July 31, 2011
By Chris Cochrane
In order for any region to secede from another country there are certain requirements that need to be in place before international laws are satisfied that the region has a valid reason to secede. These laws were created by the Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States, adopted in 1933.
This article is not so much about internal domestic problems (i.e. lack of jobs, discrimination, violence etc) that are necessary for Capetonians to demand independence , (although I will write about this topic in a later article), but more to do with international acceptance for secession.
A country must declare its intensions i.e. via a referendum.
At present as far as I am aware there is only one party (The Cape Party) although other parties or organisation may develop in the future, that has a manifesto outlying ‘reasons’ to secede from The Republic of South Africa. This only gives reasons for secession but does not elaborate on the international requirements necessary.
You can read their manifesto here. http://www.slideshare.net/cypher_balls/cape-party-manifesto-2011
The Cape Party wanted to use the last Provincial election of 2011 as a ‘referendum’ in so much that a vote for them was a declaration for independence from South Africa. It failed to gain many votes.
Let’s take it for granted that the majority of Capetonians wanted to secede (which at present they do not) what would the leading organisation for this movement need to do in the eyes of the international community to be accepted as an international country at a later stage?
Firstly a clearly defined territory needs to be marked i.e. the present Western Cape, however I believe other territories of the Eastern and Northern Cape are also being considered. This in itself is not sufficient. A clear, precise, exact area needs to be mapped if independence is to be considered, so for this reason alone the Cape Republic will fail international acceptance due to the fact that clear boundaries have not been defined.
For any area to be accepted as a country it also needs to have a government. Here the Western Cape would pass, if only it had clear defined geographic boundaries, because the provincial government is well cemented and it would be relatively easy to incorporate itself as the national government.
Admittance to the United Nations would also help other countries recognize The Cape as a legal country but because the United Nations is not a country it does not possess authority to recognize The Cape Republic as a sovereign state. As far as I am aware the Cape Party has not asked for United Nations admittance. In order for this to be done the aspiring country needs to send an application letter stating that it will abide by the United Nations charter to the UN Secretary General. This application is then passed on to the Security Council where all five permanent members i.e. USA, UK, Russian Federation China and France will vote on it. If one of these five countries votes against acceptance, the application does not go any further. If it is accepted the non permanent members, of whom South Africa is one will vote. Nine votes will be needed to accept The Cape as an independent Country.
South Africa is pushing for a change to the permanent members structure of the Security Council i.e. more countries especially itself to be included. If this was to happen and the Security Council kept its present veto system South Africa would almost certainly veto the Cape’s application for independence thus halting any further U.N progress i.e. admission to the General Assembly for consideration.
Therefore without a (1) referendum, without a clear (2) mapped area and (3) international recognition independence from South Africa seems to be at a standstill.