(Speech delivered to Cape Town Press Club)
Earlier today, Dr Corné Mulder, leader of the FF Plus in the Western Cape, addressed the Cape Town Press Club about the possible future political options available to the people of the Western Cape. (Read the full speech herewith.)
A strong theme that came to the fore in the discussion is greater autonomy for the Western Cape as well as a word that is heard more and more in the province: "secession”.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to live under the ANC's corruption and incompetence and so many people from the Western Cape are seeing secession as an appealing option.
It will not be quick nor easy. Section 235 of the Constitution, which deals with self-determination, already paves a constitutional way that can and should be followed.
It is possible for the province to be built up as a model for South Africa and Africa; a place with economic growth and progress that will ultimately eradicate poverty; a place where there truly are equal opportunities for all based on merit and not Affirmative Action.
Where it is safe and where crime is combated effectively. Where education is exceptional with competent teachers and where Afrikaans can take its rightful place as the language of the majority in the Western Cape.
Political options for the people of the Western Cape going forward.
Cape Town Press Club, The Ball Room – Kelvin Grove
Speech by Dr. Corné Mulder MP - Chief Whip and Leader of the Freedom Front Plus in the Western Cape
Tuesday 10 November 2020
Intro. – Part 1.
On 31 May 1910, with the unification of the Cape Colony, the Natal Colony, the former Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek (Transvaal) and the former OranjeVrystaat Republiek, the Union of South Africa was born. Delegates from Natal favoured a federal state, but Gen Jan Smuts was very much in favour of a Union. The Union of South Africa was to be a unitary state, rather than a federation like Canada and Australia, with each colony's parliaments being abolished and replaced with provincial councils.
And so this artificial colonial construct, with arbitrary artificial colonial boundaries - called South Africa - was born. The people were told: you are all now South Africans. Even the name given to this Union was nothing more than a geographical indication. Where in Africa? South in Africa.
“Do you speak South African?” an American journalist asked me during the 1993 negotiations. He arrived in South Africa in the morning and clearly did not do his homework about the country.
When I explained that Afrikaans was my first language and that my ancestors had arrived here in 1685, long before the majority of Americans had arrived in the USA, his next question was: “The French speak French and the Germans speak German; how many people in South Africa then speak South African?” The answer was – none. That’s why we have 11 official languages in the Constitution and at this very moment the Constitutional Review Committee (of which I am a member) are adding some more. (Khilovedu, Nama, Khoi, San and Sign Language)
During the negotiations in 1995, the Constitutional Assembly placed an advertisement that read as follows: “South Africa: 20 million women; 18 million men; 8 religions; 25 church groups; 31 cultural groups; 14 languages; 9 racial groups; 1 country.”
So many different identities in one country.
We are indeed a very diverse society.
Part 2 – This is the SA constitution.
Some say it is the best Constitution in the world. It is a good constitution, but it is definitely not the best constitution in the world.
Some say it is the final constitution. There is no such thing as a final constitution. It is only the current constitution. After all – Constitutions have a limited shelf life. On average – 17 years. We have had this one for 24 years. (There is no supreme constitution – Prof Koos Malan - Univ Pretoria)
This constitution was the product of a negotiated settlement in 1993 – 1994. To set the tone of the process I would like to start with the “post-amble” of the Interim constitution: (Act 200 of 1993)
National Unity and Reconciliation
“This constitution provides a historic bridge between the past of a deeply divided society characterised by strife, conflict, untold suffering and injustice, and a future founded on the recognition of human rights, democracy and peaceful co-existence and development opportunities for all South Africans, irrespective of colour, race, class, belief or sex. The pursuit of national unity, the well-being of all South African citizens - and peace - require reconciliation between the people of South Africa and the reconstruction of society.
The adoption of this Constitution lays the secure foundation for the people of South Africa to transcend the divisions and strife of the past, which generated gross violations of human rights, the transgression of humanitarian principles in violent conflicts and a legacy of hatred, fear, guilt and revenge.
These can now be addressed on the basis that there is a need for understanding but not for vengeance, a need for reparation but not for retaliation, a need for ubuntu but not for victimisation.”
This was the spirit and approach adopted during the constitution writing process in the mid-1990’s.
And then there is the pre-amble of our current constitution: (Act 108 of 1996)
“We, the people of South Africa,
Recognise the injustices of our past;
Honour those who suffered for justice and freedom in our land;
Respect those who have worked to build and develop our country; and
Believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity.
