ON social media and elsewhere there is a buzz about the various constitutional law options for the Western Cape. The possibilities of secession, autonomy or more powers for the province are being widely discussed.
There are calls for a referendum, while others will use the 2024 election to show their support. What is certain is that Capetonians see where things are going in the rest of South Africa and they are determined that that fate should not befall the Western Cape any further.
Constitutional law model for SA
At the heart of this debate lies the burning question of what the ideal constitutional law model for South Africa should be. During the negotiations in the 1990s, the National Party, the Inkatha Freedom Party, the Freedom Front, the United Christian Democratic Party and others advocated a decentralised or federal South Africa.
In the end, the ANC, with the help of the NP, steered South Africa away from federalism to a strongly centralised state. Given the current realities of South Africa, this mistake is catching up with the constitution's writers 30 years later. The centralised unitarian state's ever-increasing failure and implosion puts a search for self-assertion and own decision-making back on the table. Why must we all sink together, the Western Cape is asking. Precisely because the province is able to move forward successfully.
The result is that solutions for South Africa are now being looked at anew and with different eyes. Those solutions will have to give recognition to our diversity on the one hand and to our broader interdependence and destiny in Southern Africa on the other.
These solutions can and will present several alternatives. Federalism, devolution of authority, more powers to geographical building blocks, subsidiarity, secession of the Western Cape, greater Cape freedom, do-it-yourself and a smaller government are all possible alternatives.
But it is very important to note that not a single one of these possibilities is going to be the only exclusive solution. It is not going to be a situation where it is either this or that solution alone. Precisely because of our diversity and because of the different circumstances in different parts of South Africa, it will be a situation of this solution and also that solution and a further variation of solutions.
Support for ANC continues to fall
CapeXit is the most important and largest civil society organisation campaigning for this. It is not a political party. If you join CapeXit, you are asked to express yourself in favour of Cape independence and that you will vote “Yes" for independence in a referendum. More than 840,000 people in the Western Cape have already replied “Yes" to both of these questions in writing and have joined CapeXit.
It is common knowledge that the will and consent of the people form the cornerstone of democracy. Some 71% of voters in the Western Cape indicated with their votes in elections that they did not want the ANC to rule over them. The people of the Western Cape have not once since 1994 given permission to be governed by the ANC. The ANC's support in the province has averaged 36% since 1994. During the last decade it has fallen to 31%. Despite Ramaphoria, it hit a new low of 29% in 2019 and everything points to an even lower percentage in 2024. The national government that has ruled the Western Cape since 1994 has never been elected by the people of the Western Cape. Yet this ANC government takes most of the decisions about the Western Cape.
It is the opinion of the FF Plus that our future lies in finding political solutions where an and-and approach is followed, not an either-or approach.
That is why the FF Plus in the Western Cape is going to enter into an electoral agreement with CapeXit in the run-up to the 2024 general election. This will not be done at the expense of any other solutions that would be relevant elsewhere in the north of the country. Again, not a matter of either one or the other, but rather this one, but also the other.
With CapeXit, the FF Plus supports a referendum in the Western Cape in which every registered voter must have the chance to express themselves on whether they want to remain part of South Africa or whether they want to walk a path of self-determination, greater independence and own decision-making about their future, which can lead to autonomy and independence.
The people of the Western Cape have noted that the DA is not prepared to offer them such an opportunity. Premier Alan Winde and other DA leaders recently spoke out directly against a referendum or independence. This could be disastrous for the DA in the upcoming election. It is important to note that most DA voters have shown in several opinion polls that they support CapeXit. It is also true that approximately 72% of CapeXit's members voted for the DA by default in the past. Where will they vote in 2024 (FF Plus)?
Dream with me for a moment about how a Western Cape can be further developed as a model in South Africa and Africa with economic growth and progress that eradicates poverty. Where there is equal opportunity for all based on merit and not on affirmative action. Where it is safe and where crime is tackled. Where there is even better education with competent teachers and where Afrikaans as a language will take its rightful place as the majority language of the province.
Dr Robert Goddard, father of the American space programme, said after its success: “Every dream (including the moon landing) is dismissed as a joke in the beginning, until the first person succeeds."
Are more powers for the Western Cape, which could lead to Cape secession, unfeasible and impossible? Don't believe it for one moment. We are in Africa, and here anything is possible.
Dr Corné Mulder is an MP and leader of the Freedom Front Plus in the Western Cape.
♦ VWB ♦
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