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The Cape Party (CAPE) is a political party in South Africa which seeks to use all constitutional and legal means to bring about independence for the Western Cape, Northern Cape (excluding two districts), six municipalities in the Eastern Cape, and one municipality in the Free State. The party grew out of a Facebook group in 2007, and is led by Jack Miller, a Cape Town businessman. In 2009, it had a membership of approximately 1000 people across South Africa.
It is registered with the Independent Electoral Commission and was on the provincial ballot of the Western Cape in the South African general elections of 2009, where it received 2552 votes. It will stand again for the municipal elections of 2016.
- 1 Platform
- 2 Proposed state
- 3 Process of secession
- 4 Support for an Independent Western Cape
- 5 Criticism
- 6 2011 municipal elections
- 7 IEC name controversy
- 8 Website defaced
- 9 Support for Thembu independence
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 External links
The party believes that the population of the Western Cape and parts of surrounding provinces (which it calls the Cape Nation), is culturally and linguistically distinct from the rest of South Africa, and is therefore entitled to statehood under chapter 14, section 235 of the South African Constitution. The Party says the Republic of South Africa is a colonial construct, and that the Cape would be better off if it separated from South Africa. It claims that the national government and legislative apparatus are racist and totalitarian, and has referred to President Jacob Zuma as an illegitimate occupier of the Cape. Black economic empowerment, affirmative action and housing allocation policies have been provided as examples of the national government's racist policies.
The party cites the Division of Revenue Act in which 78% of revenue raised in the province never returns and that tax payers pay R3.5 Billion per week to the South African treasury. http://www.parliament.gov.za/content/b%202%20-%202016%20(division%20of%20revenue)~1.pdf. The province, the 2nd wealthiest in South Africa, would be more economically successful if these revenues were spent within its borders. The Party says its proposed policies post-independence would make the Cape Republic " one of the top 10 wealthiest countries per capita [sic] in the world".
The Cape Party has said that it occupies a unique position, as it focuses on local issues, instead of attempting to contest power in national elections, which would legitimise the national political machinery.
The party believes in the failure of Representative Democracy and proposes a system of direct democracy where the electorate are consulted in referenda before passing laws. It also supports the ability of individual communities and cultural groups to determine the laws that govern them. It supports free ports, and has suggested turning its prospective republic into a tax haven.
History of the Cape
The party views the history of the Cape as different and unique in the South African context.
Union of South Africa 1910
The Party has repeatedly called into question the legitimacy of the borders of South Africa, dating back to its founding in 1910. The party has suggested that these borders were not properly decided given that South Africa was created as an act of the British Parliament in 1909 and that this was never ratified in a referendum. Furthermore, The Cape Party believes that the union is fundamentally illegitimate because even in the event of a referendum on the union, voting rights did not extend to black people, who had no choice in the boundaries imposed on them from London.
Paradoxically South Africa can either lay claim to being the first African state to gain independence (in 1910) or the last (in 1994). The party believes that in this paradox lies the fundamental flaw of the concept of South Africa as a legitimate unitary state. Not being a nation state but rather a state composed of many nations, no national identity can form, and hence no agreement on any cohesive future. Instead South Africa is held together by its economic success relative to the rest of Africa i.e it makes financial sense for constituent nations to opt into a composite union. Should the economy collapse South Africa's raison d'etre would cease to exist and so would its artificial borders.
The Cape Party believes that the natural divisions of the constructed South African superstate were there for all to see on 31 May 2010. Technically the country's 100th birthday went almost completely unnoticed by the professional political class, media and civil society. The country struggles to identify with this date, while the governing ANC celebrates April 27, 1994 as the unofficial independence day, but to admit this, would be to position white minority citizens as invaders and to relegate their history to the dustbin. Amidst all this confusion South Africa staggers on with no fixed identity and no agreed upon history: The hallmarks of an illegitimate state.
The Cape Party suggests a major flaw in the legitimacy of the 1996 South African constitution was that politicians did not submit the country's founding document to a referendum for final consent. The party believes that politicians at the time feared that based on the 1994 election results, both the Western Cape (Then governed by the National Party) and Kwa-Zulu Natal (Then governed by the Inkatha Freedom Party) would've rejected the constitution and this would've seriously undermined clauses in the constitution which create a unitary state. Furthermore the deep racial and ethnic enclaves, evident in voting patterns in South Africa, would've undermined the concept of one united South Africa and exposed the borders and constitutional arrangements as uniquely unsuited to a country of South Africa's diversity.
Instead the party believes that the 1996 constitution was deliberately withheld from the electorate to not allow issues such as secession and federalism to be debated in a public campaign.
The proposed Cape Republic would include all the municipalities in the Western Cape, six in the Eastern Cape, one in the Free State and all but two in the Northern Cape. The area includes all municipalities in those provinces with an Afrikaans-speaking majority.
