A standing ovation before and after his speech by the members of all the political parties in parliament today was the best testimony that Dr. Pieter Mulder, former leader of the FF Plus, could get after almost 30 years of service as member of the South African parliament.
In an emotional session specially scheduled to take leave of him, Dr. Mulder said farewell to the members of parliament. Read Dr. Mulder’s full speech here:
Farewell tributes to Dr. Pieter Mulder: FF Plus MP and former leader of the FF Plus
30 November 2017
There is an old saying: “All political careers, end in tears”. With my decision to voluntarily resign as member of parliament, I am trying to avoid that.
It does, however, not mean that I am going to stop being actively involved. I believe that I still have a role to play in my community and in various other spheres of society.
Allow me to say a few words and express my gratitude.
What have I learned in this house?
I have learned that my truth and your truth might differ, but that we still can debate with each other and still respect each other
I have learned that I have not persuaded someone just because I have silenced him or her;
I have learned that anger is a wind that blows out the lamp of the mind;
I have learned that politicians with talent are discovered here, while others are found out here;
I have learned that if you make a mistake, the media likes to portray you in a cartoon, with your foot in your mouth.
I have also learned that in this house, a closed mouth at the right time, gathers no feet.
I have learned that no one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
I have learned that the hallways and corridors of parliament is the only place in the world where stories and sound travel faster than light.
I have learned to be careful to wish for the departure of an opponent – there is always the risk that the replacement is even worse.
I have also learned that in South Africa, identity is a highly debated topic. Are you a South African or a Christian? Are you a Zulu or a South African? I believe that we sometimes complicate this matter unnecessarily as we all have a number of identities
My own identities ripple outwards like concentric circles. Firstly, I am a family man and father to my children; but I am also an Afrikaner and part of the greater Afrikaans community; I am a South African because I only have one passport and I know only one continent as home, Africa. In that sense, I am also an African and I am a Christian.
All these identities have a role to play, depending on where you find yourself.
As Christian, I believe that I played my role here as a humble instrument in God’s hand.
In my identity as a South African, I served as deputy minister for five years. At that time, I was the only minister that was not a member of the ANC. When I accepted the position of deputy minister, my FF Plus youth leader resigned in protest. Another member of parliament and several other members of the FF Plus also resigned. I still believe that taking the job was the right decision as it allowed me to contribute to making South Africa a better place.
As deputy minister, I had the privilege to address African leaders at the African Union in Addis Abeba in Ethiopia. Assuming the identity of an African that is concerned about my continent, I was able to point out that neither the West nor the East really cares about Africa since the Cold War ended. My message was that we are going to have to solve our own problems from now on.
Right from my very first day in parliament, my belief as Afrikaner was that minority rights and self-determination must form part of the permanent solution to South Africa’s problems and I argued my case accordingly.
I also maintained throughout that all the official languages in South Africa should be treated equally, just like the Constitution prescribes. It took us nearly seven years before we were able to establish an interpreting service for all eleven official languages here in the house. If we want to help the people in South Africa regain their dignity, the first thing we need to do is to stop treating some languages as inferior.
Allow me a few acknowledgements:
First of all, I would like to thank my supporters who supported me in seven consecutive elections and who made it possible for me to represent them in parliament for nearly three decades, 29 years to be exact.
I would also like to thank the Freedom Front Plus and my colleagues here in parliament. We made a good team and I believe we often contended out of our league.
Thank you to all the other colleagues here in parliament for the debates and talks during which we formed one another. A special thanks to the members of my committee for the spirit in which we were able to go about our business.
A heartfelt thanks to the Freedom Front Plus staff: Dalien Steyn, Pieter Swart, Wanda Marais, Amanda Hughes and Carien Nefdt, who often worked under pressure and kept to deadlines and who made it possible for me to do my job.
I would like to express my gratitude to the Speaker and other presiding officers for the role they play and for the extra ten seconds that they often allowed me during my speeches. During my 29 years in parliament, not one speaker had the privilege to ask me to leave the house.
To all the parliamentary staff, the administrative staff, the police and the restaurant staff who work so hard behind the scenes, my sincerest thanks. Often, amid all the political frustrations, my lunch and your friendly service was the highlight of my day.
I have the greatest appreciation for my mother who has always supported me. She is 90 years old and she keeps telling me to leave politics and yet she still watches the parliamentary debates every afternoon. Then she phones me afterwards to tell me that I need a haircut and that my shirt and tie did not match.
As a family man, I would like to thank my family for all the sacrifices they made over the years. Thank you to my wife, in particular, who worked in the North West and who often had to raise the children on her own while I was here at parliament. She was here, sitting in the gallery, when I was inaugurated 29 years ago and she is here again today. We have been married for 44 years, but she says that I was away from home for parliament and political meetings so often that if she counts the days that I was home, it adds up to only seven years of marriage.
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