De-facto independence of the Western Cape now underway.
It may well be that when Western Cape Premier Alan Winde announced the Western Cape Government’s foreign policy on Ukraine he had not fully thought through the consequences. Winde is a vocal opponent of Western Cape Independence, but his actions have aided it significantly.
Western Cape secession tends to be considered in a legal context. ‘De Jure’ - what does the law say? Professor Pierre de Vos and Advocate Paul Hoffman have both questioned how Cape Independence would be constitutionally possible. Neither argue that it is illegal, they refer to the constitutional requirement of a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly to amend the constitution.
Political realities dictate the law
Apartheid didn’t come to an end because parliament voted for it to do so, parliament voted for it to do so because apartheid had already been brought to an end. The de-facto reality and subsequent de-jure acknowledgement were reconciled by a largely symbolic referendum. Apartheid was over whatever the outcome.
Many political analysts view Cape Independence the same way. Their focus is not on the legalities but on the inevitable vacuum that will be left by a retreating South African state.
Dr Frans Cronje, former CEO of the Institute for Race Relations (IRR) believes that South Africa will become an ‘enclave state’ where citizens insulate themselves from the state and provide services for themselves. Gwen Ngwenya, head of policy at the DA, refers to a parallel privately funded state. Professor Koos Malan, professor of public law at the University of Pretoria, points out that policing has effectively been privatised to security firms and that the state is failing in its most basic role of protecting its citizens.
In private discussions with the Cape Independence Advocacy Group (CIAG) a senior political figure advised that Cape Independence did not require a referendum. There must just be a government-in-waiting (the Western Cape Government) capable of taking over when the South African one either collapses or veers so far off the constitutional reservation that the Western Cape taking its independence would become an act of defending the constitution as opposed to assaulting it.
All these realities are now coming true.
Retreating state driving self-reliance
In the Western Cape we must keep in mind that most voters have never voted ANC. An ANC national government only has legitimacy in the Western Cape if it has the consent of those who voted against it. Thus far it does, but that can change and change quickly.
As a consequence of a national government it didn’t elect, the Western Cape almost ran out of water. It has run out of electricity, not only inconveniencing residents, but adding to the economic decline which has led to runaway unemployment and its inevitable consequence, poverty. Its police service is in disarray leaving it virtually helpless in a region with one of the highest murder rates in the world. It is overwhelmed by economic migrants who are illegally occupying land on a vast scale and placing an unsustainable demand on local resources and infrastructure.
In response the Western Cape is becoming increasingly independent from the national government. It already generates some of its own electricity and plans to end its reliance on Eskom. In conjunction with the City of Cape Town it has initiated its own water security programme and will no longer be entirely dependent on the National Department of Water and Sanitation. The city of Cape Town has established an auxiliary police service. And now the Western Cape has begun to establish its own foreign policy.
The significance of this last point should not in any way be underestimated.
Foreign relations and statehood
The universally accepted definition of statehood is defined in the Montevideo Convention (1933). An independent sovereign state must possess a permanent population, a defined territory, a government, and the capacity to conduct international relations.
The Western Cape already has a permanent population with its own voter’s role, clearly defined borders, and a provincial government. Up until now, it did not have the capacity to conduct international relations.
It has now inferred that right upon itself. A text-book act of de-facto independence.
In deliberate defiance of the position of the national government, the Western Cape formally condemned Russia stating that it was the aggressor and in violation of international law. It then banned Russian diplomats and their staff from all meetings and functions organised by the Western Cape Government. It then went even further by formally engaging the Ukrainian ambassador.
The significance was not lost on the ANC who furiously stated that Premier Winde had ‘crossed the line’, accusing him of running a parallel state.
Spokesperson Sifiso Mtsweni addressed Winde directly saying, “Provinces do not enjoy federal status”. “Matters of international relations are managed and driven at a national level”. “One provincial minority government cannot override nor define itself outside of the overall governance of our country.”
Which electorate must the Premier serve?
This last comment was particularly interesting. In the context of the Western Cape, the Western Cape Government is not a minority government. The DA have held an outright majority for three successive terms and have a clear mandate to govern. Conversely, in the Western Cape the ANC are a minority government. They determine national policy which the Western Cape Government is obliged to follow and manage most major portfolios in the province with just 28.6% of the vote. In 2021, this fell even further to 20.4%.
Premier Alan Winde is almost certainly carrying out the wishes of the Western Cape electorate. On the other hand, the ANC are demanding that Winde ignore the wishes of Western Cape voters and to listen to the ANC instead.
This is the very essence of Cape Independence – empowering Western Cape voters to be governed according to their democratic wishes rather than despite them.
De facto independence is well underway. De jure often follows.