South Africa: The Peasants` Revolt
- Publisher Preface
- Preface by Ruth First
- The Great Deception:
The Worst of Two Worlds
- Place in the Shadow:
The Segregation Story
- From Dynamite to Toy Telephones:
Chiefs Give Way to the Council System
- Old Shapes in New Rags:
Instruments of Apartheid Rule
- Sleight of Hand in the Transkei
- Peasants in Poverty
- The `Fraud` of Separate Development:
Feathering the Nationalist Nest
- Chiefs in the Saddle:
Transkei Test Case
- Resistance and Rebellion:
The Peasants Rise
- Dilemma of `Self-Government`:
The Constitution and the Elections
The Peasants` Revolt, first published by Penguin African Library in 1964, is a
study of a crucial period in the struggle against apartheid. It focuses on developments in
the Transkei at a time when resistance to the imposition of the system took the form of
At that time only the Transkei had self-governing status. Of the ten bantustans which
now exist, four have been declared `independent countries` by the regime and the other six
`self-governing national states`.
The funds at the disposal of the Transkei, and the other bantustans, are substantially
greater today than they were in the period of which Mbeki writes. But this financial
growth is not matched by corresponding development for the benefit of those who live in
the bantustans. A large proportion of the funds are allocated to prisons, police and other
armed forces, while poverty and malnutrition are widespread.
A study by a government agency in 1980 revealed that the bantustans accommodated 35.7
per cent of the national population yet only produced 3.4 per cent of the country`s gross
domestic product. It found that more than half of households in the Transkei survived on a
cash income of £40 or less per month and that more than 90 per cent of this income was
from migrant workers. Some 30 per cent of families survived on less than £25 per month,
95 per cent of which came from migrant labourers working outside the Transkei.
The resistance to the bantustan authorities of which Mbeki writes, and in which he
himself played a part, has never ceased. It was driven underground by intense repression,
but in recent years has again begun to take a more open form.
Nineteen-eighty-four saw the inauguration of a new segregated parliament in South
Africa. Incorporated into the structures of central government is a small section of the
Indian and Coloured communities which is prepared to co-operate in administering the
apartheid system. Overwhelmingly rejected by the Coloured and Indian communities as a
whole because of its undemocratic and divisive nature, and as an attempt to entrench
apartheid, the new constitution parallels the attempt to impose separate political and
administrative structures on the African population.
One of the most significant features of the 1980s, and one of the greatest challenges
to the Pretoria regime, is the unity that has been forged across the divisions imposed by
apartheid. While there are significant differences with the past, this increasingly united
mobilisation of resistance both inside and outside the bantustans has led many observers
of current developments to recall the period of which Mbeki writes.
Govan Mbeki, a leading member of the African National Congress, is now serving his
twentieth year in prison on Robben Island. Although sentenced to life imprisonment, his
jailers have not succeeded in consigning him to obscurity. His name, along with those of
Mandela and Sisulu, has become a symbol of resistance, not only to the oppressed people of
South Africa but also to the international community who have conferred on him many
honours and awards.
By Ruth First
This book has had a painful birth. Govan Mbeki is recognized widely in South Africa as
an expert on the Transkei and on rural and agrarian problems. But not for him the
seclusion of a study or library, the facilities for patient interviews and field work.
This manuscript was written in fits and starts on deal tables in the kitchens of several
African homes in Port Elizabeth townships; its progress was frequently interrupted by
police raids, when the sheets of paper had to be hurriedly secreted, or moved away from
where their writer lived and worked, for his and their safe-keeping. A great slice of this
book was written on rolls of toilet paper when Mbeki served a two-month spell of solitary
confinement, awaiting trial on a charge of making explosives. Mbeki was acquitted after
those court proceedings; the manuscript was smuggled out of the cell to the typist who
pored over the faint pencil writing on the thin paper, by candlelight and in the privacy
of her township room. Some final portions of the book were written from Govan`s last
hiding-place in Johannesburg, where he had moved from Port Elizabeth after he was drafted
by the African National Congress National Executive to direct A.N.C. campaigns from
Mbeki began to write a study of the workings of apartheid policy in the reserves - the
areas set aside in law for African occupation - as early as 1959 and 1960. He intended
originally to prepare a manual for members and organizers of the African National
Congress. This little booklet was to probe the role of the tribal Chiefs of the Transkei,
and the campaigns of the commoners and their political movements; it contrasted the
policies on rural issues of the African National Congress and other African movements with
the Liberal and Progressive Parties, the United Party, and the Nationalist Government. It
intended to analyse the history and lessons of peasant struggles in the Transkei. A first
draft of the book was almost ready when the shootings at Sharpeville intervened. A
fortnight later the African National Congress was banned. If the book on Bantustans - the
tribal satraps which it was government policy to construct out of the reserves - was still
to be published, it would have to be illegally produced on crude hand-worked presses or
duplicating machines, to circulate dangerously from hand to hand. Plans were indeed laid
for this, and so Govan used unexpected weeks to write new sections and bring his material
up to date. `The work goes on,` he wrote from Port Elizabeth to Johannesburg, `but always
under the noses of the police and I am forced to move too often.` He did not get away from
the police raid early in 1962. Arrested with Harold Strachan and Joseph Jack under the
Explosives` Act on a charge of having instructed men in the manufacture of home-made
bombs, Govan was held in prison for five months, three of them in solitary confinement.
Somehow he managed to lay hands on a pencil and those toilet rolls. Without reference
material he began again to write the book on Bantustans, and when he was discharged from
the trial and the rolls of paper were retrieved from the prison, two manuscripts lay side
by side. The one was the earlier form, written largely before the banning of the African
National Congress and taking the peasant story up to 1960; the second was an improved
version of the first, taking the story two years further.
