FF+ to target DA’s Afrikaner voting base
FREEDOM Front Plus (FF+) leader Pieter Mulder says the Democratic Alliance (DA) will lose white Afrikaners’ support in the May 7 elections, and that his party is better positioned to serve them. Speaking to Business Day last week, he cited the recent defection of three DA MPs to his party as an indication the DA’s attempts to reach out to black voters was alienating its traditional voter base.
In March the FF+ revealed that three DA MPs — former radio presenter Niekie van den Berg, former AgriSA chairman Lourie Bosman and Theo Coetzee — were on the party’s national list.
The FF+ is looking to these and other new members to improve its appeal. Support for the party was just under 1% in the 2004 and 2009 national elections. In the same period, the DA’s support grew from 12.4% to 16.7%.
A Sunday Times survey this week showed that one of the measures of success for the DA in this election will be the support it secures from black voters. The party registered the most diverse support base across race.
In a recent article Mr Bosman says the FF+ position is that a South African politician could not "chase after the majority black votes about issues such as land reform and affirmative action without harming the interests of minorities such as the Afrikaners and brown people".
Mr Mulder, who is also the deputy minister of agriculture, says the DA’s new posture of accommodating black voters means it cannot come out strongly against policies like affirmative action, which the FF+ sees as discriminating against minorities.
He says more than 50% of the DA’s voters in the 2009 elections were Afrikaans speakers, and that the FF+ will target these voters in the upcoming national polls.
Mr Mulder says his party’s primary objective is to bring the African National Congress’s (ANC’s) huge margins to below 50%, but it is keeping a close watch on the DA because the parties were competing in the same voter market.
The FF+ envisions a majority of minorities toppling the ANC, with each focusing on a niche market and all of them co-operating after the elections.
On Monday DA spokesman Mmusi Maimane said Mr Mulder was not the "spokesman of all Afrikaans people". He says the DA’s policies are for all South Africans and not for a particular race.
Criticising Mr Mulder’s 2009 appointment to President Jacob Zuma’s Cabinet, he says it indicated that a vote for the FF+ is a "wasted vote. Even Afrikaners know that a vote for Pieter Mulder is a vote for the ANC."
His views are echoed by DA MPs Annette Steyn and Kevin Mileham, who write on Politicsweb that, to date, FF+ co-operation with other parties appears limited to securing a Cabinet post for Mr Mulder. They say he has yet to deliver tangible benefits to his voters from this "compromised position". Mr Mulder says he is keenly aware he cannot afford to be co-opted and silenced as an opposition voice.
He rates among his contributions in Mr Zuma’s administration the "balance" between the focus on subsistence farmers and commercial farmers.
He says 80% of commercial farmers are Afrikaans speakers, which makes his role in the agriculture ministry meaningful.