FF+: A Class Act in Political Hypocrisy

2014-03-09 23:03

If political parties’ acronyms were symbols on a school report card, the FF+ would be at the bottom of the pile. And that is where they deserve to be. In the 2014 class of politicians, the FF+ can take solace in the fact that its name places it slightly above Julius Malema’s score in woodwork. They deserve that considering that their hypocrisy is possibly slightly more palatable than his.

For all the FF+’s fire and brimstone about protecting minorities (see here), specifically Afrikaners, let us not forget that they are a party of government. Try as they might to deny it, for as long as Pieter Mulder is a Deputy Minister in Jacob Zuma’s Government, he and the FF+ are in coalition with the ANC.

So, what does that mean?

Firstly, even though the ANC do not need the FF+ to form a majority government, the FF+ continues to support them. This despite the fact that at every opportunity it has to oppose the ANC, the FF+ does so with gusto and vigour.

Why, if the FF+ continues to oppose the ANC, does its leader serve in the Cabinet? If the FF+ is so useless that it cannot change ANC policy within the Cabinet and opposes it outside of the Cabinet Room does it allow its leader to enjoy the status of office? An equally frustrating question that many in the ANC must have is why, if the FF+ is such an insignificant minority party, does the ANC continue to give it the chance to have the best of both worlds?

The ANC entertains the FF+ because it gives an increasingly racialised organisation a semblance of its former non-racial self. The FF+ remaining in bed with the ANC probably has more to do with Mr Mulder’s enjoyment of officialdom than it does with his ability to effect change. The degree to which the FF+ vehemently opposes the ANC in Parliament shows just how weak he, and by extension, the FF+ is at winning their ilk any true concessions.

More so, it shows how hypocritical and two-faced the FF+ is: presumably when Mr Mulder speaks before his FF+ colleagues he condemns the ANC at every chance he gets. After all, that is what FF+ voters like hearing and what they continually vote for. One can only be galled by how much of a sycophant he must then be to Number 1 and his fellow ANC Ministers to continue in his post. Because rest assured, if their performances in Parliament are anything to go by, ANC Ministers do not take well to criticism no matter how justified.

And indeed that is what the FF+ is trying to do. It is trying to both be in government and in opposition and is not doing either particularly well. Not only do they betray their own voters by serving a government that their constituents did not vote for, they show how crassly and poorly they think of their voters that they can gain personal benefit at the expense of principle.

Secondly, assuming that its public posturing is to be believed and that, in fact, the FF+ is opposed to the ANC, should it surprise anyone that it can be in bed with the it? The simple answer is no.

Both the ANC and the FF+ represent opposite ends of the same political ideology: that is a crass and pervasive racial nationalism. Essentially, what it means is both the FF+ and the ANC have decided to make all their politics about race and which the more they emphasise and use as the mode of engagement the more they hope to keep people divided so that they may benefit politically.

To clarify: the ANC is on a dangerous slippery slope in that the more it identifies its support as being exclusively coming from within the black community the more it emphasises political positions that, much like the NP did during Apartheid, only speaks to that constituency. That is not to say that being pro-black is itself unconstitutional. Quite the opposite. Policies like BEE and Affirmative Action, when properly implemented and not tainted by political cronyism, are wholly politically, morally, legally and economically justifiable manner. Our Constitution recognises the injustices that have been unfairly heaped on black people and seeks to rectify that by actively undoing the compounded generational prejudice that back people face. That is what must happen. But the danger is that the ANC increasingly only thinks in racialised terms and in so doing places race and race alone above all else in its questions of policy. And that is worrying. Not only because it betrays the spirit of the Constitution but also because it betrays the non-racial spirit of the ANC itself. This is also what the ANC agreed to in 1994.

But do not be fooled: the FF+ believes in the same thing – except that the FF+ values being an Afrikaner and (by extension) being white. As it openly suggests that it will stand up for Afrikaner rights and indeed be willing to sacrifice the rights of others in order to perpetuate its own group privilege, the ANC will also, unfortunately, be happy to do the same. The idea behind all of this being that if both the ANC and the FF+ can try and become the voice that speaks to black and Afrikaner people only then those people will always owe their allegiance to them and then both parties are guaranteed continued electoral support.

The real sadness of this of course is that as our political discourse becomes increasingly racialised, those of us who value and wish to see our constitutional vision being our reality get drowned out by those on the left and on the right. As issues literally become black or white and disagreements become sharper with no room for nuance – which is exactly what delicate and complicated questions like racial redress require – the ability to compromise, understand and be less partisan and more generous to those whom we seem to oppose becomes less likely. And racial nationalism is a pernicious ideology which threatens that Rainbow Nation dreamt of by Nelson Mandela and coined by Desmond Tutu.

So the he FF+ cannot have it both ways. The ANC cannot be so bad a party, so incompetent and so deserving of its opposition and at the same time be a party that the FF+ is willing to sit alongside and support – even if indirectly – in achieving its overall agenda. The FF+ should do itself and the rest of South Africa a favour and make a decision: either they stand for racial nationalism on their own or they stand for racial nationalism under the ANC. And no matter what its choice, those of us who are loyal to the Constitution and its principles of non-racism and non-sexism will be here to judge them. As they deserve to be.

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