WAT HET EK IN HIERDIE PARLEMENT OOR DERTIG JAAR GELEER? Afskeidstoespraak van dr. Pieter Mulder, Parlement. LESSONS LEARNED FROM 30 YEARS IN THIS PARLIAMENT. Farewell speech dr. Pieter Mulder, Parliament, 30 Nov 2017.
Honourable Dr P W A MULDER:
[Applause.] [Standing ovation.] Thank you. You must not do that before I even started.
Hon Speaker, I am honoured by this debate and all the contributions. I really wish I could react to every speaker.
There is an old saying: “All political careers end in tears.” With my decision to voluntarily resign as a Member of Parliament, I am trying to avoid that.
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.
Allow me to say a few words and express my gratitude.
Lessons learned in this Parliament.
What have I learned in this House?
There is limited time. I have learned that my truth and your truth might differ, but that we can still debate with each other and still respect each other.
I have learned that I have not persuaded someone just because I have silenced him or her.
I have learned that anger is a wind that blows out the lamp of the mind.
I have learned that politicians with talent are discovered in this place, while others are found out in this place.
I have learned that if you make a mistake, the media likes to portray you in cartoon with your foot in your mouth.
I have also learned that in this House, a closed mouth at the right time, gathers no feet. [Applause.]
I have learned, and it is very important, that no one can make you feel inferior without your own consent.
I have learned that the hallways and corridors of Parliament are the only place in the world where stories and sound travel faster than light. [Laughter.]
I have learned to be careful to wish for the departure of an opponent because there is always the risk that the replacement is even worse. [Laughter.]
I have also learned that in South Africa, identity is a highly debated topic. Are you a South African or a Christian? You must debate that. Are you a Zulu or a South African? I believe that we sometimes really complicate this matter unnecessarily, as we all have a number of identities.
My own identities ripple outwards like concentric circles. Firstly, I am a family man and a father to my children, but I am also an Afrikaner and part of the greater Afrikaans community. I am also 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 at the same time.
All these identities have a role to play, depending on where you find yourself.
As a Christian, I believe that I played my role here as a humble instrument in God’s hand.
In my identity as a South African, I served as a Deputy Minister for five years. At that time, I was the only Minster that was not a member of the ANC. The Afrikaners said, Piet Retief is weer in Dingane se kraal, ongewapen. [Piet Retief is again in Dingane’s kraal, without a weapon].
[Inaudible.] At that stage, my FF Plus youth leader resigned because I done that. Another Member of Parliament and several other members of the FF Plus also resigned.
I still believe that taking the job was the right decision, as it allowed me to contribute to making South Africa a better place for all of us. [Applasue.] I said it more than once that if this South African ship goes down, we all go down together, not one alone.
As Deputy Minister, I had the privilege to address African leaders at the African Union in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. Assuming the identity of an African that is concerned about my continent, I was able to point out that neither the West nor the East really cared about Africa, since the Cold War ended. My message was that we are going to have to solve our own problems from now on.
Right from my first day in Parliament, my belief as an Afrikaner was that minority rights and self-determination must form part of the permanent solution of South Africa’s problems and you know that I argued that accordingly.
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 of debates before we were able to establish an interpreting service for all 11 official languages in this House.
If we want to help people in South Africa regain their dignity – a very important part after 1994 – the first thing we need to do is to stop treating some languages as inferior to other. That goes for all eleven languages.
Allow me a few acknowledgements. First of all, I would like to thank my supporters who supported me in seven consecutive elections and who made it possible for me to represent them in Parliament for nearly three decades, 29 years to be exact.
I would also like to thank the Freedom Front Plus and my colleagues here in Parliament, over there. We made a good team and I believe we often contended out of our league.
Thank you to all the other colleagues here in Parliament for the debates and talks during which we formed one another. That is part of this House. A special thanks to the members of the committee for the spirit in which we were able to go about our business.
A heartfelt thanks to the Freedom Front Plus staff and I want to mention them because they are sitting up there: Dalien Steyn, Pieter Swart, Wanda Marais, Amanda Hughes and Carien Nefdt, and others who often worked under pressure, kept to deadlines and who made it possible for me to be smart and to do my job.
I would like to express my gratitude to the Speaker, behind me for her job and the other presiding officers for the role they played and for the extra ten seconds that they often gave me during all my different speeches. [Applause.] [Laughter.] Thank you for that. I may just add that no Speaker, during my 29 years, had the privilege to send me out of this House and to ask me to leave the House. They have never done that.
To all the parliamentary staff, the administrative staff, the police out here and the restaurant staff who work so hard behind the scenes, my sincerest thanks. Often, amid all the political frustration in this place, my lunch and their friendly service was the highlight of my day.
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. She said that it is very dangerous. Yet, she still watches the parliamentary debates every afternoon on television. Then she phones me afterwards to tell me that I need a haircut and that my shirt and tie did not match. [Laughter.] [Applause.]
As a family man, I would like to thank my family for all the sacrifices they made over the years. Thank you to my wife, Triena, in particular, who worked in the North West and who often had to raise the children on her own while I was here at Parliament. She was here, sitting in the gallery, when I was inaugurated, 29 years ago and she is here again today.
[Applause.] We have been married for 44 years, but she says that I was away from home at Parliament for political meetings so often that if she counts the days that I was at home, it only adds up to seven years of marriage. [Laughter.] So, I will have to make up now, going back there.
Thank you very much, everybody. May God bless us all as well as for South Africa. [Applause.] [Long Standing ovation.]
The SPEAKER Me Baleka Mbete:
Thank you, hon members for the very heartfelt tributes from members from different parties.
I wish to thank Dr Mulder’s wife, the family and the office for all the support to him over the years that he was here.
Dr Mulder, I wish to remind you of the occasion on which you led a delegation to the head offices of the African National Congress. These are some of the things that happen behind the scenes. What struck me that day was that you led the FF Plus to come and express to the majority party that you were coming to pledge your willingness to be part of building the future of this country. [Applause.]
You shared with us perspectives, information and understanding of the community that you come from, which we found very valuable. I want you to know that and I want South Africa to know that we should agree that the biggest task that we have, as South Africans and South African leaders, is indeed, at the end of the day, to make sure that we can leave a legacy that we did our bit during the time we were honoured to serve, in order for us to build a better South Africa.
On a couple of occasions, I have called you, Dr Mulder, right here in Parliament, to my office to contribute to a role that we are often called upon – to be an elder of this country. I think hon Buthelezi often is – to be an elder of this country. We serve, but for only a short time and we must always make the best of it.
We thank you for doing it. We hope that you will indeed enjoy the rest of your time. You have often talked about your grandchildren; enjoy them thoroughly.
Of course, it will be strange to only see one of the Mulder brothers sitting in the bench over there, but we wish you good luck. Thank you, hon members and farewell to you, Dr Mulder, on behalf of the presiding officers.
The business of the House is suspended until 14h00.