Peter Marais and Dr Pieter Groenewald at a press briefing where the Freedom Front Plus announced Marais as there candidate for Premier in the Western Cape. Picture: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - Having trawled the earth for a Western Cape premier candidate, the Freedom Front Plus (FF+) pulled a proverbial rabbit out of a hat and delivered Peter Marais.

Marais is a previous Western Cape premier and Cape Town mayor, and although he has not occupied a political office for more than 16 years, he occasionally pops up to remind us that he still has a pulse.

An ineffective mayor, he’ll be remembered for wanting to build a wall along the N2 highway from Cape Town International Airport to shield overseas tourists from the sight of informal settlements, and his bungled attempt to change the names of two streets in Cape Town to Nelson Mandela and FW de Klerk.

While he never quite batted for apartheid, his associations and comments over the years would make Die Groot Krokodil, aka PW Botha, giddy in his grave.

Marais’s axing as Cape Town mayor by former DA leader Tony Leon in 2002 ultimately caused the marriage between the DA and the NNP to hit the rocks.

In his most recent political incarnation, Marais headed the Bruin Bemagtiging Beweging (Brown Empowerment Movement) that advocated for an end to discrimination against coloured people.

Addressing an FF+ press conference on Tuesday, where he often switched to the third person (a sure sign of a narcissist), Marais said he would fight for Afrikaans, “self-determination” and “Christian values”.

The FF+ figured that these are the sort of subjects that can eat into the DA’s considerable majority in the Western Cape, where it has ruled with close to 60% of the vote, buoyed by an ineffective ANC and the spectre of Jacob Zuma.

In 2014, the FF+ could only get 11587 votes in the Western Cape; to get a seat in the provincial legislature, they would require well over 21000. For that to happen they would need to broaden their appeal, and hope to make inroads among dissatisfied white DA voters.

So it’s no surprise that the paths of the FF+ and Marais eventually crossed - all things considered, they might just be a perfect fit.

Political Bureau