In response to Brian Benfield: Cape Independence is a viable path beyond conventional analysis

In a recent letter to BizNews, Dr. Brian Benfield, an insurance expert and economics professor, dismissed the feasibility of Cape independence. While his short-term risk analysis relies on insurance industry norms, it overlooks the broader context. Legal hurdles, constitutional provisions, and potential military intervention are scrutinised, revealing that achieving secession is more nuanced than Dr. Benfield suggests. Robert Duigan argues that the Western Cape’s diverse economy, strategic resources, and unique position make independence a viable option, challenging conventional political calculations. The narrative underscores the critical importance of seizing this last chance for a non-racialist future.

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Cape is independence is too important to let marginal doubts get in the way

By Robert Duigan

Yesterday, Dr Bian Bedfield, an insurance expert and professor of economics, wrote a short letter to BizNews explaining that Cape independence, while a “nice idea”, couldn’t possibly happen

His reasons were concise and broad strokes, and while reasonable on the surface, do not hold up to much scrutiny. All of them amount to extremely short-term analysis of risk, with no examination of the risk of inaction, or the potential reward for seceding.

In an insurance company, such an approach is important – one cannot predict the future with a great deal of accuracy, and so risk aversion and short-termism is par for the course.

But in dealing with existential questions, questions of marginal utility are a poor heuristic.

His assertions are only five, and so they can be easily dealt with, simply by looking at the bald facts in closer detail.

  1. No matter what legal opinions may be obtained, there is simply no unequivocal legislation clearly empowering the Premier of any province to call a referendum.

Well, that’s hardly the point, is it? Our Constitutional Court has the ability to read in clauses into existing legislation to bring it into line with the Constitution, and there is already a case heading for the Court on just this question – Kaapse Forum has already approached the Court to demand referendum powers for the purpose of having a referendum on policing powers in the province, and it is due to be heard in the coming year.

There is already legislation governing referenda, and all the Court needs to do, is rule that the Premier may call one too. The constitutional provisions in this regard are very simple.

  1. The Constitution does provide for Provincial self-determination, but it does not make secession a clear possibility. On the contrary, Section 41(1)(a) of the Constitution directs that “All spheres of government and all organs of state within each sphere must preserve the peace, national unity and the indivisibility of the Republic.”

No constitution anywhere in the world makes provision for its constituent territories to secede, yet secessions do occur. How could this be?

This reminds me of the Germans, who when asked what would happen if someone broke a rule, would respond “but that can’t happen, it is against the rules”.

This perspective misses the point; when you establish internal legitimacy for independence and act on it, you are already independent when the parent state objects or not. The constitution of that parent state isn’t the issue – whether to continue to recognise it or not, is.

The only constitutional issues which matter are those which permit one to prepare the grounds for secession, and that simply consists of getting the referendum which creates the popular legitimacy for independence.

The remaining steps are achieving international recognition, and negotiating for the settlement of debts and assets with the parent state. These are settled by international law, not South African law.

  1. Any attempt to secede from South Africa will likely result in the ANC government intervening militarily or otherwise in the Western Cape. This will simply hand power over this province to the ANC along with every other province.

How exactly? Police and military are outnumbered by private security 2-1, and in 2021, the military demonstrated that they cannot maintain the basic supply of food and water for even a fortnight when troops were deployed in a domestic wall-staring contest after the Zuma riots.

Those riots, while the biggest and most organised violent uprising since the end of apartheid, could not penetrate the Western Cape, and we saw no disturbances. Even when the ruling=party linked taxi cartels attempted to sow discord a couple months ago, little came of it and they were easily dealt with.

The notion that either by formal or informal force the ANC has the capacity to hold onto the Cape if it wants to break away is silliness. 

Any military action by the ANC would be followed by the declaration of a tax revolt, and taxes would be collected from municipalities, private security would be deputised, and matters would be brought into hand very quickly. 

