‘Nip it in the bud’ — Tito Mboweni weighs in on Cape breakaway bid

04 October 2021 - 08:00
Former finance minister Tito Mboweni says SA is one united country, not a federal state. File photo.
Former finance minister Tito Mboweni says SA is one united country, not a federal state. File photo.
Image: ESA ALEXANDER

Former finance minister Tito Mboweni has rubbished the idea of separating the Western Cape from the rest of SA. 

The retired minister said the proposal will only further divide the country, saying SA is a “united country and not a federal state”. 

Mboweni called on the DA to “clearly pronounce themselves” on the idea of Cape Independence. 

“We need to politically deal with this Cape Independence group quickly. The DA must clearly pronounce themselves on this,” said Mboweni

“Nip it in the bud. We are one united country, not a federal state.”

Last week DA leader John Steenhuisen said the idea of Cape independence was a “waste of energy”. 

Steenhuisen said people should focus on other things, like policing, taxation and 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 Western Cape is roughly the same size as England and has close to 7 million people residing in the province. In recent months, hundreds of thousands of people have been calling for it to split away from South Africa and become its own country. Speaking to those advocating for this split as well as legal experts, we take a look at what that process would look like and if it would legally be possible.

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. 

The group’s spokesperson Phil Craig said CIAG decided 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.

“Those on both sides of the Cape Independence debate must 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.”


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