Frans Cronjé, CEO of the IRR, puts ten questions to the Freedom Front Plus (FF+) ahead of tomorrow’s election.
Are you a party just for white Afrikaners? What do you offer non-Afrikaans South Africans?
No. Our constitution states clearly that we are open to people from all race groups. We have members from all race groups, we have municipal council members of colour and our premier candidate in the Western Cape is a person of colour. We are definitely not a party for Afrikaans-speaking people only, and we don’t have any special treatment for Afrikaans-speaking members.
What results does the FF+ realistically expect to achieve both nationally and provincially?
The leader of the FF Plus is on record as saying that he believes the party could get a million votes nationally and we are working towards achieving that. The FF Plus expects growth in all provinces.
What does your party offer to voters that the Democratic Alliance (DA) doesn’t?
One of the main things that differentiate the DA from the FF Plus is the fact that the DA doesn’t recognise groups, but only individuals. The FF Plus says the people of the country are in desperate need of a new dispensation where diversity is recognised as the true building block of true unity in diversity.
A dispensation founded on mutual respect, without discrimination and racism, with equal opportunities and recognition for that which is our own and that which is shared. Thus, a dispensation where self-determination is correctly implemented. As evident in the rest of the world, this approach is not in conflict with a constitutional or liberal democracy. Quite the contrary, it is considered to be the latest and most modern political trend.
Federalism, locality, subsidiarity and self-determination, as it is implemented internationally, are all essential building blocks for such a political model. Regionally bound autonomy, such as in provinces, must be expanded.
You have cooperated with the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and DA in the major metros. Was this a mistake?
The FF Plus only has a formal relationship with the DA and other smaller parties via a written coalition agreement. We have no relationship – informal or formal – with the EFF. The DA in turn has a working relationship with the EFF to supply votes as needed.
Indirectly, the EFF does support the minority coalition government, but that relationship is managed by the DA alone. This situation does create complexities and hindrances for the FF Plus in rolling out its own 2016-campaign undertakings in Johannesburg and Tshwane/Pretoria. However, we do not view the decision to participate as a mistake as the electorate were clearly ready for change and we had to oblige and we learned how to build relationships in the real world beyond mere political rhetoric so that governance and service delivery is made possible within a complex socio-cultural environment.
We have also learned that the only stable coalition going forward will be one without the EFF. It is thus of the utmost importance to us that free-market oriented political parties grow so as to form coalitions that will provide a platform for more stable coalitions in the future.
You have formed part of government in the past when the ANC invited you into cabinet. Do you regret accepting a role in the ANC government? If not, what were the benefits of fulfilling that role?
The FF Plus was never part of the ANC government in any form. Our previous leader, Dr Pieter Mulder, did however accept a position on behalf of the party as the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in 2009. This position does not form part of the cabinet or any ANC body in any form, whether governmental or otherwise.
The position was accepted on certain conditions: 1) that the FF Plus leader could differ in policy and otherwise from the President, cabinet and the ANC; 2) that a list of issues be supplied to the President to be dealt with over the succeeding five years or more. The FF Plus did subsequently remain in opposition to the ANC in word and deed, including the FF Plus leader as Deputy Minister.
As for the issues to be dealt with, it became increasingly difficult to get movement from the President and the ANC on it due to ANC-infighting and instability. In 2014 Dr Pieter Mulder was not re-appointed as Deputy-Minister. The lesson learned was that any relationship with a fault-line-ridden ANC is doomed and that the future lies with opposition-formed coalitions, as emerged after the 2016-elections.
The FF+ explicitly commits itself to free market principles. So do other small parties such as the ACDP and the new Capitalist Party. Why should someone who supports free markets vote for the FF+ over those parties?
The FF Plus is currently the largest of the free-market parties. In addition, it has a distinct policy position apart from the other free-market parties in that it bases its policies on international law, and specifically international human rights law as it relates to minority rights and protection.
Our objective is to ensure that the rights of minorities are sufficiently protected that they can deem themselves equal to the majority, therefore bringing an equilibrium in society.
This must be concretised in a non-racist and non-racial free market where merit is the driving force, smaller government based on merit is established, mother-tongue education at junior and middle school levels (Grades 1 to 9) is promoted and protected, and statutory cultural councils that protect the cultural ‘goods’ of communities (schools, churches, children’s homes, clubs, safety) for those who want it are established.
This is to be effected by growing the FF Plus among the minority vote to become the dominant voice large enough to participate in and dictate what happens in opposition-based coalition governments on all three levels of government.
The FF Plus is also concerned about the economy, poverty and the general decline of the country. It is thus of the utmost importance that free-market economic policy be given effect to grow the economy and business so that sustainable jobs are created for everyone, and to enlarge the middle class.
So, while the FF Plus is focused on the cultural protection of minorities that are under siege today, economically the party supports policies that benefit everyone. The FF Plus thus have a very unique offering to the electorate.
Do you believe you can ever win an election in South Africa?
The FF Plus is currently growing from a low base, but, like the DA that started as a 1%-party, we see little limits to our growth. Many different minorities are seeing the party as an attractive option due to its strong opposition to the hegemonic ANC that is obsessed with race and makes minorities feel uncomfortable.
At this stage most of those minorities are the very same people that made the DA large, namely Afrikaner voters, who are moving away from the DA. Minority votes in total do have a numerical limit. Their votes can make the FF Plus at least the second (like the DA) or third largest party in the country, but to attain power, the FF Plus believes in coalitions.
It is through coalitions that minorities will be able to place a hand on the steering wheel of the country together with the majority. We view this as a very democratic outcome as it enables a government that represents almost all constituencies in the country.
The FF+ has adopted the DA election slogan from 1999, “fight back”, as their slogan for this election. Why have you chosen this slogan?
South Africa has reached a point where we have to stop the downward spiral before the economy totally implodes. The ANC’s policy direction is to blame for corruption, mismanagement, poor service delivery, unemployment, crime, race polarisation and extreme tax tariffs.
The FF Plus says South Africans have to fight back against this. We did not choose the slogan because the DA once used it. We chose it because it was the right slogan for our current situation.
What issues has your party been most effective in driving?
The five focus areas the FF Plus has been driving, also as part of its election campaign, are expropriation without compensation, discrimination through Affirmative Action and Black Economic Empowerment, crime, corruption and poor service delivery. We made a special effort to bring this, and in particular the issue of farm attacks and the plight of Afrikaans, under the attention of the international community.
Do you see the FF+ gaining support in the elections, and if so, who from?
A number of polls predict healthy growth for the FF Plus. We experience this growing support through daily interaction with people and in an enormous increase in new membership. This support comes from voters who agree with the ideals, principles and values of the party, and who believe the time has come for changes towards a better South Africa for all its people.
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