FF Plus claims victory as Andile Mngxitama's BLF delisted as political party

2019-07-15 15:41
FF Plus leaders Corné Mulder, Pieter Groenewald and Wouter Wessels, announcing their plans to ask the Electoral Court to deregister the BLF. (Jan Gerber/News24)

FF Plus leaders Corné Mulder, Pieter Groenewald and Wouter Wessels, announcing their plans to ask the Electoral Court to deregister the BLF. (Jan Gerber/News24)

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The Freedom Front Plus (FF Plus) says its appeal to the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) to have Black First Land First (BLF) deregistered as a political party has been successful.

FF Plus leader Pieter Groenewald announced this in a statement on Monday morning. 

"The commission ruled that the BLF is indeed excluding membership of the party based on race and that it has been deregistered as a political party," Groenewald said.

The FF Plus' case against the BLF stems from its constitution that only allows black people to join the party.

The BLF's constitution states: "Any black person who has reached the age of 18; accepts the politics, ideological perspective and constitution of the BLF; joins a branch of the organisation and is prepared to work actively in it as part of the branch collective; is committed to honouring the organisation's resolutions and decisions; accepts the organisation's policy perspectives; commits herself/himself to being a disciplined member and is willing to pay the necessary membership fees may become a member of the BLF."

Section 16 (1)(c) of the Electoral Commission Act states that the chief electoral officer may not register a party if, among other things, that party "indicates that persons will not be admitted to membership of the party or welcomed as supporters of the party on the grounds of their race, ethnic origin or colour".

Groenewald said the IEC initially insisted that the BLF had not contravened the law, as its constitution referred to an ideology rather than race.

'Blackness is criminalised in SA' - Mngxitama

BLF leader Andile Mngxitama contradicted this himself, saying in a statement opposing the FF Plus' application that the BLF does indeed exclude white people from joining the party.

"The commission, therefore, had to find in favour of the FF Plus and deregister the BLF as a political party," Groenewald said.

"The deregistration of the BLF as a political party is a massive victory for the whole of South Africa because the racial hatred and intolerance propagated by Mngxitama and his cronies should not be tolerated."

He also labelled the successful application as a "victory for law and order".

"It is unacceptable that the IEC contravened the law with the registration of the BLF. Legislation shouldn't be seen as guidelines, but must be complied with. No one is above the law."

Mngxitama said the party was studying the decision and would respond later in full.

"Our immediate response is that blackness is criminalised in South Africa," he added.

BLF's own admission sealed its fate

The IEC confirmed its ruling in a press statement.

It defended the original decision to approve the BLF's registration in 2016 as it said the BLF's constitution did not expressly exclude white people from membership.

However, subsequent admissions by the BLF in its response to the appeal had served to clarify the position of the party – namely, to exclude white people from membership, reads the statement.

"This admission settles any ambiguity in relation to clause 4 that previously existed. It also resolves the dispute as to whether the BLF is a party with a constitution that entitles it to registration: It is not," reads the finding.

The IEC has written to the appellants and affected parties to inform them of the decisions.

The IEC also dismissed an appeal by the South African Council of Messianic Churches in Christ (SACMCC) against the registration of the African Transformation Movement (ATM).

The SACMCC had objected to the registration on the grounds that the ATM had not submitted all the required documentation. However, the Commission found that the ATM had met all the necessary requirements for registration in terms of the Electoral Commission Act.

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Read more on:    blf  |  ff plus  |  pieter groenewald  |  andile mngxitama  |  elections 2019  |  politics
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