Freedom Front Plus founder Constand Viljoen dies
Cape Town - Constand Viljoen, the former apartheid-era South African Defence Force chief who went on to found the Freedom Front Plus, has died. He was 86.
Viljoen, who is credited with carrying out South Africa's first major airborne raid - against the South West African People's Organisation (SWAPO) - died at his farm in Mpumalanga on Friday.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has offered condolences at the passing of General Viljoen to his wife Risti and the immediate and extended family, as well as his friends and political associates.
In a statement issued by the presidency, Ramaphosa said that Viljoen will be remembered for influencing conservative movements into abandoning plans for military resistance to the democratic transition.
President Ramaphosa said: “Gen Viljoen’s principal contribution was his success in demobilising conservative resistance to the transition in our country at a critical point in our history. He risked alienation by his community and longstanding supporters by mobilising conservative groupings to participate in the political and constitutional negotiations that yielded our democratic dispensation.
“His transition from a military commander to a voice in our democratic Parliament illustrated the inclusive, diverse and tolerant character of our constitutional dispensation and body politic.”
Dr Pieter Mulder, the current leader of the party which Viljoen founded in 1994, paid tribute to the general's role in South Africa's transition to democracy.
"As a politician he played a leading role in the political transition of the country and ensuring stability in South Africa during this period. As a politician he often tried to apply his military style. This was both positive and negative. Positive because his planning, his strategy and execution of political ideology was invaluable, but sometimes he struggled as a result of his rigid military style," Mulder said.