DA must push for autonomy in the Western Cape: Woode-Smith

The DA has a chance to push for Western Cape autonomy due to the ANC’s decline. Though unable to govern independently, the DA might secure concessions by supporting an ANC minority government. Key demands include increased provincial autonomy and budget control, enabling reforms like a provincial police force and economic policies to boost local prosperity.

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By Nicholas Woode-Smith*

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has been handed an incredible opportunity to push for much needed autonomy for the Western Cape. The ANC’s radical drop of support could make or break the country, as the once ruling party will now need to make a deal to secure its rule.

Unfortunately, the DA will not be able to secure its own government alongside its allies, as was the plan of the Multiparty Charter. Smaller parties like ActionSA, the VF+, and others marred a lot of their election campaigning with anti-DA rhetoric, while being unable to secure sufficient support themselves.

This means that regardless of what the government looks like it will need to contain the ANC. An ANC-EFF or ANC-MK coalition would be disastrous, and as it stands, the ANC does not seem keen to go into coalition with these two troublemaker parties.

This leaves an opportunity for the DA to strike a deal with the ANC. However, this should not take the form of a formal coalition. The DA being a formal part of what will inevitably be an unstable, corrupt and incompetent government will inevitably lead to the collapse of the party. But the DA could enter into a deal of confidence and supply; essentially, allowing the ANC to form a minority government in exchange for concessions.

One of the concessions the DA should demand in exchange for allowing the ANC to form a government is to ensure increased autonomy for the Western Cape and any province that wants it. This would also include KwaZulu-Natal, which will likely be under MK rule. Doubtless, the MK would also enjoy increased provincial autonomy, and may be fine with this deal.

Increased autonomy for the Western Cape would allow the DA to finally embark on many of the essential reforms it needs to solve local issues that the ANC has allowed to fester. A provincial police force, divorced from SAPS’ corrupt hierarchy, is one such reform. The DA could even push to allow itself legislative independence, being able to strike damaging policies like BEE from affecting the province.

Additionally, the DA needs to demand a greater share of the budget. More tax money produced in the Western Cape should be used to uplift the Western Cape. With the wealth enabling policies that the DA could push, however, the overall tax revenue that could be produced may even come to outweigh the initial losses that the National Treasury would suffer.

While the DA cannot rule South Africa as it stands, it could ensure greater prosperity for the province it rules, while also acting as a prosperous example that the other provinces should emulate. Ideally, every province should be autonomous, as local governments are better equipped to care for their local constituents, while ensuring transparency and accountability.

The DA using its potential kingmaker powers should use this opportunity to eliminate the ANC’s meddling in the Western Cape, and finally show South Africans what the DA can do when it isn’t being sabotaged and held back by the ruling party. All in all, it will be a great test case for the next election.

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Nicholas Woode-Smith is a political analyst, economic historian and author. He is an associate of the Free Market Foundation and writes in his personal capacity.