Cape independence is an idea that is gaining increasing traction. Although it is dismissed by most as the notion of a lunatic fringe, if the government continues on its current path it is one that will soon gain a foothold in the mainstream.

A number of well-organised bodies are pushing the idea into the mainstream, among them the Cape Independence Advocacy Group. And in the last provincial election in the Western Cape nearly 10 000 people (0.5% of ballots cast) voted for the Cape Party, a single-issue party whose sole purpose is the independence of most of what was the old Cape Province.

The idea of Western Cape independence has also seen some pearl-clutching on social media and among some in the media, especially after a questionnaire was posted on Twitter by Progress SA, a young people’s movement which advocates for liberalism, canvassing opinion on Cape secession.

That’s not to say that the idea of Western Cape independence should necessarily be given any serious thought. And some of its ambassadors lurch closer to the bizarre than the dignified. Following the slaughter of a sheep on Clifton Beach in Cape Town in 2018 as a rite to ‘cleanse’ the beach of racism, a Cape Party delegation led by its leader, Jack Miller, ‘slaughtered’ a watermelon on the same spot in order to – well, that’s not too clear.

Moreover, some advocates for Cape secession do themselves no favours by making it seem that they dream of an independent Cape that is free of black people. For example, a group calling itself Gatvol Capetonian has also called for an independent Western Cape, saying that any people who were not born in the Western Cape ‘before 1994 must pack up and go home.’ Or consider CapeXit, which in its FAQs has a question asking what is going to happen to the ‘Blacks’ in an independent Cape.

Yet secession in South Africa is not a new idea, though, since Union in 1910, it has invariably been Natal (and later KwaZulu-Natal) which has shown itself to have the biggest itch to escape from Pretoria. News reports from the 1930s often spoke about the possibility of Natal secession. With the rise of Afrikaner nationalism in the 1940s and the victory of the National Party in 1948, calls for Natal secession became even louder, but the movement seemed to fade into obscurity after South Africa became a republic in 1961.

Driven by Zulus

The idea got new legs in the latter part of the last century, but this time driven by Zulus rather than English-speaking whites, when the secession of KwaZulu-Natal in the early 1990s was a realistic possibility during South Africa’s transition. The idea again faded away after the Inkatha Freedom Party agreed to participate in South Africa’s first inclusive election in 1994. However, it is clearly not an idea that is ever far from the thoughts of our friends in KwaZulu-Natal, as evidenced by Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini’s saying in 2018 that he was prepared to take his kingdom out of the Republic.

And anyway, any country worth its salt has a secession movement somewhere. The brave Scots came close to throwing off the yoke of London in 2014 and it seems that the idea of Scottish independence is still alive. And let’s not forget the downtrodden Quebecois who came within fewer than 50 000 votes (out of nearly 5 million cast) of escaping the Ottawan jackboot in 1995. Even Western Australia has a secession movement, which goes to show, even Australians can’t stand other Australians.

But, more seriously, it’s not only over-pampered Westerners who try to create independent states. In the past few decades we’ve seen South Sudan breakaway from Sudan proper, East Timor from Indonesia, and Somaliland from Somalia (although the former is not recognized internationally by any government, despite being de facto independent), to name a few.

Reasons behind the push

Some would argue that it is likely that most supporters of the Cape Party and Cape secession are indeed over-pampered Westerns (or at least Western Capelanders). But the fact of the matter is that there are reasons behind the push for Cape secession. Just as we should not simply dismiss those who vote for Donald Trump or Brexit as racists, we should not simply dismiss those who advocate for Western Cape independence as lunatics, no matter how far-fetched the idea of an independent Cape republic may seem.

It’s important to listen to why Western Cape secessionists want to be independent, and why they think it’s feasible. Phil Craig of the Cape Independence Advocacy Group wrote on these pages a week ago about why Cape independence is possible.

However, it is quite easy to end agitation for Western Cape independence, without firing a shot or making it illegal to talk about the idea.

A South Africa which has a rapidly growing economy, uses its taxes responsibly, maintains a professional police service which treats citizens as partners rather than adversaries, and which considers property rights as a foundation stone, instead of an obstacle to social advancement, would likely contain very few people or movements wanting to leave the Republic.

