When Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Mulder was asked about his relationship with Agriculture Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson (she of the big hotel bills), he explained: “It’s complicated.”
Maybe he had the movie of the same name in mind. In it the relationship between Alec Baldwin and Meryl Streep, who start up an affair 10 years after getting divorced from each other, is also complicated.
Will Baldwin, who has since married a much younger woman, reunite with his older wife? Does Streep, who has not remarried, and now finds herself to be the other woman of the man who left her for the other woman, feel it’s worth taking him on again?
Meanwhile another man, Steve Martin, who is remodelling her home, falls in love with her.
It’s not so much his wife that is making Pieter’s relationship with Tina complicated as his party. She’s a paid-up member of the ANC, he the pillar of the most right-wing party in Parliament. He is also her ministerial deputy.
Now it gets interesting. Though he is a serving government member, he refuses to articulate government policy that is in conflict with his own.
Not only that. Sometimes he promotes Freedom Front Plus policy on ministerial platforms.
And other parties thought he was an ANC sell-out when he accepted President Zuma’s offer of a deputy ministership. They, too, could now be introducing DA, IFP and Cope policy to ANC departments had they played their political cards like a Boer pragmatist.
But it has all left poor Tina slightly confused. Her partner in agriculture is a man who ultimately wants self-determination for the Afrikaners in their own geographical area or volkstaat, if one can be found bigger than Orania.
He also likes to go home every weekend, according to reports, while she slaves away seven days a week (though quite what she does is unclear, because even an ANC MP said her department was a “shambles”).
No wonder she went a bit haywire when her allocated official residence wasn’t to her liking.
By now everyone knows that over a period of 16 months, her hotel bills came to nearly R1.6m, including R420 000 for 28 days in a Sandton guest house.
She only found out it cost that afterwards, called it an obscene amount of money, and blamed her officials.
Throughout this period, though, and even when she had a foot injury, she still “executed” her official duties, whatever they were. Pieter, presumably, was still taking his Sundays off.
In spite of her devotion to duty, an unkind website commentator wrote: “This lady is certainly not knitting with two needles.”
Yet she refuses to criticise her deputy or report him to the president. Her spokesman says he has co-operated with her and acted professionally. I believe they do have a good relationship. But how will it all end?
In the movie, Alec Baldwin and Meryl Streep also have a good relationship, albeit complicated. Yet Streep has the good sense to see it can’t be permanent, and tells Baldwin to go back to his second wife.
Will Pieter Mulder, son of former |Nat cabinet minister Connie, also find working for the ANC too complicated, and go back to looking fulltime for a volkstaat?
Wait for the sequel. My guess is that he’ll outlast Tina.