FF+ claims victory as 'troublemaker' Black First Land First deregistered

15 July 2019 - 17:16 By Andisiwe Makinana
Black First Land First leader Andile Mngxitama.
Black First Land First leader Andile Mngxitama.
Image: Masi Losi

Black First Land First (BLF) has been deregistered as a political party.

The Electoral Commission announced on Monday that it had found in favour of an appeal lodged against the registration of the organisation by the Freedom Front Plus (FF+) on the grounds that the BLF excluded membership on the basis of race.

LISTEN | BLF vs FF+ a battle of political will

FF+ leader Pieter Groenewald said on Monday his party was satisfied with the victory but disappointed with the IEC for initially allowing the registration of BLF, which it said was clearly against the law.

In a statement, the commission said it defended its 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. But when BLF leader Andile Mngxitama, in his opposing statement to the Electoral Court, admitted that his party's constitution indeed excluded white people from joining the party based on their race, the IEC was forced to find against the party.

"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.

"Section 16(1)(c) of the Electoral Commission Act gives the CEO (and, on appeal, the commission) no discretion but to reject an application for registration if membership of a party is excluded on any of the grounds prohibited under subsection (ii)," the commission said.

It ruled that the registration of the BLF as a party was therefore unlawful on the grounds that it was prohibited under section 16(1)(c)(ii) of the Electoral Commission Act and was invalid.

Groenewald said the fact that the appeal was granted meant that justice had prevailed.

"The FF Plus has been fighting for law and order in this case since January. It is unacceptable that the IEC violated the act by registering the BLF in the first place. Legislation may not be seen as mere guidelines, it must be complied with. No one is above the law," he added.

He said his party was satisfied with the victory but disappointed with the IEC because the commission initially defended the registration of the party, "which was clearly in contravention of the relevant legislation".

"The FF Plus fights back against racialism and lawlessness and will not back down in the face of troublemakers like the BLF," said Groenewald.

Meanwhile, the IEC dismissed an appeal by the SA 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. The IEC found that the ATM had met all the necessary requirements for registration in terms of the Electoral Commission Act.

"On careful consideration of the documentary evidence before the commission, there can be no doubt that the ATC and ATM are the same political party and further that the two registration applications are interlinked. The supplementary application only sought to deal with those particulars in the initial application that had rendered the ATC inadmissible, (the name and logo)," the commission found in its ruling.