It was at this point that I came into the picture, to reconcile the two versions and
edit the final form of the manuscript. Friends in Cape Town (who must be nameless because
they are still in Cape Town) annotated and checked the references. Govan`s colleagues in
the Transkei watched the workings of the new Bantu Authorities, the chiefs` courts, and
the so-called development schemes of the government, and sent their findings to him,
through the information pipe-lines of the African National Congress. Steadily the newly
arranged chapters were assembled. By the beginning of 1963 both Govan and I had been
served with government prohibitions against writing, preparing, or compiling any material
for publication. We were journalists without a newspaper (New Age had been banned by the
Nationalist Government, and its successor, Spark, forced to suspend publication because
its entire staff had been disabled by ministerial prohibition). We had more time to work
on the Bantustan book, but it had all to be written under cover, both to secure the
manuscript and to guard ourselves against arrest, prosecution, and imprisonment for
writing in defiance of the government ban. In addition we were unable to meet openly to
discuss the progress of the book, for we were both on the list of persons banned from
communicating with other banned persons.
The manuscript was almost ready by July 1963. It remained only for Govan to write the
final chapter on the Transkei`s first constitution and first elections. That month Govan
was arrested in the raid on the Rivonia underground hiding-place and he was taken to
prison to spend the first ninety days in solitary detention, and then to await trial on a
charge of conspiring to overthrow the South African government by violent means. Less than
a month after Govan`s arrest I, too, was detained for ninety days under the General Law
Amendment Act. The ninety days grew to 117, till I was released in December 1963. The
Bantustan book had not been hanging fire all that time. In Cape Town it was being
completed, and sent in instalments out of the country. When I managed to reach London it
remained for me only to do the final polishing.
As the book went to press Govan Mbeki sat in the dock of the Rivonia trial, side by
side with his fellow Transkeians Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, and Raymond Mhlaba. They
and their five other co-accused stood trial for their lives. Govan`s book on the Transkei
helps to explain his deep involvement in the political struggle of his people. He has a
formidable grasp of economic and political problems. More than that, his own life in the
Transkei has bound him to the problems and passions of the peasants.
For many years he served the newspapers on which he worked with hard-won reports on
what was happening to the Transkei under its state of emergency, to Pondoland in revolt,
to the Ciskei in famine. His first writings were about the Transkei. He was Secretary of
the Transkeian Voters` Association in the forties and General Secretary of the Transkei
Organized Bodies. He was born and grew up in the Transkei, as his father before him.
Govan Mbeki is a modest, a self-effacing man. But he has told something of his early
life.... Born in 1910 at the Mpukane location in the Nqamakwe district of the Transkei, he
relates: ` I was brought up in a strict religious atmosphere. My mother was the daughter
of a Methodist minister. My father was chief and recognized as such by his people but
graded and employed as headman by the government. Later he was deposed. For his times he
was fairly well-to-do. He had an agricultural plot of just over 16 morgen, he owned a
fairly large herd of cattle and horses, as well as flocks of goats and sheep. Missionaries
influenced him to educate all his children. My sisters qualified as teachers, and my
brother as an agricultural demonstrator. My father built a substantial stone house when I
was born or just before then. My brother still lives in it. When my father died he left
savings at the post office in separate accounts for my brother as well as for me. This was
used to pay for our education. I went to a mission school about six miles from our home.
Most of the way was scaling a mountain. Daily I walked to and from school leaving shortly
after sunrise and returning at about sundown to tend the stock. The school classes were
held in a church hall. All the classes ranged up the length of the hall, with the highest
classes just below the pulpit. It was bedlam. One class recited the alphabet, another a
multiplication table, a third sang up and down the scale of the modulator, others would be
poring over arithmetic problems. The only advantage in the arrangement was that the
principal teacher saw his staff at work all the time without having to leave his own
class. But little wonder I was below average in arithmetic!`
Govan won scholarships to the Fort Hare University College, to do his school leaving
certificate examination and an Arts degree. He also gained a diploma in Education, leaving
Fort Hare at the end of 1936. By then he was the leader of militant student opinion. His
interest in politics had first been aroused in his teens when the area in which he lived
was visited by an African minister who was an early member of the infant African National
Congress. As a young man he had accompanied a cousin to meetings of the I.C.U. (the
Industrial and Commercial Workers` Union), and he had interpreted his cousin`s speeches to
the peasants. In the early thirties Dr. Edward Roux, then a member of the Communist Party,
had pitched a tent outside Fort Hare, and for the first time Govan explored the Marxist
view of the African problem. By the time of the Hertzog Bills in 1935, and with them the
seal of segregation and the final loss of the vote on the common roll, Govan was in the
thick of African National Congress politics. Mussolini`s attack on Abyssinia had incensed
the students of Fort Hare. Govan was collecting degrees, majoring in politics and
psychology, and then economics, and selling newspapers during his vacations for 24s. a
week. He tried to organize a trade union, and was sacked. From compound life with workers
Govan took to teaching first at a secondary school in Durban, then at a teachers` training
college in the Transkei. Now he began his first political journalism, and published essays
in book form in 1939, entitled The Transkei in the Making. In 1938 he edited the
Territorial Magazine which later became Inkundla Ya Bantu.
From teaching and journalism he went back to the people of the Transkei and in 1941 he
became Secretary of the African Voters` Association, whose object was to restore the
African voters to the common roll, and two years later General Secretary of the Transkeian
Organized Bodies, which united all political groups in the Transkei. The same year he
co-authored a new policy document drawn for the African National Congress `The African
Govan went into the Bunga (The Transkei Council of elected and nominated members) as an
elected representative and watched the workings of this body from the inside. From 1944 to
1946 he was the first representative of the students on the governing body of Fort Hare.
He published a new booklet, on co-operatives, called Let`s Do it Together.
In the fifties Govan went back to teaching, this time in Northern Natal. But there he
found himself in a coal mining area, and he held his teaching post for only twenty-one
months before he was sacked for organizing the coal workers.
Now began some years of full-time political journalism, as manager of the Eastern
Province office of New Age and Spark and their banned predecessors, and as reporter and
editor in the branch office used by the Transkei to siphon its news to the outside world.
By now Govan was an African National Congress kingpin in the Eastern Cape. He was
organizer, propagandist, technician, policy-maker; man of action, and intellectual.
