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Is self-determination the solution for South Africa?

The Moonshot Muddle Moonshot mania has swept the South African political scene. Currently composed of six parties, this alliance has seen many political actors in recent months pin their hopes on its ability to unseat the ANC from national government. This will be no easy feat, which seemingly has been recognised by the DA for having themselves termed the pact “Moonshot”. In the 2019 election, the ‘Moonshot’ parties enjoyed 27.0% of the vote between them, which grew to 32.5% in 2021, buoyed by the emergence of new political parties to the scene such as ActionSA. Meanwhile, in 2019 the ANC and EFF obtained a combined 68.3%. Therefore, for the pact to be successful in achieving its vision, a swing of 18% from the ANC/EFF to Moonshot would be required in 2024 - three times larger than the 6% swing seen between 2019 and 2021.

For the moonshot to get an 18% swing would require an extreme drop in voter turnout or an unprecedented end of voting along ethnic lines. This seems extremely unlikely, especially as ethnic oriented parties are seeing a resurgence in support. A strong, unified strategy by the Moonshot partners might go some way to overcome these mammoth challenges. At present, however, this seems unlikely. Continuous streams of bickering run between parties and their leaders, ranging from whether Moonshot should be the name of the alliance to whether the PA should be involved or not, a hot-topic issue which has already broken the pact in Johannesburg. As it stands, Moonshot may very well not leave the launch pad, let alone fly to the moon. Western Cape self-determination - a viable alternative As a vocal advocate of Cape independence, I certainly have not placed my hopes on the Moonshot Pact to save me. Rather, I look towards having a coalition government in the Western Cape between the DA and separatist parties, who would have the political weight to force the Premier to call a referendum. With the Western Cape’s distinct political history, represented by its constant rejection of the ANC and its values, we will always be the best positioned province to save ourselves from the policies of a failed national state.

What started as mere murmurings of increased autonomy have now developed into an ever-growing roar for self-determination. This can be seen most recently by the tabling of the Western Cape Peoples Bill in the Western Cape Parliament by the FF Plus. Were this bill to pass, it would create an upheaval of the current South African constitutional order. We need not wait for change at the national level, we can already start to take back powers through our provincial parliaments.

Provincial diversity needs to be recognised

The polls are clear: unseating the ANC at the national level may not be a realistic possibility for the foreseeable future, however it is a prospect on the cards at the provincial level for Gauteng and KZN in 2024. Next year, we could see opposition coalitions in control of SA’s three most populous and economically productive provinces, that combined represent 65% of the country’s GDP and 63% of its workforce.

In a recent article, Phil Craig of the Cape Independence Advocacy Group (CIAG) made the point that each of these coalition governments would have “fundamental cultural and ideological differences.'' This would result in a more Western-orientated government in the Western Cape, a more Afrocentric government in Gauteng and a more traditionalist government in KZN. Self-determination is the key to enabling this provincial diversity to take form and to allow the people of SA to have governments that are better suited to their interests and values. With this also comes the potential to free tens of millions more people from the ANC’s failures.

A self-determination pact

It would appear a pact is needed of principled political parties and organisations in SA who support the right to self-determination, with such a pact acting as a key negotiating bloc when provincial governments are formed after 2024. This pact would be able to force the DA into holding referendums on self-determination in the Western Cape, restructure the bloated metro municipalities of Gauteng into smaller more distinct entities and push for greater autonomy for KZN’s traditional authorities and minority communities.

The pact would agree to a series of strategies and policies to pursue after the election, and would allow for a collective effort for self-determination that crosses party and cultural lines, making it difficult for bad faith actors to brand specific parties as “racist” or “tribalist”. This pact could follow the model set by Nigel Farage in the European Parliament, where UKIP came together with other eurosceptic parties from six different European countries to form the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy group - creating a united front against increased EU centralisation.

Such a pact need not replace the Moonshot concept, but rather run parallel to it and complement it, with it having the ability to play a key role in shaping Moonshot’s policies around provincial autonomy before and after the elections. In the words of FF Plus Chief Whip, Dr. Corné Mulder, “it is not a case of either/or, it’s a case of and/and.”

The two core parties that would be key to such a pact would be the IFP and FF Plus – SA’s 4th and 5th largest parties respectively, that together represent the three main arms of South African self-determination: Zulu, Cape and Afrikaner and hold a great wealth of political experience and knowledge between them.

Adding to the pact might include parties from the Northern Cape, where there have been a blossoming of regionalist parties such as the Namakwa Civic Movement and the Khoisan Revolution. In the Western Cape, potential partners could include the Cape Coloured Congress and the Cape Independence Party. The pact can also give a platform to non-partisan groups such as AfriForum, Solidarieit and the CIAG to advance their different ideas about autonomy in the legislative space.

Strategies for self-determination

There are a wide variety of strategies that this pact could utilise to empower their voters. The Western Cape Peoples Bill will create a precedent for similar pieces of legislation in Gauteng and KZN, that would allow these provinces to claim their right to self-determination and changes to the national referendum legislation will provide a mechanism for testing the form that self-determination should take. They can also investigate what reforms could be made surrounding land trusts, to expand the powers of entities such as the Ingonyama Trust and Orania, and create a framework for creating new versions of these entities. Restructuring metro municipalities could also be on the cards. For example, Tshwane may be converted into a new district municipality consisting of a number of smaller local municipalities, with each having their own unique cultural flavour to them - opening up an avenue to self-determination at the municipal level.

Self-determination - our solution

If the ANC is returned to power in 2024 (whether with a majority or in a coalition with the EFF), certain to unleash all manners of hellish policies on us, we will have the immense opportunity to turn back the tides of decline in three of SA’s strongest provincial economies. In response to Tito Mboweni attacking advocates of self-determination before the 2021 elections, Helen Zille tweeted, “where people don’t vote for ANC, they don’t deserve to live under a failed state.” Self-determination is our solution - we now need politicians and parties with the courage, conviction, and motivation to work together to achieve it.

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