DA and ANC dismiss Western Cape secession as 'myth' and 'self-serving'

The calls for the Western Cape's secession is a nonstarter, impossible and will go nowhere without the backing of the major political parties, say political experts. Economy analyst Zamikhaya Maseti said without Democratic Alliance support, neither a referendum, nor secession of the province would succeed. Constitutional expert Prof Pierre de Vos said it was impossible constitutionally because only the president and the provincial premier could call a referendum – and both were not interested in the idea. A new poll showed at least 47% of Cape citizens favour independence or secession from South Africa. But it was rejected by both...
The calls for the Western Cape's secession is a nonstarter, impossible and will go nowhere without the backing of the major political parties, say political experts.

Economy analyst Zamikhaya Maseti said without Democratic Alliance support, neither a referendum, nor secession of the province would succeed. Constitutional expert Prof Pierre de Vos said it was impossible constitutionally because only the president and the provincial premier could call a referendum – and both were not interested in the idea.

A new poll showed at least 47% of Cape citizens favour independence or secession from South Africa. But it was rejected by both the DA and the ANC, with conditional support from the Freedom Front Plus (FF+).

The DA interim leader, John Steenhuisen, called the idea a myth and ANC Western Cape spokesperson Dennis Cruywagen dismissed the poll as "self-serving" and "wishful thinking", saying a referendum for Western Cape or any province was not part of the party's philosophy.

Steenhuisen recently said although the DA shared the anger and frustration of the Cape independence advocates, they did not favour the idea.

"I want to be clear that we do not support this idea all. We remain fully committed to the South African project and would never forsake the people of South Africa," Steenhuisen said.

He said the resentment of the "corrupt, incapable national government" fuelled the secession calls.

The Cape Independence Advocacy Group (CIAG), a political pressure group, called for the Western Cape peacefully and democratically breaking away from South Africa and forming an independent sovereign state they named Cape of Good Hope.

A poll conducted by Gareth van Onselen's Victory Research and commissioned by CIAG in July gave authenticity to the CIAG vision of a new state within South Africa.

According to the poll, more than 1 in 3 Cape citizens (36%) support the concept of independence and almost 1 in 2 (47%) support CIAG's idea of a referendum. This despite opposition from major political parties.

CIAG spokesperson Phil Craig said the poll disproved the claim advanced by politicians that the lack of electoral support for the CIAG equated to a lack of support for independence – a claim the independence movement has always disputed.

"To the contrary, the poll substantiates the claim the CIAG has always made – that the majority of independence supporters vote for the Democratic Alliance (DA). 65% of all independence supporters in the poll support the DA. The poll goes much further than that, showing that the majority of DA (53%), Good Party (63%), and Freedom Front Plus supporters (89%) all want an independent Cape," Craig said.

"The myth that Cape independence is a white movement has also been emphatically refuted. The poll showed that 71% of independence supporters were either coloured or black," he said.

Maseti said the call for secession wouldn't work because the DA was not interested in it. "Without the DA blessing, it won't fly. It won't go anywhere, South Africa unitary state. The IFP tried this in 1994 because it wanted independence for KwaZulu-Natal but it was rejected at Codesa. This too will fail for the Western Cape," Maseti said.

Craig said other parties that would be campaigning for Western Cape independence at the 2021 local government elections were the Freedom Front Plus, the Cape Coloured Congress and the Cape Party.

"The poll indicated that the DA would likely lose their provincial majority if they directly opposed independence, whilst talk by the DA of national coalition politics as an alternative solution for the people of the Cape rings rather hollow given their recent track record in that regard," Craig said.

The poll also established that for Western Cape citizens, improved governance and escaping ANC misrule were the most popular reasons, followed by better security and policing, and an end to racially discriminatory laws. Of all the options provided, respondents who believed their race would have more dominance in an independent Cape came last.

The ANC's Cruywagen said: "We do not accept this self-serving survey in any case. South Africa is one united country, no wishful poll  will bring independence to the Cape. On Constitution is vociferous about a united and undivided country. You may have 100 referenda,  but you will definitely need a constitutional change. At this stage the ANC is the majority party in this country and independence for the Western Cape is not part of our philosophy."

FF+ leader Dr Pieter Groenewald said they conditionally supported the idea because it was in line with his party's self-determination policy. He said self-determination came first, but independence or a referendum was the final stage in their approach.

"If they want independence they have a right to do. As long as they support self-determination we will go hand in hand with then. The difference between us and other parties is that we are not calling for a referendum at this stage because we believe it should be a process. If you want to make a difference, do it at the right time and at present that is not the right time," Groenewald said.

The poll results showed 73% of Cape citizens felt overwhelmingly negative about South Africa's trajectory, while 68% believed the province needed to be given more power to govern itself. 47% supported a referendum on independence, with 36% already wanting independence and 53% believing their quality of life would improve in an independent Western Cape.

Craig said the next steps for the CIAG would be to increase pressure on the DA to openly and honestly engage with the provincial electorate on the subject of independence, given the high levels of support in general, and especially within their own voter base.

"This will be done via behind the scenes lobbying, a continuation of the current media discussions, and the campaign moving beyond social media and onto the streets. The DA has been quick to accuse the ANC of putting party before state, they must now decide if they intend to put party before province."

-ericn@citizen.co.za

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