Yes! It is completely legal and legislated in the South African Constitution, The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, The African Charter of Human Rights, to name a few.
Through legal means:
1a. South African law:
Accord on Afrikaner Independence
On 23 April 1994 an accord, which specifically dealt with the self-determination of the Afrikaner people, was signed by
the Freedom Front (represented by General Constand Viljoen),
the ANC (represented by Thabo Mbeki),
the South African government and the National Party (represented by Roelf Meyer).
This accord became the foundation for Article 235 of the Constitution of South Africa.
Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996
The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa guarantees independence in Article 235
“The South African nation’s right to independence as a whole, as embodied in this Constitution, does not deny, within the framework of the law, the acknowledgement of the concept of right of any community that shares a common culture and language heritage, to self-determination within a territorial ethnicity in the Republic or in any other terms, as determined by national legislation.”
This Article is very clear on the right to self-determination which is not only guaranteed for the South African nation as a whole, but also for any community that shares a common cultural and linguistic identity. This makes provision for self-determination within South Africa by the clause “within a territorial ethnicity in the Republic” as well as for secession with the clause “or in any other terms”.
1b. International law:
The concept of self-determination is also included in several International conventions as discussed below:
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
In international law, the right to self-determination is upheld by Article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that was undersigned on 3 October 1994 by the South African government and reaffirmed and undersigned on 10 December 1998. The South African government is legally bound by this agreement, of which the appropriate portion reads as follows:
All peoples have the right to self-determination. By virtue of that right, they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.
All people may, for their own ends, freely dispose of their natural wealth and without prejudice to any obligations arising out of international economic cooperation, based upon the principle of mutual benefit, and international law. In no case may a people be deprived of its own means of subsistence.
The State Parties to the present Covenant, including those having responsibility for the administration of Non-Self- Governing and Trust Territories shall promote the realization of the right, in conformity with the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations.
African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights
The right to self-determination is also enshrined in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, of which Article 20 reads as follows:
All people shall have the right to existence. They shall freely have the unquestionable and inalienable right to self-determination. They shall freely determine their political status and shall pursue their economic and social development according to the policy they have freely chosen.
Colonized or oppressed peoples shall have the right to free themselves from the bonds of domination by resorting to any means recognized by the international community.
All peoples shall have the right to the assistance of the State Parties to the present Charter in their liberation struggle against foreign domination, be it political, economic or cultural.
Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States
The Montevideo Convention clearly states in Article 1 which conditions must be met when a “new” independent state is to be established, namely:
The state as a person of international law should possess the following qualifications:
- A permanent population
- A defined territory
- A government
- The capacity to enter into relations with other states