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‘Our best hope is creating our own first world nation on Africa’s southern tip – the Cape of Good Hope. Together, let’s build Africa’s newest country. Security, freedom and prosperity for all the peoples of the Cape!’, reads the statement on the Cape Independence Advocacy Group website. Last year, group co-founder Phil Craig told BizNews founder Alec Hogg that ‘36% of people in the Western Cape would like to see an independent Cape’ (listen to the interview below). But would it be possible? According to Stats SA, it is Gauteng that is ‘South Africa’s economic powerhouse’, contributing ‘a third of South Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2017′. Gauteng contributed a significant 34% to the overall GDP, while the Western Cape managed just 14% in the same year. ‘Cape independence is completely dependent on the support of 50% of all WC voters, plus 1 more. This is the real ‘high bar’ for secession’, says Craig. Even with the support of Western Cape residents, would the province be able to survive without the ‘economic powerhouse’ that is Gauteng? Share your thoughts below. – Jarryd Neves
Cape Independence – A year-end report
By Phil Craig*
In a year of great uncertainty, when the last page of 2020 is finally turned, one truth will already have been established beyond any possible doubt – 2020 will have been a fantastic year for those wishing to see a breakaway independent Western Cape.
The debate around Cape independence has never centred on whether it is actually a good idea, let alone whether it is in the best interests of the people of the Western Cape. In any objective assessment both are surely givens? There is no greater testament to this than that not one single commentator opposed to independence has taken up the challenge laid down by the Cape Independence Advocacy Group (CIAG) on 23 June in the Daily Friend, and which was then mailed directly to over 70 senior journalists and politicians.
“Is anyone willing to advance a reasoned argument why the people of the Cape would be better off by remaining in a union with South Africa?”
Opponents of independence avoid discussing its merits
This is not of course to say that opponents of independence have been silent on the issue, quite the opposite. The political left have been positively foaming at the mouth on the subject. Pierre de Vos, Max du Preez, and others have avoided the merits of the idea entirely and focused their attacks on whether it is a possibility, whilst the Democratic Alliance (DA), for entirely different reasons, have followed precisely the same strategy.
I bear them no malice. This is an entirely sensible strategy. How would you argue that surrendering political power to a corrupt, incompetent, racist regime, which you didn’t vote for, and which actively discriminates against the majority of you on the basis of your ethnicity, is a good idea? What empirical data could you possibly use to bolster any claim that the Western Cape is better off being governed from Pretoria? Not economic growth, nor unemployment rates, not educational standards nor crime rates. Not how well we have dealt with poverty and inequality, or the efficiency with which we run government services and state-owned entities. No, you definitely need to avoid all of those like the plague.
Instead you would look to exploit the natural fault line amongst would-be Cape independence supporters – those who believe it is possible, and those who love the idea, but don’t believe it possible. This is, therefore, exactly what we have seen from the anti-independence camp.
Trying to shame people into silence
The anti-camp has pursued two primary strategies: to try and persuade voters that it is legally futile, and, somewhat predictably, to try and portray the movement as inherently racist. Neither is grounded in reality, but then that wasn’t the intent of either strategy anyway. The legal strategy is calculated to discourage people from following their hearts, manipulating them into giving up without trying, whilst the race strategy is designed to shame people into silence.
To the doubters I would say this – dare to dream. Decide what you really want, decide what you believe to be in your best interest. If you think Cape independence is not in the best interests of the people of the Western Cape, then stand up for that viewpoint, be heard. But, if you believe independence is actually in our best interest; don’t allow others with very definite personal agendas to shame you into silence or convince you that it isn’t possible and therefore that you shouldn’t even try. Don’t be pressured into admiring the emperor’s new clothes even though you can’t yourself see them.
Although its origin is disputed, the phrase often attributed to Gandhi is very appropriate to Cape independence:
“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win”
In 2019, a Google search shows that three media houses ran a total of four articles on Cape independence. In 2020, twenty-seven different media houses ran well over fifty articles. Writing in the Daily Maverick, Pierre de Vos said “The rest of us are, of course, also free to mock them”.
I think it is clear to see where independence now is on the ‘Gandhi’ continuum, and how much it has moved during 2020.
