Joe Emilio | The Cape Independence Movement: Reshaping South Africa's Destiny

Joe Emilio defends the Referendum Party from its critics, and lays the case from

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Mar 25, 2024

Joe Emilio | The Cape Independence Movement: Reshaping South Africa's Destiny

The Cape Independence Movement: Reshaping South Africa's Destiny

Recently, I found myself engrossed in a fascinating discussion on Cape Independence, hosted by @NowInSA. The guest of honour was Phil Craig, leader of the Referendum Party, dedicated to prompting a referendum in the Western Cape.

Their aim is crystal clear: urging the DA to call for a vote on independence while harbouring no ambitions to govern South Africa. You can listen to the full interview here:

Before diving into the details of the conversation and debunking misconceptions about the Cape Independence movement, I want to commend NowInSA. Their willingness to engage in such discussions, even if they disagree, is commendable. It's essential to shed light on these topics rather than pushing them into the shadows, where they can fester and grow, potentially leading to unforeseen consequences.

History is rife with examples of ideas gaining traction in the shadows before emerging as significant movements. From Lenin to Hitler to Martin Luther King, any movement with the potential to change the destiny of a country, for good or ill, must start somewhere, and even giants start small.

One prevalent misconception about Cape Independence pertains to its racial implications. Critics often dismiss it as a white supremacist movement, is regarding its diverse support base. In truth, this movement is about empowering all Western Cape residents, regardless of ethnicity, and breaking free from ANC governance, not perpetuating racial divides.

No Dompass

During the interview, the host (and I am paraphrasing) questions whether he would need a passport to visit the Western Cape if it were to secede. He then draws a comparison to the "Dompass," a crude and abhorrent tool employed by the Apartheid government to restrict the movements of people of colour. He further queries whether such border measures wouldn't be “regressive”.

The analogy drawn between needing a passport to visit an independent Western Cape and the apartheid-era "Dompass" is misguided. It's perplexing to me why a passport is equated with a dompass, and some individuals struggle to comprehend this, even though Namibia gained independence from South Africa relatively recently in 1990.

Namibia attained independence through its own process, under the supervision of the UN. However, I can't help but wonder if the individuals transitioning to Namibian citizenship at that time were subjected to accusations of racism, treason, sympathy towards apartheid, or colonialism.

I doubt it. The Referendum Party's goal is clear: to give Western Cape residents a voice in their future through a democratic process. It's not about apartheid-like laws or racial division; it's about letting people decide their destiny.

Phil Craig’s character and background were scrutinized.

Individuals expressed dissatisfaction with several aspects: He is white, he was born in the UK, he doesn’t have a university degree, and his party’s leadership has too many white people in it.

I can't begin to count how many times I've rolled my eyes at this. It's astounding to me that people fail to recognize the racism inherent in labelling this a white movement.

Just because a white man heads the RP party doesn't automatically make it a white- centric movement. Similarly, John Steenhuison being white doesn't render the DA a white-centric party, as both parties boast multiracial candidates and supporters.

To brand them as exclusively white is racist, as it judges them solely based on their leader's skin colour. Discrimination based on skin colour is inherently racist.

Phil didn’t come from the UK with the intention to spearhead the separation of the Western Cape. This idea emerged when he witnessed the ANC's detrimental impact on the country and felt compelled to stand up and defend the last remaining somewhat functional province, despite the backlash he has faced and continues to face.

When questioned about his leadership role in the movement, Phil responded that he never aspired to be a political leader, and still doesn't. However, when the RP was established, people chose him as their leader. When the Cape Independence Advocacy Group was formed, he stepped up because no one else would.

Neither CIAG nor the RP party has ever advocated for apartheid-like laws or any similar measures.

They tried to undermine Phil Craig's intelligence and credibility due to his educational background.

This was probably the most hilarious part of the space because all I can think about is the countless politicians who are in control of this country right now and they haven’t even finished school! Let alone have a college degree.

Those who criticize Phil for his education should focus on current leaders. If you value degrees so much, why not start a political party yourself? Education matters, but it doesn't guarantee good leadership, as evident in our current situation.

Another argument against Cape Independence that arose in this discussion was its legality. But what does the constitution say? An individual cited the constitution, claiming that her quote was evidence that independence is illegal and unattainable.

In my opinion, she may be reading the constitution but is blinded by her bias, leading her to misinterpret its contents—a cognitive bias. Phil then referenced another part of the constitution that explicitly addresses self-determination and asserts that it is permissible, while also mentioning international laws that support self-determination. However, the individual dismissed this argument and labelled him as uneducated.

I'm not a legal expert, but I have seen no evidence that it is, even from the most strenuous critics. Many countries have gained independence in recent years, showing it's possible. If it were illegal to fight for it, Phil Craig would likely be arrested, but he hasn't been, suggesting he's not breaking any laws.

