The notion of Cape independence is rooted in the failure of the South African state.
Arthur Conan Doyle’s fictional character Sherlock Holmes famously stated, “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, is the truth”.
Consensus is fast emerging that state failure is now inevitable.
Author and historian, RW Johnson, says the ANC is now damned if it does and damned if it does not. If it fails to embrace more fiscally prudent policies, it will have them forced upon them by the IMF. If it does embrace them, then the ANC will be destroyed from within by the RET faction and the unions.
Gwen Ngwenya, head of policy at the DA, says South Africa has already gone over the cliff and a parallel state now exists. Dr Frans Cronje, CEO of the South African Institute of Race Relations, believes South Africa will break up into enclaves.
Current DA leader, John Steenhuisen, is pinning his hopes on a realignment of politics which will release the good ANC from its shackles, offering the DA a bit part role on the national stage. Ex-DA leader, Tony Leon, says the DA’s prospects of achieving national power are remote. Ex-IRR CEO John Kane-Berman says unemployment has increased from 3.7m in 1994 to 11.1m in 2021, but instead of tackling the causes, the ANC will instead further exasperate them by weakening property rights.
Support for independence likely to increase.
No one but no one is suggesting we are on the cusp of a turnaround, not even the ANC.
However improbable Cape independence may have once seemed, it is now firmly ensconced in the political discourse. The ANC only has 28.6% of the Western Cape vote, and it has never enjoyed majority support there. The de-facto collapse of South Africa is only going to increase support for independence. Desperate times call for desperate measures.
All of which leaves the DA with a genuine dilemma.
In the Western Cape they are the party with the most to gain from independence. Despite a raft of promises in their 2019 provincial manifesto to wrestle control of key services away from national government, most notably the police and transport, they have been unable to deliver a single concession from national government on either. Western Cape voters are getting restless. They do not expect anything from the ANC, but they do from the DA. They are expected to deliver, but they have not. Blaming the system will not save the DA, to Western Cape voters they have become the system.
Independence would solve all of this, but the DA has a problem. 69% of their voters live outside of the Western Cape. So now they feel as if they are damned if they do and damned if they do not. You can see it in their response. They are not leading the debate in the province over whether independence is or is not a viable solution, they are hiding under a blanket and hoping it will go away. Since South Africa is failing with or without them, the debate is here to stay and will only get louder.
If the DA could save SA, wouldn’t they already have done so?
Instead, the DA repeatedly serve the voting public with rather risible platitudes like “Let’s save all of South Africa” – a comment which does not even pass fleeting muster. You have to believe that DA hearts are in the right place – if they could save South Africa, I am happy to give them credit and say that they already would have. But when even your own leaders do not believe achieving national power is possible, how can the voting public be expected to buy into the notion?
If the DA wants to remain relevant and to deliver on its promises, it needs to embrace independence, and not just Cape independence.
The ANC has failed. There is not much the DA can do to save those who still insist on voting for the ANC, you cannot save a person from themselves. The DA can, and must, save those people who have voted for them. Where the state can no longer provide the services which citizens are entitled to expect, the DA must step in and take their place.
DA must get into the independence business.
Where they govern the province, the Western Cape, the DA must call a referendum on Cape independence, they must lead the leave campaign, they must solicit international support, and they must save the people who voted for them. In doing so, not only will they have saved a third of their voters, but they will have created a platform from which to service the remainder. It may not be ideal having to travel to the Cape for medical treatment once SA collapses. It is infinitely better than having to travel to Singapore. Better still, Cape companies will be better placed to provide services in South Africa, which would make Frans Cronje’s enclaves more viable.
Where the DA governs at municipal level it may not be able to deliver outright independence, but it can start to deliver de-facto independence. Where the state fails to provide services to which municipal voters are entitled, the municipality must step in. To fund this, it needs to find ways of diverting tax revenue from the national government into the municipal purse. Consult with tax specialists and devise a strategy. South Africans are itching for a tax boycott and will willingly join up to any such scheme. Landmark rulings have already indicated that the courts are sympathetic to bypassing ineffective government.
At ward level, and where the municipality is dysfunctional, the DA must create ratepayers’ associations where taxation is diverted away from the municipality and to the ratepayers who can then take over the functions abdicated by the municipality.
These actions may be a little uncomfortable for a major political party, but the citizenry of South Africa has already started down this path without them. There is already a vibrant independence movement in the Western Cape, there are already action groups in municipalities who have successfully petitioned the courts, and there are already rate payers withholding rates in lieu of services not delivered.
The DA does not need to reinvent the wheel, it just needs to get into the independence business. If they don’t, they are going to get left behind.
Phil Craig is a co-founder of the Cape Independence Advocacy Group. He is working towards the creation of the ‘Cape of Good Hope’, a first world country at Africa’s southern tip bringing freedom, security and prosperity to all who live there, regardless of their race, religion and culture.