Above all, he sees the Transkei through the eyes of the commoner, for the peasants of
his home country are the people he loves. In this book he describes how the commoner lives
and works under apartheid. Can the land support the people? Is there work? he asks. He
strips apartheid to its economic bones and discusses it in terms of wages, land allotments
and taxes. Can this really be self-government? he asks. He tells the sordid inside story
of how chiefs chose power and were bamboozled and cajoled into accepting the Bantustan
plan because they learned that there was something in it for them. He presents material
never reported anywhere before on the fate of the ordinary peasant at the hands of the tax
collector, the authoritarian chief, and the tribal court. Many of the chapters are a close
scrutiny of the technique of rule of Africans by the Verwoerd Government but throughout
the story is told in the words and from the experiences of the peasant, for while Govan
worked with blue books and statistics, the commoners of the Transkei were his chief source
of information, and as he loved them, so they trusted and confided in him.
Govan has a sharp mind, intolerant of the foolish and the faint-hearted. But in between
the meetings, and the drafting of circulars and resolutions, the stern disciplinarian
becomes the gentle and considerate friend. The last years have been hard ones for a man
who has renounced home and family life, comfort and study, to lead the life of the
political outlaw. Like the Transkeian peasant, Govan has lived as a migrant. Poverty and
the rule of race that is called apartheid drive the Transkeian migrant from security on
the land to work in the cities, and then back again. His own hatred of poverty and racial
rule has led Govan Mbeki to place the cause of his people before his personal needs. Today
he is locked away on the penal Robben Island, serving a sentence of life imprisonment.
The Great Deception
The worst of two worlds
The Transkei is Dr. Verwoerd`s answer to world-wide criticism of apartheid. Upon this
area, smaller than Togo, the smallest independent African state, but bigger than
Basutoland on which it borders, the South African government`s claims for its racial
policy stand or fall. To those who say that apartheid is discriminatory and oppressive,
the South African government replies that it provides the only chance the African people
have ever had to `develop along their own lines`, in their own areas; that the
establishment of a Bantustan in the Transkei is to give that country an independence more
meaningful and secure than the independence attained elsewhere in Africa during the last
The establishment in South Africa of Bantustans is based on the apartheid supposition
that certain areas of the country belong to the Whites, and others, generally known as the
reserves, to the Africans, with neither people able to enjoy rights in the areas belonging
to the other.
Which are these two South Africas, one for Whites and the other for Africans? In Dr.
Verwoerd`s `European` territory live 6,000,000 Africans, 1,500,000 Coloured (those of
mixed descent), 500,000 Indians, and 3,000,000 Whites. The total area of South Africa is
472,359 square miles. The area of the `European territory` is 416,130 square miles. The
remainder, some 56,000 square miles, or less than 12 per cent of the total, is the land
comprising the `Bantu homelands `. Here live 5,000,000 Africans.
The so-called White state is a contiguous land area, containing practically all the
natural resources and advanced development secured by the labour and skill of all South
Africans - the majority of whom, of course, are Africans. This territory includes all the
large cities, the seaports, the harbours, the airfields, the areas served well by
railways, main roads, power lines, and major irrigation schemes. It contains the
enormously rich gold mines, the diamond mines, the coal mines. It includes all the main
industries, maintained largely by African labour, in this industrially advanced country.
It includes the best and most fertile farmlands.
The Bantu `homelands` consist of 260 small and separate areas scattered throughout the
country. They are South Africa`s backwaters, primitive rural slums, soil-eroded and
underdeveloped, lacking power resources and without developed communication systems. They
have no cities, no industries, and few sources of employment. They are congested and
permanently distressed areas where the inhabitants live on a narrow ledge of starvation,
where a drought, as experienced recently in the northern areas, leads inevitably to
famine. They are areas drained of their menfolk, for their chief export is labour, and
while the men work on white-owned farms and in mines and industry, their women-folk and
old people pursue a primitive agriculture incapable of providing even subsistence. The `
homelands` are mere reserves of labour, with a population not even self-sustaining,
supplying no more than a supplement to the low wages paid on the mines and farms.
Dr. Donges, South Africa`s Minister of Finance, speaking at Burgersdorp on 26 July
1962, proclaimed that this arrangement of territory into Black and White areas was the
final division. His words were:
It is history that has drawn the boundaries, and not the government, for the Bantu
Homelands are the area which Non-Whites originally occupied. Therefore they have no moral
claim to more land.
History is a record of events, not a deus ex machina. People, and not the record, drew
the boundaries of the reserves, enacted the land laws and the Group Areas Act, enclosed
black and brown communities in segregated ghettoes, with all the land beyond denied to
them and prohibited them from obtaining rights in land.
Historical arguments that justify the White claim to exclusive rights in 88 per cent of
the country are absurd. The true record is that brown and black people were spread
throughout the subcontinent long before the first Whites arrived. Van Riebeeck found the
Nama at the Cape when he landed in Table Bay.
Boers found and fought the Khoi Khoi and Batwa when they trekked into Namaqualand - an
area which still bears the name of its original inhabitants. Xhosa lived on the banks of
the Buffalo River in 1686 and settled at what is now Somerset East in 1702. Whites fought
Xhosas Xhosas in the 1770S on the fringes of the Tsitsikama forest, and drove them back
from the Gamtoos to the Fish River in 1778. Zulu tribes once occupied the whole of Natal,
down to the borders of Pondoland. Whites drove deep into tribal territories in the Orange
Free State and the Transvaal before their expansion was halted at last late in the
nineteenth century. The White man`s claims to rights of first occupancy are false. But,
true or false, they are plainly irrelevant. It is the existing distribution of the
population that should decide South Africa`s future - and present.
The White ruling minority, persecuted by guilt and fearful of revenge - for it has
ruled a majority too long and too brutally seeks now a political formula that will
establish a firm geographical boundary between whites and blacks. But the White made his
real choice long ago, and opted for a single, common society. He fought black and brown
for 300 years, dispossessed them of their land, laid taxes upon them, converted them to
Christianity, undermined their way of life, exploited their labour. His main endeavours
were aimed at forcing them into a common society. Black and white built a single economy.
