a meeting after Mulder’s swearing-in, at which the party decided on a new role to cope with changing circumstances. “We are continuing with our opposition role; we don’t see ourselves as part of government,” he said.