We therefore, through our freely elected representatives, adopt this Constitution as the supreme law of the Republic so as to
• Heal the divisions of the past and establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights;
• Lay the foundations for a democratic and open society in which government is based on the will of the people and every citizen is equally protected by law;
• Improve the quality of life of all citizens and free the potential of each person; and
• Build a united and democratic South Africa able to take its rightful place as a sovereign state in the family of nations.
May God protect our people.”
However, 24 years later, this is not the spirit or approach in the South African state that people experience on a daily basis. Not at all. What happened to reconciliation and accommodation? Where is the Rainbow Nation? The ANC government is going ahead to amend section 25 of the Constitution to make it possible to expropriate property (and this includes ALL property) without compensation. With this, one of the cornerstones of the Codesa settlement will be taken out. The settlement deal is clearly off.
The most popular democratic model current in the world today is that of liberal democracy. It is easily wrapped up and exported by the West to Iraq and every other African state, as the only democratic model available.
In a simplistic liberal democratic model, like the one offered to Africa by the West, 51% of the population force down their will onto the other 49% of the same population. In a homogenous state, where governments replace one another regularly, this may be tolerated.
In the typically heterogeneous states found in Africa, this is a recipe for conflict and instability. The history of Africa proves this. The opposition, which usually has specific ethnic or language loyalties, does not experience this model as democracy, but rather as permanent oppression and domination. This leads to resistance and subversion.
Part 3 – The Western Cape
Let me start with the ANC’s holy grail of all documents – the Freedom Charter. (As adopted at the Congress of the People, Kliptown, on 26 June 1955)
“We, the People of South Africa, declare for all our country and the world to know:
that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and that no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of all the people;”
It is common cause that consent of the people is the cornerstone of democracy.
71% of Cape voters do not want the ANC to govern them. Never in the history of South Africa have the people of the Cape ever given their consent to be governed by the ANC. Since 1994 the ANC has averaged only 36% of the Cape vote. Over the last decade, that average has fallen to 31%. In 2019, despite Ramaphoria, it dropped to an all-time low of 29%. Our government was not chosen by our people, it was chosen despite them.
More and more voters in the Cape believe that the current ANC government has lost all moral authority to govern over us. Not only have they never elected an ANC government but the ANC has become a government of corruption and incompetence.They are obsessed with race and after 26 years of ANC rule they continue to pursue failed policies. We still face a huge challenge of inequality and unemployment. In short - the glorious revolutionary movement of the people turned out to be nothing more than a crime syndicate.
What are the political options for the people of the Western Cape?
I have identified four options. If the current constitutional dispensation was a success and functioned in a proper manner, there would not have been any need for a discussion like this. But it is not. So here are the four options:
Option 1. Continue as is – maintain the status quo
Option 2. Try to improve the current dispensation
Option 3. Emigrate
Option 4. Go for independence and a free Cape
Option 1 – Continue as is – maintain the status quo
This option implies that political parties like the DA, FF Plus, ACDP and others will continue to strive to keep the Western Cape out of the hands of the ANC and EFF.
This they will continue to do in terms of the provisions of the current constitution.
Participating in Provincial and National elections every five years. It further means that they will continue to exercise the limited powers allowed to a province by the Constitution.
At least the Western Cape will still maintain exclusive power over those very important terrains such as abattoirs, ambulance services, provincial archives, provincial libraries, liquor licenses, provincial museums, provincial planning, provincial sport, provincial roads ect.
And what will the strategy of the ANC be in this scenario? They will continue to see the Western Cape as a so-called non-liberated area. They will continue to aim at a fundamental change in the demographic profile of the province. In that way they hope to get political control of the Western Cape. However, if that may take too long or does not succeed, the alternative option for them is to change the provincial boundaries and to include the Western Cape into the Eastern Cape. This option is already being discussed.
Option 2. Try to improve the current dispensation
This option implies that we try to bring improvements to the current constitutional dispensation. We had a once-in-a-life time opportunity in 1994 – 1996 when this constitution was written, but let me put it diplomatically - FW de Klerk and Roelf Meyer did not seize the moment.
