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By Marizka Coetzer

Journalist


FF+ growth stymied by its own ‘saturation’

Groenewald has managed to change the image of the FF+ from right-wing to conservative, says an analyst.


While Freedom Front Plus (FF+) supporters hope the party will surprise many of its political rivals, analysts say its support is saturated, especially after the Multi-Party Charter deal.

The FF+ celebrated its 30th year and launched its 2024 manifesto at the Heartfelt Arena in Centurion at the weekend.

According to the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) dashboard, the FF+ is one of four parties that increased its seats in the National Assembly and won 10 seats in 2019 – a 60% increase from 2014.

In the 2006 local elections, it won about 800 votes in Soweto and added its first black representative in Bela-Bela in November 2022.

‘Conservative stance’

Party leader Pieter Groenewald said during his address at Saturday’s electoral manifesto launch that the FF+ would focus on rebuilding the country and its economy through investments and job creation, tax reductions and getting rid of Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) and affirmative action.

North-West University lecturer Dominic Maphaka said it was not surprising to hear that the FF+ wanted to get rid of B-BBEE and affirmative action.

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“The FF+ and the Democratic Alliance (DA) have been very critical of the ANC’s race-based affirmative action policies.

“This conservative stance serves them well because it responds to their constituents, who share the same view,” he said.

“The reality on the ground has shown that this stance has worked for them in the 2019 general elections,” he said.

“The stance saw the party drawing white conservatives who defected from the DA due to its unclear stance on affirmative action.

“By then there were two DAs – Maimane’s pro-affirmative action and Zille’s anti-affirmative action factions, respectively.”

Maphaka added that the DA had corrected this since Maimane’s departure through an anti-race-based economic justice policy.

“The foregoing suggests that they [FF+] will be vying for votes with the DA that could possibly retain conservative white voters.”

He said South Africa’s issues of poverty, inequality and unemployment could not be resolved without a race-based policy.

DA voting base

Political analyst Piet Croucamp said Groenewald had managed to change the image of the FF+ from a right-wing party to a conservative party.

“We have seen in the past two elections the FF+ grow at the expense of the DA. That’s where
they got their vote.

“Remember what happened in Schweizer-Reneke and some of the things said by the DA about the FF+? I think the DA targeted the FF+ deliberately and the vast majority of South Africans are very conservative.

“It’s possible the white vote, which was to a large degree conservative due to Afrikaners, might swing between the DA and the FF+ depending on the person’s perspective,” said Croucamp.

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