Afriforum throws its weight behind the Cape independence movement
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Lobby group Afriforum has thrown its weight behind calls for greater autonomy for the country’s provinces, and more power for their premiers.
On Tuesday, Afriforum CEO Kallie Kriel said his organisation had unanimously resolved, at a congress held in Knysna last November, that they wanted “growing autonomy”.
“We took that concept to our board and we also approved it. We went back with a plan and we spoke two weeks ago with our structures,” he said.
His organisation’s resolution comes amid calls from the Cape Independence Advocacy Group and the Cape Independence Party for the Western Cape to become independent.
It also happens as the Democratic Alliance is seeking to have the Referendums Act amended to give premiers the power to call a provincial referendum, among other things.
Kriel said Afriforum recognised there were many people supporting total independence for the Western Cape, while others wanted more powers.
He said his organisation’s strategy was to focus on issues on which people agreed, and to mobilise as much support as possible.
“Our stance is that we need to make sure that there is tax federalism.”
He said there was a need to go into a situation where there was a referendum on issues related to powers enjoyed by provinces, such as police, energy and others.
“A referendum will be efficient in that it would provide a moral high ground for independence or growing autonomy that we are working for.”
Kriel said legislation allowed only the president to call a referendum, while the Constitution gave the same power to the president and premiers.
“We want to take the 1983 Act to the Constitutional Court, to ask the Constitutional Court to give an instruction that Parliament should change it to be aligned with the Constitution,” he said.
Kriel noted that the DA has started a parliamentary process to have the Referendum Act amended.
He said his organisation needed backing from civil society organisations as well as political parties, and that there should be cooperation between communities on issues that were of mutual benefit.
“We are also looking at setting up a vehicle that represents various communities, to make sure that the growing autonomy for the Cape is for Cape issues and not Afrikaner issues, English issues, white issue and Coloured issues,” Kriel said.
Meanwhile, DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone said in a statement her party noted Afriforum’s plans to approach the Constitutional Court to force Parliament to change the country’s referendum legislation.
Mazzone said the DA has long fought for the principle of federalism and the devolution of power to provinces.
“The DA appreciates Afriforum joining this fight. We have already set the ball rolling with our Private Member’s Bill (PMB), which seeks to repeal the Referendums Act and amend the Electoral Commissions Act, and would allow premiers their constitutional power to call for referendums,” she said.
“Our PMB was gazetted and thousands of inputs of supports were received during the public comment stage,” Mazzone said.
She, however, said the DA would never presume to stop Afriforum from pursuing a just cause, but its course of action would be a duplication of their efforts.
“We believe in following the correct course of lawmaking and approaching the courts only when all other measures have been exhausted, and will continue to fight for a power shift to provinces to better address service delivery and other issues of their residents,” Mazzone said.