AfriForum chief executive Kallie Kriel File picture: Nokuthula Mbatha
AfriForum chief executive Kallie Kriel File picture: Nokuthula Mbatha

AfriForum heading to the Constitutional Court over Western Cape’s independence

By Mwangi Githahu Time of article published Sep 21, 2021

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Cape Town - Civil rights organisation AfriForum is heading to the Constitutional Court in an attempt to force Parliament to change South Africa’s referendum legislation so as to give premiers legislated powers to call for a referendum.

The move is part of the group’s plans to gain greater autonomy for the Western Cape as outlined by the organisation’s chief executive Kallie Kriel.

It comes in the wake of a Private Members’ Bill sponsored in Parliament by the DA’s Natasha Mazzone that would in essence do the same thing.

With regards to reports that AfriForum is setting up a civil society organisation to front the court bid, Kriel said: “It is still early days. We are currently consulting with various stakeholders before we can finalise any plans.

“If a new organisation is needed, what its composition would be and its name, is still under discussion.

“What I can confirm now is that we do plan to take the referendum legislation to the Constitutional Court to allow a premier to also call for a referendum as allowed for in the Constitution, but not in legislation.”

He said the time frame of the court bid was still being discussed with stakeholders.

Cape Independence Advocacy Group spokesperson Phil Craig said: “Devolution and Cape Independence have now become significant political issues in the Western Cape. The DA and the ANC debated them last week in the National Council of Provinces.”

He said AfriForum’s Constitutional Court application would now make it even more difficult for the ANC to prevent such an action.

Leader of the opposition in the legislature, Cameron Dugmore (ANC), said AfriForum was being divisive.

“We know that AfriForum has strong sympathisers in the DA. Members and leaders of the DA are actively campaigning for more autonomy for the Western Cape, the only province the DA has ever won, and the logical conclusion of this kind of campaigning is a separate state from the South African one.

“Yet even the attempts to reform referendum legislation does not automatically mean that a referendum will be called, nor does it mean that we will be bound by an eventual outcome of a referendum.

“All of us know what the outcome of a referendum on the death penalty will be, but we subscribe to a constitution. A constitution that unites, and which does not divide as AfriForum does,” Dugmore said.

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