On 1 November 2021, South Africans will flock to the polls to vote for their local representatives and governing parties in the local government elections. While the election in most of the country may end up being the traditional two or three-way tug of war between the Democratic Alliance (DA), African National Congress (ANC), and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), the Western Cape may prove to be an outlier once again.
The Western Cape is always an odd child in South African politics. It’s never been truly defined by national norms and is the traditional stronghold of the opposition. Its political culture is fundamentally different from the rest of the country, meaning that a voting guide for South Africa will not necessarily apply to the Western Cape.
This article is aimed at helping undecided Western Cape voters decide who they should vote for in the election. And even, perhaps, sway decided voters.
Now, it is important to recognise that there are no perfect votes. None of the candidates anywhere are perfect, or arguably even decent. But that doesn’t mean that our vote cannot mean something.
As voters, we must vote intelligently. Our vote is a tool. It may not be a powerful tool, but collectively it is one of our best tools to enact political change.
If you can vote, you should. Or otherwise, you may find yourself vindicating Plato when he said:
“One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.”
Vote Strategically in the Western Cape
Just because there is no ideal candidate doesn’t mean we shouldn’t vote. When voting and taking part in any form of politics, one should inform their behaviour through ideals but never let it be the be-all and end-all. A vote for a party doesn’t mean complete support for everything they stand for. More often than not, it is a tactic to fulfil a particular goal.
When you vote, don’t vote for a party. Vote for a goal. Vote for a policy, a possible coalition, or even just to destabilise the region, if that is your goal.
In the Western Cape, there are three main goals as a voter to consider.
Keeping the ANC and EFF Out of the Western Cape
This is the main goal of most Western Cape voters. It is also the reason why the DA dominates so much in this province. But it is actually a naïve goal. The ANC and the EFF won’t win in the Western Cape. They do not have a voting bloc here and their policies are completely counter to the ideals of the Western Cape people.
The reason the DA flourishes in the Western Cape is because people hate the ANC, not because the DA actually does a good job of keeping them out.
There is a common myth that the DA is responsible for the good governance of the Western Cape. But this is patently false. While the Western Cape would have doubtlessly gone downhill under an ANC and EFF government, almost any other party could have done as well as the DA. All the DA did was simply continue the Western Cape’s tradition of good governance.
The Western Cape is a different entity from the rest of South Africa. Some have equated it to being first-world; at least in Cape Town proper. This is due to a long institutional tradition of competent administrators – administrators who are appointed, not elected. The people we vote for have little to do with the actual running of the province besides holding administrators accountable and – in the case of the ANC – firing them without finding competent substitutes.
But local government is at fault for certain policies. When service delivery fails, it can be their fault for not ensuring that the administrators do their job. But where they are mostly to blame is in their power over local policy and rates.
Punishing the Democratic Alliance
While the ANC may be the big baddie nationally, they aren’t the main opponent to our freedom and prosperity in the Western Cape – at least insofar as we are discussing local government policy. Rather, the issues facing us in the Western Cape are the fault of the DA.
The DA did not take an adamant enough stand against lockdown. They did not protect their citizens from the intrusiveness of national government. They continue to raise our rates and expenses despite the economy being ravaged by policies they are complicit in enforcing. Even the water levy from the last big drought has not been scrapped despite our rainy winter more than filling our dams.
They also continue to be an ineffectual and uncreative ruler. They could be mobilising their metro cops to fill the role that the police are failing to fulfil. They could be moving towards de facto federalism behind the ANC’s back. Rather than trying to be an ANC lite, they could be moving towards positive change.
We should no longer be held hostage by our fear that the ANC or EFF will take over the Western Cape. In reality, the Western Cape voter has demonstrated that they will not abide an ANC or EFF government. What we need to do is hold the DA accountable and punish them at the polls. The DA needs to be punished so it realises it can’t ride roughshod over its voters. Especially as it continues to alienate its loyal Western Cape voter base in favour of a national constituency that doesn’t even support it.
While the candidate for Cape Town mayor is a decent guy, I believe that he doesn’t make up for all the sins that the DA has committed over the years. It needs to be shown that its place in the Western Cape isn’t invulnerable. It can bleed and it should, until it stops treating us like cattle.
Western Cape rates are exorbitant. We’re paying a ludicrous amount for services that, while beating the rest of South Africa, are far from sufficient for the price we’re paying. We cannot afford them! We should not have to afford them.
The DA brags about its sound budget and performance, yet it taxes and charges us into the dirt. We cannot survive this.
A fundamental goal of all Western Cape voters should be to vote so to drop rates and other charges. We need to make the Western Cape affordable!
The other main issue for Western Cape voters is Cape independence. This is a passionate issue that is becoming increasingly important for voters. While it has been mocked by some in the media, the fact is that more and more people are realising the importance of the Western Cape achieving its political and economic independence from a failing country.
While the DA and other parties have come out in support of holding provincial referendums, including one for Cape independence, the DA is still not an unequivocal supporter of this issue. They still cling onto this foolish notion that they can win a South African general election.
If you support Cape independence, then you need to vote for a party that publicly supports the issue. This is not only to signal your support for said party, and for the possibility that they may win, but more to indicate to the DA that Cape independence is an issue that they should consider supporting themselves.
Many may not vote for a Cape independence party because they think it is a wasted vote. But there is no wasted vote. By voting for a party that supports Cape independence, you are signalling to all the other parties that this is an issue worth adopting. And if more parties adopt the issue, we increase our chances of achieving secession.
The parties that officially and publicly support Cape Independence are:
- Cape Independence Party (CIP)
- Freedom Front Plus (VF+)
- Cape Coloured Congress (CCC)
Who to Vote for in the Western Cape?
This guide has established the main issues affecting a reasonable Western Cape voter’s decision during the election.
The first issue is keeping out the ANC/EFF. But this is a non-issue for most parts of the Western Cape, as the ANC/EFF lack a substantial voting bloc here. But if you do live in a municipality or ward where the ANC/EFF may win, then it may be safer to vote for a strong opposition.
Otherwise, your two main issues are to ensure our rates get dropped, and if you support Cape independence, that it is represented as a strong cause.
With that in mind, there are only two parties I think are worth supporting for all Western Cape voters:
The VF+ have already proven to be a competent opposition party that stands up for its voters. It had the biggest gains in the 2019 general election and stands as a principled party against a horde of populists. They stand for free markets, private property, lower rates, and sound governance. For a frustrated DA voter, they’re definitely a worthy pick. They also support Cape independence.
The Cape Independence Party is also a worthy party to vote for to expressly signal your support for Cape independence. They are a single-issue party and should be considered if your goal is to convince the local government to adopt the Cape independence issue wholeheartedly.
Regardless, it is important that we keep our rulers on their toes. No government, even one run by a national opposition party, should be immune to criticism. And our vote is the best way to signal our displeasure.