JOHANNESBURG

A small political party in South Africa is campaigning for the secession of the Western Cape province from the country and establishing it as an independent state called the Cape of Good Hope.

The Cape Independence Advocacy Group (CIAG) said in a statement Tuesday it had held its first poll on the issue. “Results showed that 47% of all Western Cape residents would like to see a referendum on independence, with 36% wanting independence outright,” the group said in a statement mailed to Anadolu Agency.

Western Cape Province, the country’s tourism hub and producer of grapes, fruits, and wines, is one of South Africa’s nine provinces and home to several minority groups.

The province has been governed by the main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) for many years after winning several provincial elections. The remaining eight provinces are governed by the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

The group said the Western Cape is different from the other provinces of South Africa based on what it described as “ideological, linguistic and ethnic differences.”

The Dutch-based Afrikaans tongue is the most widely spoken language in the Western Cape, the statement said, unlike the other provinces.

As for other arguments for breaking away, it claimed that some policies of the ruling African National Congress were becoming intolerable for locals of the province, such as a recent constitutional change allowing the expropriation of private property without compensation, government access to pension funds to support nationalized industries, and alleged government mismanagement.

The group claimed Western Cape residents support a more capitalist, free-market economic approach, as well as a smaller government closer to the people, while the rest of South Africa allegedly favors a large centralized government and socialism.

It also said their poll found that 70% of Western Cape residents, including a majority of all race groups, believe that minorities in South Africa are being treated unfairly.

Minorities account for 67% of the Western Cape population. The ruling ANC has denied accusations of minority mistreatment.

Plan ‘not achievable’

Pierre De Vos, a professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Cape Town, recently wrote on The Daily Maverick website: “From a constitutional perspective, the most obvious flaw in this plan is that it is not achievable.”

He said the idea that secession would be kick-started by holding a referendum on the matter in the Western Cape was based on a misunderstanding of the nature of referendums as only the country’s president can call a national referendum, with only the head of a provincial government able to hold a provincial referendum.

Critics of the CIAG believe it is following racist and white supremacist motives – a claim the group denies. Other commentators say the group is explicitly anti-ANC, which has been in power since 1994 when South Africa ended racist Apartheid rule.

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