Officialdom used to be frank about the economy`s dependence on black labour. For many
successive years South Africa`s Official Year Book contained the following passage,
pronouncing this dependence in emphatic terms:
In considering any aspect of labour and industrial matters the presence of native,
Asiatic, and other non-European workers largely outnumbering the European workers of the
country must be accepted as a qualifying and in some cases a governing factor. The
existence of this class of comparatively cheap labour has influenced the development of
the country in various ways. The imported Indian labourers of Natal made possible in the
early days the remarkable progress of the sugar industry, supplied the tea-planters with
suitable workers, and provided much of the necessary labour for railway construction and
coal mining. The gold mines of the Witwatersrand have been and still are entirely
dependent upon the adequacy of the supplies of native labour; while in the industrial
districts of the Cape Province, and to some extent also in Natal, the coloured worker of
mixed race has not only supplied very largely the demand for unskilled labour, but has in
many cases qualified as a semi-skilled artisan and not infrequently has shown himself of
equal skill with the European artisan. Moreover, practically all the farms in the Union
employ native or coloured labour and are indeed almost entirely dependent upon it for all
general labouring work in agricultural and pastoral operations.
Here is the extent of dependence of White upon Black, and this state of dependence has
only grown greater over the years. There were 2,328,534 Africans living in urban areas
during 1951; by 1960 the total was 3,443,950, or 1,115,000 more. There are 280 black and
brown workers to every 100 Whites in the five major employment sectors: mining,
manufacturing, construction, railways, and postal service. The proportion was much the
same in 1951. Of the total African population of South Africa less than one third lives
in, or comes from, the `homelands`. The great majority live, were born, and work either in
the cities or on the farms of `White` South Africa. South Africa is a single,
multi-national society, integrated and inter-dependent. This is the reality which the
apostles of apartheid seek to disclaim.
The Nationalist government cannot deny the discrimination that it practises against
Africans Like the old Salvation Army song that promises `pie in the sky when you die`,
apartheid promises the Africa persecuted by pass laws and police that he will get rights
one day back home in the Transkei.
Meanwhile he must expect fewer rights, no rights at all, in the so-called white areas.
The 1963-4 Bantu Laws Amendment Bill is rooted in this premise, stripping from Africans
their last remaining right to reside in the urban areas at all. It is long declared
government policy that African family groups should be prohibited from establishing
themselves in the urban areas. The African worker permitted there must be a migrant, a
temporary sojourner, who can at any time be sent back to his home reserve. The new measure
sets up `depots` in which Africans will be detained both while seeking work and while
awaiting repatriation if they have been ordered out of an urban area. The African migrant
labour force was always large; now every African capable of work is to be turned into a
So-called citizenship rights in the Bantustans are to be paid for by the complete loss
of citizenship and occupation rights in the rest of the country.
What of these Bantustans and the compensation they offer? The African reserves are made
up of 260 separate areas, patches and pieces scattered over the face of South Africa.
Clearly there cannot be 260 independent homeland states, and a glance at the map shows
that the majority of these isolated areas cannot be incorporated into larger units. The
Tomlinson Report, which investigated Bantustan planning, wrote that - save for a few
blocks such as the Transkei and Vendaland - the Bantu areas were too scattered to form any
foundation for community growth. 1
The Transkei, covering 16,000 square miles and containing between 1,500,000 and
2,000,000 people, is the only African reserve that constitutes a coherent and substantial
area of land. The Transkei is thus crucial to the whole Bantustan programme. If apartheid
cannot succeed here, it cannot succeed anywhere. The Transkei is the South African
government`s Bantustan shop-window. Already the goods displayed are flyspecked and faded,
but the government tries to disguise their appearance with gaudy advertising material.
A government booklet proclaims that there are 64 secondary industries in the Transkei
with a gross output of £795,000 a year. This is a per capita output of about 10s. a year,
which is in any event negligible. But further analysis reveals that these units are in
fact services rather than industries, such as dry cleaners, bakeries, and smithies: and,
in addition, that they are almost all white owned. The picture is as dreary in the field
of agriculture, where crop yields, according to official figures, produce the equivalent
in gross annual income of £4 5s a person; livestock income, the second largest source,
gives an additional gross annual income for each inhabitant of less than 2s 6d. The
Transkei`s largest source of income is migrant labour Every year government bureaux
recruit 160,000 Africans from the Transkei - or 11.5 per cent of the total population - to
work in mines and industries.
The Tomlinson Commission stressed that the development of the reserves in the primary
sector alone - agriculture, forestry, and mining - would not meet the needs of the
Transkei, for the reserve would then support only one fifth of its present population in a
backward subsistence and peasant economy.
For the other four fifths there would be no livelihood in the reserve. There would have
to be, stressed the Commission, the rapid establishment of secondary industry in the
reserve. Since the Commission deliberated and made known its findings, the government has
arrived at policy decisions. No private investment in the reserves is to be permitted, and
the government has limited its own investment in these areas to agricultural development.
So the Transkei will remain dependent on the proceeds of its migrant labour, while
there will be no attempt to provide industrial employment in the reserves. The policy of
separate development, far from being an instrument to bring Africans back to their
homelands, is in effect a compulsion on them to leave it.
The Transkei Constitution Act passed by the all-White South African parliament
recognizes the facts. It supplies a dual type of citizenship for Transkeians, who are
citizens of the Transkei but not aliens within the Republic of South Africa. The Act says:
The Republic [of South Africa] shall not regard a citizen of the Transkei as an alien
in the Republic and shall by virtue of his citizenship of a territory forming part of the
Republic of South Africa regard him for all external purposes in terms of international
law as a citizen of the Republic and afford him full protection according to international
What are the rights of this Transkeian citizen, the man who is no alien and yet is
treated as an alien, without the privileges granted to the immigrant settling from abroad
in the Republic? The Transkeian citizen may live in White territory, if he works for the
White man and if he pays taxes, but he may have no say whatsoever in the government that
rules him. In the Transkei he can vote for a Legislative Assembly in which 64 appointed
chiefs over-rule the wishes of the 45 elected members. The chiefs can generally be relied
upon to toe the government line because they are officials of the Republic`s government,
responsible to that government and not to the Transkeian citizen.