During the negotiations we argued in favour of a bottom-up approach. This was in line with the principle of subsidiarity. Only those powers that can’t be successfully exercised on the lowest level should be evolved to the national level. The ANC was not in favour of federalism or effective powers to provinces. They wanted as many powers and functions as possible to be centralised. Ironically the technical advisers of the NP agreed with the ANC. After 84 years of being in a unitary state they could not think beyond the unitary state.
There is no reason at all why all provinces in South Africa should have exactly the same powers and functions. If the Western Cape is capable of exercising effective education in the best interests of the inhabitants of the province – why should we be hampered by illogical policy decisions taken first at Luthuli House and then in Pretoria? If we are capable of providing a reliable, cost-effective rail commuter service why should we be prevented from doing so by the inept, corrupt and incompetent SOE called PRASA? If we are capable of providing an effective and respected provincial and local police services why should we be prevented from doing that? These are the things and many more that we in the Freedom Front Plus will be striving to achieve. We need more autonomy and the right to take our own decisions. The Western Cape is more than capable of doing this and should be allowed to go ahead.
Option 3. Emigrate
There was a time that emigration was frowned upon. It is no longer the case. Thousands of South Africans have already done so. Many thousands of them will return tomorrow if there is a possibility of a safe, prosperous well-governed South Africa or Western Cape to return to.
Fact of the matter is that emigration is not a viable or realistic option for 95% of the inhabitants of the Western Cape. They can’t afford to emigrate and after all, why should they leave? We have just as much right to stay, live and be here as anyone else. After all, it is the ANC’s Freedom Charter that boldly declares that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white. It is just sad that although we are being told that South Africa also belongs to us, we have no say with regard to what allegedly also belongs to us. And for me? Well I’m not going to allow anyone to push me out.
Option 4. Go for independence and a free Cape
This is the one option that has gained more support, enthusiasm and traction in the last twelve months than all the others combined.
If I argued 12 months ago that the Western Cape should go for independence, people would have laughed and not listened at all. Many things can happen in 12 months.
The immediate question that arises is – Why? Why is it necessary to go for independence in the Western Cape?
Morally and legally all ‘peoples’ have the right to decide how and by whom they want to be governed (Right to Self Determination).
When we, the people of the Cape, gave our democratic consent to being governed by the National Government of South Africa, we did so on the promise of a better future for all South Africans, believing that we were turning our backs on the racial divisions of the past, together forging a ‘Rainbow Nation’ we could all call home.
Nearly three decades later our dream has become a nightmare. The National Government has abandoned any pretence of a ‘Rainbow Nation’, embarking instead upon a racial crusade which permeates every corner of our society. Largely as a consequence, local government has collapsed in many parts of the country, our economy has stagnated, real unemployment has reached over 40%, corruption is endemic, violent crime rampant, our national debt has ballooned out of control and there are more welfare recipients than tax payers. This year we have reached the fiscal cliff and next year expropriation of property without compensation will be law. It is a situation each one of us must recognise is untenable. Why should the people of the Western Cape be satisfied with this incompetence, corruption and systematic collapse under the guise of a so-called wonderful democracy and allegedly the best Constitution in the world?
In the Western Cape there are a number of organisations and political parties that are in favour of independence and a free Cape. Two of the prominent organisations are:
CIAG – Cape Independence Advocacy Group, and
The Cape Independence Advocacy Group formulates the essence of the problem in their manifesto as follows”
“Since 1994 only one political party has governed South Africa, and therefore by extension, the (Western) Cape. During this period that political party, the ANC, has never once had the support of the majority of Cape voters (50%+1). They currently govern the Cape from Pretoria with 28.6% of the vote, and average only 35% of the vote since 1994. One statistic illustrates the severity of this problem more than any other: had the Cape unanimously voted for any political party other than the ANC at every single election, it wouldn’t have changed the outcome of any of them, and the ANC would still govern the Cape with 0% of the vote. In the light of this, the people of the Cape do not have genuine democracy because our wishes are irrelevant to the electoral process and our national government is chosen in spite of, rather than by, us. This lack of genuine democracy is not just some philosophical enigma, it has had devastating consequences for the people of the Cape. The ANC government we didn’t elect has systematically used its power to undermine, marginalize and discriminate against the people of the Cape. Not only have the ANC enacted disastrous economic policies which have devastated our economy, left us with some of the highest rates of unemployment and lowest rates of education in the world, and leaving millions to live in crushing poverty, they have deliberately suppressed the majority of Cape citizens on the basis of their race, even at times, as the constitutional court itself stated, in contravention of its own racist laws, laws which even of themselves were not supported by the citizens of the Cape.”
