DA Instructs Lawyers over Cape Independence Social Media Post

PRESS STATEMENT: Censorship or Trademark infringement? Is the DA trying to bully the CIAG into silence over the DA's Cape Independence referendum promises?

DA Instructs Lawyers over Cape Independence Social Media Posts

On 26 Sept 2023, the Cape Independence Advocacy Group (CIAG) posted an infographic to its social media platforms which reminded voters that when the DA needed their votes in 2021, they promised a referendum on Cape Independence and that 886 days had now passed since this promise was made.

The post formed part of a wider campaign designed to pressure the DA into being honest with the Western Cape electorate before the 2024 elections and to give voters a straight answer – is Premier Alan Winde willing to call a referendum on Cape Independence, YES or NO.

The infographic relates to a meeting held on 23 April 2021 between DA leader John Steenhuisen and two members of the CIAG exco, Phil Craig and Neil Kisch. Steenhuisen promised that the DA would fix the referendum legislation and then call a provincial referendum which included a question on Cape Independence.

On 3 Oct, the CIAG received a letter from ‘Minde Schapiro & Smith’ acting on behalf of the Democratic Alliance (DA) demanding that the post be removed by noon the following day.

The DA were not contesting the truth of the CIAG’s claim, but instead claimed that by using the DA’s logo to refer to the DA in the infographic, the CIAG had infringed upon the DA’s intellectual property rights.

The CIAG did not comply with the DA’s deadline but responded through its lawyers asking the DA to substantiate its allegations, and questioning why the DA felt it was entitled to use the logos of other political parties on social media to advance its political agenda, whilst the CIAG was not.

The CIAG is concerned that rather than just being honest about their referendum intentions, the DA is trying to censor information from Western Cape voters. This was the second incident in the space of a week to suggest that this may be the case.  

CIAG spokesperson Phil Craig explains, “On Tuesday 3 October, by appointment, we handed over a letter signed by 30 399 voters asking Premier Alan Winde to call a Cape Independence referendum on election day 2024. The Premier’s office refused us permission to film the handover thereby ensuring that there was no publicity footage for the event. We felt this was very undemocratic.”

The official reason seemed totally implausible. Winde’s Chief of Staff, Tammy De Decker claimed that with four and a half weeks’ notice, the Western Cape Government couldn’t find a single public facing official to walk down one flight of stairs to their front door to be handed a letter. On the day, three people were available to receive the letter off camera.

For the record, the CIAG wishes to make it very clear that is respects and applauds the work done by the DA in the Western Cape. We have much to be grateful to them for. All we want is for the DA-led Western Cape Government, to ask the Western Cape people, democratically in a referendum which polling says 68% of them support (CIAG/Victory Research – Aug 2023) and which the DA has already promised, whether or not they want Cape Independence.

Craig says, “The DA can lead the campaign against Cape Independence if they so wish, just let the people decide for themselves”.

DATE: 06 Oct 2023

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