While a chorus of voices have rejected and blasted the DA for its proposed Western Cape Powers Bill advocating for an independent Western Cape Province, some organisations believe provinces should be allowed to conduct their own affairs.
In recent days a number of organisations have come out to criticise the Western Cape provincial government, after the DA tabled the Western Cape Provincial Powers Bill in the provincial legislature in 2023.
According to the party, the Bill was meant to address the poor provision of basic services including energy, policing and rail transport at national level.
It said that the Bill would create a framework for the province to fully assert its existing constitutional and legislative powers and to get more powers delegated from the national government.
The proposal would not only enable but instruct the provincial government to step in as far as constitutionally possible where the national government was failing to perform a function, the DA explained when it tabled the Bill.
Organisations such as the SACP, however, said the proposal by the DA that the Bill was meant to address service delivery was a farce that no one believed.
The SACP said “this ruse is about capturing the GDP (gross domestic product) after they already control the Western Cape fiscal”.
“When history repeats itself first as a tragedy then as a farce, is what the intent of this Provincial Powers Bill is. That is, to divide the populations nationally and create enclaves of privilege and misery for the people in the Western Cape. If the sprawling squatter camps and homelessness in the Cape flats is not evidence of the deteriorated material conditions of the poor and working class, then the farce concocted by the DA Capexit alliance is the perilous future,” said SACP provincial secretary Benson Ngqentsu.
“Today we remember the historical words of the founding president of our nation, Nelson Mandela, when he said, ‘I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination’, and we should add fight against racist secession. The SACP in the Western Cape condemns the Provincial Powers Bill and calls on the Western Cape populace to reject this Bill.”
Ngqentsu further called upon the national government to use all its powers to oppose the “separatists” occupying the corridors of power in the Western Cape.
Free Market Foundation head of policy Martin van Staden argued, however, that South Africa's provincial governments should be able to conduct their own foreign affairs.
“The Western Cape, generally, does not share the insane foreign policy views of the central government, and it seems to position itself closer to the West than the ANC does in Pretoria,” he said.
He cited as examples the national government’s decision to side with Hamas against Israel, as well as being on the side of Russia in its invasion of Ukraine, and on the side of the Beijing rebels
Van Staden said the ability to conduct foreign affairs was a defining characteristic of an independent, sovereign polity.
He said in most cases central governments, even in federations, tended to monopolise the function entirely, at the expense of subnational governments.
“The people who live in the Western Cape have consistently and without exception rejected the ANC government in each of South Africa’s last six general elections. South Africa is a federation, and subcentral units conducting their own foreign affairs in federations are not unheard of.”
Van Staden said he was of the view that if the Western Cape took the initiative, this would empower other provinces that might be governed by opposition coalitions from 2024 to take similar steps when the time came.