Will Federalism Resolve the DA’s Political Impotence in the Western Cape?

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“Standing in the middle of the road is dangerous; you get knocked down by the traffic from both sides” – Margaret Thatcher.

To the Democratic Alliance we say this:

Federalism is not in the best interests of the people of the Western Cape. It is just a deeply flawed compromise that serves your purpose, not ours.  It allows you to sit on the political fence and claim to be serving your voters both inside and outside the Western Cape. In truth you are selling both short and are putting your own party-political interests first. Party before province. For the people of the Western Cape, independence is the only genuinely viable solution.

It is important for the Cape Independence Advocacy Group (CIAG) to clearly assert this, because hereafter we will be finding much common ground, and we do not wish to be misunderstood.

Genuine federalism and outright independence are both stations on the same train track. Federalists just alight a few stops before the end of the line, whilst secessionists remain aboard until the train reaches its terminus.

If and when you board the federal autonomy train, we will be boarding with you.

Let us just be crystal clear on one thing – now is not the time for talk but for action. Delay any longer and there will be little left to save.

Overwhelming Support for Increased Provincial Powers

The Victory Research poll we commissioned was unequivocal on how Western Cape citizens feel about the provincial government having more power – the very essence of federalism.  68% of them said “Provincial governments should be given more power to choose their own policies”.

More than that, the majority of voters of every major political party in the Western Cape felt this way too. 75% for DA voters, 62% for ANC voters, 72% for EFF voters, 82% of Good party voters, 95% for Freedom Front Plus (VF+) voters and 73% of African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) voters.

Better still, the majority of every race group in the Western Cape also felt provincial government should have more power to choose its own policies. 68% of coloured voters felt this way, 59% of black voters, and 83% of white voters.

You have an undisputable, universal, overwhelming mandate to pursue federal autonomy for the Western Cape – so, stealing a slogan from Nike, Just do it!

Federalism is what you say you want. At your recent policy conference you stated that the DA “will strive to enhance the federal character of our constitutional democracy”, and that you want the geographical devolution of power to the “lowest effective level”. You went on to say, “There can be no effective authority if it is not accompanied with the resources to exercise it”.

Progress made by DA on their election promises

Perhaps more pertinently, when you were campaigning to be re-elected as the provincial government of the Western Cape, in your provincial manifesto entitled ‘Fighting for you”, you made several promises which require federal autonomy (or independence).

Your promises included:

“Removing regulatory burdens for small businesses and entrepreneurs”. You no longer support race-based economic empowerment and affirmative action, undoubtedly the biggest regulatory burdens, but do we still have them or not?

“Moving to procure energy from independent power producers”. We know you have tried, but how much additional power have you actually procured? Was it, or was it not, the national government which stopped you? Would we have had that power if we had had federal autonomy or independence?

“Leading the fight to devolve policing powers and budgets from national to provincial government”. How has that gone for you? Who currently controls the South African Police Service (SAPS) in the Western Cape? When can we expect the national government to be devolving that power to the province?

Since you were re-elected as the provincial government of the Western Cape on 8th May 2019, 5298 people have been murdered in the Western Cape. During that time, 4106 people have tragically died from COVID-19 in the province. We brought our economy to a standstill to try and save people from COVID-19. Are murder victims not entitled to an equivalent level of government commitment to save their lives?

You were even so bold as to say it yourself. “We cannot rely on the national government to protect the victims of crime”. We are in complete agreement, but if you do not make good on your promises and take meaningful control of the Western Cape, we the people cannot rely on you either. Empty talk from the DA is not going to save us.

You concluded your manifesto by saying you would be “fighting for a provincial rail service that is safe, (and) runs on time”. Is it safe? Does it run on time?

DA challenged on their political impotence at SOPA 2020

At the State of the Province Address (SOPA) earlier this year, Peter Marais (VF+) directly challenged Premier Alan Winde on exactly these issues. To paraphrase him, he said the DA was making promises to the people of the Western Cape that it simply could not keep. He called the DA out on their lack of provincial authority to take meaningful action, and he pleaded with Premier Winde to call a provincial referendum on federal autonomy, drawing his attention to the exact clauses in the provincial constitution which authorised him to do so.

So here we are, coming full circle.

Where your party has had some degree of meaningful control, in health and education, the gulf between outcomes in the Western Cape and those in the rest of the country has been irrefutable. You are to be applauded, and we the people of the Western Cape owe you a debt of gratitude. Even your most ardent opponents have been silenced by the province’s exceptional COVID-19 response.

So come on, Premier Alan Winde. Call a referendum on federal autonomy and do it now. You will win the referendum hands down. Our data shows it. We are certain your data shows it too. We will even campaign with you. Federal autonomy will allow you to make good on all of the election promises you made to the people of the Western Cape.

But you won’t be calling a referendum on federal autonomy, not now and not ever, will you? What you seem quite unwilling to say in public, you know fine well in private.

You will win the referendum, and then be laughed out of the national assembly when you try to implement it.

South Africa intent on suppressing democratic voice of Western Cape

South Africa is not interested in giving the people of the Western Cape a political voice, it is intent on suppressing their voice. It is not interested in genuine democracy for the people of the Western Cape, it is a de-facto ethno-nationalist state intent on implementing some version of the freedom charter and hang the consequences. Hell will freeze over before South Africa elects the DA as its national government. The South African electorate says the DA are too racist. The truth is, for them, the DA just are not racist enough. Disaffected ANC voters in South Africa are not choosing the DA but the EFF.

The CIAG, and supporters of Cape independence, are in an utterly bizarre political situation. We are imploring you, the DA, to seek a mandate for more political power, so that the party we elected (you!) can lead us. You are standing in our way. And for what? In 2019, outside of the Western Cape, you received just 16% of the national vote. Most analysts predict you will obtain even less next time out.

Lessons from history

National socialism and Aryan supremacy in Europe were not defeated because Hitler or the German people changed their mind, but because when Chamberlain and Halifax wanted to appease the Nazi regime, Churchill was having none of it.

Are the DA going to go down in history as appeasers who fiddled whilst Rome burned, promising solutions but watching impotently on whilst the only province who wants them to lead is fed to the wolves? So that the DA can delude themselves over their fanciful national ambitions?

Europe was saved because Britain first stood firm. Once Britain was saved, the borders of oppression were then systematically pushed back until the evil of Nazism was defeated. Many South Africans of all races made the ultimate sacrifice in that fight.

Save the Western Cape. Build a just, safe, prosperous, non-racial country with a vibrant economy. Show South Africa what can be achieved. The DA will not ultimately be weakened in South Africa if it builds a first world nation in the Western Cape, it will be greatly enhanced.

We can give you many reasons why independence is infinitely preferable to federalism, but here we are going to limit ourselves to one: it is obtainable where federal autonomy is not. If you think we are wrong, then prove it – deliver federal autonomy. Just do something! Great policies are worthless if you have no authority to implement them.

Is the DA a Churchill or a Chamberlain?