But South Africa today is none of those things. Instead the government holds onto economic ideas that have failed, insists on the continued implementation of policies that have no benefit to ordinary South Africans, and continues to use taxpayers’ money profligately. And that is not to say anything about the assault on property rights, which is set to continue anew in post-Covid South Africa.

As long as Pretoria continues on a path guaranteed to eventually take South Africa to ruin, the Western Cape secession movement will move from being an idea on the fringe to one which may be taken seriously by people who matter. To end the idea of Western Cape secession the government must put the country on the path to economic prosperity, which it seems unwilling or unable to do.

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Marius Roodt
Marius Roodt is currently deputy editor of the Daily Friend and also consults on IRR campaigns. This is his second stint at the Institute, having returned after spells working at the Centre for Development and Enterprise and a Johannesburg-based management consultancy. He has also previously worked as a journalist, an analyst for a number of foreign governments, and spent most of 2005 and 2006 driving a scooter around London. Roodt holds an honours degree from the Rand Afrikaans University (now the University of Johannesburg) and an MA in Political Studies from the University of the Witwatersrand.


  1. I support Cape Independence 100%. The people running SA at the moment are a joke and totally racist, corrupt and useless.

    • Agree. The ANC have no clue on how to run a country. All that they have been doing for 25 years is stealing, murdering and breaking.

      Apartheid is blamed for everything that they have destroyed because they have simply run out of excuses for how badly they have destroyed South Africa. The international community is looking at South Africa as a sad joke. Nobody internationally takes South Africa seriously anymore.

      The ANC egos may drive around in their cavalcades but only to boost their egos. Nobody cares about them anymore.

      It’s time for them to go. But will they?

    • Once again another way for the real owners of the country to remain under foreign laws and policies. Whites just come up with another way not to return our land. They talked bad about ANC or blacks, but it’s them who gave them political powers to rule because they didn’t wanted to return our land, our natural resources (mines) by just sharing a small percentage with them. Look at the outcome to their codesa agreement. Look at Western Cape forced assimilation population outcome. Everything made the indigenous people look non existence. Whites have their own constitution since 1997, made into law by the ANC. Constitution of Western Cape. This independence thing is their way to never give us compensation, restitution and our own sovereign rights.

  2. You are of course correct that Cape Independence would lose traction if South Africa was decent, but that’s the very reason so many people are moving towards supporting the cause.

    South Africa is one of the many African post-colonial countries that shouldn’t have become one country. It’s an empire without the gravitas and power to maintain imperial power.

    The Cape is fundamentally politically different from the rest of South Africa and as a result we never see our ideas represented in this Republic. The ideas that you espouse, by the way.

    As a classical liberal, or even just a nominal capitalist, you should support Cape independence, as it is the only way we’re ensuring a by and large capitalist state in southern Africa.

  3. This article is behind the time in appreciating what the current status of SA is:
    1. The realities of SA are: A govt incapable of managing the economy, a govt incapable of managing state owned entities, a govt incapable to deliver basic services, everything govt touches is destroyed, govt disregarding minority groups.
    2. Blatantly dishonest corrupt govt officials are not prosecuted. Minorities eg the Cape Coloureds have been crushed. Appalling state of government’s finances means further tax increases. The state has failed and is unable to function in the interests of the people.It is naive to think that or hope that this mess can be saved by the ANC or that they will ever get their act together.
    3.”We have become a society that creates, rewards and protects thieves, parasitic, ambitious and greedy thieves with an insatiable lust for money, and an aversion to honest work and creativity.” (Anthony Turton)
    4. One thing is certain and that is that there will be change. We must control and take charge of that change. The positive thing is that by destroying everything the govt has given us an opportunity to create something new. Govt cannot fix the mess they have created.
    5.Why keep on bashing your head against an economic illiterate government which is so willfully hellbent on pursuing failed policies?
    6. Secession is the future where minorities can enjoy their basic human rights, without domination and oppression. Independence of those regions where minorities are in fact the majority. If the majority wants to destroy that part of the country where they form the majority, they welcome to do so.
    7. Cape independence is an idea for which the time has come and its support is growing by the day judging from daily conversations with common decent people who have had enough.
    8. Cape independence is not a racist thing: It is about making a part of the country work efficiently for its citizens.

