Is the Cape Party onto something – could it become SA’s UKIP?

By Alec Hogg

I recently enjoyed an accidental meeting with a lawyer who had been doing a lot of thinking on the prospect of the Western Cape seceding from the rest of South Africa. As he unpacked the argument, it reminded me of a wonderful book published 20 years ago which presented ideas which seemed similarly outrageous at the time.

Crazy as they seemed in 1997, much of what James Dale Davidson and William Rees-Mogg wrote in The Sovereign Individual have actually happened. And one still outstanding seems to be drawing ever closer. In the preface they wrote: “The United Kingdom is likely to break up into its original nations. Scotland seems to be moving towards independence…”

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister and leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP). Photographer: Matthew Lloyd/Bloomberg

Yesterday, Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed she will be asking for permission to hold a second referendum on Scottish independence. Sturgeon is targeting late 2018 to co-incide with the UK’s Brexit negotiations. As 62% of Scots voted to remain in the EU, Ms Sturgeon believes Brexit will swing the scales to independence, which was defeated 55-45 in 2014. If she is right, Northern Ireland will surely not be far behind. It voted 56-44 to remain in the EU. And where the UK goes, why not other geographies?

Jack Miller’s Cape Party might have only attracted 10,000 members in its first decade. But UKIP, which called and eventually took credit for Brexit, was only created in 1993 and had a modest 39,000 members at the time of the shock EU referendum. Maybe the Cape Party will do a UKIP. Davidson and Rees-Mogg’s treatise suggests it could.

From Biznews community member Brian Wasmuth

I read your comments about the Cape Party and the idea of secession with great interest. I don’t know the party at all and I don’t know Jack Miller from a bar of soap. Your perspectives piqued my interest and resonated with some thoughts that I’ve had during the past 24 months or so; and so I thought I would write to you quickly. Bear with me when I just give some quick background.

I’ve always supported the idea of democracy in South Africa and personally I was quite involved together with the business community, especially in Port Elizabeth in activities supporting the advent of democracy in South Africa and in the early 2000’s, I was quite involved from the socio-economic and socio-political perspective, doing some work together with Kevin Wakeford when he was CEO of SACOB (I take it you know Kevin?). I used to write for the Eastern Cape newspapers quite prolifically due to the work that I did there and I also wrote now and then in the early 2000’s for the Johannesburg press and spoke on national television and radio upon Kevin’s instruction and behalf now and then. So I suppose that whilst I am still pretty naïve, I have had a little exposure to the socio-economic and socio-political dynamic in South Africa, especially during the past 27 odd years. (And I suppose I suffer from my own myopia as well). (My wife also thinks that I am too vocal and outspoken for my own good on social media about the socio-political and socio-dynamic prevailing in South Africa at the moment.)

I grew up in apartheid South Africa in an apolitical environment, but with a family with strong national party leanings, but, whilst enjoying the spoils of apartheid, never supported or voted for the NP. During the late 80s and early 90s I became a strong advocate for democracy, especially from the perspective of representing the business community within the prevailing socio-economic and socio-political dynamic at the time. So, the so-called rainbow nation was an ideal which I avidly supported and agitated for in a way. (In 92 or 93, I was asked by the Weekend Post to write an article on ‘why South Africa will work post-1994 or why South Africa won’t work post-1994’ – it was a double page article and obviously I supported the notion that the rainbow nation would become a reality and prevail and flourish – I’m not so sure about that any longer).

Taking into account the dynamic since 2009 (and I must say that my sense is that the cracks were already starting to become visible pre-2009) I have gradually become more and more pessimistic about the rainbow nation. During the last two years one of the perspectives that I have developed is that a geopolitical dynamic will begin to develop in South Africa and manifest in terms of some kind of secession or at least stronger federal dispensation bring about stronger self-determination and self-rule; and obviously the Western Cape ( and possibly even the Northern Cape together with the Western Cape) would be the epicentre of such a geopolitical shift. My thoughts are not born from any racist perspective at all; the Western Cape is attracting people irrespective of colour and race and creed who have a stronger leaning toward a strong and growing economy being the fundamental tenet upon which an egalitarian society can eventuate and so alleviate the societal ills that apartheid foisted upon South Africa, societal ills which unfortunately are not being eradicated under the rule of the current government. And so societal self-determination is manifesting quite strongly and may eventually lead to a more overt push toward some kind of political independence and secession. (My personal perspective is that the Western Cape probably has a better chance of successfully drafting its own ‘Marshall plan’, of implementing such a plan successfully and then sustaining economic growth such that there can be opportunity and a place under the economic sun for everyone – what the NDP was supposed to do for South Africa as a whole.)

Why am I telling you all of this; because when during the past two years I have indicated that my ‘intuitive intelligence’ indicates that there could be a stronger possibility of a geopolitical dynamic in South Africa which brings about some form of secession (the Western Cape), those that I’ve spoken to have thought that I am an ideologically deluded old man (I’m 64, but not old) caught up in my own political and racist  myopia, living in a pre-94 South Africa. And now I feel vindicated. Alec Hogg, the Alec Hogg, has raised the same issue.

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