Race and legality decisively dealt with
The independence movement itself has its own role to play, and it must wear many hats. The public narrative is important, and people like De Vos and Du Preez have an audience. It was therefore critical that, despite their duplicitous nature, the legal and racial positions against Cape Independence were dealt with decisively. Both were.
Within hours of Pierre de Vos suggesting Cape Independence wasn’t legally possible, on account of the constitutional bar being set too high, the CIAG was inundated with offers of help from legal experts on 3 continents. In the end four very different commentaries put the matter decisively to bed.
The CIAG responded directly to De Vos, pointing out that the Constitution is but one component of the complex political jigsaw of secession, and that the democratic will of the people almost always has, and will, trump the letter of the law, just as it did with the end of apartheid. Dr Fatima Saayman, an expert in remedial secession and international law, explained the process by which a seceding territory could do so without the permission of the parent state, giving referenced examples of how this happens on a regular basis, pointing out that this is in fact the ‘norm’. Prof. Koos Malan explained how the constitution is a living reality, not a finite written document, and that it is in a state of constant change driven by the political realities of the day. Independence, in one form or another, is already happening and inevitable. Finally, Dr Corne Mulder emphasised that political realities on the ground, and not the Constitution, will determine Cape independence, before publicly announcing the Vryheidsfront Plus’s support for Cape independence at the Cape Town Press Club.
Poll & march show Cape independence anything but white
When it came to the matter of race, the independent poll commissioned by the CIAG and run by Victory Research was emphatic. Some 72% of those supporting Cape independence were not white. Those who still refused to believe that Cape Independence wasn’t in fact synonymous with a white ethno-state received a rude awakening, when the first major march for Cape independence, the Cloetesville March, turned out to be a distinctly Cape-flavoured affair, and anything but white. Predictably the race-based insults continued unabated, but were telling in their own right. I must confess I whooped a little when confronted for the first time with “Cape independence is just a bunch of stupid coloured people”. Another battle won.
That the poll showed 36% of all Western Cape voters and 53% of WC DA voters supporting independence had many more people hot under the collar. No one wants to believe the majority of DA supporters in the Western Cape want independence, least of all the DA. This in itself is quite remarkable. Does the DA really think that DA voters enjoy voting DA and getting the ANC despite being in the WC majority? Why wouldn’t they support independence?
2021 elections going to feature Cape independence
So, we end the year in a very different place from where we started it. Independence is now firmly established as a political option in the mainstream narrative. CapeXit (the organisation) ended the year with 630k signed mandates for independence, a number equal to 20% of all registered WC voters, and two political parties, the Cape Party and the Vryheidsfront Plus, who will be contesting the 2021 local elections whilst supporting Cape independence. I can say with a high degree of confidence that other political parties will have joined them before then.
Veteran journalist and historian, RW Johnson wrote late last year that in those elections there was a good chance that the DA would have its hand forced on Cape independence. He refers to the DA as having been ‘scrupulously silent’ on the issue. This isn’t entirely correct, but they certainly have been extremely guarded. We have good visibility behind the closed DA doors, it might look like a duck swimming calmly, but we all know how that analogy goes. Cape independence is now at the very heart of Western Cape politics and the DA will undoubtedly have polled its significance.
2021 promises to be even more exciting.
How can independence supporters help?
What can you do? The appointed time is upon us. If we want Cape independence we have to take it. That means wearing your heart on your sleeve. Telling your friends, your family, and your colleagues that this is something you want – a better life for us all, regardless of race, religion, and culture. People take time to come around to the idea of Cape independence; you are going to get laughed at by some, insulted by others. People have suffered far worse in the name of freedom.
Cape independence is completely dependent on the support of 50% of all WC voters, plus 1 more. This is the real ‘high bar’ for secession.
The views of the writer are not necessarily the views of the Daily Friend or the IRR.
- Phil Craig is a co-founder of the Cape Independence Advocacy Group, an independent group ‘committed to, democratically, lawfully and peacefully, obtaining independence for the collective peoples of the Cape’. This article was originally published on the Daily Friend.
- ‘We want out of SA’ – 36% in Western Cape want independence, says poll
- Referendum could see majority for Cape secession – The Spectator
- Angry SAs speak: Can Cape secession save SA? Here’s what SAs want #2020 in review
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