EFF + FF Plus = strange bedfellows

2014-12-28 15:00

It is a unique toenadering among unlikely ­bedfellows.

The Freedom Front Plus (FF Plus) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) have found common ground in Parliament, even though their new-found love is expected to take strain when the issue of land is debated.

The two parties are at opposite ends of the political spectrum. The EFF is demanding ­expropriation of land without compensation for equitable redistribution.

The FF Plus, whose constituency is mainly white farmers, is opposed to land expropriation and believes that unused state land should be used for redistribution.

The first order of business after the fifth Parliament was established in May this year was a verbal war between EFF MP Andile Mngxitama and the FF Plus’ Pieter Groenewald. The two had to be restrained from starting a fist fight outside the National Assembly building.

Mngxitama would interject every time an FF Plus MP addressed Parliament, demanding to know: “When are you returning the land that you stole?”

The hostilities came to a halt one September evening during a marathon meeting to consider Nkandla reports.

FF Plus’ chief whip, Corné Mulder, shocked many observers by saying that ordinarily he would not support the approach of the EFF to Parliament, but the ANC was leading his party to believe it was correct.

ANC MP Mmamoloko Kubayi said she was shocked that “a respected veteran MP” had said he supported the behaviour of the EFF in the House.

Not all EFF members are happy with the relationship.

A senior MP, who spoke on condition of ­anonymity, described it as a sore point.

“It is damaging to be seen to be on the same side as the FF Plus for us symbolically. The ANC has been exploiting this so-called ‘relationship’ for its narrow ends.”

The MP said the working together was ­“coincidental”, but the FF Plus had been effective when it made interventions on the issues of Nkandla Parliament processes in which the parties supported each other.

Mulder told City Press: “There is an Afrikaans saying: ‘Onbekend is onbemind’ [Unknown is unloved].

“When the EFF first came to Parliament, they had perceptions about us and we had perceptions about them. We didn’t know each other.

“But we were forced to work together in Parliament, in the chief whip’s forum, rules and Nkandla committees, and other structures of Parliament. Slowly but surely, we were forced to take note of one another.

“We are seated next to one another in the House, so we interact on that level as well,” said Mulder.

“That does not mean that policywise, suddenly all those differences are gone. We do not agree with certain things Mr [Julius] ­Malema says.”

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