"The Western Cape is Better Off Alone"

PRESS ARTICLE: Dr Curd-Torsten Weick, Editor of German Newspaper 'Junge Freiheit', writes about Cape Independence [Translated from German].

Dr Weick accompanied a delegation of MEPs from the European Parliament on a fact-finding mission to the Western Cape. The Cape Independence Advocacy Group (CIAG) made a presentation to the group and afterwards Dr Weick interviewed CIAG spokesperson, Phil Craig.

You are calling for the independence of the Western Cape region of South Africa. What is your Vision?

Craig: To create a first-world country, based on the principles of sound economic policy, the rule of law, genuine non-racialism, and where the government reflects the values, cultures, and democratic will of the people living in the Western Cape.

What is going wrong in South Africa?

Craig: From a Western Cape perspective, since the start of the democratic era 30 years ago in 1994, the majority of Western Cape voters have never been governed by the party they have voted for. Just from a democratic perspective, the Western Cape will be better off on its own. However, as you say, South Africa is doing really badly which makes the need for independence much more urgent.

South Africa is failing because the government has pursued terrible policy choices for at least two decades. These choices are based on an outdated communist ideology (not communism, but 4 out of 5 SA presidents post 1994 were members of the SA communist party) and the government is every bit as obsessed with race as the old apartheid government was. It focuses almost exclusively on equality of outcome rather than equality of opportunity.

These policies have resulted in a totally dysfunctional civil service and dysfunctional state-owned enterprises, many of which enjoy national monopolies. They are run by unqualified and incompetent people. The private sector is then heavily compromised and must satisfy race quotas for employees, management, ownership, and procurement.

The Western Cape Province is often considered the best governed and most economically sound province in South Africa. How much truth is there to this?

Craig: It is a statistical fact. It has the lowest unemployment rate by far, is one of only two provinces that pays into the national fiscus, is the only province which regularly receives clean audits for sound governance, it has the best educational outputs (learners in versus qualified learners out), and the best health system.

Original Article Published in German

What is the situation in the other provinces?

Craig: It varies, but generally dysfunctional government to a level that would be unimaginable to German readers. Collapsing infrastructure (no maintenance), limited or no health care (e.g. two oncologists for 11 million people in KwaZulu-Natal), failing water and sewerage systems, rubbish not collected, the majority of rape and murders not solved or prosecuted, and corruption on a colossal scale.

In March, the government of the Western Cape called for more social cohesion after the release of crime statistics which painted a bleak picture. According to the statistics there were 1,198 murders in the province between 1 October and 31 December 2022. Where do the problems lie?

Craig: The Western Cape has a chronic crime problem. The overwhelming majority of serious crime is committed in the ‘Cape Flats’. Gang violence is a major problem in the poor ‘coloured (brown)’ communities, and the Western Cape High Court recently declared that the police service had been compromised at the highest levels. The police themselves are a major supplier of illegal firearms to the gangs.

Township violence amongst the black community is the other major source of murders. In the last 30 years, around 1 million people have moved to the Western Cape from the ANC run Eastern Cape and illegally settled land. Crime is rife in these ‘squatter camps’.

A 2021 poll showed that a majority of the province's population favoured holding a referendum on independence. Are your efforts paying off?

Craig: We are making steady progress but of course we would like things to go quicker. The idea of Cape Independence was almost unheard of four years ago and now it is firmly on the political agenda with all major political parties having a position on the issue.

We are currently focused on creating political pressure on the provincial government to hold a referendum on the issue. They support much greater regional autonomy rather than secession but have publicly conceded that ultimately secession is a matter for the people to determine themselves. They are however in no rush to hold such a referendum and we are constantly working to increase the pressure for them to do so.

The 2024 elections will be a pivotal moment.

Are there other independence groups? Are you working together?

Craig: Yes, there are, and we work with all independence group who are committed to a democratic and non-racial solution. The most significant organisations are: ‘CapeXit’ who have got 25% of all Western Cape voters to sign a mandate calling for independence, the Freedom Front Plus, the fifth biggest political party in South Africa, and the Cape Independence Party, a small ‘libertarian’ party who have seats on the City of Cape Town council.

Delegation from European Parliament meets CIAG

Are your calls for independence legal?

Craig: Yes. The SA Constitution acknowledges the right to self -determination and the authority of international law. South Africa has also signed and ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Covenant on  Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), all of which also guarantee the right of self-determination.

There is, however, no express right to secession in the South African Constitution so the process will need to be negotiated.

Is an independent Cape financially viable?

Craig: Yes. The Western Cape and the province of Gauteng, which is the home to Johannesburg and Pretoria, jointly subsidise the other seven South African provinces.

In the WC, 11% of South Africa’s population produces 14% of South Africa’s GDP, and has 15% of all South African taxpayers. It only receives 10% of government funds allocated to provinces and would be substantially better off on its own. It would no longer pay 14% into the system whilst receiving only 10% back.

The People in the Western Cape are mostly Afrikaans speaking. What role does that play in your movement?

Craig: Afrikaans is the most widely spoken language, almost universally so in rural areas.

Language doesn’t play a formal role in the independence movement (the Western Cape has three official languages: Afrikaans, English, and isiXhosa) but it plays a significant role informally.

Historically, white and coloured people shared a culture (and most so-called coloured persons will have some relatively recent white ancestry) and the majority speak Afrikaans. Language is often a significant factor in self-determination, including in the South African Constitution.

The reason we don’t directly focus on language is that it would then exclude the black people of the Western Cape who speak isiXhosa, whereas Cape Independence is intended to benefit people of all races.

This article was originally published in German in the 'Junge Freheit'. https://jungefreiheit.de/debatte/interview/2023/allein-ist-westkap-besser-dran/

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