Back home in the Transkei, the African may dream of some future economic and political
well-being, but the dream shows little signs of ever turning into reality. The Transkei is
as firmly subject to the demands of white supremacy as ever it was. The people of the
Transkei had no say in the drafting of their constitution. The elections held in 1963 took
place under a state of emergency which imposed a ban on all meetings of more than ten
persons, laid down severe penalties for `statements disrespectful to chiefs`, and
permitted the indefinite detention, without warrant or trial, of political opponents.
A reign of terror had succeeded in temporarily crippling the African National Congress,
the best organized and most influential of the banned national liberatory organizations.
An observer of the Transkei election wrote:
It is impossible to describe fully to anyone who was not there to sense it the
atmosphere of distrust and suspicion that lay thickly over the whole of these election
proceedings. There was an oppressive condition of fear everywhere - fear of government
action, fear of police action, fear of the action of the chiefs. The campaign had taken
place in conditions of secrecy and wariness - if candidates did run election campaigns, it
must have been through whispers.
Women dominated the election queues, women and elderly men, providing their own comment
on the possibilities of the Transkei becoming an economically viable territory. For they
were the visible demonstration of the fact that most of the able-bodied men between 18 and
50 are out of the Transkei - earning their livings in mines and farms. The sight of an
electorate consisting of women and elderly men was in itself a quiet human protest against
a deprived society.2
Yet, despite all the repressive measures of officials and police, despite the
deliberately complicated electoral procedure, the voters of the Transkei succeeded in
inflicting a significant political defeat on Dr. Verwoerd and his government. In a
surprisingly high poll (70 per cent in some areas), the voters routed the pro-government
candidates and proved conclusively that the people of the Transkei, despite all
blandishments are overwhelmingly opposed to apartheid and the newly evolved theory of
separate territorial development.
Of the 45 elected members, 38 are known to be strong opponents of the Nationalist
regime. But the members nominated by the central all-White government enjoy an automatic
majority over the representatives elected by the people. And the South African government
has the power of veto and the right of supervision over every act of the Transkeian
Legislative Assembly. This is the face of ` self-government ` or ` independence ` for the
The decision to give the Transkei its own Legislative Assembly was taken by the South
African government at a time when world pressures and protests at the policy of apartheid
were particularly severe. By advertising its gift of self-government to Africans in
certain areas, even if those areas were strictly limited, and the self-government
effectively hand-cuffed, it hoped to silence world censure. The opposite has happened. The
Transkei scheme has revealed the fraud of apartheid in theory and practice.
Dr. Verwoerd had another reason for attempting to build an apartheid state for Africans
in the Transkei. It was, he hoped, a way of slowing down the surge of African nationalism
in South Africa. The whole Bantustan policy is based on the calculation that white
supremacy cannot hope to defeat African nationalism unless the force of that nationalism
is first diverted into manageable channels. But the channels have proved too devious. The
carefully plastered structure of apartheid remains makeshift and rickety. Economic facts
visibly wear away the Bantustan fantasies. And far from being a South African plan to meet
the challenges of today and tomorrow, the Bantustan scheme is a slide back into the South
Place in the Shadow
The Segregation Story
The more that policy changes in South Africa, the more it is the same.
`There are certain things about which all South Africans are agreed,` said General
Smuts, `all parties and all sections, except those who are quite mad. The first is that it
is a fixed policy to maintain white supremacy in South Africa.` That was in 1945, when the
United Party government, today in feeble opposition, was under fire from the Nationalist
Party - led then by Dr. Malan, and now by Dr. Verwoerd - for not going about ` keeping the
Natives in their place ` the right way.
It has been a protracted journey, this one of segregation, of apartheid, in South
Africa, and it has been a movement not forward, towards new ways, but back into the past.
When Britain granted representative government to the Cape in 1853, it allowed the vote
to all male subjects of the Crown who fulfilled certain conditions: the age of 21 years;
ability to read and write; a minimum annual salary of £50 or possession of landed
property to the value of no less than £25.
In those early days it was an exacting test to pass. But sufficient Africans were
determined to pass it to constitute a significant force. Soon the African vote was
preponderant in areas like Woodhouse and Aliwal North. With the annexation by the Cape
government of the Ciskei and the Transkei, the African population of the Cape increased by
over 1 million persons, and African voters who had formed 14 per cent of the electorate in
1882 increased to 47 per cent in 1887.
Now the Whites set about finding ways and means of disfranchising the African, and
their efforts resulted in the decision of the Cape Parliament in 1887 to disqualify all
those who had become voters by virtue of their occupation of tribal land. African voting
strength was accordingly reduced by 30,000.
This was `Sprigg`s Purge` (Sprigg was the Cape Prime Minister at the time the
Parliamentary Registration Law was passed); and from then onwards this was the inevitable
reaction of the `liberal` Cape to the increase in the numbers of African voters the
franchise qualifications were stiffened.
Imvo, the African paper of the day, wrote an editorial on this large-scale
disfranchisement of the African people:
They [the Africans] are aware that the object [of the government] is, by means of
defranchisement, to pave the way to doing what it likes with the rights and privileges of
Natives, especially with rights to land.
In 1892 the Native Franchise Act increased property qualifications once more. The law,
said Sir James Rose-Innes, `contains no mention of a colour bar, but those who supported
it, trusted that it would neutralize the Native votes.`
By 1894 Rhodes could say: `We have not given them - the Natives - any share in the
government, and I am of the opinion, rightly so.` The Rhodes franchise laws had enjoyed
the support of the Afrikaner Bond; and of liberals like Rose-Innes, Sauer, and Merriman.
