[This is good fun. Secession? I love it. Jan]
In June, the possibility of Cape independence becoming a reality once day was said to depend largely on growing levels of dissatisfaction amongst the residents of the Western Cape in the state of South Africa. The deadly riots and looting that shook the country, which took place in KwaZulu-Natal and parts of Gauteng in July, certainly strengthened the resolve of those who support Cape independence. As Patrick Melly of the Greater Cape Town Civic Alliance states in his interview with BizNews founder Alec Hogg, ‘The feeling is that the riots that occurred last month are just a precursor to worse [events] that are still to come.’ When asked about the logistics of the Western Cape seceding from the rest of South Africa, Melly says that, ‘If the DA wants to maintain relevance in the Western Cape, it is going to have to start listening to the wishes of their supporters and all indications are that the bulk of their supporters at the moment are in favour of Cape independence.’ – Nadya Swart
On whether the Western Cape is economically sustainable without the rest of South Africa:
Well, you know, there are two ways to approach this. First of all, if you look at what is happening in the rest of South Africa, how viable is the rest of South Africa going to be? If you are a minority businessman, how are you going to ensure that your business survives? Quite apart from all the riots that we’ve had recently, have a look at all the restrictions and all the laws and regulations, et cetera, that the ANC has come up with over the years and is coming up with more and more every year.
You know, South Africa is no longer the wonderful place to do business in anymore. Whereas the Western Cape is a good place to do business in. And this is the reason why so many business people have already relocated from, let’s say, Gauteng to the Western Cape. Now, obviously, not all businesses can relocate, but those who can relocate – quite a few of them have already done so and others are contemplating making the move.
On what the Western Cape economy would look like without mining:
When we talk about the Cape, the Western Cape – we shouldn’t just be looking at the Western Cape. Although initially we’re talking about the Western Cape, but ultimately we’re talking about a much bigger area which would incorporate parts of the Northern Cape and possibly even adjacent areas in the Eastern Cape. And, as you know, there are a lot of mineral resources in the Northern Cape, and those areas where they are found could easily be incorporated into an expanded Cape.
On why those adjacent areas would choose to join the Western Cape:
Historically, they are also the Cape. The so-called Northern Cape is just a political invention that they came along [with] in 1994. Before 1994, there were no such problems as the Northern Cape – it was part and parcel of the Cape. And those people still, in many ways, feel that they are part of the Cape. Coming back to the mineral resources, you know, let us not forget that there is a potential of huge oil deposits, oil and gas deposits, off the West Coast and off the South Coast. And these deposits are ultimately exploited, they could be of enormous financial benefit to an independent Western Cape.
On how the Alliance plans to achieve Western Cape independence:
We are working on plans and we will be announcing them before the end of the year. Plans based on a legal route to independence. We will also be relying on international law. You know, the thing is that if you are going to rely upon substantial international support right at the beginning, you are going to have a bit of a problem. But at some stage, one is going to have to take up the attitude ‘present everybody with a fait accompli.’
On whether the riots and looting in July strengthened his resolve in the independence movement:
Absolutely. The feeling is that the riots that occurred last month are just a precursor to worse [events] that are still to come. There is a feeling that the ANC is going to split and it’s going to be a bit of a violent split and it’s going to impact upon the country very dramatically. And we would prefer to be quarantined from all the chaos that’s going to result from the ANC splitting up and just the general deterioration in the country.
On how quickly that quarantining can be done:
Look, if things deteriorate seriously, I believe that a grouping of community leaders can come together and just decide to unilaterally secede almost overnight. But, of course, it requires a lot of planning and everything like that.
On whether this would be imposing the will of the few on the many and what needs to happen to achieve Cape independence:
It is for this reason that we need to increase the awareness and bring other groups into the campaign. At the moment, the idea of Cape independence is supported by only one mainstream party, plus a couple of other smaller parties and a large number of groups. What really needs to happen is that the DA needs to come into the picture as well. They are the people who have the leadership, the experience, the skills and the resources who can play a major role together with the Freedom Front Plus – who have taken the lead in coming forward – in really providing a great big boost in the momentum towards Cape independence. And I think that the DA is now ideally situated to play a historic role in promoting Cape independence.
If they don’t do so – and let us bear in mind that 67% of their supporters actually are in favor of Cape independence – then they are flying in the face of the feelings of their supporters. And if they don’t do so, eventually the DA is going to wither away like the old United Party did. If the DA wants to maintain relevance in the Western Cape, it is going to have to start listening to the wishes of their supporters and all indications are that the bulk of their supporters at the moment are in favour of Cape independence.