I have found myself becoming increasingly exasperated with the Democratic Alliance (DA).
I am not one of those lamenting the essential acts of self-correction which have seen them reversing out of the ideologically bereft, racially populist rabbit-hole, Mmusi Maimane led them down. Neither have I missed the unequivocal demonstration that, as a provincial government, they are in a class of their own when it comes to competence and efficiency. Nor do I take exception at their leadership team. Steenshuisen and Zille, Ngwenya and Winde, they are exceptional, principled, honest and competent democrats who are unquestionably committed to providing a ‘better life for all’.
No, I take exception at the utter futility with which they are fervently leading us to our ultimate demise. How, in an ironic role reversal, they seek to confront a wall of enemy musket fire, with spears and shields. Put simply, they have absolutely no viable plan via which to obtain victory, they are simply rallying the troops to be stoical and obstinate in defeat. That isn’t leadership, it is acquiescence.
Let me first declare my hand. I am a Western Cape citizen. I live in the only province where blame for our imminent demise cannot be laid upon the voters. If we don’t like the government, we can’t vote to change it because we never voted to have it in the first place. We voted for the DA. We put our faith in them. If the Western Cape cannot be saved, if it too replicates the rest of South Africa’s descent into a bone-fide card carrying banana republic, then it won’t be the ANC who is to blame, it will be the DA. It will be John Steenhuisen, Helen Zille, Bongi Madikizela and Alan Winde’s fault. They are steering the DA ship in the Western Cape, and they know exactly where the icebergs are. I am but one voice calling for a change of course, there are many others. Thus far, our calls are going unheeded.
A chilling interview
Less than 20 people listened live to the recent interview conducted by political analyst Rob Duigan on the ‘Young Cape’ podcast, with Mayoral committee member for safety and security in the City of Cape Town, JP Smith. It should be required listening for all DA leaders. Perhaps if they hear one of their own systematically packing out the unfolding political, social, legal and democratic disaster in clinical detail, the penny might finally drop? I work in the political space, but this was chilling.
JP Smith was all that I admire about the DA. He is clearly a highly intelligent, extremely capable, dedicated, committed public servant. He positively oozed integrity, compassion, and knowledge. In other circumstances he would have inspired absolute confidence. In this context, all of those attributes combined to leave listeners in absolutely no doubt that, if the rules of the game are not changed, and changed fundamentally, then all is lost.
Over the course of an hour, Smith described how that there was a highly coordinated political campaign designed to undermine private property rights, that this campaign included several well-funded non-governmental organisations (NGO’s), national legislation known to be problematic but purposefully retained, direct political interventions by political parties, a compromised and unjust legal system, a deliberately under-funded police force in the Western Cape, and the ZanuPF-fication of the Western Cape with the ANC seizing power through administrative changes where it cannot obtain power democratically.
He explained that in 2020 so far, there have been 116 000 illegal structures removed in the City of Cape Town, compared to 10 - 15 000 in a normal year, stating that these numbers always peeked in election years, on the last occasion to 87 000. In 2020 there have been 719 land invasions, 661 of which have taken place since 6 July, the date on which Bulelani Qolani was seemingly evicted whilst naked from his shack. Smith claimed to have conclusive video evidence that the whole Qolani incident was stage managed for the media, and then misreported. That it has since been tried again on multiple occasions, but that the city now knows through bitter experience to be ready with blankets. That some media houses are deliberately misprinting facts they know to be untrue to develop the narrative which is in play.
The law has now been developed, via highly suspect court judgments, to mean that the city can only demolish houses which are uninhabited and incomplete. The moment they are complete, the city is powerless. Meanwhile city staff are being threatened with violence, including some having had attempts made on their lives if they intervene. In the past the City was able to remove 97.5% of all illegal structures, that number has now fallen to just 50%.
Land invaders are jumping to the top of the housing queue
Where the city obtains a court order for an eviction down the line, they still lose. Providing alternative accommodation for those displaced in the eviction becomes an obligation of the city and the illegal land occupiers then jump straight to the top of the housing queue. This has a distinct ethnic dimension. The black population of the Western Cape has swollen from 33% of the province’s population in 2011, to 40% in 2020, whilst coloured residents who have lived in the Western Cape their whole lives have been on housing lists for decades. This is fuelling racial tension and confirms the worst fears of groups like the Gatvol Capetonians and the Cape Coloured Congress.