Later generations of white politicians were to quote with approval - and copy - the
methods adopted by the `liberal` Cape to water down the African vote while maintaining its
In the Transvaal and the Orange Free State, in those early years, it was written law
that Africans were excluded from any political rights. The Transvaal Grondwet
(Constitution) laid down that there should be `no equality between Black and White in
church and state`; and the Grondwet of the Free State defined a Burgher, who alone had
civic rights, as `a white person`. The British defeated the Boer Republics in 1899-1902,
but perpetuated racialism in the conquered territories.
Natal`s basic constitution was the Royal Charter of 1856. Though it laid down economic
qualifications for the vote, the registration procedure for Africans was so complicated
that only three Africans ever acquired the vote there, and by 1910 there was a total of
only 186 non-White voters. Britain gave self-government to Natal Whites and allowed them
to exclude Africans and Asians from the franchise.
In the years before the formation of the Union of South Africa in 1910, there were
optimists who looked to the day when, in a united country, the franchise rights of
Africans in the Cape would be extended to Africans in the northern provinces. On the
contrary, Union was the signal for a concerted campaign to take Cape Africans off the
common roll. The Nationalist Party, founded soon after Union, as the movement of White
reaction and militant race rule, set itself this special task.
First came the sordid deal concluded by the framers of the 1910 Constitution. The Cape
Liberal leaders protested loud and long that no form of Union should be countenanced
which imperiled the rights of the non-Whites. `I find an insuperable obstacle in the
way of unification,` declared Dr. Jameson in 1908, `that of native franchise.` Yet, when
the National Convention met, broad agreement had already been reached over this issue
between the liberal Cape, represented by Merriman and de Villiers, and the colour-bar
North, represented by Smuts and Botha.
The Convention decided that the status quo in the Orange Free State and
Transvaal was to be retained; the position in Natal was not to be improved; and in the
Cape the non-White franchise was to be whittled down by the loss of the right, never yet
exercised, of electing a non-White to Parliament. The remaining franchise rights were to
be ` entrenched ` for the future by the two-third majority provision.
It is to be noted that the South Africa Act, by which Britain gave effect to the
agreement, secured for the Union Parliament the right to abrogate the non-White franchise
altogether, provided only that certain procedures were followed.
The Act, which enshrines the principle of racial discrimination, was supported by three
quarters of the Cape House of Assembly, and on a division over the franchise issue only
two former conservative members, Sir G. Sprigg and W. P. Schreiner voted against the
proposals as constituting `a blot on the constitution`. It is interesting that neither of
these two gentlemen had previously been Liberals, that the Liberals indeed were in support
of the measure. `The position of the Natives and Coloured peoples in other parts of South
Africa . . . will be greatly improved,` it was argued by Sir Henry de Villiers.
The non-Whites mobilized their forces against the Bill. Committees of protest were
established; a petition was addressed to the British Government; a deputation of Coloureds
led by W. P. Schreiner visited England to put their case before the British public and
government. But also to England went the Liberals - Sauer, Merriman, J. H. Hofmeyr, and de
Villiers to argue that the non-Whites ` were satisfied ` with the Bill.
Schreiner, writing of his difficulties with the Imperial government, said: `The big
rock to the reversal of the Act by the British Parliament was its acceptance by the Cape
Parliament and by the friends of the Natives, Merriman and Sauer.`
Despite the indignant protests of the Africans, the Act of Union was passed. The
Under-Secretary for the Colonies stated in England with ill-founded optimism that `the
Cape franchise was safe`. Schreiner, however, with far more foresight predicted: `if only
a few Cape members betray their trust, Native and Colour parliamentary rights would
`Civilization` they said then, and still say today, was to be the test for citizenship.
But the African vote was never permitted to become more than a token. And the result of
excluding the great mass of Africans from the franchise was seen in the mounting volume of
legislation directed against them: the 1911 Native Labour Regulation Act; the 1913 Natives
Land Act; the 1920 Native Affairs Act; the 1923 Urban Areas Act; the 1924 Native Taxation
and Development Act; the 1926 Immorality Act; the 1927 Native Administration Act; the 1927
Riotous Assemblies Act; the 1932 Native Service Contract Act.
The Cabinet of the Nationalist-Labour Pact government which took office after the 1922
Rand Strike was pledged to ` safeguard White South Africa `. In his Smithfield speech
General Hertzog, the Prime Minister, stated the fundamental postulates of his `Native`
policy. `Union`, he said, `could not go on with one extreme policy in the north and
another in the south . . .`; and it was `beyond belief that the north would accept the
Cape franchise system.` Unless the Cape franchise, he warned, was taken away from the Cape
Africans or at least fundamentally altered, the Northern Provinces `. . . cannot possibly
continue to close the door against the Native franchise within their borders.`
Hertzog`s 1926 Bills proposed the extension of the Cape franchise to the Coloured
people of the other three provinces (this wooing of Coloured voters was to ally them
temporarily with the Whites, whilst limiting the Cape African franchise). The Bills had to
be withdrawn: they satisfied neither the extreme north nor those in the Cape who wanted to
retain the status quo.
In 1929 Hertzog introduced Bills more retrogressive than the 1926 ones, and these were
referred to a Select Committee, where they incubated for five years.
During this period, however, the effectiveness of the African franchise in the Cape was
attacked in various outflanking moves.
In 1927, the peak year, there had been 16,480 African voters in the Cape. From then on
and owing largely to administrative action taken by Hertzog`s government, under which
officials were directed to apply vigorously the tests required for voters, their numbers
By the Women`s Enfranchisement Act of 1930, which gave the vote to White women only
(despite the previous pledges of Hertzog and Malan that Coloured women would be included),
the European electorate increased from half a million to one million and the effect of the
African vote was more than halved.
