South Africa is in one almighty mess and, as individual citizens, many of us feel despondent and powerless. We know what needs to be done, at least at a broad-strokes level, but we also know that the government has no intention of doing it. There is an overwhelming temptation to throw one’s hands up in the air and give up.
We must not, under any circumstances, do that.
As an individual you have more power than you could ever imagine. As part of a bigger collective, you can bring this government to its knees. More than that, you have a moral obligation to act and to act decisively.
I am drawn to cantankerous, belligerent, arrogant, single-minded individuals who, when others resigned themselves to their fate, took life by the scruff of its neck and changed the world.
Winston Churchill, an alcoholic and opium user, said: “History shall be kind to me for I intend to write it”. Thereafter, he did exactly that.
Margaret Thatcher said: “There are still people in my party who believe in consensus politics. I regard them as quislings, as traitors.” On another occasion she said: “Defeat? I do not recognise the meaning of the word. If it is once again one against forty-eight, then I am very sorry for the forty-eight.”
Mahatma Gandhi said: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” Significantly, he also said: “Whatever you do may seem insignificant to you, but it is most important that you do it.”
Helen Zille may not have been able to turn a phrase quite so eloquently as the others, but cantankerous, belligerent, single-minded and arrogant? Perhaps, and I love her for it. The success of the Western Cape did not happen by chance.
What about you?
Are you going to be silently written into the footnotes of history?
Not me! I am with Winston, Maggie, Mahatma and Helen. I have had enough. I love this country, and I love the people who live here. I love the landscapes and I love the cultures, the humour and the languages. I am not going to sit back and watch a bunch of common thieves or racial nationalists steal my children’s future from under my nose.
My children are Afrikaans and this is their home. They can trace their lineage back generations on this soil, and no one is going to tell me this land doesn’t belong to them, or that they have anything to be ashamed of. If your children are Xhosa or Zulu, Malay, KhoiSan or Griqua, English, Italian or Chinese, it doesn’t matter. If you live here legally, then this is your home too.
In December 2019, Dominee Bennie van Rensburg stood on the pulpit in the Moederkerk in Wellington and told the congregation that our land was deeply troubled and that our prayers were needed. He said God would help the people of South Africa, but he expected us to do more than pray, he expected us to get up out of the church pews and to do something. He said we all know what we are being called to do. For me it was a defining moment.
As my wife will confirm, I am also cantankerous, belligerent, single-minded and arrogant. I am British. I wasn’t born here, and until that day, I had convinced myself it wasn’t my place to lead the fight. I had long had enough of the ANC and of watching my adopted country sliding into disorder and chaos, however. On that day, on that church bench, I made it my place.
Less than 100 days later, the Cape Independence Advocacy Group (CIAG) was formed. My co-founders and I debated who must be the spokesperson. Could it really be me, with my obvious British accent, a white, middle-class male to boot?
Critics constantly refer to my heritage and that is okay. I am who I am and make no apologies for it.
This is relevant because I did it because you didn’t. Yes, I mean you. Fixing South Africa is your job too.
You may or may not agree with me that an independent Western Cape is the answer. I contend, for the people of the Western Cape, it is our only viable solution, and I intend to move hell and high water to see it happen. If you differ with me that is okay. But you have to do something. We all have to do something.
Accepting the reality of our situation
You need to accept two fundamental realities. The government of South Africa is your enemy. It has an agenda, which will leave it stinking rich, and more and more of the rest of us increasingly poor. Whereas politicians and ministers earn multimillion-rand salaries, unemployment is at an all-time high, and rising.
When I first came to South Africa, I assumed Zimbabwe would serve as the ultimate reminder to the ANC of the folly of naked African nationalism and their national democratic revolution. I now know they just don’t care. To the ANC (and the EFF) Zimbabwe represents a victory, not a failure. Sun Tzu said: “An evil enemy will burn his own nation to the ground …. to rule over the ashes.”
The DA, as the main opposition party, must also be held accountable. It is its job to hold the line and to bring change. Churchill also said: “It is not enough that we do our best, sometimes we must do what is required.”
I am a vocal critic of the DA. I am a DA voter. In the Western Cape it has been an infinitely better government than the ANC, which is why it is currently serving its third straight term as the provincial government. But when Churchill said doing our best is not enough, he could be talking straight to the DA. It fiddles while Rome burns. It has the power and capacity to turn South Africa on its head, but is just too timid, too conservative, too conventional, to do what is required. If we don’t start holding the DA to account, it will be as complicit as the ANC in South Africa’s demise.
Changing your reality
The government must be resisted in every possible legal and peaceful way. It must be made to feel the utter frustration that we feel. Every plan it makes must be defied with all our might, until the government wants to pull its hair out, not us ours. If you don’t know what a “work to rule” is, find out.
