‘That which purifies us is trial, and trial is by what is contrary’ John Milton, Areopagitica (1644)

Counterpoint, a new occasional feature on the Daily Friend, seeks to match the wisdom Milton expressed in his great defence of free speech: that the best ideas emerge from scrutiny and argument. Guest opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the Daily Friend or of the IRR.

Divorce is the perfect metaphor through which to examine the growing calls for a Cape independent from South Africa. Not only does it help simplify what would otherwise be quite a complicated scenario under international law, it is also a powerful tool with which to dissect the political responses of those who resort to reasonable-sounding, yet ultimately hollow, retorts.

The Western Cape has found itself in an abusive relationship with a partner significantly more powerful than itself. This partner is not interested in the opinions or the wellbeing of its Western Cape spouse. It is simply intent on imposing its will and to hell with the consequences.

As the saying goes, democracy is supposed to be about something more than two wolves and a sheep voting over what is for dinner.

So, what advice would you give if a close friend confided that her husband was abusing her? If she told you that he was taking her salary and only giving a portion of it back to her? That he was squandering the money she helped earn on wild living and extravagant luxuries for himself, while she was struggling to provide the basic necessities for their children? If she told you that every time she disagreed with him, he told her she was worthless, and that all of their problems were her fault? That every decision was his, that she must remain silent and just accept the consequences even though she knew better? That her children were really suffering?

I think most of us would be inclined to tell her to take her children and leave. To tell her that she would be better off on her own. That while it may be difficult, in the end she will never find happiness in such a relationship, and that starting again, however hard, would be her best option.

Well, that is how very many people living in the Western Cape have started to feel about South Africa. They didn’t vote for the African National Congress (ANC), the conduct of the ANC government repulses them, they don’t support the policies of the ANC but have them forced upon them anyway, and when they complain they are verbally abused and cowed into silence.

It does not have to be this way.

‘Velvet Divorce’

On 31 December 1992, the Czech and Slovak peoples divorced. Historians refer to this historical event as the ‘Velvet Divorce’. The reason for the split was the differing ethnic and political composition of the two peoples. Discussions began in July 1992 and were completed in five months. The assets of the existing Czechoslovakia were split in proportion to the relative populations, and citizens, subject to certain criteria, were given the opportunity to be citizens of either Czechia or Slovakia. Not a shot was fired.

Eighty-seven years earlier, Norway and Sweden also peacefully divorced, stating ideological differences. More recently, Quebec and Scotland both came within a democratic whisker of divorcing Canada and the United Kingdom respectively. Singapore did divorce Malaysia, and Namibia divorced South Africa. This is far from an exhaustive list.

Accepting that any Western Cape divorce would have to be premised upon the democratic will of the Western Cape peoples, in other words that they genuinely want to leave, what do the political parties have to say about a Cape divorce?

This is where our metaphor really comes into its own.

Democratic Alliance (DA) interim leader John Steenhuisen, when questioned about Cape independence by Jeremy Nell on Jerm Warfare, suggested (wrongly as it transpires) that the Cape would be financially worse off.

Would you have told your friend not to leave her abusive husband because she might be a little poorer?

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde, when questioned about Cape independence by Investec on behalf of their clients, responded by asking what would stop an independent Cape further splitting down the line.

Abusive husband

Would you have told your friend not to leave her abusive husband because should she remarry again in the future, she might split up again?

DA councillor Renaldo Gouws, while hosting a podcast with the Cape Independence Advocacy Group, suggested that independence might solicit a violent response from the ANC.

Would you have told your friend not to leave her husband, because if she did, he might come after her and beat her?

On the independence forums, other favourites among opponents are ‘Who is going to pay for Koeberg?’, ‘the ANC will never let you leave’, ‘it is all of South Africa’s decision’, ‘how will you close the border?’, ‘who gets to keep Simon’s Town naval base?’ and many more in a similar vein.

Would you have focused on whether your friend would have to pay the car loan; discouraged her by saying he would never let you go; told her it was also her husband’s decision; asked her how she intended to lock the doors of her new house; or asked who would get the sideboard?

Of course you wouldn’t. First and foremost, you would focus on one thing and one thing alone: What is in the best interests of your friend and her children, and how are you going to help them escape her abusive partner?

Critical question

Since its inception earlier this year, the Cape Independence Advocacy Group has posed the same question to the leaders of the DA and other political parties, to newspaper editors and opinion writers, and to opponents of independence. To date not one public figure has been willing to respond to the critical Cape independence question: Why would it be in the best interests of the people of the Cape to remain in a relationship with South Africa?

Does anyone have an intelligent answer? If not, can we please just get on with the divorce?

The views of the writer are not necessarily the views of the Daily Friend or the IRR

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  1. Thank you for an interesting article. I believe the solution lies in the Western Cape funnelling money that would have gone into the national treasury and squandered and never been utilised for the WC, to allocate such funds payable by WC corporates and comany’s for projects that the Western Cape would initiate in improving thier lot.
    That is, companies within the western cape eligible too pay large amount of taxes would take on projects within the Western Cape and right off the cost against taxes that they would have had to pay to sars. This would enable the western cape to have the projects they require financed and completed outside the scope of the ANC. Smaller companies could form consortiums to fund prodjects as well.
    It’s all a matter of syphering funds away from sars without it getting into the hands of the ANC. This could be done under the guises of doing something good for the country’s well being. People within the AND have become financially astute in acquiring fundo illegally.

  2. Spot on Phil. Let’s get the divorce going. We’ve put up with abuse for years now. This Covid time when the ANC is particularly hellbent on crushing our Province. No more abuse. Divorce! Now!

