Cape Independence on the March: CT protest planned for Freedom Day to push DA into tabling Referendum

Momentum for Cape Independence continues to grow, according to the leading advocacy group’s Phil Craig. To illustrate its increasing on-the-ground support, the movement is to hold a march through the streets of Cape Town on Wednesday’s Freedom Day public holiday. It has approval for 2,000 marchers, who will assemble at the Grand Parade, although Craig reckons anything over 1,000 people would be regarded as a good turnout. Its purpose is to hand over a letter urging the DA to table a private member’s bill in Parliament that would enable referendums to be held at provincial level. This would open the way for an official referendum on the matter for the Western Cape, which the proponents of independence say is a major step towards transforming the province into a separate country.

Phil Craig on marching the streets of Cape Town and ensuring a referendum be held at provincial level

This isn’t our first march. We had a march in December 2020 in Cloeteville just outside of Stellenbosch and we marched into Stellenbosch. We haven’t been able to march between them for a long time because the lockdown regulations went down to a maximum of 50 people. So, we’ve been waiting for this. Marches are always difficult but it gets people motivated. Cape Town does have a degree of apathy for those things but I think we are going to see a really good number of people there and they’ll represent the Cape Independence movement very well. It’s not just us organising the march, we are organising the march in conjunction with Cape Exit, the Freedom Front and the Cape Independence Party. In Cape Town itself, 11 o’clock at the Grand Parade, right next to the castle and then we’re walking on a circular route that will take us past the provincial legislature and Parliament, past the District Six Museum and then back to finish at the Grand Parade. There are many reasons why, but one is that we’re in an interesting political landscape now, post-local government elections. There is a lot of focus on the coalition government. Then all of a sudden there was perhaps a slightly unrealistic hope that we finally got the ANC under 50%. The reality of a coalition government is starting to dawn on people, and we should see 2024 as a victorious moment in South African history. But it’s important to let people know – particularly in the Western Cape – we don’t need a coalition government. We have a functional government that is in its third straight term with a clear majority and we just need it to govern.

We want to keep the DA honest. They have made certain promises running up to the local government elections and the independence movement and the DA have accommodated each other fairly well given that we’ve got very similar views, but certainly there are significant differences over independence. But we found a way of accommodating ourselves, and that’s been around the democratic will of the Western Cape people. So, we are handing over a petition to Premier Alan Winde to thank them for that referendum legislation. However, there’s a slight edge to that as they haven’t actually brought the legislation yet. They have announced it and called for comment, but they haven’t tabled it in Parliament. So, let’s make sure that it happens; that legislation is now overdue and we need to make sure it comes.

On what will be regarded as a good turnout for the Cape Independence Party 

We’ve obtained a permit for 2,000 people. That’s the maximum that we are allowed to have under the current regulations. Anything that starts to get up towards a thousand would be a fantastic turnout. It may well be that we get to that thousand. I mean, it’s always an unknown quantity. But the indications in our groups are always much stronger. We have seen before the number of people who say they’re going to come and the number who turn up tend to vary. However, at this point, we certainly have the full allocation of 2,000 people saying they intend to come. Whether they all turn up on a public holiday remains to be seen. But I think there’ll be a good number.

On the DA being willing to support a referendum on Cape Independence

Is it being taken seriously? Yes. Is it being taken seriously enough? Probably not. But that’s a process. The DA has its challenges in that 70% of its voters are outside of the Western Cape. So, they have this slight conundrum where they’ll concede two things: they’ll concede the majority of their voters is in the Western Cape, who support Cape Independence, but they have these concerns outside of the Western Cape; and we’ve actually pushed them and we’d love them to poll their own voters because everything we’ve got, every anecdotal piece of evidence we have that would suggest there is massive support for Cape Independence outside of the Western Cape. I think the DA is slightly missing a trick there. But in terms of ourselves and the DA, there are a lot of similarities. We think we are fundamentally living in a failing state; that there’s not a very bright future unless some radical change happens. They want to see radical changes, federalism, they want to see that as devolution of powers going as far as a devolution of tax powers to the Western Cape. But they would ultimately see the Western Cape remaining as a part of South Africa, and that is a nod to the voters outside of the province. We have no gripe with any of those policies. We agree with them; we just want to go one step further. We don’t believe federalism will take us far enough, and we have question marks on whether it’s deliverable. But we are willing to work with the DA to get to that first step. We have never asked them to support Cape Independence. What we’ve asked them to do is to support the referendum, bring the legislation and allow the people of the Western Cape to decide for themselves. And the DA has indicated they are willing to do that. They just need to do it.

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