In 1931 the franchise was given to ALL White men in the Cape and Natal without
qualification, thus bringing these provinces into line with the Transvaal and Orange Free
The qualifications, in property and education, remained for all non-Whites. The
following statistics from the Government Gazette, 31 March 1936 show the effect of the
above three steps in devaluing the vote of the non-Whites:
|CAPE||Total No. of voters||White voters||Coloured voters||African voters|
|1929||208,582||167,184 -- 80.1%||25,618 -- 12.3%||15,780 -- 7.6%|
|1931||391,307||352,658 -- 90.2%||26,378 -- 6.7%||12,271 -- 3.1%|
|1936||417,524||382,103 -- 91.5%||24,793 -- 5.9%||10,628 -- 2.6%|
(In 1936, in the Transvaal and Orange Free State respectively, the 349,000 and 101,089
voters were ALL White; in Natal, of the 92,116 voters, 353 were Coloured and 1 was an
Out of 61 constituencies in the Cape, only 10 had as many as 450 African voters, and in
Tembuland, where the African vote was highest, it comprised less than one third of the
The Hertzog-Smuts Coalition of 1932 made a frontal assault possible at last, and White
unity (as always) brought further disaster to the non-Whites. Clause 6 of the Coalition
Agreement set out the aim of `providing separate political representation of White and
Black`. The slogan of trusteeship, a euphemism for depriving the African, amongst
other things, of his vote, was now increasingly used.
After several false starts the Hertzog government introduced its plan for dealing with
the Cape African franchise. Uncertain of securing a two-thirds majority of the two Houses
of Parliament sitting together, as required by the South Africa Act if he was to tamper
with the African franchise, General Hertzog devised a trick that trapped almost the whole
of South Africa. He appointed the Young Commission to consider the three Acts of 1936 -
the Native Representation Act, the Native Land and Trust Act, and the Native Laws
Amendment Act - popularly known among Africans as Hertzog`s Unholy Trinity. The Young
Commission, like the Tomlinson Commission which was later to give apartheid its
theoretical ring, set out to counterfeit a settlement, by which the Africans would receive
some hollow payment for the surrender of their political rights. The Hertzog-Smuts fusion
government of 1936 promised to release 7.5 million morgen of land for further African
occupation. The Africans were not deceived. The `Hertzog settlement` was not of their
making; indeed it was promoted in the face of their united protests. But the Whites were
enabled to exclude the African altogether from participation in the government of the
country and feel moral about doing so at the same time.
During the course of the heated debates in Parliament, General Hertzog stated that the
passing of the Native Representation Act would provide a final and permanent
settlement of that African representation which had been a source of contention amongst
the White political parties. Dashed at last were the lingering hopes of those who trusted
that the entrenched clauses in the South Africa Act could provide foot holds from which
the struggle for the extension of the franchise to the Northern Provinces might still be
waged. The Act deprived the Africans of the Cape of their direct franchise and placed them
on a separate roll.
Whatever the number of registered voters on the separate roll, they would not send to
the law-framing House of Assembly more than three representatives, and all three had to be
White. Of the four senators provided for by the Act, two would represent the Cape, while
one would represent Natal and one the Transvaal and the Orange Free State together. The
senators were to be elected by indirect means. The Act also created a Native
Representative Council, an advisory body which was planned as - and never became more than
- a talking shop.
The unanimity with which the vast majority of White South Africans accepted without any
qualms of conscience the political emasculation of the Africans in 1936 showed how little
they respected the most solemn undertakings to which they had been party. Subsequent
events - the failure of the government to purchase the released areas and to settle them
with Africans, the systematic destruction of representative machinery - were further
proof, if any was still needed, that it was not to Parliament or any government
institution that the African was to look for the satisfaction of his political
Not only did the Hertzog Acts of 1936 destroy - once and for all - any hope for
extending the franchise to the Africans in the Northern Provinces, they also destroyed in
the African all trust in the word of his White rulers. The Hertzog Bills met with the
united opposition of Africans throughout the country.
There was not a single resolution in favour of the Bill from any one of the five
conferences - attended by chiefs and delegates from African Councils and Boards - summoned
by the government in September 1935, or from the meeting of Natal Chiefs in October 1935,
or from the countless meetings and conferences held spontaneously all over the country.
Finally, in December 1935, an All-African Convention met especially for the purpose of
considering the Bills. It was a gathering that broke all records for its numbers and) at
that stage, its national character. The resolution of the Convention stated, inter
alia, that the `continual discrimination (of Africans) has tended to relegate them to
a position bordering on slavery.`
The militants pleaded for strikes and passive resistance to counter the Bills, but the
dominant leaders were all in favour of moderation. The Convention appealed, without
effect, to the King and British Parliament, as the original `donors` of the Cape African
franchise, for an expression of opinion on the proposed legislation. The Act was passed at
a joint sitting of both Houses. Only eleven members voted against it.
The franchise deal was a fraud; the `greater benefits` never materialized.
The Native Representative Council was there to advise only; and when its advice clashed
with government policy, it was ignored. In time, after the African mine strike of 1946, it
went into permanent adjournment in protest against government policy, and in 1951 it was
Group representation was the prelude to the total abolition of the African franchise.
It prepared a way for ever more ferocious assaults on the rights of the African people.
In 1948 the Nationalist Party came to power. Its policy pamphlet of the same year
declared clearly among its aims:
the revision of existing Native legislation, with the aim of abolishing the African
franchise from the House of Assembly and the Cape Provincial Council;
separate representation of the Cape Coloureds on the lines already laid down for
In 1951 the Nationalists passed the Separate Representation of Voters Act to remove the
Coloureds of the Cape from the common voters` roll, and since they did not yet have the
necessary two thirds majority of both Houses of Parliament sitting together, flouted the
constitution by passing the Act at separate sittings of the Assembly and Senate.
The Coloureds, in place of their franchise, were to be given three members (White)
elected on a communal basis, and one Senator (White). The proportion of representation
granted to the Whites (then numbering 2,750,000) and that granted to Coloureds (numbering
some 1,250,000) was to be fixed for all time in the House of Assembly at 156:3.
