The Black Homelands of South Africa: The Political and Economic Development of Bophuthatswana and Kwa-Zulu

The Black Homelands of South Africa: The Political and Economic Development of Bophuthatswana and Kwa-Zulu


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780520037168
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication date: 10/09/1978
Series: Perspectives on Southern Africa Series
Pages: 264
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.60(d)

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The Black Homelands of South Africa

The Political and Economic Development of Bophuthtswana and Kwa-Zulu
By Jeffrey Butler Robert I. Rotberg John Adams

University of California Press

Copyright © 1978 Jeffrey Butler, Robert I. Rotberg, and John Adams
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-520-03716-2

Chapter One


The government of South Africa has decided unilaterally that its black population consists of a group of "nations," each of which is entitled to a homeland. As a result, the government has designated ten preponderantly rural areas as homelands. Together they constitute less than 13 percent of the total area of the Republic. In them Africans have been accorded some of the rights of citizenship whether or not they were born there or are regularly resident there. Each homeland has been granted a measure of self-government, and further advances-including independence-are promised. Some areas, like the Transkei, have exercised limited autonomy for some years. The newer homelands, like Bophuthatswana and KwaZulu, have been given legislative assemblies and some local power only recently.

Homeland leaders are currently engaged in a complicated dialogue with the South African government over the structure and exercise of power-over defined responsibilities, the expansion of budgets, the acquisition of more arable land, and the consolidation of disparate fragments of territory into contiguous holdings. Still unwilling to despair of peaceful change, they are involved in exploiting the flexibilities that have been introduced into South African politics by recent commitments to internal accelerated political and economic development and to external détente. The existence of the homelands and the recent elaboration of their institutions provide for Africans new and potentially beneficial leverage on the otherwise rigid politics of South Africa.

Apartheid, which entered the lexicon of South African politics with the victory of the National Party in 1948, differs from separate development, its successor in the early 1960s, in its approach to the autonomy of the homelands. At first the change was merely euphemistic, but with time it has been given limited content. Unthinkable in the 1950s, the issue of self-government is now taken seriously by policy makers who acknowledge an obligation to prepare the homelands for independence in a foreseeable future. As recently as 1968 the minister of Bantu administration laid down prerequisites for independence so stringent that they would have required at least a generation to be achieved. Yet, the Transkei, which in 1963 became the first homeland, is rapidly marching toward independence in 1976. Bophuthatswana has also asked for independence. If the South African government has its way other homelands will follow suit in the near future. (See map 1.1 for the location and sizes of the homelands and table 1.1 for their ethnic composition and stages of self-government.)

Despite the fact that 70 percent of the people of South Africa are blacks representing considerable ethnic diversity (see table 1.2), neither size of population nor cultural identity has been considered a criterion in locating homelands. Most of the homeland territories are direct legacies of the haphazard system of reserving certain lands for African use during the final stages of white settlement in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In designating these territories as homelands, homogeneous societies have not been consistently sought. Rather, the Republic has relied on tradition, propinquity, practicality, and political expediency. The Pedi and North Ndebele are combined in Lebowa, as are the Tsonga and Shangaan in Gazankulu; the South Ndebele, who are widely dispersed in Bophuthatswana, Lebowa, and elsewhere, have been given a homeland of their own. The Xhosa are located in two homelands, the Transkei and the Ciskei, separated by a corridor of white settlement. Self-government has been extended to both although the Republic has expressed no objection to the creation of a single Xhosa homeland.

Separate development is based at least in part on a denial of any positive connection between prolonged residence and the acquisition of rights. Architects of the policy are not convinced that the permanent dispersion of Africans throughout South Africa makes it difficult to base rights on polities that the citizen may never have visited. Consequently, in most of the homelands, only a part of the de jure population, i.e., the population allocated to a homeland, actually lives there or derives its income from activities in a homeland. (Table 1.3 indicates the dispersion of homeland populations and their relative sizes.) Assuming that coloureds, whites and Asians are residing almost wholly in their own homelands, we find that, among Africans, only the Venda, 1.6 percent of the total population of South Africa, have over 60.0 percent of their de jure population living in their own homeland. At the other extreme, only 1.6 percent of all the Southern Sotho live in their tiny homeland. Of the Africans generally, only 42.0 percent live in the homelands, and only half of the Xhosa and the Zulu, the two major peoples, reside in their own homelands. A small proportion of all Africans lives in homelands other than their own, the remainder inhabiting the so-called white areas. Looking at this figure from another perspective, only 600,000 people, or 4.0 percent of the entire African population, would have to be moved to make the existing homelands ethnically homogeneous; to accomplish homogeneity in the white and black areas, however, nearly 9 million people, white and black, would have to be moved. (Only 0.6 percent of the total white, coloured, and Asian populations would have to be removed from the homelands to make them completely African.)

The dispersion of the African population, the dependence of the homelands on the white-controlled economy, and the subordination of Africans in South Africa are long standing. Much of the history of the twentieth century in South Africa has been one of the imposition of constraints on Africans rather than the opening up of opportunities for them. South African whites, although still in a position of overwhelming power, are facing an unsympathetic world outside their borders as well as a restive majority within. In an attempt to manipulate forces of change, they are making limited opportunities available to Africans in segregated political institutions. Limited concessions, however, may contain opportunities unintended by the makers of policy, and the search for such opportunities may be the only strategy available, short of a revolutionary one, to the leaders of politically subordinate groups.

Because the formal changes in political relations are limited and precise, and informal changes are difficult to estimate, a major debate continues as to whether any autonomy has been granted or whether "real" independence is intended. Many doubt the legitimacy and validity of limited self-government, and any independence likely to follow from it. A number of questions must, therefore, be answered before the impact of the establishment and prospective evolution of the homeland governments can be assessed for the Africans of South Africa and for the future of the Republic.

In the following pages we examine the meaning of self-government for blacks in the South African context. What will be the relationship of the South African homelands, individually and collectively, to the dominant government of the Republic? For individual Africans, can the concession of freedom in a juridically independent, but economically dependent homeland provide a meaningful alternative to freedom in the larger Republic? What should the priorities be in order to enhance the political and economic development of the homelands? Today such questions are of more than academic interest. (Continues...)

Excerpted from The Black Homelands of South Africa by Jeffrey Butler Robert I. Rotberg John Adams Copyright © 1978 by Jeffrey Butler, Robert I. Rotberg, and John Adams. Excerpted by permission.
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