    • None of this supports the idea of Cape independence, it only underscores how bad our current government is for the entire country. It also conflates opposition to Cape independence, or merely pointing out how short-sighted it is, as support for the status quo. Neither of these are true.

      If you want to make part of the country work efficiently for its citizens, you do not need self-determination. That’s a massive leap in logic.

    • I absolutely agree to all that has been said here. Without getting into politics, the Western Cape has been the only successfully run province in the past few years, which gives credence to the fact that there is good intent and properly trained and educated people in charge. I would love to semigrate to the WC because it is evidently working. Everywhere else has been milked dry and run into the ground. We (KZN) pay rates and ridiculous levies for services we don’t receive but the mayor and her merry men drive around in R1mil cars while poo literally runs in the street and overflow into the rivers and locals in the rural areas must still fetch water from these rivers that are so polluted.
      I think it would be prudent to take a national survey which would result in far more realistic ” in favour” towards YES to succession.
      Unfotunately the rural masses are swayed by the pre-voting T Shirt handout and last minute houses for the poor, to gt them to vote for the corrupt again.

  4. To be fair, the Cape Independence Advocacy Group supports all races and cultures in the Cape, with the very specific aim of getting the DA themselves to open up on the secession debate. Their agenda is very different from the other groups you’ve mentioned, in that they’re asking the democratically elected DA to take the reigns in the Western Cape, and deliver the promised Rainbow Nation that the ANC has willfully failed to produce.

    • To be fair to the DA, it would be very politically costly for them to support Cape Independence. However, individuals can support both without needing to choose between them. Vote for a liberal Cape party at provincial and municipal level. They will almost certainly support DA councils while momentum builds up for a free country.

      • About the only positive thing I can say about the Cape Independence movement is that they have done the ground work, unlike the DA and say the Purple Cows. They are standing for office in their own municipal areas, and the have been voted in, in some of these areas. That’s good, that’s a way to get a real feel for the idea.

  5. According to the American Society of International Law publications (e.g., secession is governed primarily by local law, which trumps any international views. Although s 235 of the Constitution includes a right to self-determination, s 1, affirms, South Africa is “one democratic state”. S 1 removes the legal possibility of a Western Cape “state”, without changing the Constitution of SA, according to the ASIL view. ASIL was chartered by the USA Congress and also advise the UN, therefore their legal opinion is worth noting.

    Hopefully the Cape secessionists will eventually join the federal party of South Africa ( and garner votes for regional self-determination of all groups, left and right in multilingual and unilingual regions. The policy of the federal party of South Africa is to minimize central governance and maximize decentralized governance, within the limits of the Constitution of SA. Therefore any region of South Africa and any group can foster their own self-determination in the federal party.

  6. Please make sure of your historical facts .I have all the books to prove .The creation of nationalism and previous inclusion of the cape and reasons why.Also the colonial influence on the history scewed by liberal pawns here in Stellenbosch.

  7. As recent events have clearly shown, there is no stopping the ANC from continuing to drag SA down the socialist road to ruin. There were some naive enough to point to the smiling face of Ramaphosa rather than the party’s clear annual reaffirmation of NDR.
    For those of us too old and too poor to be able to jump the sinking ship and emigrate, perhaps a free Cape is the alternative. We can build our own non-racial free-enterprise Utopia.

    • A non-racial free-enterprise utopia is not predicated by self-governance. You can do that currently, starting with local governance and doing away with the authoritarian by-laws of the DA just within Cape Town municipal area. Can become something of a tax haven already, with the full support from the fellow non-racial free-marketeers in rest of the country.

  8. Thanks Marius for making the case for Cape secession: “To end the idea of Western Cape secession the government must put the country on the path to economic prosperity, which it seems unwilling or unable to do.” Enough said.

    • This is the essence of it.
      The Western Cape is happy to be part of a well run country, but doesn’t want to go down the tubes with a badly run one.
      Sadly, it looks as though secession may be the only way out of SA’s mess.

  9. All imagrents from Eastern Cape and other countries who came and destroy the Western Cape must go we are not used to Zink shacks (bemors die WK) a part of the Karoo will join us I am sure the people who made the WC and offspring can stay and belong

    • Perhaps we can reserve Robben Island for you guys. For the rest of us non-racialism would be a non-negotiable pillar of the constitution.

