John Steenhuisen: ‘Fighting for Cape independence is a waste of energy’

01 October 2021 - 11:00
DA leader John Steenhuisen said the party does not support the push for Cape independence. File photo.
DA leader John Steenhuisen said the party does not support the push for Cape independence. File photo.
Image: Werner Hills

The DA has distanced itself from a proposal to split the Western Cape from SA.

On Thursday, DA leader John Steenhuisen poured cold water on the idea, saying it was a “waste of energy”. 

Steenhuisen was leading a march in Mitchells Plain, Cape Town, against what the party said was police minister Bheki Cele’s “safety grab”. 

He said people should focus on other things, like policing, taxation, water and electricity policies, instead of trying to break the province away from the rest of the country. 

“We’ve said we don’t support Cape Independence, but people should have a right to a referendum to make choices going forward. We believe in a devolution of power to provinces,” he said

“We think fighting for [Cape] independence is a waste of energy. What we should be doing is focusing on fighting for more powers [at a local level] for policing, transport, economic development, taxation, local government, water and electricity”

The campaign to separate the Western Cape from SA gained momentum earlier this year when a non-political movement called CapeXit sought to make the region an independent country.

The movement is seeking to obtain the support of 1.6 million people to request a referendum on whether the Western Cape should be separated from SA.

According to the group, it has at least 820,575 members to date. 

Last month, the Cape Independence Advocacy Group (CIAG) requested a referendum on Cape independence from Western Cape premier Alan Winde. 

According to the group’s spokesperson Phil Craig, the CIAG made the decision after "consultation with its independence partners CapeXit, the Cape Independence Party, and the Freedom Front Plus, and following the decision by the DA and AfriForum to pursue autonomy for the Western Cape".

“It is important that those on both sides of the Cape Independence debate understand a referendum on Cape Independence will be the beginning and not the end of the process,” said Craig.

“From election results published by the Electoral Commission, we know for a fact that most Western Cape voters have never had the national government they voted for. They can’t express their intense dissatisfaction with the direction SA has taken via normal elections. You cannot unelect a government you never elected in the first place.

“The constitution specifically provides a mechanism to consult with the Western Cape people on precisely this situation, a provincial referendum called by the premier and not by the president. This is democracy in action.”