Andile Mngxitama. Picture: XANDERLEIGH DOOKEY
Andile Mngxitama. Picture: XANDERLEIGH DOOKEY

The registration of Black First Land First (BLF) as a political party  is “unlawful” and “invalid”, the Electoral Commission has found. 

The commission’s finding means the BLF will not be able to contest any election in SA and that it might have to be more inclusive to register as a political party.

The Freedom Front Plus lodged an appeal against the registration of BLF as a political party, on the grounds that the BLF excluded membership on the basis of race.

LISTEN | BLF vs FF+ a battle of political will

The BLF is led by Andile Mngxitama, an avid supporter of former president Jacob Zuma.

The BLF controversially uses the slogan “Land or death”, which the Equality Court found was hate speech. The party failed to obtain a seat after contesting the 2019 general elections in May. 

On Monday the IEC said the commission had 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.

The admission settled “any ambiguity” in this regard, it said.

“It also resolves the dispute as to whether the BLF is a party with a constitution that entitles it to registration: it is not,” the IEC said. 

 The IEC said 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). 

 “Consequently, the registration of the BLF as a party is unlawful on the grounds that it was prohibited under section 16(1)(c)(ii) of the ECA and is invalid,” the commission ruled. 

The commission said it has written to the appellants and affected parties to inform them of its decisions. 

The commission also dismissed an appeal by the SA Council of Messianic Churches in Christ (SACMCC) on 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 commission found that the ATM, which is now represented in parliament, had met all the necessary requirements for registration in terms of the Electoral Commission Act.