Provincial Powers Bill seeks independence, not apartheid, for Western Cape

Dr Joan Swart from the Referendum Party replies to the piece by ANC leader in the Western Cape, Cameron Dugmore about the Provincial Powers Bill. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

Dr Joan Swart from the Referendum Party replies to the piece by ANC leader in the Western Cape, Cameron Dugmore about the Provincial Powers Bill. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jan 20, 2024


The following is in response to Cameron Dugmore’s piece, “DA’s provincial powers bill is bid for separate ‘apartheid’ state”, featured in last week’s Weekend Argus.

by Dr Joan Swart

Cameron Dugmore’s recent article in Weekend Argus presents a critical view of the Provincial Powers Bill proposed by the DA. In his reasoning, Dugmore appears to conflate the concept of independence with “apartheid” and questions the underlying intentions of the bill.

However, a closer examination reveals that the call for Western Cape independence is not only legitimate but also essential for the province’s prosperity and self-determination.

First, it is crucial to address the misconception that advocating for Western Cape independence is synonymous with perpetuating apartheid-era ideologies. Conflating the pursuit of self-governance with historical racial oppression is disingenuous and undermines the genuine aspirations of the people of the Western Cape.

Independence is about empowering the province to make decisions that benefit its diverse population and address the challenges of a rapidly changing socio-political landscape.

Furthermore, the assertion that the Provincial Powers Bill seeks only to obtain more decision-making powers over local matters at the behest of the political Right and elites is patently wrong.

The reality is that the bill represents an attempt to address the systemic disparities and inefficiencies perpetuated by the centralised governance structure. Devolution, as proposed by the DA, is not a veiled attempt at secession but a legitimate, albeit half-hearted, mechanism to try to empower the Western Cape to manage its affairs more effectively.

However, we, as the Referendum Party, strongly believe it is insufficient to protect the Western Cape from national government mismanagement and corruption.

The Referendum Party’s advocacy for secession as the only satisfactory solution underscores the urgency of the province’s need for greater autonomy.

The Western Cape must have the ability to control its destiny. This is not about isolationism but about responsible governance that prioritises the well-being of the province’s inhabitants and safeguards against the burden of unsustainable national policies.

Critics argue that the bill will not change the lived reality of the majority in the province. However, the reality is that the bill does not go far enough in granting the necessary autonomy to address the pressing needs of the Western Cape. By controlling its finances and borders, the province can make informed decisions and allocate resources to critical areas such as safety, education, health and infrastructure, without being hindered by bureaucratic red tape and national government inefficiencies and ulterior agendas.

The call for independence is not a rejection of unity but a recognition of the need for a governance model that aligns with the aspirations and values of the Western Cape.

The province’s desire for self-determination is rooted in the belief that it can better serve its residents by managing its own affairs and resources. Ideological unity should not come at the expense of stifling the legitimate aspirations of a region that seeks to chart its path towards prosperity and progress.

Co-operative governance has been given ample time to deliver tangible results, yet it has failed to address the specific needs of the Western Cape. The province cannot afford to wait for a system that is increasingly failing to meet its requirements.

Joan Swart

The time for a united, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous Western Cape is now, and this can be achieved only through embracing independence.

In conclusion, the call for Western Cape independence is not a reactionary or divisive agenda but a legitimate pursuit of self-determination and effective governance. It is vital to challenge misconceptions and recognise that the province’s quest for autonomy is driven by a genuine desire to address its challenges and opportunities.

Embracing independence is not about turning away from South Africa but about forging a path that aligns with the aspirations and values of the people of the Western Cape.

It is time to acknowledge and respect the province’s call for self-governance and work towards a future where the Western Cape can thrive as a prosperous and empowered state.

* Dr Joan Swart is an exco member of the Referendum Party, author, and doctor of forensic psychology.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

Weekend Argus

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