Dear Tom Head,
In response to your article “Independence for the Western Cape? ‘Ridiculous’ debate slammed again” published on the 15th of June 2020 on the South African, I would like to reply to some of the points made.
The Cape Party’s low electoral performance isn’t actually an indicator of demand for secession. If electoral victory was an indicator of the virtues of a party, then Van Damme would have left the DA and joined up with the ANC.
Party politics isn’t a perfect signifier of the will of the people. Far from it. Rather, it is a mishmash of personality politics, party loyalties (in spite of ideology) and sheer marketing. Incumbents like the DA will always have an advantage over smaller parties as voters are inclined to vote for who they deem to be the winning horse.
South Africa lacks a lot of political education and many people think that voting for a smaller party is a wasted vote, despite our electoral system actually supporting votes for smaller parties.
I also find Van Damme’s assertion that the Western Cape will always be a part of South Africa very ahistorical. Nations are not permanent. Before 1910, South Africa didn’t exist. The disparate territories that now make up this republic had just come out of a brutal war and were then forced into a political experiment by our British overlords.
The track record of this political experiment has been racism, Apartheid, corruption and unceasing civil unrest. The biggest sin of colonialism was forcing different nations under one territory, and this is very much the case in South Africa.
The Cape could secede. It is not an easy cause, but it is one that has resonated with Capetonians since 1910, at least in their subconscious. And if the mismanagement of South Africa is anything to go by, the Cape will be more successful independent than it ever could be shackled to a national government who has repeatedly sabotaged its prosperity through over taxation, unequal budgets and refusal to grant financial aid in times of crisis.
The South African failed to publish this response in due time, so it has been published here instead.
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