Western Cape must claim autonomy by denouncing BEE, trading with the West
Nicholas Woode-Smith, an author, economic historian, and political analyst, is a contributing author for the Free Market Foundation. 

As South Africa crumbles under the weight of the national government’s corruption, overspending, incompetence and socialist policies, the Western Cape and a few fringe localities stand as the only functioning parts of the country.

In fact, the most major elements still wrong with the Western Cape, in particular, are more accurately blamed on the rot of national government. Stellar service delivery, clean audits, and competent provincial and municipal management can only go so far to ensure the success of the Western Cape.

Without sound economic policies, competent policing and stable electricity generation, the Western Cape will remain nothing more than a poor, albeit well-governed, periphery to a failed state.

But this doesn’t need to be the Western Cape’s future.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has already argued for increased provincial autonomy. Other opposition parties like the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and Freedom Front Plus (VF+) have also expressed support for turning South Africa’s symbolic federation into something more functional – rather than accepting the ANC’s line that South Africa is a unitary state, with provinces effectively just being stumbling blocks to their total control of the country.

But every move to gain increased local autonomy has been sought through traditional channels. Arguments in parliament, requests from national government, and op-eds like this one. All this really culminates into is begging. But the decision-makers do not want the Western Cape to succeed. The residents of the Western Cape and elsewhere are ignored and silenced by a big government who wants total control of everything.

But why should the Western Cape beg for something it already has? The DA already has the mandate and popular support to govern the Western Cape. Its ability to appoint a fully functioning local police force to tackle gangsterism, or implement better economic policies to solve unemployment, are all held back by national government.

Perhaps, the Western Cape government should just stop asking for federalism, and work towards it instead. With or without permission from a central government who, honestly, has no business dictating what the Western Cape does. Especially as their provinces collapse.

LEAP and metro-cops in Cape Town should be equipped to investigate and arrest criminals, rather than merely being reinforcements for SAPS.

BEE should be ignored when electing local tenders and should not be enforced for local businesses. Imagine the flood of companies that would want to do business in the Western Cape without the lunacy that is BEE being held over them like an axe-blade?

The Western Cape government could even engage in limited foreign relations with other states, signalling to other countries that while the ANC-led government may associate with terror groups and dictatorships, the Western Cape does not, and is open to trade and tourism with the West.

The DA, for all of its competence at governing, fails to realise that nothing will be gained from begging. If they want to fix all that can be fixed, they must seize every opportunity they can get. Which means a realisation that autonomy must be taken, not given.

This is not a call for secession. And in this undertaking, the Western Cape government should do all it can to respect the constitution and remain within the confines of the law and the rule of law. But where it can skirt the sabotage and dictates of the national government it should.

Refusing to enforce bad laws, equipping local bodies to solve local issues, and ignoring the whining of the ANC would go a long way to help the Western Cape gain some real, meaningful autonomy. And with it, finally solve the remaining issues holding back the province.