The statement that questioned the legitimacy of Andile Mngxitama’s membership of the Black First Land First (BLF) – and by extension his presidency – is now being disputed.
The statement, which was tweeted from the party’s account on Monday, claimed that Mngxitama wasn’t a paid-up member of the movement.
According to BLF secretary-general Siphesihle Jele, who questioned Mngxitama’s membership of the party, all protocol was observed in the manner in which he shared the statement.
Jele was facing “numerous serious charges” of his own and would be appearing before a disciplinary committee. And the BLF president has challenged Jele’s protocol claim, saying that he should not have had access to the party’s social media accounts.
Jele on Tuesday told City Press that there was nothing untoward about the statement.
“How can I be suspended by non-members?” he asked.
“Who are you to fire me? Prove that you are a member.”
Jele went on to explain how the statement was shared.
“When the administrators of the account saw the statement they saw an obligation to post it as it is required of them,” Jele said.
“We sent the statement, firstly, to everyone who is membership on the platform that was created by us. So the statement was sent to members of the party then the administrators tweeted it, as it is the norm,” Jele said.
The statement read: “The following comrades, Andile Mngxitama and Shantha Balashkrina, are not legitimate members of BLF until such time that they provide proof of membership and their respective branches.”
BLF national spokesperson Lindsay Maasdorp initially said that the party’s Twitter account had been hacked.
He (Jele) has even been granted an extension of time by the Disciplinary Committee to respond to the charges against him— Black First Land First (BLF) (@BLF_SouthAfrica) June 24, 2019
There is obviously no truth in silly allegation that President of BLF is not a member of a movement he leads. The President’s membership is valid until 2020. pic.twitter.com/15huWbOmlh
“An unauthorised statement was published this morning via that account and appropriate steps are currently being taken to correct this situation,” she said at the time.
“The statement published through the account purports to be from the suspended secretary-general of BLF, who is facing numerous charges by the movement.”
However Jele told City Press: “I have never even had access to the Twitter account.”
Speaking to City Press on Tuesday afternoon Jele said that he stood by his proclamations that Mngxitama was not a member of the BLF.
“We have challenged him to provide proof of membership because as far as we are concerned he can’t prove his membership. We have also challenged him to please tell us the branch that his membership is from,” he said.
“Proof of membership is a signed fully filled-in paper of membership of the Black First Land First and should be paid up. It should show how many years you have paid for because the membership subscription is R10 a year.”
This comes after Mngxitama presented what seemed to be his membership card, which shows that his membership is valid until 2020 and that he is a member in “Ward 34 Joburg”.
Jele went on to explain that what Mngxitama had presented as his proof of membership was nothing short of a mere invitation.
“He has not provided any proof. All he has done is provide a VIP invitation that he got when the organisation was formed. It is not membership,” he said.
To this claim Mngxitama said: “He is a liar. He is a confused joke.”
The leader of the movement said that Jele’s attempts to discredit him were in effort to shift focus his suspension and the charges the BLF had opened against him.
“This is the desperate kick of a dying horse,” Mngxitama told City Press.
“He is trying to lie his way out and is using this as a way to deflect from the charges we have brought against him. He is guilt so he is trying to muddy the waters and create this negative energy around our movement.”
Although Mngxitama could not disclose what charges had been brought against Jele, he emphasised their seriousness.
Jele ridiculed the charges.
“These were frivolous charges that were created. One of them is a complaint that I spoke badly about Andile Mngxitama on the 5th of April, a day before our battle plan launch,” Jele said.