  10. “To end the idea of Western Cape secession the government must put the country on the path to economic prosperity, which it seems unwilling or unable to do.”

    Marius, you surely dont believe that this is a likely possibility.
    I think is is perfectly reasonable to make every effort to protect what we have, even it it means secession.

    • Good luck with secession! The Western Cape cannot make it alone, it can’t even take care of its own water supply and it has its own damned dam

  11. An independent Western Cape is a not only a noble ideal, it is a practical necessity to maintain some semblance of credible, democratic society on the African continent.

  12. Posed with the question, would I prefer to be part of a working South Africa or an Independent Cape I would go with South Africa. But the prospect of a working South Africa under the ANC (given what they truly stand for and their track record) is not going to happen. Neither is anything going to change. The ANC has become a divisive kleptocracy driven by xenophobic fascists and the idea of voting out fascists is an oxymoron.

    Therefor I wholeheartedly choose a colour-blind Independent Cape over South Africa. Let the Cape be a place for like-minded people regardless of race, religion and culture where our propensity is to push each other into the sunshine, rather than the shadows.

    • colour-blind Independent Cape is not possible at this moment. At this moment we are urbanised along racial lines. I believe strongly in two semi independant region the western cape and gauteng as two new- and high-tech industrial and special industrial development zones. These two areas must adopt preferential policies and must develop the foreign-oriented economy, generating foreign exchanges through exporting hightech products.

  13. I believe a big percentage of the “black pain” felt by black people would be assuaged if whites simply were not around them every day, rubbing salt into their wounds. I think the idea of secession by the Western Cape Province would be a good solution. Historically the WC was invaded by whites and blacks at roughly the same time so whites have at least an equal claim to the WC, after the Khoisan who are the actual first settlers. The whites would trade off all other provinces in return for the WC. The DA already runs the province and should form an alliance with the secession segment. We need everyone to sing from the same hymn sheet. I would suggest a date is set (in 12/18/24 months’ time) for a final decision where one wants to live and then the borders are closed. I am not suggesting black people who live here now could not remain, but if they do, or new blacks successfully emigrate to the WC, it is their choice to be here and they would have to fit in with the rules and not complain of their race pain. Same thing for any whites who chose not to live in the WC. They would have to stop moaning and fit in with the majority black rule elsewhere in the country. If it is really too painful to live together, the obvious solution must be to allow the blacks to grieve without imposing ourselves on them. All I see is racial intolerance and hatred becoming more and more prevalent, and I really believe the only option is for the whites to remove themselves from the rest of the country.

    • What secession government? Cape Independence as a political movement did not even muster 1% of the votes. The secession movement is a laughing stock to the rest of the country, and more particularly to the majority of the people within the Western Cape it would appear.

  14. Just look at the comment section. The idea is basically we cannot advance liberalism in RSA or it is not worth it because we cannot see past the ANC / DA. So we wish:

    (1) A minority enclave or breakaway
    (2) A political reality where the work is done for us by flipping minorities into majorities.

    In a nutshell liberalism’s problem in South Africa. Further what about all of this strikes you as particularly liberal? Instead of just a fig leaf for much more fundamental objections – entertaining this notion is precisely what many rightly see as the main reason the DA (growth of classic liberalism among minorities) is more a vessel for minority fears than one for liberalism. Get your team to pass the ball forward towards the opposition goal…

  15. The name should rather be CAXIT because ‘in die kak sit’ is the best that they can hope to achieve with this retarded movement. Strangely enough, a KZN independence movement has more merit, at least when compared to UN requirements for self-governance and self-determination. This because at least in KZN, there is a majority people who all share a linguistic and ethnic heritage, as well as a territory. With the Western Cape being one of the best (or worst, depending on what you think of the idea) examples of multiculturalism in the country, this is a stillborn idea. And even if the WC had any merit to the notions of self-determination, the case study is Catalonia. Yeah, good luck with that.

    I fully understand why and emphathise with people who do not want to be governed ‘from Pretoria’, but let’s say it like it is: You don’t want to be governed by the ANC terrorists. Unfortunately, that is what the majority of the country voted for, and for any sort of self-determination or self-governance, you are at the mercy of that same majority.

