Cape Times

SA staring down barrel of a gun but W Cape has another choice

The DA has put all its eggs in the multi-charter basket

- PHIL CRAIG

AS JOHN Steenhuise­n concluded his speech at the BizNews conference, my Referendum Party colleague remarked, “we could just add ‘and that is why we need Cape Independen­ce’ at the end and use the video for promotiona­l purposes”.

Steenhuise­n delivered a chillingly honest assessment of South Africa’s current circumstan­ces. It was highly unlikely that the Multi-Party Charter (MPC) would assume power nationally after the 2024 elections, instead a doomsday coalition of the ANC, EFF, and MK was a terrifying and far more likely scenario, free and fair elections would probably not take place in 2029, and we must all “vote like our lives depend on it”.

The question and answer session which followed clinically exposed the DA’s lack of any real solutions to the challenges which their leader had so eloquently articulate­d. As someone who deeply appreciate­s the respectful considerat­ion of God in our politics, I was delighted to hear that Steenhuise­n is regularly on his knees praying for divine interventi­on. I would however have felt decidedly more comfortabl­e were those prayers to be accompanie­d by a credible plan.

My own political journey started in a church, and the message which drove me to action is perhaps pertinent. “There is no point coming to church on Sunday and praying that God will save our country,” challenged the dominee, “if you are going to go home on Monday and do nothing about it yourself.”

South Africans do not want the same thing

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The DA’s entire vision for South Africa is built upon a false premise, that despite the overwhelmi­ng evidence to the contrary, deep down all South Africans somehow want the same thing and voters will eventually come to their senses.

The reality is something entirely different. Not even crippling levels of unemployme­nt, violent crime levels only usually found in active war zones, rolling blackouts, and a widespread collapse of service delivery, can convince the 6 out of 10 South African voters to endorse any party in the MPC, let alone the DA.

South Africans do not want the same thing, they never have, and, for the foreseeabl­e future, they never will. The only thing that remains is for politician­s to accept this inexorable reality and to plan accordingl­y.

Were the DA to genuinely be a federal party, this point would be trite, but the DA is federal in name only. In the last few years, most significan­tly through the Western Cape Devolution Working Group, there has been a concerted effort to reanimate the pursuit of federalism. Those efforts failed, not because a legal solution could not be found, but because the DA actively stymied every viable proposal.

Cape Independen­ce – the elephant in the room

The absence of any even remotely viable solutions cried out for the elephant in the Western Cape room to announce itself. The elephant did not disappoint.

“Given that we are aware of the possibilit­y of the doomsday pact happening, what would the DA stance on Cape Independen­ce be in the event that something like that happened?”, came a question from the floor.

In the run-up to the 2021 elections, the DA actively deceived Western Cape voters over secession.

Whilst campaignin­g, the DA said it supported the right of the Western Cape people to decide the matter of Cape Independen­ce for themselves, and the DA was going to table the referendum legislatio­n which they said was necessary for this to happen. Privately, Steenhuise­n had personally promised that a referendum which included a question on Cape Independen­ce would be called.

After the elections were over, everything changed. The referendum legislatio­n was quietly sidelined (only being reinstated when the deception came to light), the DA now openly opposed Cape Independen­ce, and Premier Winde formally refused to call a referendum.

Less than 80 days before the 2024 elections, we seem to have come full circle and DA déjà vu is palpable.

DA willing to look at Cape Independen­ce?

Within five months of Winde’s flat-out refusal to call a referendum, Steenhuise­n returned to the DA’s 2021 messaging. His party is clearly well aware of how enthusiast­ic its own Western Cape voters are about Cape Independen­ce and obfuscatio­n was the order of the day.

“Well I suppose we’d have to look at it (Cape Independen­ce)”, proclaimed Steenhuise­n before moving onto the legislatio­n. If the doomsday pact gets elected the referendum legislatio­n will never be passed, he asserted, before incorrectl­y stating that the Constituti­onal Court had recently ruled that there cannot be a provincial referendum without the passing of enabling legislatio­n. (The court ruled no such thing. A referendum can be called today should the DA’s premier so wish.)

If the MPC gets in, we can get the legislatio­n through in the first year, Steenhuise­n continued, and then we can have an informed debate. (In 2021, the legislatio­n was supposed to be passed within 6 months. It wasn’t even tabled until 2023.)

Perhaps more pertinentl­y, does the MPC know its critical role in preparing the way for Cape Independen­ce? In February, it unanimousl­y rejected the Referendum Party’s (RP) applicatio­n to join the charter on the basis that the RP proposed holding a referendum. Has the MPC made a complete 180 too?

DA pursuing policy of containmen­t on Cape Independen­ce

Host Alec Hogg pressed Steenhuise­n further, pointing out that the momentum for Cape Independen­ce was growing as people in the Western Cape increasing­ly realised that they were being ruled by a government they didn’t vote for.

Steenhuise­n’s response muddied the waters further.

“I am saying to you it is going to be very difficult to lead an independen­ce movement where you have a government in place that implacably opposed to it”, “You can’t just secede without a referendum”, “(that’s) why we tabled the Referendum Bill in Parliament”.

Was Steenhuise­n suggesting that the DA were going to lead the independen­ce movement, or was he suggesting they were going to do the groundwork so that others could lead more easily? Both notions seem somewhat far-fetched given the DA’s previous opposition to Cape Independen­ce.

A far more likely reality is that the DA is simply reverting to its 2021 playbook and pursuing a policy of containmen­t.

Polling shows that 79% of Western Cape DA voters support a referendum being held, and 61% support Cape Independen­ce outright. In a scenario where the DA’s eggs are all in the multi-charter basket, and the MPC is now by their own admission virtually certain to fail, they are more vulnerable than ever to the independen­ce lobby.

Referendum Party offers DA voters safe alternativ­e

Convincing Cape Independen­ce supporters that secession might be an option with the DA has worked once. It appears that the DA is going to try the same trick again. This time around it will have to contend with the Referendum Party. The party was formed as a direct result of the DA failing to honour its 2021 promises.

Where the DA does not have a viable plan, the RP most definitely does. Its intent is not to remove the DA from power in the Western Cape (no sane person wants the ANC back instead), but rather to force the DA into a proCape Independen­ce coalition which will see the DA retain power, but have no choice but to call a referendum on Cape Independen­ce.

To reassure DA voters, the RP has made it an election pledge that it will vote with the DA in the Western Cape to allow it to form a provincial government, and against the ANC to keep them out.

South Africa might be staring down the barrel of a radical socialist and African nationalis­t government which will complete the destructio­n of what was once the most advanced country in Africa, but the Western Cape has another choice.

There is no prospect whatsoever of the Western Cape electing the ANC / EFF / MK doomsday coalition but without Cape Independen­ce, that soon enough will be its ultimate fate too.

Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.

Craig is the leader of the Referendum Party

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