Freedom Front's Corné Mulder joins Western Cape premiership race

Longest-serving MP 'convinced' there will be coalition government in province

03 April 2024 - 21:14
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Corne Mulder is the FF+ premier candidate in the Western Cape.
Corne Mulder is the FF+ premier candidate in the Western Cape.
Image: File

Long-serving Freedom Front Plus MP Corne Mulder will be the party’s premier candidate in the Western Cape in the May 29 elections.

Mulder, who is also the party’s leader in the province, announced his candidacy at a press conference in parliament on Wednesday.

While he appears on the party’s candidate list for the provincial legislature and national parliament, as has been the case previously, this is the first time he is a premier candidate.

“I'm taking it very seriously, I'm not here for fun and games,” he said.

Mulder said he was convinced that after the elections there will be a coalition government in the Western Cape.

“If we succeed in doing that, the Freedom Front Plus will be part of that government. And we will obviously have to deploy people to that government who can do the job.

“At this stage it's difficult, and maybe premature, to say exactly how this will play out,” said Mulder, who has been an MP for 36 years. He wouldn’t rule out a return to parliament if the premiership challenge doesn’t go well, even if it’s in a different role.

The possibility of a coalition government at national level presented another opportunity for him to play a role in that space through the multi-party charter, he said.

“At this stage it's difficult to give a final answer but I think options are open. But in the meantime, all my attention will be campaigning for the FF Plus in the Western Cape,” he said.

Of the 28 political parties contesting elections in the province, Mulder said there were serious contenders including the Patriotic Alliance which is making inroads especially in the coloured communities.

With Rise Mzansi, ActionSA and Marius Fransman’s People’s Movement for Change also making inroads, it was highly likely that the DA would go under 50% and may need coalition partners.

“That's why we express ourselves as willing to be such a partner, having a track record of being a reliable coalition partner.”

The DA has 24 seats in the 42-seat legislature and recent polls have put its support about 50% in the province.

Mulder believes that if the DA loses three seats, to 21, which will mean a 50/50 split between the majority party and the opposition, it will need the FF Plus to have the majority to govern.

The two parties are governing in coalition in 11 municipalities in the province, and Mulder said no-one reads about these in the media because they are run successfully with services being delivered accordingly.

The FF Plus is aiming for at least 10%. The party received 2.81% of the vote in the Western Cape five years ago.

Back then Peter Marais, the controversial former premier and former mayor of Cape Town, was the party’s premier candidate. It was believed that he would lure coloured voters to vote for the party.

Marais attended Mulder’s press briefing.

Mulder described him as “a pillar” in the party who also mentored him at times.

“He is a candidate on our list and if we get enough people elected Mr Marais will also go back to the provincial legislature,” said Mulder.

“Or who knows, maybe he could show up in the National Council of Provinces. Nobody knows what could happen but those kinds of decisions will be taken after the election results are known.”

Mulder doesn’t believe that his premier candidature will negatively affect that bloc of voters.

“I don’t think it plays a role at all,” he said, adding that the FF Plus was serious about being a nonracial party. He said they were even more committed in this election to reaching out to all communities in the Western Cape where the coloured community forms the majority.

Anyone who thinks they can play a role in the province without their support was making a big mistake.

And hence many of the party’s candidates come from coloured communities and the party’s manifesto and the majority of points in the party’s pledge spoke to social challenges in those communities, including crime and drugs.

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