Why secession? Why now?
South Africa experienced a collective catharsis in 2018. The nightmare of the Zuma years finally ended, and we discovered to our surprise and horror that the body politic was riddled with cancer and corruption. It is probably on its deathbed. Virtually every state organ is diseased, on the brink of failure. And the witchdoctors in charge keep chanting meaningless spells like EWC, NDR, WMC and RET wich only make the patient sicker.
Like angry relatives around a dying patient, South Africans have turned to blaming each other for circumstances beyond their control.
Because they constitute a majority of warm bodies within a particular set of boundaries, many blacks believe they are entitled to all of South Africa, to the land, to the wealth, to the power, and to MY life and property. They use their control of the government to enforce discriminatory legislation, to extract punitive taxes, to deploy cadres to all levels of the state.
Many minority groups, particularly whites and coloureds, do not feel in control of their own destiny. They are scared by the blatant hate-speech, the endless claims of racism, the ongoing and unpunished acts of violence. They do not see a safe or prosperous future in a country dominated by socialists and communists.
When minorities in other countries are faced with similar circumstances, they often turn to secession from the oppressing state as a solution. Examples include South Sudan, East Timor, Kosovo, Montenegro, Catalonia. Geographically and historically the Cape Province is well suited to secede from the South African state.
The proliferation of groups advocating secession in the Western Cape, and their increasing levels of popular support, indicates this is an idea whose time is coming. The challenge will be to focus this developing energy on the ultimate goal, while avoiding petty turf wars amongst the various advocates.
This paper is issued by the Individualist Movement as a contribution towards this process. We also plan to bring the various secession groups together in a conference to be held in the Cape in March 2019. We see ourselves as an honest broker amongst the various secession groups, while having no preference for any specific one.
political - win political control of the Western Cape.
Prior occupation claim.
legal - invoke the secession options in the constitution, as the Orania Movement has done.
military - organise a coup d’etat by an armed insurgency.
commercial - buy a property as a commercial venture and secede
stealth - takeover small municipalities and implement a secession agenda which others may copy
All secession options will be vigorously opposed by the existing unitary state, up to and including military intervention. How would this opposition be managed?
What would be the nature of a secession government? Would it be a unitary state, a federation, a confederation? A cluster of independent states?
Would it be bound by a constitution? Who will draw up such a constitution? What will be the fundamental principles of a constitution? Will these principles be agreed in advance of secession? Would it be subject to referendum? Who would be eligible to vote?
How will citizens of the new state(s) be defined and identified? Are all existing residents qualified as citizens, even if they are defined as foreigners by the previous state? Will immigration restrictions be imposed?
What will become of citizens who do not support secession? Will they be forced to participate against their will? Will they need to relocate?
How would a seceded state be financed? Would taxation be imposed? At what level? Will it be collected by force?
What would be the currency? How would it be backed? Who will issue it? Under what restrictions?
Who will control the assets of the former state? The leaders of the secession movement? The winners of an election? Will these assets be distributed amongst all citizens?
Will existing rights to property and title deeds be recognised? What about land owned by the former state?
Despite the current economic challenges, most Cape residents are reasonably comfortable, secure and unmotivated towards change. There is no real threat of widespread persecution and violence. Unlike other secession movements, there is very little history of disadvantage for the advocates of secession. How do you convince the existing Cape citizens that secession is a better option?
Who will be responsible for the maintenance of existing infrastructure? The leaders of the secession movement? The winners of an election? Will infrastructure be privatised? How would it be sold off?
Who will take responsibility for defence? This will probably be an urgent priority. How will it be funded? Will conscription be imposed?
The great question is: How do you ensure that a new seceded government does not repeat all the failings and shortcomings of the previous government? How do you avoid making the lives of citizens worse rather than better?
Political - win political control of the Western Cape.
The DA has largely accomplished this, but has no secession ambitions. As with most political parties, this position may change if secession gains widespread local support.
Existing secession parties have limited support and infrastructure. Mounting a large political campaign will require huge amounts of money, effort and infrastructure development, with only a limited prospect of success against established parties, at infrequent elections.
Even if a political campaign is successful and a majority of Cape voters support secession, it will still represent a fraction of eligible voters and residents. Many people will not be interested in a secession option, preferring the benefits they currently receive from central and provincial government. Imposing a secession option on reluctant citizens is a recipe for disaster.
Prior occupation claim.
The Sovereign State of Good Hope organisation base their claim to Cape secession on the basis of prior occupation of the territory by the Khoi-San. Since the Khoi-San did not practice individual property rights, this claim would be very hard to prove.
Prior occupation claims open up a hornet’s nest of competing claims which are poorly substantiated by the historic record.
The reality is that a reasonably sophisticated property identification and ownership system is already in place, and any usurping of this system would create strong resistance and resentment.
Legal - invoke the secession options in the SA constitution, as the Orania Movement has done.
