Just a year into his political campaign, Andile Mngxitama has emerged as a disruptor in South African politics. Heâ€
We told you about Mguptama. He issa junior captive of the Guptas, and like Collen Maine, he’s handled by Nazeem Howa. Role: Chihuahua! https://t.co/J2N6xDayQG
â€” Floyd Shivambu (@FloydShivambu) May 31, 2017
The Daily Vox reached out to several political analysts, journalists, and politicians for perspectives on Mngxitama. All of them declined, saying they did not want to recognise him or his politics. A prominent EFF member said, â€œNo thank you, please donâ€
Mngxitama is self-described orthodox Bikoist centred on advancing black interests. His political platform, Black First Land First (BLF), launched just over a year ago, is deeply antagonistic to white people. At a media briefing for the BLFâ€
This view is not unique. University of Pretoria law lecturer Joel Modiri, writing in the Daily Maverick, says thereâ€
One person who was willing to speak on Mngxitama was Professor Mcebisi Ndletyana, an associate professor at the University of Johannesburgâ€
Last month I met with Mngxitama at the BLFâ€
Mngxitama is surprised by the fact that no one wants to talk about him. â€œPeople donâ€
We talk about his childhood. Mngxitama was the third child in a family of 10 siblings. He grew up on a farm in Potchefstroom and went to Tlokwe High School in the North West. The school, he says, was run by racist white teachers. â€œOne of the guys [teachers] used to carry a gun in class and the same guy one day called one of the learners a baboon in Afrikaans,â€ he tells me â€œI was surprised that there was nobody who did anything about it.â€
Angered by this, he looked for someone who could intervene. This is how, at the age of 17, he met the man who would later become his mentor, apartheid activist Bassi Gugushe.
Gugushe was a rigorous mentor who would often sign him up for debates. â€œHe would put me in positions where we would debate with the people of the other ideological persuasions,â€ said Mngxitama of the man he calls â€œthe legend of Ikagengâ€. According to Mngxitama, Gugushe was killed by another black political party at the age of 23. â€œIt doesnâ€
In 2001, Mngxitama became a founding member of the Landless Peopleâ€
The BLF and Mngxitamaâ€
When president Jacob Zuma announced that heâ€
Mngxitama has criticised Malema for being too relaxed on this issue. â€œWhat land occupation has Julius Malema led? He has not done anything.â€
BLF and other political parties that advance black interests believe the expropriation of land is key to addressing the dispossession created by colonialism and apartheid, and economically emancipating black South Africans. â€œI would like to see land occupations becoming a national feature in this country,â€ he says. According to Mngxitama, the BLF is setting up agricultural colleges to train black people on how to run the land they are planning on occupying. Intake will begin in December and they will be starting the land occupation process in January 2018.
But SAfricans were already impoverish due to economic imbalance based on who owns what wealth nd % of minerals even b4 #statecapture.
â€” Thembinkosi Ngcobo (@Teevee81) August 13, 2017
But in recent months opinions towards Mngxitama and the BLF have hardened. Mngxitamaâ€
And then there were his Holocaust tweets.
EFF commander-in-chief Julius Malema recently told News24 that Mnxgitama was a reasonable person who had fallen into debt, and so become captured by the Guptas.
White monopoly capital, says Mngxitama, is the concentration of ownership of significant economic sectors in the hands of white people. â€œ[It] is actually a foreign force and it has externalised so much of our wealth and it continues to do so,â€ says Mngxitama. The term white monopoly capital has been contested by the likes of Trevor Manuel and Thabo Mbeki, who have said there is no such thing. Claims of it being invented and popularised by the infamous PR firm Bell Pottinger have done damage to the work being done to dismantle it, says Mngxitama. â€œFor me itâ€
Mngxitama says the BLF has agreed they will ask the Guptas for funding. â€œI can now confirm to you that we are going to ask for money from the Guptas.â€ The logic is that the enemy of your enemy is your friend. â€œAlready people are saying that we have got money from the Guptas. Theyâ€
The BLF sees the Guptas as a strategic ally because both are at war with a common enemy. â€œWe are still going to expropriate the bourgeoisie, all of it. But at this point, what do we gain from threatening white monopoly capital and the Guptas at the same time?â€
Accepting capital from the Guptas, or any other interest groups with money, isnâ€
The BLF has been accused of being paid-for militia and a tool of the Guptas.
Ndletyana says: â€œTheyâ€
But distraction has worked for Mngxitama before. He relates an incident from two years before matric, when he was the spokesperson for the school’s SRC and worked to remove the white teachers from his school.
A rival political group from another school had come to expel Mngxitama and his other comrades. â€œThere was chaos. We took this as an advantage to ourselves.â€ But they managed to convince the teachers that the rioting learners were there for them.
â€œThe combi which used to bring them to school was turned upside down and it was being stabbed in the tank of petrol and was set alight.â€ In the end, the teachers fled. Mngxitama and his peers had used a crowd who had come there for them, to remove their teachers. From then the school had black teachers. â€œWe decolonised my high school in my year and I was central in that, Iâ€
The common perception is that the BLF are a very small though vocal group with a limited grassroots following. Theyâ€
Mngxitama says heâ€
He also wants the big questions around land, the economy, and education to be resolved, and to be informed by black consciousness. He said that if the land question is answered, he will retire from politics. â€œIâ€
â€” Asher (@desceptor) August 12, 2017
Some see Mngxitama and the BLF asÂ contrarians to mainstream ideals who represent a more fierce version of black consciousness. Although support for this more radical perspective is growing, particularly among young South Africans, Mngxitama and his organisation’s combative and incendiary rhetoric, and their willingness to side with South Africaâ€
*Editors’ note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the BLF’s membership numbers and that Mngxitama was a member of the Congress of South African Students. This has been rectified. We regret the errors.