    I’m sick and tired of this Western Cape exceptionalism nonsense, not even the mountain there is anything special compared to places with real mountains in the country, and the proposed solutions are laughable especially given the DA’s own mismanagement of the province that they tried to pin on the national government.

    • Or we stop dividing ourselves into more enclaves and start thinking of workable solutions that appeal to the majority. Think of the public consultation drives for nationalistion oops I mean expropriation without compensation: The vast majority of people of all walks of life in the country share our frustrations with being governed ‘from Pretoria’. Having a hissyfit and starting your own enclave with blackjack and hookers is not making anyone any friends, it just makes it far easier for the government ‘from Pretoria’ to have an already divided opposition – something they pay good money for, by the way, and here the retards from the Cape Independence movement are handing them their laughing stock, divided opposition on a silver platter.

  16. As a coloured kaapenaar we need this independence now! Us coloureds have been for far too long looked down upon in this ‘country.’ These Xhosas from the Eastern Cape are coming here demanding free housing en ‘n fkng free ticket to life. This is at the expense of us coloureds – the real indigenous people of the cape. They call us Maslaams or stupid khoisans. They think they are so entitled. They forget we too were put of our houses in apartheid. We suffered as well. We are on the front line of this. I don’t identify with South Africa, I identify with Die Kaap!

  17. Why Cape Independence is good for the rest of S.A:

    1. ‘Land issue:’
    The land issue is only an issue because Black S.Africans do not identify themselves with other groups. For if they did then all S.A. land would be 100% owned by South Africans. There mere fact that they don’t indicate that they consider themselves distinct from other groups. Blacks feel excluded from the current S.A. climate as they don’t have land and economic weighting in their eyes.
    Now consider the advantages for Black S.Africans:
    They would have a land (let’s call it Azania…) Cape Independence would most likely lead to some sort of population transfer. ‘Coloured’ and White people in Gauteng and Natal would migrate to the Cape. This would free up those lands for Black people.
    Land issue solved. ‘Coloureds’ and Whites would have the Cape and Blacks ‘Azania.’

    2. Economy for Black S.Africans:
    Likewise, BEE and ‘transformation’ are only things because Black S.Africans see themselves as distinct from other minority groups that control the economy. So an independent Cape would free up Black S.Africans to develop an economy they can truly call their own. (After White and Coloured population emigration as mentioned earlier.)

    3. Policy fracturing:
    A big issue in S.A politics currently is the fractured nature of politics. As mentioned by many: Minorities vote liberal capital while Blacks vote large state/socialism. The decline of the ANC didn’t lead to Blacks transferring of Black voters to the DA instead it led to the formation of the EFF. The DA is static with its growth as Blacks will never vote for it due to not identifying with ‘Coloured’ and White people. They see it as a Party of for these groups. If the ANC is to lose Black votes they will go to the EFF. Just look at the 2019 election. ANC votes went to the EFF not the DA (in fact the DA declined, despite it’s attempts to secure Black votes.)
    Therefore, there will be less fractured politics for ‘Azania.’ Black people would be able to pursue a political agenda of their own without contestation.

    For the above reasons, Cape Independence would be good for Black people too. I strongly suggest all you liberal Whites get over your guilt of being White and recognise that ethnic fractionalization is correlated with poor economic performance. It’s okay to support nationalistic policies, doesn’t mean you have to be a racist… Black people are going down a nationalistic route in any case.

    (Copied from my comment on Phil Craigs response)

    • There you go again Zubair Parker “population transfer. ‘Coloured’ and White people in Gauteng and Natal would migrate to the Cape”with your Bantustan idea. Why cant you just wake up to reality. In an Independant Cape with no black people(impossible of course) the majority of coloureds will not vote for liberal capitalism. Their political, social and economic aspirations will not align with the white minority and do not forget the Afrikaner nationalism. There will be a coloured national political movementCape coloured congres) that will flex their political muscle.

  18. If the Western Cape could break away from the disastrous ANC Rule, I am all for it. We see our Country going down, down , down and people are hungry and fearful of the future. Only bad Governance caused this The Lockdown highlighted their gross inefficiency, corruption and draconian behaviur exposed their bad governance. They are seeling South Africa to China or the IMF whislt our farmers live in fear! Also the ANC have turned their backs on Israel. God does not bless a Country which dishonours the Promised Land

  19. Shortsighted to be following an independence group, not to mention a political party. Privatize all government institutions / departments and run each like a listed company.
    The world over politics create the same problems. Time for a complete new approach. Gooi die appelkar om!