SA would end up having to shoulder the national debt without the relief an equitable settlement would allow, while becoming international pariahs.

  1. Moreover, secession has the potential to make the people of the Western Cape dramatically poorer because well over 80% of the South African economy and natural resources are located outside the province.

Really? The Western Cape is one of only two provinces contributing more tax than they get back, and has the most diversified economy in the country. 

If the ANC wished to cut of minerals, what would they achieve? Consumer products arrive through the ports, and Saldanha is the only means to export bulk iron ore. Our electrical grid is the most diversified, and we use less power relative to our generation capacity than the rest of the country. Our water is sourced entirely from watersheds located within the provincial boundaries. 

We even have the bulk of the nation’s fish, natural gas, and specialty agricultural products. We have uranium reserves and the world’s purest untapped rare-earth element deposit.

If anything, we have the power of denial here.

  1. A DA majority is the only way to keep the ANC/EFF out of the Western Cape. Risking support for a break away from South Africa will cost the DA many black, coloured and Indian votes both in the Western Cape and nationally. This should be obvious. If the DA falls below 50%, the Western Cape will quickly be destroyed like every other SA province by an insatiably avaricious ANC/EFF/PA coalition.

This is simply a maths problem, and a simple one. All the Charterist parties together (ANC, PAC, EFF) together with the Coloured identity parties (PA, GOOD, NCC) do not have enough to form a coalition without the DA’s support. That is the only way the Charterist parties will come to power in the province – with the DA’s support.

The strategy our movement is pushing at the moment is to use the conservative VF+ and the liberal RP to force the DA into a coalition and get a referendum. Delivering a referendum will not alienate people unless they can’t vote in it.

The bigger picture

But there are deeper issues at stake. As I have covered on my blog at length (parts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5), South Africa votes according to racial blocs, and there is not a snowball’s chance in hell that a nonracialist or pro-minority government will ever gain office in South Africa.

Outside of the Western Cape, the logic of black nationalism is inviolable, and the DA know it, as their own research shows – black people do not vote in any significant numbers for minority candidates. This nation is guided by the pressures of Anglophone liberal-progressivism, Marxism, and black nationalism – the latter of which being a response to the melting pot of tribal ethnicities in the urban areas which has shorn South Africans of their roots and created a common community centred around race.

The notion that any nation will ever be blind to criteria of identity is laughable – no such situation has ever arisen in the history of mankind. No – political communities assimilate those who are kin, and exclude those who are not. Racial discrimination will never stop, and the Charterist parties are here to stay.

Even the best performance possible by the Moonshot Pact Coalition will not achieve a majority, and the ANC will hold all the cards for forming coalitions, as the biggest and most centrally positioned party, across the deep partisan divide.

The DA could entertain the notion of a coalition with the ANC, as Zille, Steenhuisen, Msimanga and Hill-Lewis have on occasion, but they have no leverage, and can at any time be ditched for the EFF, who would certainly gain massive support from pointing out that the ANC are race-traitors.

The DA, in order to gain power nationally, will have to get into bed with the ANC, and stay there, meaning they will have to halt criticism of the ANC’s corruption, racism and socialism.

This kills the DA.

The EFF will come to power, Ramaphosa’s socialist reforms will be implemented, the economy will continue to falter, and racialism will not die.

The fundamental logic of power in South Africa precludes the possibility of any rosy future for any minority group (or anyone but cadres and oligarchs, who work rather well together, as Roger Jardine has showed).

The Cape is the last shot at any nonracialist dispensation, because no ethnicity here has the numbers or institutional control to oppress any other group, forcing a system of fair compromises.

Yes, it could fail, but it is an existential imperative.

Perhaps for wealthy individuals, leaving the country is an option, but it is not for the majority of us, even the majority of whites. We must take action, and overcome the obstacles, not balk at minor challenges, because the obstacles at a national level are not minor, they are adamantine.

Defeatism like this, and the trivialisation of the last shot to secure any future at all is something that should not go unanswered

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