BLF wants the ANC’s pro-Zuma votes for 2019

Mail & Guardian - - News - Go­van Whit­tles

Two years af­ter its for­ma­tion, Black First Land First (BLF) has 100 000 mem­bers and plans to cat­a­pult it­self into the Na­tional Assem­bly af­ter the 2019 gen­eral elec­tions with votes from sup­port­ers of for­mer pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma, the party said this week.

BLF pres­i­dent Andile Mngxi­tama be­lieves his rad­i­cal left­ist party, known for its an­ar­chist an­tics and defence of the con­tro­ver­sial Gupta fam­ily, is among the top five choices for South Africans head­ing into the na­tional elec­tions next year. “BLF is a recog­nis­able brand. I have no doubt in my mind that we’re big­ger than UDM [United Demo­cratic Move­ment], we are big­ger than Agang, and elec­torally, we’re big­ger than the PAC [Pan African­ist Congress],” Mngxi­tama told the Mail & Guardian.

“In terms of the na­tional imag­i­na­tion, we are cer­tainly in the top five of po­lit­i­cal par­ties in the coun­try. Our move to adopt rad­i­cal eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion, defending [for­mer] pres­i­dent Zuma, go­ing af­ter white mo­nop­oly cap­i­tal, these have put BLF in the main­stream,” he said.

Mngxi­tama con­firmed that the BLF will con­test the elec­tions na­tion­ally for the first time next year. It regis­tered as a po­lit­i­cal party with the Elec­toral Com­mis­sion of South Africa this year but has not yet paid the par­tic­i­pa­tion fee. This was be­cause the Po­lit­i­cal Party Fund­ing Bill had yet to de­ter­mine whether the fee should be scrapped.

“They should re­move the cost for po­lit­i­cal party par­tic­i­pa­tion in the elec­tions,” said BLF spokesper­son Lind­say Maas­dorp. “We are con­sid­er­ing go­ing to the Con­sti­tu­tional Court, be­cause a fee of R600 000 is un­con­sti­tu­tional. Mem­ber­ship num­bers should be used to de­ter­mine if you can par­tic­i­pate.”

Mngxi­tama said some lead­ers who be­long to an ANC fac­tion in the Free State, North West and KwaZulu-Natal and who are op­posed to Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa have reached out to the BLF. ANC elec­tions head Fik­ile Mbalula told the M&G last week that he was aware of some ANC lead­ers’ plan to boy­cott the party’s elec­tion campaign.

“In terms of the black con­scious­ness po­lit­i­cal iden­tity, BLF be­comes the first choice,” Mngxi­tama said. “It also be­comes the first choice for peo­ple within the ANC who want RET [rad­i­cal eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion] and that, with Ramaphosa, it is not pos­si­ble.”

A for­mer Eco­nomic Free­dom Fighters MP, Mngxi­tama shared a stage with Zuma and ad­dressed thou­sands of his sup­port­ers dur­ing the for­mer pres­i­dent’s court ap­pear­ance on cor­rup­tion charges ear­lier this year.

The party would not dis­so­ci­ate it­self from the Gup­tas. “Why must I do that? There’s no back­lash from the pub­lic; it’s a back­lash from our enemies. Nelson Man­dela was asked to dis­so­ci­ate him­self from Fidel Cas­tro and he re­fused,” Mngxi­tama said. “Not that I’m say­ing the Gup­tas are Fidel Cas­tro,” he added.

The BLF, Mngxi­tama said, is styled af­ter Steve Biko’s Black Con­scious­ness Move­ment and, elec­torally, could win more votes than the PAC. Since its es­tab­lish­ment, it has led land oc­cu­pa­tions in Gaut­eng and Lim­popo, and protested against white mo­nop­oly cap­i­tal at ma­jor events such as the State of the Na­tion ad­dress and the bud­get speech, and vo­cif­er­ously called for South Africa’s white pop­u­la­tion to be kicked out of the coun­try.

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