Pieter Groenewald, FF Plus leader – 4 April 2019
The legal action undertaken by the FF Plus to have the BLF de-registered as a political party will be followed through despite the fact that the party first withdrew its application that it brought before the Electoral Court on the 29th of March due to a technical reason.
In its place, an appeal has now been filed with the Electoral Commission so as to halt the BLF.
The FF Plus believes that the merit of the case is strong seeing as the Electoral Commission Act prohibits the chief electoral officer to register a party that excludes people from joining the party based on race, ethnicity and skin colour.
There is, however, a technical juristic argument that could sink the case. Thus, the FF Plus has decided to rather file an appeal with the Commission and give it seven days to decide on the matter.
Depending on the outcome of the appeal and should the Commission drag its feet with making a decision, the FF Plus will urgently bring the application before the Electoral Court in Bloemfontein again.
The time line for the upcoming elections forces the Commission to make a decision regarding the appeal as soon as possible.
The FF Plus brought the matter to the attention of the chief electoral officer on the 17th of January this year already. The IEC, however, only responded to the FF Plus’s letters in this regard on the 13th of March.
It was only then that it came to light that the constitution submitted to the chief electoral officer by the BLF is the same as the one that can be found on their website and that it excludes people from becoming members based on their race.
The FF Plus will not give up the fight against the BLF’s racism and racial polarisation. Being in contempt of South Africa’s Constitution and our electoral legislation may not be tolerated.
If any court bars us from the elections, ‘we will start an armed struggle’
The FF Plus has withdrawn its bid in the Electoral Court sitting in the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg to have Black First Land First (BLF) barred from participating in the 2019 elections.
“We withdrew our case on Friday because we said there is a jurisdictional technical argument that the Electoral Commission is making in their opposing affidavits that can go 50-50, and we feel it is very important that we do not lose this case on a technical argument,” FF Plus MP Wouter Wessels told News24.
Wessels said the substance of the party’s case was strong and no opposing parties would oppose its merits.
He said that was the only reason the party decided to withdraw its case, “for now”.
Wessels said the party on Monday brought an appeal application to the Electoral Commission, and has given it seven days to decide on the matter.
“We are appealing the decision of the Chief Electoral Officer to register the BLF as a political party, as we say the Electoral Commission Act prohibits the Chief Electoral Officer from registering a party that excludes on the basis of race, colour or ethnicity and the BLF conceded in their opposing affidavits that they do exclude white people from membership,” said Wessels.
The party said if the commission did not consider the appeal, it would reopen the case with the Electoral Court for the BLF to be deregistered.
Speaking outside court after being told that the FF Plus had withdrawn its case, BLF leader Andile Mngxitama said the party had wasted its campaign time by working on the case, only for it to withdraw.
He termed the FF Plus as “shivering”.
“We arrived here ready to fight. We were ready to defeat them and they have run away. The Freedom Front Plus have ran away, they have chickened out,” Mngxitama said.
He said the party was clear that it would defeat any case against it brought by the FF Plus, saying nothing would stop BLF from going to Parliament.
Mngxitama maintained BLF would never accept white people as members.
“Let us reiterate, we are a blacks-only organisation [and] we represent the interests of black people to defeat white people so that we can get real liberation as black people,” he said.
Mngxitama made the threat that if any court stopped the party from being a blacks-only organisation, it would go underground and start an armed struggle.
“Any court, anybody stopping us from going into the elections, we will start an armed struggle,” he said.
He added that the party had the support of Zimbabwean veterans and MK.