Dr Pieter Mulder

Parliament - One of Parliament's longest serving Members of Parliament (MPs) and former leader of the Freedom Front Plus, a party protecting the rights of Afrikaners in South Africa, received a standing ovation as he said farewell to Parliament after serving there for more than 30 years.

Mulder has often clashed on policy issues with his colleagues in both ruling African National Congress benches and those from other opposition parties, but on Thursday, they paid glowing tributes to him at the last sitting of the National Assembly for 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," Mulder told the National Assembly.
 
"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."

Mulder said he had learned many lessons in his almost three decades in Parliament, where he served as an MP and as the only deputy minister from outside the ruling party in President Jacob Zuma's first five years in office.

He said while some in his party resisted the idea, he believed as an African and South African he could contribute to the country 

"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," said Mulder.
 
"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."
 
Mulder said as an Afrikaner he still believed "minority rights and self-determination must form part of the permanent solution to South Africa’s problems".

"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."

He thanked Speakers, past and present, and parliamentary support staff.

"During my 29 years in parliament, not one speaker had the privilege to ask me to leave the house," said Mulder.

"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."

The 66-year said he would be spending more time with his family.

"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."