Below is an interview Political Analysis South Africa’s Mzoxolo Mpolase had with Mr Andile Mngxitama, President of Black First Land First (BLF), in response to Mngxitama’s tweet relating to the Holocaust, and subsequent legal action against him by the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD).
Interviewer: The SAJBD has initiated legal proceedings against you. What are your thoughts about this action?
Andile Mngxitama: Well, firstly, my point has been proven. The white community, including the Jewish community, are involved in approving the erasure of black suffering, and the black holocaust. Anyone, who has an understanding of the English language, would have known that I am paraphrasing Helen Zille. Take my quotes, side-by-side with Helen Zille’s quotes, and you will see that I am paraphrasing Helen Zille. And that is precisely my point – if you put white bodies, where black bodies are put, it elicits this kind of response against me. Where is the Jewish Board of Deputies’ complaint to the Equality Court, with Helen Zille’s tweet? So, it is okay for black people to be brutalised, to be massacred, to go through a black holocaust; and it be erased. When we show the indication of erasure, we then become traitors, instead of victims that we are. So, I am looking forward to meeting them in court, and I also note with disdain, of course, their patronising bullsh*t about me needing any education about the Holocaust. I do not need education about the Holocaust – I lived through the Holocaust as a black person.
Part of the relief that the South African Jewish Board of Deputies seeks is an apology, and a retraction of your remarks.
They will not get an apology from me. I am owed an apology. I am the one who is owed an apology.
By whom; by the South African Jewish Board of Deputies?
By the white community, and the Jewish Board of Deputies; their whole project is to dismiss, and to erase black suffering. To claim that I need education is arrogant, and racist, patronising. The Jewish Board of Deputies needs to be educated about the suffering and about the origins of the Holocaust, and about the third Holocaust; it has got nothing to do with Jews, or white people, but they are perpetrators of the Holocaust against blacks.
Just on the practical side, Mr Mngxitama, based on the Penny Sparrow legal precedent and indeed what the South African Jewish Board of Deputies appears to be requesting, is the R150 000 penalty by the court, or punitive measures by the court, and indeed, the legal costs which may also be awarded in addition to this if you lose the case? Is this a wise move at all on your part? Are you able to afford this?
I do not give a f*ck. I do not care. Listen, I do not care. Blacks cannot be racist, okay? I am not surprised. I mean, this is precisely what white power is; so it is part of our battle, it is part of our struggle. I do not care. I do not care, at all. Blacks cannot be racists. Blacks are victims of racism, and again here you see, I am being victimised for showing white racism – I am being punished. So, I am not going to stop. I mean, this is the bottom line – I am not going to stop exposing white racism; they must forget it.
So, the comment by Helen Zille, which you say was hurtful and derogatory to blacks, and with your comment the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, said that it was hurtful and derogatory to Jewish South Africans. Is it not possible, in Mr Mngxitama’s world, to view both as hurtful and derogatory, and refraining from both?
You, yourself, are reproducing the basic white arrogance and the white perspectives. You are denying to accept my motives, that I am paraphrasing Helen Zille to expose the hypocrisy of white power and white racism. I have done nothing wrong – that is what you do not get. I am saying, do not even attribute that tweet to me; it is Helen Zille’s tweet, paraphrased, yet you cannot get that? So I mean, if you are not stupid, you would know I am not hurting anyone – I am showing the hurt that we suffer.
From this action, and several other actions, and discussions that I have been having from other political parties – notably the EFF, for example, there is a sense that Mr Mngxitama is a man with nothing to lose. Would that be an accurate description of where you are at the moment?
Absolutely; absolutely, what do black people have to lose?
I ask this within the context of; you have been in the public domain for some time as a Biko scholar, as a politician and now, with BLF, still as a politician, and an activist. There has been, one would think, a radicalisation of Mr Mngxitama. Is that consistent with this notion of ‘a man with nothing to lose’, and what would this change be attributed to?
You never understood me. You never read my work in context. I have not changed one bit; nothing has changed about me. I have always known, we black people have nothing to lose; we have lost everything already. We are landless in our own country. What more? What more could you possibly think about losing. We have to lose our fear; so that we can regain our life and land. You never understood me; not one bit of change has happening in my political belief, my ideology and philosophy – not one. Show me where my writing, for instance, shows a deviation – not once. So, this is nonsense; these are people who never understood what I stand for, who do not understand my consciousness, who do not understand the black condition, that think that there has been some radicalisation. It is not radicalisation. I am shocked that I am not sufficiently angry about this condition of black people. Helen Zille can speak like that, and nothing happens to her – do you think that is normal? People know what colonialism is – the erasure of a people, mass murder of a people, land dispossession, exploitation, oppression, and the current exclusion comes from all of that. And, Helen Zille can say “colonialism is not so bad”, and nothing happens to her; that is a shock. “Where is the radicalisation of black people?” is the question I would ask.
Reading some of the social media comments, for example, when you had this FNB case of the dismissal of workers; there was this expectation that it is BLF that ought to take up this case. So using that understanding, the place that the SAJBD finds itself, I would say, is akin to that, for the Jewish community. So, in that case, is it your expectation that the South African Jewish Board of Deputies speaks on every issue of discrimination, or first and foremost, to speak to discrimination against a minority group, or particular group?
That is a mis-analogy, completely. All oppressions must be condemned. I cannot be talking about the oppression of my people, and not be talking about the oppression of others – I cannot talk about the oppression of black Africans, and not talk about the oppression of Palestinian children. I cannot speak about the oppression of the children of the DRC, and not talk about the shooting of black people, in the streets of New York. What kind of process of justice is that? One which is selective, and for my own people? No; the Jewish Board of Deputies is not about justice – it is about self-interest, and perpetuation of oppression; that is why they have got nothing to say about the Palestinian children that are being murdered every single day. Solidarity, is solidarity with all of the oppressed of the world.