The Cape Independence Party’s proposal to devolve power to local communities within the City of Cape Town, via so-called subcouncils, has gained the backing of 31% of those who participated in a public commentary process before 16 January.
The party proposes to increase the number of Cape Town subcouncils from 24 to 116.
“The proposal would see an unprecedented devolution of power to local communities in which each ward would become a Sub Council,” says a statement by the party from 21 January.
According to the City of Cape Town, “A subcouncil is a geographically defined area within the city which is made up of between three and six neighbouring wards. Subcouncils exist to make sure that the issues affecting your neighbourhood are heard and dealt with.”
Party chief whip in the Cape Town City Council, Adrian Kay, says that “people in Cape Town yearn for a greater say in their local affairs.”
While the party fell short of those of favoured the governing Democratic Alliance’s proposals, its outshone support outshone that of the African National Congress, Al Jama-ah, the Democratic Independent Party, and the Patriotic Alliance.
Party leader Jack Miller said, “A 300% increase in participants suggest not only that the Cape Independence Party proposal is very popular but also that our ideas, in general, are stimulating the public to engage in matters of local government.”
The City Council is expected to vote on the subcouncil proposals on 27 January.
“It is now incumbent on the council to respect the will of the voters and deliver a significantly devolved Sub Council structure or risk reducing the public participation process to a complete sham,” said Miller.
The Cape Independence Party’s subcouncil proposal can be read here, here, and here.
That’s a great idea provided it doesn’t become just another opportunity for rent seekers. The sub-councils should consist of unpaid volunteers much like current ratepayers associations or community police forums.