  20. In 1900 Britain proposed that the 6 self-governing Australian colonies (plus New Zealand) unite into a single country, each colony was given the chance to have a referendum on the issue. As we all know New Zealand declined to join Australia and went its own way. As for the other colonies, all but W.Australia voted in favour but the leaders of W.A. ignored the referendum result and opted to join the new Commonwealth of Australia (founded 1901) anyway.

    1909 – A virtually identical situation now arose in S.Africa, with the British government proposing that its 2 self-governing colonies (the Cape and Natal) join its proposed Union of South Africa (founded 1910). But were the citizens of these 2 S.African colonies offered referenda just as were the citizens of the Australian colonies only 9 years previously? NO – they were not, as that would have risked the whole project.

    So, on that basis alone, one could make the legal case – since the precedent had been established in the case of Australia – that, since they were not offered referenda, the Cape (and Natal) were forced into the Union against their will and therefore the Union should be retrospectively declared ILLEGAL..!

    So, for the purpose of this argument, let us imagine that the referendum had been held and the vote went against the Union idea. So the Cape remained to this day as an independent political entity with its own laws, constitution, parliament, etc – just as it had from 1652 to 1910. (Actual self-government came in the mid-19th century, but anyway)

    Now, forward to 2020 and a Cape-based, but ANC-funded, political party is pushing the idea that the Cape give up its independence and amalgamate with the (ANC-misruled) South African virtual dictatorship. Knowing what is known about the corrupt and venal nature of the ANC and how they have ruined every institution in S.Africa, does anyone seriously believe that any Cape-landers would want to go aboard this putrid sinking ship..?

    I rest my case.

    • What independence? The Cape didn’t have independence to give up in 2020. Rewind to 1910 and that’s the last of any semblance of independence that the Cape has had.

      Cape self-governance would not solve the problems that the Cape has, but it would make it much easier for the rest of the country to simply slap a tariff on goods from the Cape.

    • Why i am no longer for an independant cape with a new border on the continent but for a Hong Kong concept for the city of cape town. We are forgetting that there is an organisation call the AU and this body will never support an independant cape. The African continent under the leadership of the AU(African Union) is heading to a free trade area, a transport system from cape to cairo(the center of economic activity in the coming years) and visa free travel for all africans on the continent.
      We are living in 2020.

  21. After 25 years away from Cape Town and having had the privilege to live in several provinces including Gauteng, I am shocked when I witness the “entitlement” and lack of growth by Capetonians and especially those who are proponents of Capexit. Madiba must be turning in his grave when he sees the lack of unity and support for his vision of a Rainbow Nation. The future of South Africa is not in the hands of a political party, it is the responsibility of individual citizens to remember how and why a divided SA was formed. And not propose further absolute divisive ideas like Capexit. It is clear that the “Boerewors” curtain prevailed for self centered Capetonians”. And now the systemic racism of this ludicrous idea is conveniently being hidden under the veil of an independent non racial economical paradise of an independent State of Cape Town. What Rubbish!

  22. “In Classic Economics term, is there a housing shortage?”. The answer to this is “Absolutely NOT!”. If you pay your money you can get your house immediately. There are enough houses for sale … as the same for farm land. The fact that you do not have the money to buy a house or farm, is en entirely different question. So maybe getting the economy going might be a good way to solve SA’s problems? Don’t listen to all the rubbish the politicians tell you: This is about the basics: Rule of Law (i.e. no corruption and theft) and getting the economy going!

  23. In reply to Anthony Rawdon Havens
    Dear fellow your understanding of history fails on the first hurdle
    The residents of Natal — Zululand had been annexed in 1897 ( the white ones ) WERE offered a referendum

    A referendum on joining the Union of South Africa was held in the Colony of Natal on 10 June 1909.[1] It was approved by 75% of voters, and Natal became part of the Union when it was established on 31 May 1910.

    There is of course a whole lot more to this referendum — even more to the National Convention 1909 and the 1908 Customs Union convention

    The average South Africans ( and others ) knowledge of South – Southern African history is ABYSMAL !


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