- Black First Land First (BLF) was launched by former EFF MP Andile Mngxitama in 2015
- Until recently BLF had achieved nothing of political significance and built a reputation around thuggery and provocation
- The party has cleverly used the exposure it gained by supporting Jacob Zuma to launch its 2019 election campaign
The eyes of the entire country were focused on Durban last week Thursday and Friday. This was in anticipation of former president Jacob Zuma’s first appearance in court.
On Thursday a group of religious, business and political leaders led a night vigil in support of Zuma. At the head of the group was the Black First Land First (BLF) organisation, which was launched by former Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MP Andile Mngxitama.
Until that moment BLF was an organisation which had achieved nothing of political significance and had built a reputation around thuggery and provocation. BLF has become infamous for disrupting political events and making racially insensitive remarks.
Briefly.co.za gathered that all of this changed during the night vigil and events following Zuma’s brief appearance in court. The organisation cleverly used the event to promote itself to the gathered crowd, the size of which BLF could never have hoped to pull by itself.
BLF leaders addressed the crowd and handed out flyers featuring Mngxitama’s face and explain its views on Zuma’s support of economic transformation.
It seems clear that BLF was not really there to support Zuma, but rather used the event to launch its own 2019 general election ambitions. The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has confirmed BLF is registered to contest the upcoming election.
Reports indicate that BLF could actually play a crucial role of kingmaker in KwaZulu-Natal in the aftermath of the 2019 elections. This as factions favouring Zuma within the ANC are reportedly contemplating working with Mngxitama and BLF as a way to punish President Cyril Ramaphosa for removing Zuma from office.
BLF has dismissed the claim and said it had no working relationship with the ANC. The organisation said its only aim was to unite all black people.
Zuma has thus far been happy to accept the support of BLF and its #HandsOffZuma campaign. The former president even gave the organisation a special nod when he addressed the crowd after making his court appearance.
BLF’s support of Zuma has little to do with Zuma as a person and more to do with Zuma’s powerful symbolic meaning, especially in KwaZulu-Natal. Zuma has in BLF’s own narrative become something of a persecuted revolutionary who stands alone in his fight to free the poor from economic oppression.
Mngxitama’s support for Zuma seems disingenuous when one remembers how he criticised Zuma while he was still an EFF MP.
“There is nothing that our President, Mr Jacob Zuma, can say or think that can possibly fly above the head of Julius Malema,” Mngxitama said in Parliament.
The only conclusion which can be drawn is that BLF is using Zuma in a clever way to mobilise political support for its 2019 campaign. Or in simple terms, Zuma’s newest BFF is using him.
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