Panyaza Lesufi: 'BLF advances the interests of the poor'

The ANC must have a working relationship with leftist political movements, including the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and Black First Land First (BLF), according to Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi.

In an interview with News24 ahead of the hotly-contested ANC Gauteng elective conference, Lesufi said the ANC, EFF and BLF must come together for the betterment of the poor. 

Lesufi is contesting the position of deputy chair of the province. 

He said a working relationship between the governing party and other socialist political parties was "inevitable".

'No one-night stand affair'

However, it should be a sustainable relationship instead of a "one-night stand affair" that only benefits one political party.

"You might not be happy with [BLF leader Andile] Mngxitama, but [the] reality is he represents a thought that will advance the interests of the poor," Lesufi said.

Mngxitama has recently been accused of doing the bidding of former president Jacob Zuma and his close associates, the Gupta family.

Both are alleged to be at the centre of the state capture project, where taxpayers' money was syphoned from the state through state-owned enterprises.

Mngxitama has regularly shared the stage with Zuma outside the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Durban, where he has been appearing on corruption charges.

"Anyone who advances the interests of the poor, regardless of how that person conducts themselves, we must bring closer to the ANC, so they can be schooled appropriately to know that there is nothing better than non-racialism," he added. 

Political parties working hand-in-hand

Lesufi was sharing his thoughts on what he believed would be the best future for South Africans, which he said needed the ANC to work alongside political parties such as the EFF, PAC, Azapo and the BLF.

"No way we can resolve the problems of the poor if we still differ on how best to represent the poor. I have that strong view. [I have] raised it before EFF, during the EFF period, and I still raise it," he said.

Lesufi is one of the few voices in the ANC who continues to say that the party made a mistake when it expelled EFF leader Julius Malema, who was then the president of the ANC Youth League.

Responding to Lesufi's views on Talk Radio 702 this week, the ANC's head of elections, Fikile Mbalula, said Lesufi "needs to keep his opinion in the bedroom".

Lesufi said he wanted to see the DA's control of Gauteng metros "reversed".

The ANC lost the Tshwane and Johannesburg metros during the 2016 local government elections.

Good leadership to wrest back control

"If you get good leadership coming out of this ANC conference, we will win back the metros on our own," he said.

But, when asked if the ANC would approach the EFF in Tshwane, as the red berets had done in Nelson Mandela Bay when they tried to remove Mayor Athol Trollip, Lesufi said: "I don't want to jump the gun."

The EFF was willing to back an ANC mayoral candidate if the party put forward someone with credibility. It wanted Trollip removed after the DA opposed its parliamentary motion to amend the Constitution to allow expropriation of land without compensation.

"I don't want cosmetic arrangements. I want tangible arrangements, not just because we want to spite the DA. We will talk to the EFF so that we are in charge of the metro," Lesufi explained.

Lesufi is pitted against Economic Development MEC Lebogang Maile and former Johannesburg mayor Parks Tau for the position of deputy chair of the province.

The conference is expected to choose new leaders ahead of the elections next year, where the ANC is looking to bolster its electoral support in the province after declining to 53% in 2014.

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