Process of secession
The party cites various legal provisions and frameworks to support its position that the "Cape Nation" has a right to self-government. These include:
- the South African constitution, which guarantees the right to self-determination of any community sharing a common cultural and language heritage
- the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which states that all people have the right to self-determination and to pursue economic, social and cultural development, and that they may freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources without prejudice. The covenant also declares that states party to it must promote the realisation of those rights.
- article 1 of the United Nations Charter
- various UN General Assembly resolutions dealing with self-determination, sovereignty and independence
- chapter 1, article 20 of the Organization of African Unity's African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, which states that all people have an inalienable right to self-determination, and declares that oppressed people have the right to free themselves from domination by any means recognised by the international community. (The Cape Party refers to this document as "African Union: Human and Peoples' Rights".)
The constitutional law scholar Pierre de Vos, however, has said that the Cape Party could not secede without a revolution. As the constitution has created a unitary state, he has said that threatening the unity of the country would be treason. The Cape Party refuted this claim by citing a statement by the National Prosecuting Authority statement on an ordinance of secession submitted by the Abathembu in 2010. The statement by the NPA said that secession was "not a crime" and went on to say that secession was "Political Matter" http://www.lawlibrary.co.za/notice/updates/2010/issue_01/recentjudgments_ecm.htm
The Cape Party has said that it will seek to build consensus with the dominant political parties in the Western Cape, such as the Democratic Alliance. In response, Democratic Alliance federal executive chairperson James Selfe said that the Cape Party was "not a party we take seriously".
Support for an Independent Western Cape
The idea of an independent Western Cape has gained considerable publicity since the 2009 general elections, in which the results put the province at odds with the rest of South Africa. The opposition Democratic Alliance won 51% of the vote in the province. Following its defeat at the polls in 2009, the Western Cape ANC publicity acknowledged that "were it to be put to a referendum right now, the majority of citizens would support a Unilateral Declaration of Independence – The Republic of the Western Cape" 
Many pundits have however scoffed at the idea of an Independent Republic in the Western Cape but as the decline of South Africa's economy has become apparent the idea has gained more favorable coverage. In 2016 the author RW Johnson speculated that calls for the province's independence were growing and that de facto independence will come when citizens pay taxes into a private account and not to the ANC government in Pretoria.
The Cape Party has been criticised in the press as a narrow, single-issue party without substantive policy. Commentators have alleged that its platform is racist, and particularly vilifies migrant workers from elsewhere in South Africa, who work in the Western Cape. The party has denied accusations of racism. In addition, Justin Sylvester, a political analyst for the Institute for Democracy in South Africa, has compared the proposed Cape Republic to Orania, and described the desire for secession as a marginal view.
2011 municipal elections
The party will fielded candidates in all wards of the City of Cape Town in the municipal elections of 2011, and also contest wards of the Cape Winelands, Overberg, Eden and West Coast municipalities. The party launched its manifesto for the election on 15 April 2011. Miller described the election as "an opportunity to take great steps toward our end goal of establishing the Cape Republic".
In addressing the results of the 2009 elections, a party spokesperson described the Cape Party's campaign in those elections as a publicity drive, noting that it didn't expect to win any seats. He said, however, that the party hoped to win a "significant portion" of votes in 2011, adding that the party's support was growing and was strongest in people between the ages of 18 and 35. He acknowledged, however, that this was difficult for the media to believe. The party finally garnered 1,670 votes (0.1% of the Western Cape vote) on the proportional representation ballot in the 2011 election.
The Cape Party was the first political party to put up election posters in the City of Cape Town. However, the party claims that 2500 of these went missing in three weeks. A party spokesman blamed the Democratic Alliance for the missing posters, calling them "masters of the dark arts", and alleging that the Cape Party posters had been replaced with posters for the DA.
IEC name controversy
In 2009, the Cape Party petitioned the Independent Electoral Commission to reject the registration of another political party, the recently formed Congress of the People, on the grounds that the abbreviation of their name (Cope) could cause confusion between the two parties amongst voters, which is against the IEC's regulations. The IEC rejected the objection.
On 17 March 2009, the party's website was defaced by vandals. The website was replaced with an image of a "black devil" and the words "fuck off". Jack Miller, the party leader, alleged that the attack would have required a great deal of funding and equipment, and claimed that it had been perpetrated by one of South Africa's two largest political parties, the African National Congress or the Democratic Alliance. The attack was investigated by the IEC, which has come to no conclusions.
Support for Thembu independence
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- "CAPE PARTY stands with ABATHEMBU SECESSIONISTS and wants constitutional review". Fromtheold. 22 January 2010. Retrieved 2010-02-08.