The Orania Beweging is the most successful example of a secession strategy in South Africa. Under their founder Carel Boshoff, they went the strictly legal route, invoking the secession clause for defined cultural groups, purchasing private land on the banks of the Orange river, and being careful to maintain friendly relations with the South African state (Nelson Mandela visited Orania, and had tea with Betsy Verwoerd). They are now a thriving community of around 5,000 people, self sufficient, safe and satisfied. They have implemented their own currency, maintain their own infrastructure, and control immigration. They also constitute little or no threat to the SA state.
The reality is that the existing South African state is unlikely to entertain a similar legal claim for a territory the size and value of the Western Cape. Any attempts would involve massive legal costs, endless delays, and almost no probability of success, despite the terms of the constitution.
Nevertheless, the secession clauses in the constitution provide a strong moral basis for any secession attempt, and for possible future recognition by foreign states.
Military - organise a coup d’etat by an armed insurgency.
There is no existing military infrastructure in the Western Cape capable of a successful insurgency. Such attempts would be doomed to disaster, bloodshed and recriminations.
An armed insurgency would almost certainly lead to a military dictatorship. This pattern has been repeated all over the world.
A different approach - secession by stealth
We believe that the stealth approach is the best chance for secession in the Cape in the near future. With this approach existing small and homogeneous communities would be targeted for local secession. Examples include Hartenbos, Prince Albert, Hout Bay, Morgans Bay and many others.
A precedent for this approach is the New Hampshire movement in the United States where up to 20,000 libertarians have relocated to the small New Hampshire state with the intention of dominating the electoral process in that State.
This is not an all-or-nothing approach. It is non-confrontational. It does not require major resources.
It appeals directly to a limited number of people in a small geographic area. It will allow for local discussion, involvement and buy-in.
Each approach can be radically different in each area. Each of the several secession organisations could test their approach with their members, without forcing other organisations to toe their line.
Mistakes can be learnt from and corrected without threatening the entire secession plan. It is not a one-size-fits-all approach.
Those local secession initiatives which are successful will have a very strong demonstration effect on other districts and communities. They may grow in size as property owners on their borders opt-in.
The Individualist Movement believes that a fundamental and non-negotiable set of principles must be explicitly stated and adopted by secession advocates at a constitutional convention, like the American founding fathers adopted the Bill of Rights, like the Bill of Rights in the South African constitution. Individuals considering support for secession must be assured that their rights will be protected in any future dispensation. We recommend the Individualist Manifesto as the basis of a Bill of Rights.
Evaluate potential communities across the Western Cape.
look for characteristics such as homogeneous population groups, limited or zero poverty, reasonable infrastructure, openness to change
access to resources such as water, power, transport, financing, housing, infrastructure, income opportunities, internet access, defensibility.
rank communities according to suitability
Conduct surveys in top-ranked communities to assess the support for a secession proposal in the local community. Undertake marketing for the secession proposal. Recruit a local committee.
Political: Take over the local municipality. Persuade existing councillors, win by-elections, bring legal challenges to existing council.
Commercial: Buy up contiguous tracts of land as a property developer, apply for private municipality status (Thesen Island, Crossways), invite shareholders and customers.
Prior claim: Identify property with a strong historic significance (preferably remote and unoccupied). Encourage followers to begin to occupy land. Setup a local committee, hold elections.
Different communities might undertake completely different strategies, based on their philosophy, membership, resources. For example,
Orania has a strong religious and cultural base, restricts membership to people identifying as both Christian and Afrikaans, insists on self reliance.
A Khoi-San community might take a similar cultural approach for the Khoi-San people. Like Orania, this may self limit growth and prosperity.
A free market community might dismantle the municipal infrastructure, privatise local services, eliminate rates and taxes, eliminate social grants, disconnect from the national infrastructure and reduce or eliminate regulations on, health, zoning, traffic, etc.
A security conscious community might secure the entrances and exits to the town, mine the boundaries, fence the entire land area.
A business oriented community might recruit service industries to the town, offer highly advantageous concessions and tax breaks, relax finance and banking regulations.
An ecologically friendly community might encourage natural farming techniques, actively limit carbon usage, restrict use of plastics, etc.
Some communities might flourish, attract many immigrants, grow continuously by border conversion (property owners on community boundary can elect to opt-in). Others might find their founding principles are unpopular or unworkable or not economically sustainable. Most communities would probably be a mix of all these strategies.
The Individualist Movement suggests that all organisations with an interest in secession get together in the near future, to:
communicate, resolve differences, look for common interests
cooperate rather than compete
begin to resolve common issues and problems facing secession
compare and contrast strategies
consider sharing resources - internet expertise, secession research, poll data
Develop a viable secession plan for the Western Cape jointly rather than separately.
We are happy to facilitate such a gathering, conference or convention. Please let us know if you are interested by contacting Trevor Watkins on firstname.lastname@example.org (083 4411 721), or Dr Clive Coetzee on email@example.com (082 796 4500).