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.