If you're sure it's illegal and won't happen, why not let Phil and the RP party hold a referendum? If you believe it won't succeed legally, let the referendum happen. Let's see what unfolds. See the interview at this timestamp: 1h11m - 1h23m

And this brings me to my next point.

What will Kill the movement?

A man asked if the RP does not garner any votes or fails to secure enough votes in the 2024 elections, will this spell the end of the Cape Independence movement? Will it extinguish the idea altogether?

Phil provided a good response, but let me add to it. In short, no.

The RP party is not the sole organization or political party advocating for Cape independence. For example, the FF+ has also committed to the idea. Additionally, there's the Cape Independence Party, distinct from the RP party. Organizations such as CapeXit and CIAG, which are not political parties, will undoubtedly continue to advocate for Cape independence.

If I were in the discussion, I would have responded by saying: "If you want to resolve this issue definitively, let the people of the Western Cape decide... let's hold a referendum on it. Because if they all vote no, then it's the end of the matter."

While we’re of about the people of the Western Cape, let’s talk about them more directly.


The Western Cape's majority population is Coloured (42%), followed by Black (39%), White (16%), Indian, and Asian (1%).

Whether white population is overrepresented in the movement or not, a referendum gives all three racial groups a say, and there is no way 16% of the population could carry a referendum vote. Our confidence comes from polling evidence, as well as recent signups to the Referendum Party, which show serious support from the Coloured community(and even some from the black community).

And it's not difficult to understand why. During Apartheid, they weren't considered white enough; now, under the ANC, they're not deemed black enough.

If the Western Cape were to secede, it would mean that Coloured people would no longer be the forgotten group of this country. We could even see the first Coloured president. Personally, I would welcome it. And who better to decide who controls the Western Cape than its own people?

We can see all this from the 2023 polling data the CIAG has on their website:

Over the past few years, the idea has caught on among the Coloured population, who now represent a supermajority of our supporter base:

Now I know those that are sceptic of polling will say anything to scrutinise this poll. However, this was a poll done by Victory Research a reputable polling company used by many large political parties and businesses in South Africa.

Polling is also a snap shot in time to how people or current markets are. The trend for support of cape independence has been growing and there’s no reason to believe that trend has declined.

For a movement that is labelled as racist they sure have a diverse support and a lot of it. Including support in Khayelitsha where they recently opened a branch.

A National Referendum on Cape Independence?

And this brings me to the question that was raised: could or would the referendum be allowed to go national? In other words, could other provinces vote on it?

Unfortunately, the host went off on a tangent, suggesting that it would be discrimination or apartheid-like if the rest of the nation couldn’t have a say on the Western Cape. But he fundamentally misses the point of a referendum FOR the Western Cape.

It is the democratic right of the WESTERN CAPE people to decide if they want to secede from South Africa. Someone in Gauteng does not have the right to decide for the Western Cape people whether they should leave or not because they do not reside in the Western Cape.

The question of Western Cape independence is for none other than the Western Cape people. No other province can or will have a say, and that is a tough reality for some to accept. It's not apartheid because, again, no one is saying "blacks can't vote." They are saying that the people of the Western Cape want to decide if they want to be their own country. All races will be allowed to vote as long as they are in the Western Cape.

The people of the Western Cape don't like the way the ANC runs things and want a chance at a brighter future.

It's not racist to think this way. The movement opposes a tyrannical government, not the people of South Africa. The ANC's majority being black isn't relevant to the movement's stance.

Now, I know the DA governs the Western Cape, but the ANC still has an unshakeable grip on the most essential powers in the Western Cape, and there's only so much the DA can do. For example, the SAPS is not run or controlled by the DA; the national government controls SAPS.

That's just one example. The fact of the matter is that if the ANC had focused on making South Africa a prosperous and thriving country free of corruption, educational crises, health care crises, high crime rates, and load shedding, then there would be no talk of Cape Independence because there would not be a need for it.

Ironically, the ANC has created the Cape Independence movement.

Potential civil war

I would also like to address the comments made by some naysayers who claim that Cape independence will instigate a civil war. Although this wasn’t mentioned in the interview, such assertions can be found on social media.

As I have just outlined, South Africa is grappling with numerous issues. The high unemployment crisis alone is sufficient to foment instability within the country. Riots occur almost daily, and the ANC's pursuit of centralization, from establishing a state bank to implementing NHI (National Health Insurance), exacerbates tensions.

Expropriation without compensation has the potential to escalate into a civil war. Cape Independence supporters want to leave precisely to reject the idea of civil war. The Referendum Party is dedicated to ensuring that independence can be achieved peacefully. However, my concern lies in the ANC's propensity for underhanded tactics.

If anyone wants to settle this matter, let's hold a referendum on Cape Independence in the Western Cape and allow the people to decide once and for all

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