Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Mulder. Photo: Sarah Makoe

Pieter Mulder, the Freedom Front Plus leader who is the Deputy minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, caused a storm last week in his nine-minute response to President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation address. He said there was sufficient proof that there were no “Bantu-speaking” people in the Western Cape and north-western Cape, which constitute 40 percent of SA’s land surface.

When Moffet Mofokeng spoke to him this week, the deputy minister said he was being misunderstood and it was better for people to fight him on what he said, not what they heard.

What prompted you to say 40 percent of the land in SA did not belong to black people? Did the officials in the department help you with the research?

The department has got nothing to do with the speech. I wrote it as the leader of the FF+, reacting to the president’s speech. I wrote it myself. I did react to what the president said as is expected of me as the leader of an opposition party.

When President Zuma invited me to serve in his cabinet, my role was to help create jobs in the agricultural sector. That is the role I see myself play. There is uncertainty in the agricultural sector at the moment. I find it more difficult for me to succeed because of this uncertainty.

Commercial farmers don’t employ workers and some of them are moving out of the country. They are creating jobs in other countries. Even (Libyan leader Muammar) Gaddafi wanted to take them to his country before all his problems started. We need some certainty. This uncertainty is created by the song Shoot the Boer, nationalisation and the lack of an alternative to the willing buyer, willing seller policy.

All the farmers hear is land grab, nationalisation and so on. One of the strongest arguments is that whites have stolen the land. Technically, no one can lay claim to land in SA. We have got a complicated system. Nobody can say this is my total land.

You say there is sufficient proof that there were no blacks in the Western Cape before. Where do you get this from?


But where?

People have to fight me on what I said, not what they have heard. It is in Wikipedia.

You say 40 percent of the land in the Cape did not belong to blacks. Where did you get this 40 percent figure?

In the beginning, yes. Sixty percent of the people there were brown people. Today, 20 percent are black. When whites arrived there, there were Khoi people, not blacks. In the Western Cape, brown people are complaining that they are not getting promotion in the Department of Correctional Services, but the ANC is using the land question.

What is your comment on race relations in the Western Cape?

It has got nothing to do with the speech.

You are a member of (the) cabinet. Jow did your colleagues in (the) cabinet react to your comments, privately.

I always have good relations, but you may ask them. I don’t have any problem on a one-on-one. I’m always going to continue to criticise the government. I was elected to lead my party, I have a mandate. When the president invited me to serve in his government, I asked him if this was acceptable and he said “yes”.

He (Zuma) said he did not become a member of the Inkatha Freedom Party when he served in their (provincial) government after the 1994 elections. He was a member of the ANC serving in the government of the IFP. It is the same thing with me. He gave me this example.

It appears, from your comments, that you do not agree with (the) government when it says the willing buyer, willing seller policy is not working.

I don’t agree that is the problem.

What are your views on the Natives Land Act and Group Areas Act which forcibly removed black communities from their land?

I don’t mention those. I don’t like using history to say every grain of land belongs to black people.

Will you quit from the government?

I’m there on the invitation of the president. Nothing has changed from the mandate that I have. I am still going to play my role as an opposition leader. It is difficult wearing two hats, but I believe it can be done.

Do you not think your use of the word “Bantu” is offensive to the black community, given our country’s history?

I really do not think so. It is an internationally recognised word. If I said Nguni or Sotho, that would not have included the Venda. I wanted to put everybody together.

Is it fair for people to call you a rightwinger, and go to the extent of accusing you of being racist?

I get very angry about that. You can ask most people around me, I am not a racist. How would I have accepted the (government) post if I was racist? I get really angry about that. - Sunday Independent