If you want proof of the power we hold in our hands, look no further than the Gauteng tolling project. Who has sleepless nights over that, the populace or the politicians?
Let’s look at some examples of things that you can do.
Are you fed up with racism and racial classification? Opt out. Every time you are asked to provide your race either refuse, or where it is a digital form and you cannot, tick black African. There is no legal test for race, you are self-identifying.
If you run a business and all your employees and directors happen to self-identify as black African too, then BEE can work for you. If the person you want to hire identifies as black African, regardless of how they may physically appear, great, hire them. If the government wants to keep up racial classification, let us make them bring back the pencil test. The system only works when you and I opt in. Gwen Ngwenya of the DA says she randomly ticks the racial classification boxes whenever they are presented, hoping that she will be taken to court, but knowing that she never will.
If you are a homeowner and your municipality is corrupt or dysfunctional, stop paying your rates. I once fell out with mine, so I wrote to it telling it that I wouldn’t be paying my rates until it addressed my specific issue. The municipality ignored me, but I didn’t pay my rates for four years. On the anniversary of my initial letter I sent a reminder, pointing out that I hadn’t paid now for a year, and that I was willing to pay, but only when the municipality fixed the issue I was complaining about. I knew if they ever tried to take me to court I could produce my letters as evidence that I was trying to resolve the issue.
The DA eventually took over the municipality from the ANC, fixed my issue, and gave me a 50% reduction on my outstanding balance in return for me settling my account. It was a thoroughly satisfactory experience for me all round.
Get behind an independence movement. In the Western Cape that is easy. Independence is the ultimate rejection of government authority. The people of the Western Cape do not have the national government they voted for, and they have zero prospect of ever getting the government they want. Why would anyone opt into that system?
Coloured and white citizens of the Western Cape are under no obligation to sign up to be racially marginalised, to have their language and culture insulted, and to have their history rewritten before their eyes.
Substantial numbers of black Western Cape citizens also support Cape independence, recognising that their social and economic welfare is dependent on escaping socialism, racial nationalism, corruption and gross incompetence. The dream of a rainbow nation never belonged to the ANC and it doesn’t need to die with it either.
If you are outside of the Western Cape, and perhaps KZN, independence might just take a different form.
Start your own municipality. Without commenting on the ideological merits of Orania, that is exactly what its population did.
Has your road got potholes in it? Get together with your neighbours, fix them, then deduct the cost from your rates.
Are the police useless in your area? Hire a security guard and deduct it from your taxes. Get an accountant to do it correctly, then deduct their fee too.
Do you have to buy bottled water because the municipal water isn’t drinkable? Stop paying for it. Write your own letter. I’ll pay for drinking water when it is drinkable.
Until things change, the less we pay in tax the better.
Changing your mindset
Once you get into the mindset that you have power in every situation, you will find endless ways to improve your circumstances and frustrate the government.
Then you have to start holding the DA to account. You can’t just be politically active for one day every five years. When did you last speak to your ward councillor, or the mayor? You elected them; they work for you. Make your issues their issues. Mayors are very well paid, most couldn’t earn their salary in the private sector, and they are all up for re-election next year.
Under the constitution there are certain concurrent powers held jointly by national and provincial government, such as transport, police, language and culture, housing, agriculture, education (other than tertiary), health and policing. Concurrent powers mean that, where it governs, the DA can pass its own laws.
I am told that this is an aspect of the constitution which has never been tested, and, were the DA to pass laws that ran contrary to the national government agenda, that this may cause a constitutional crisis.
Music to my ears.
Thus far the DA has backed down from this fight.
Why? It must use its majority where it has one. It must take power away from the national government in every possible way it legally can. It must use every means at its disposal, and to the fullest possible extent of the law, including every millimetre of grey area, to carry out the wishes of the electorate that appointed it.
At the height of the Covid-19 crisis we saw the best and the worst of the DA. Administratively and operationally it stood head and shoulders above the rest of South Africa, yet politically it capitulated, obsequiously going, time and time again, against its own better judgement.
I stand front and centre demanding an independent Western Cape. Fifty-three percent of DA voters in the Western Cape want the same thing. On 5 December I will be marching with the coloured community of Cloetesville to the Stellenbosch town hall demanding that DA mayor Gesie van Deventer listens to the community’s desire for independence, demanding that she passes it along to her political bosses, and that she knows when she needs their votes in 2021, what they want, not what she wants, must be top of the agenda.
Put the date in your diary and march with us too.
The CIAG will be repeating this action and many others over the coming months until the DA is forced to listen to us. The DA is our employee in the Western Cape.
Now what are you going to do?