'This is a banning order': BLF applies for leave to appeal IEC decision to deregister it

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BLF leader Andile Mngxitama. (Lindile Mbontsi)
BLF leader Andile Mngxitama. (Lindile Mbontsi)

Black First Land First (BLF) has applied for leave to appeal the decision by the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) to deregister it as a political party, the party announced on Wednesday.

"The BLF believes that should the Electoral Court grant us leave to appeal, strong prospects of success exist that the court will ultimately overturn the decision of the IEC," said the party's deputy president, Zanele Lwana, in a statement.

"This is a banning order against the BLF," added Lwana.

Earlier this week, the IEC announced that the Freedom Front Plus' (FF Plus) appeal to the commission to have the BLF deregistered had been successful.

The FF Plus' appeal was based on its assertion that the BLF's membership was exclusionary as it was based on race.

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."

Lwana said the IEC had been "bullied by the racist FF Plus into banning our movement".

She added the party would be taking "the fight up to the Constitutional Court if needs be". 

The IEC 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, the IEC said in reaching its decision.

"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," read the finding.

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