They propose the following solution to this dilemma:
“Our purpose is to establish genuine democracy in the Cape, handing political power to the people of the Cape and removing it from Pretoria. In legal terms this right which we are seeking is referred to as ‘self-determination’. To return political power to the people of the Cape we are committed to obtaining a referendum, in which every registered voter in the Cape will get to vote, asking the Cape people whether they would prefer to remain as a part of South Africa and be governed from Pretoria, or whether they would rather break away from South Africa and establish a new independent Country, The Cape of Good Hope, which they would then govern for themselves.”
What is the rationale for this solution?
• Ideologically the Western Cape is clearly distinct from rest of SA
• It is the only province in 26 years that has never given the ANC a majority
• Since 1994 the electorate has always elected free-market capitalist-leaning rather than socialist-leaning parties
• Further, the electorate has continuously rejected ANC & EFF policies
• Independence = will bring true democracy for the Western Cape
• It will guarantee the right to elect our own government
• It will give the electorate the right to hold it to account for its performance and conduct
• Without independence the Western Cape has no prospect of ever realising its political will – the people of the Western Cape will be sentenced to life-long imprisonment in an open democracy within an arbitrary colonial construct, where a majority will continue to dominate minorities.
• Some would argue that it is not economically viable – well
• Western Cape produces 13.9% of SA’s GDP
• Western Cape houses 11.2% of SA’s population
• Western Cape gets 10.2% of govt financial allocation to provinces
• Western Cape is one of only two provinces that pays into SA fiscus (GP is the other)
• Regardless of policy WC will be better off overnight after independence
• Add with effective policy the benefit will be far greater
• Economists expect businesses and skills to migrate to a more business-friendly Western Cape
On social media there are currently in-depth discussions about the option of an independent Cape. Some are arguing for more autonomy whilst others want a referendum.
CapeXit is another organisation that are very active in this field. When you join CapeXit, you are required to express yourself to be in favour of their independence goals and you further confirm that you will vote in favour of independence in any future referendum.
In March of this year – CapeXit had 7,000 signed up members. Only last week 9,012 people signed up. Yesterday the total figure has risen to 560,321 members. This is not a poll on FB or social media where you register a “like”. No, 560,321 voters have completed a formal membership form personally, in which they have expressed their desire for independence in the Western Cape and have pledged their support in a future referendum for this. 92% of them are from the Western Cape.
Anyone that does not take note of this, is uninformed and does not know what is happening on grass-root level in the Western Cape.
This huge surge is a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic and the irrational and sometimes laughable regulations by the ANC government. Add to that endemic corruption and lawlessness under this government and it becomes very clear why independence becomes a more and more attractive option for people of the Western Cape.
With this they are saying:
• The ANC has lost all moral authority to govern over us, and
• We no longer want to be governed by the ANC.
The call for a referendum on Western Cape independence will get louder and louder in the foreseeable future.
Part 4 – Conclusion
I believe that the answer for the Western Cape lies in a combination of Options 2 and 4. Yes, we should strive to improve the current dispensation and to have more powers devolved to the Western Cape so that we can take our own decisions. However, in the long run, an independent Western Cape is where our future lies. Not in conflict with the rest of South Africa but as an example of what can and should be done.
Dr Robert Goddard, the father of the US space program, concluded after the success thereof as follows: “Every dream (also the moon landing) is ridiculed in the beginning until the first person succeeds”
Scotland has succeeded in getting many powers devolved to it from Westminster and now they are aiming for another referendum on their way to independence.
At Codesa it was the FF Plus and the IFP that argued for more powers for provinces. Unfortunately it was the ANC and the NNP that did not support that. Now it is back on the agenda of the Western Cape.
It won’t be quick or easy. Section 235 of the South African constitution that deals with self-determination creates a legal constitutional route that we can follow.
Just think for one moment how the Western Cape can be developed into an example with economic growth and prosperity. Where we will have equal opportunities for all and where poverty will be eradicated. Where people will once again feel safe and where crime will be effectively dealt with.
Western Cape independence impossible and unrealistic? Do not believe that for one minute.
We are in Africa and in Africa anything is possible.