Meanwhile the national government is deliberately under-funding land development in the province. They allocated just R600m for housing in 2020, before cutting it in half to R300m in response to COVID-19. Compare that with the R10bn just allocated to save SAA and you will quickly see they are not serious about addressing the housing issue.
In a double whammy, Smith confirms that the private sector has essentially pulled out of low-cost housing provision, when in normal circumstances it should be the mainstay of developing affordable housing. All of the issues discussed so far mean that the private sector has no way of protecting its investments, so simply doesn’t make any. Why would they? He then discusses how it isn’t just housing but also jobs that are suffering, referring to a number of industrial projects which were to have created 1000’s of jobs being lost to illegal land occupations.
Turning to policing, Smith addressed the draft ‘Police Services Amendment Act’ which seeks, despite the provisions of the constitution, to take over control of the metro and provincial police services.The intention is that the province must pay for them, but that the national government will run them. Smith points out that this will be an unmitigated disaster, that SAPS in the province is already in disarray, and that the province has already had to use the metro and provincial police services to begin policing areas where the government has abdicated its responsibilities. He then lists rail, gangs, liquor, marine and metal theft as examples where this has happened.
Where are the solutions?
One thing Smith glaringly didn’t provide was any lasting solutions.
What is the political reality of South Africa? The ANC, inline with their national democratic revolution, want to take over all the levers of state power. They already hold most, and the consequences should be clear for all who are looking to see. Smith detailed the current grabs for more. Outside of the Western Cape, the electorate still overwhelmingly favour the ANC. When some finally tire of ANC failure, they mostly transfer their allegiance to the EFF who surely any rational person can see will be much worse. Using Smith’s own words, ZanuPF-ication is endemic in South Africa.
So let us come full circle, what solution does the DA offer?
I like Steenhuisen, Zille, Winde and Ngwenya, but they owe us honesty. There are questions they owe South Africa the answers to, and there are answers they owe the people of the Western Cape who elected them.
Firstly, do they honestly believe that they are going to be the national governing party of South Africa? I think I have more chance of winning the lottery than seeing a DA national government in my lifetime, but let’s hear from them. John, Helen, Alan and Gwen; are you going to be able to deliver a DA national government? If not, are your dreams of coalition government going to stop the destruction of South Africa as ably described by your colleague? If you believe they are, then please tell us how. We deserve to know. If you don't, then we definitely need to know.
Why not Cape independence?
Secondly, I have repeatedly posed the question to you all in the media, and not one of you has ever had the courage to answer it. Why is it in the best interests of the people of the Western Cape to remain in a relationship with South Africa?
JP Smith has described, in great detail, his daily bout of pig wrestling. He will never win, he knows it, I know it, you know it. If we asked his colleagues in education, health, economy, water, electricity, or any other Western Cape department, it would be the same old tears, just on a different background.
As part of my own work with the Cape Independence Advocacy Group I spend time in Western Cape communities. Smith informed us that Western Cape citizens just don’t understand the circumstances which prevent the DA providing services. He is right, they don’t. Just last night I sat in a community meeting in an impoverished ward in a coloured area. It is currently held by the DA. When I mentioned the DA, I was literally asked not to even use your name. We are waiting for 2021 and 2024 said another speaker, symbolically drawing her hand across her throat in the gesture that symbolises death.
The rules of the game need to be changed. You must stop leading us resolutely to our own demise. You need to find courage, you need to stop being so bloody reasonable and get a bit of mongrel into you. You are boxing according to the Queensbury rules, whilst facing an opponent who has no such sensitivities.
Excluding Gwen, who to the best of my knowledge has not publicly commented on Cape independence, the other three of you, all highly intelligent people, have served up a remarkably unimaginative and shallow series of justifications for not even discussing Cape independence as an option. Surely it at least warrants serious debate? Even if I didn’t support independence myself, I’d recognise that it is the most valuable political bargaining chip you could possibly possess.
Instead, last weekend, you once again opted to dishonestly offer up federalism as the solution, knowing that you have no conceivable chance of ever delivering it. Federalism requires the support of the ANC and EFF, Cape independence does not.
Do you ever wonder how your ancestors would view your meek and resigned capitulation to your tormentors? I hope you truly grasp that for many ordinary South Africans, especially in the Western Cape, you are our only hope.
Leave the pig and get out of the mud. We are depending upon you and we don’t have time on our side.