19 March 2019

South Africa: Blacks-Only Party Dragged to Court Over Racism

South Africa's exclusive Black First Land First (BLF) party has been dragged to court over its membership policy that shuns white people.

The Freedom Front Plus, a dominantly white party, has asked the Electoral Court to declare BLF's registration invalid for breaching the country's constitution and of the Independent Electoral Commission Act.

The party's constitution states that its membership is open to "any black person who has reached the age of 18 and accepts the politics, ideological perspective and constitution of the BLF".

However, Section 16 of the IEC Act says the commission may not register a political party that excludes people on the basis of race, colour or ethnicity.

On the other hand, Section 1 of South Africa's constitution states that the country is based on four core values, of which non-racialism is one.

"This makes clear that the IEC has made a big mistake. The FF Plus asks the court to rectify this error," FF Plus leader Pieter Groenewald said.

Mr Groenewald described BLF's registration as a political party as irregular, illegal and invalid. He said it would be a mistake to let the party participate in the May 8 elections.

"We are of the opinion that the electoral commission made a mistake by allowing the BLF to register in terms of legislation," he said.

He denied that FF Plus was also advancing the interests of white people.

"We are just the opposite. Nowhere in our constitution do we say white people may become members of the FF Plus. At this moment we have councillors who are not white people, they are brown people and I can inform you that in the 2016 election I had two black candidates, one in Soshanguve and one in Mafikeng," he said.

BLF leader Andile Mngxitama, who repeatedly referred to whites as 'land thieves', defended the move to exclude them from its party, saying they were terrified a party representing blacks was on the way to parliament.

"They will lose in court, they will lose in parliament and they will lose outside. We are coming to take our land," Mr Mngxitama said.

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