  3. The Cape Advocacy Group and all the supporters of Cape independence seem to take it for granted that the DA would automatically become the government and usher in an age of prosperity…
    Has anyone considered that the people of the Cape would revert to voting along racial lines as they smell the possibility of it finally being their time to rule?
    It would be a tragic downward spiral if after you got divorced, you jumped into bed with every Prince Charming who told you what you wanted to hear.
    The Cape would just swap the ANC’s national overreach for people of Auntie Pat’s ilk…

    • I don’t see why everyone thinks the DA is their saviour, looks like the DA is not even interested in breaking away, we also need a better opposition

      • The CIAG isn’t aligned to any political party but talks to most of them

        Only the provincial premier can call for a referendum. Until at least 2024 that the premier will belong to the DA

        Then, assuming ANC & EFF supporters won’t be voting for Cape independence in any referendum, of the remaining voters, nearly 80% voted for the DA in 2019 – love them or hate them, at the moment, influencing the DA is a critical requirement in the drive for independence. They don’t have to support it (many in DA already do) but they have to engage on it. If they are sensible they will remain neutral and recognise the supremacy of the will of the people – which starts with public debate culminates in a people’s referendum.

  4. Does your movement advocate the secession of all of the historical Cape including Eastern and Northern Cape or only the Western Cape?

    • Overcomplicating this issue is going to make sure that it never gets off the ground. Let’s just stick to Western Cape for now.

  5. It takes only a few to keep the ‘divorce’ snowball rolling and growing. The ifs, buts and maybes will come fast and hard but are no reason to pause or halt. Join the Cape Independence Advocacy Group and work at it.

  6. I would have thought that, after years of accusing the Western Cape and in particular, Cape Town, of being ‘too Euro-centric’, ‘racist’, ’not truly a part of South Africa’, etc. etc, some in the government would be delighted to be rid of us unmitigated scoundrels down at the tip of Africa… Let’s just see how far the hypocrisy goes.

  7. It will be a real challenge and there will be some practicle complications but if successful some wonderful opportunities. How do you determine who lives in the Western Cape and who is a national what will the criteria be immigrants to the Cape .People from the traditonal home lands would be bused in by the millions ( It has already started happening) To get a majority vote would be a big ask. Where would the boundries be If the current boudries stay it will be a large border to secure (Namibia , Swaziland and Botswana do it so there must be a way). Power genaration could be a problem but the must be apportunities for wind , tidal and sun generation.
    Has someone at the Cape Advocacy group done a blue print of how they see the way forward and if so where can I get sight of this document

      • What ‘immigrant issue’? Tens of thousands of South Africans emigrated to Australia since the ANC took over. They are accepted there because they bring skills and capital from South Africa to Australia. On the other hand, destitute refugees are allowed only if they are actually fleeing active persecution, not when they are fleeing from the exact same government they have elected themselves. Obviously the same will apply to an independent Cape.

  8. You can be sure the ANC and EFF will do everything, absolutely everything in their power to stop the Cape becoming independent. While they look good compared to the chaos to the north and east, they just would not be able to tolerate anything working better without them to their south. Don’t expect any velvet divorce though, be sure that if its ever going to happen, its not gonna happen like that. But I think I just might be putting my cross in the space anyway……

  9. Excellent article Phil.
    The sooner the Western Cape divorce from the rest of SA can be executed the better.
    I believe the “divorce” it is a very worthy cause to be pursued with vigour, as Africa’s downfall and curse is perpetrated by it’s politicians.
    A Western Cape where all members of society are valued and given equal opportunities without the current discrimanatory policies and practices that have been instituted by the ANC will see the WC flourish. The discrimanatory practices of the apartheid era have not disappeared they have simply multiplied under the governance of the ANC discriminating against specific members of society. How on earth can two wrongs make a right?

  10. The ANC wants to build a racialised SA, something that I fought against for all my anti-Apartheid years.
    A SA that values every citizen just because they are human is what I wanted and still want and I think that the only way that those who share this desire can achieve it is legal secession from a SA [mis]governed by the ANC,

  11. Wonderful article .
    One must only look at the so-called “Division of Revenue Bill ” to realize how the Western Cape is being screwed year after year when it comes to grants of all kind available from National Treasury . I would love to see an in depth article on this injustice to show exactly how these grants are made available to the different municipalities throughout SA .

    From this exercise it will be clear that “high performance ” municipalities in the Western Cape receives on average between 20-25 % of grant funding , compared to similar sized municipalities in the northern provinces, like for instance Madibeng (Brits ). By all reports this is one of the worst performing municipalities in SA according to the AG . Problem is , the worse your performance , the bigger your grant funding from National Treasury !!!!! The norms and standards used by Treasury to calculate Grant Funding is nothing more than a reward system for mediocrity.

    Question is , how long can we sustain this blatant injustice meted out by National Government ? And then we still outperform all other provinces annually at all levels on the President’s own measuring charts. How it must embarrass to make those stats public…..or not?

    So yes , maybe we should investigate a divorce

  12. Don’t let the small details fog the discussion – focus must remain on the major objective, namely an independent WC.

  13. I would like to put a thought forward. Having worked where the black to white ration 10 to 4.

    The words i heard often were IT COMES FROM MY CULTURE > Not black or white .

    Take Scotland . They were all white and the serfs got nothing .
    I would be interested in someone ‘s opinion.

  14. What happens if the ANC accuses the WC government of treason ,appoints some of its cronies as the new Government, and simply ignores the courts?Will the overseas community threaten to invade or will they just twiddle their thumbs like they did in Zimbabwe?


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