There was a constitutional crisis in which Whites and non White joined. The Opposition
rushed to the defence of the constitution - the Act endangered at least six Cape seats
held by the United Party - and the Act was successfully challenged in the courts on the
ground that it was unconstitutional.
The bizarre High Court of Parliament Act, which was then passed to establish the
parliamentary caucus of the governing party as the final court in the land, promptly
validated the 1951 Act. But this court was declared ultra vires by the Appellate
The opposition of the United Party to these measures was not based on the democratic
principle `to each man his vote`, but on the grounds that the game of disfranchisement had
not been played according to the rules of the constitution.
By 1956 the Nationalists had found a way of observing the constitution in the letter
and shattering what little spirit it had left. They vastly increased the size of the
Senate, and the government majority there, so as to produce the necessary two-thirds
majority in a joint sitting of the two Houses, and replaced the Coloured vote by a
communal roll, the promised few White representatives, and an advisory Union Council for
Coloured Affairs. Three years later, in 1959, under the misnamed Promotion of Bantu
Self-Government Act, the last little pocket of African representation in Parliament -
three members in the House of Assembly and four in the Senate was eliminated. In its place
came the Bantu Authority system.
From Dynamite to Toy Telephones
Chiefs give way to the council system
There was a time when the tribal Chiefs led their people against the encroachment of
White government. Cape governor Sir Harry Smith in 1848 gave an object lesson to
suspectedly recalcitrant Chiefs when he ordered a wagon loaded with dynamite to be blown
up in their presence. As the splinters flew in all directions he warned the Chiefs that
such would be the fate which awaited them if they resisted the laws of the Cape
As late as 1951 and the passing of the Bantu Authorities Act, there were different
approaches to `native administration` in the four provinces.
Natal still bears the stamp of Theophilus Shepstone Sometsu - who set out to crush the
might of the Zulu skilfully, so as to utilize their traditional social system, turn it
upside down and reduce them to a crouching, humiliated people. Tribal ceremony, especially
the Zulu war dance, that beautiful body-building exercise, receives special recognition
from the Native Affairs Department nowadays, in the hope that its fervour will somehow
reproduce the past when Zulus were united in unquestioning allegiance to tribal authority.
But now authority is centred elsewhere. True, Cyprian Bezekhulu, dressed in
Victorian-style chief`s uniform, is brought from Zululand to preside over Zulu dancing at
the Sometsu Ground; and this, it is hoped, will make Zulus believe that they are reliving
their prowess in the days of Shaka, Dingane, Cetswayo and Dinizulu. But behind the House
of Zulu and controlling it are the field agents of the government, the Native
The two northern provinces of the Transvaal and the Orange Free State still, in the
sixties and the era of Verwoerd, carry the marks of the Kruger Republican period. Local
tribal authorities administer tribal funds and are left alone as long as they are
submissive. The chiefs have been turned into government appointees and learn soon enough
that the way to entrench themselves is to keep as close to government policy as possible.
Some chiefs try to allow a fair measure of democratic practice at their tribal kgotlas
(mass tribal assemblies), though the days when they are able to humour both their subjects
and the government are more imaginary than real.
In the Cape `native administration` has had a far longer history, and in many ways has
anticipated future national policy on the control of the African people. The power of the
chiefs, especially among the Ama Xhosa, had to be crushed. It was partly to achieve this
and partly to facilitate the integration of Africans into the mining and industrial
economy that led Cecil John Rhodes to introduce the Glen Grey Act and the Bunga, the mixed
Transkeian council of elected and nominated members. The council system was claimed to be
the form of local government best suited to the tribal areas. It was not intended at that
time to be an alternative or substitute for representation in Parliament. On the contrary,
Transkeians White and Black - could and did qualify for the vote. Only under the
Nationalist regime was the existence of a separate Transkeian local government system to
be made a pretext for denying Africans representation in Parliament.
The Bunga never succeeded to any appreciable extent in diverting the people from their
demand for direct representation in Parliament. Instead, its effect was to undermine the
power of the chiefs and train the people to look to themselves, through their own elected
representatives, for redress of the wrongs they suffered.
Under the Glen Grey Act, the Bunga (the word means `Council`) system of African
representation outside a ` common society` was established in the Transkei proper. It
developed gradually until the 26 magisterial districts of the Transkei became the basic
units of the larger Bunga, which became known as the United Transkeian Territories
General Council (U.T.T.G.C.). What a gruesome picture the Xhosa pun on this
abbreviation presented and how true to fact has been the ultimate outcome of the Bunga
system. The pun on U.T.T.G.C. runs thus: utata woj inj emsini (Father has had dogs meat
blackened with smoke). The least that one may expect from eating raw dog`s meat, covered
with soot so as to give the impression that it has been grilled, is severe constipation.
In the end it was the U.T.T.G.C. that accepted the Nationalist Government`s Bantu
Authorities Act, with all the misery accompanying its implementation.
Africans in reserves elsewhere in the country were brought to the Transkei by the
government to see how good the Bunga system was. The Ciskei General Council was formed
after the Transkei model, and attempts were made to bring Zululand and the Transvaal
reserves into line by the Native Affairs Act of 1920.3
Now how did the Bunga, or Council, system work? In areas where the powers of
the chiefs over land administration had been usurped by a system of land tenure that put
decisions about succession beyond them, the authority of the chiefs was supreme. This was
the case in the surveyed districts of the Transkei and the Ciskei. Paramount Chiefs
reigned over West and East Pondoland, and in the areas of the abaThembu and the amaGcaleka
when, in time, the government decided to revive recognition of their Paramount Chiefs.
(The paramount chieftaincy of the Gcaleka, who, of all the tribes in the Cape, fought the
White invaders most bitterly, was not restored until the thirties.) In some areas a
paramount chieftaincy was not recognized; and in others chieftainship itself was unknown.
In each of the 26 districts of the Transkei there was a District Council, consisting of
six members. In the District Councils of Pondoland two representatives were appointed by
the Paramount Chief, with the approval of the Native Commissioner; two were nominees of
the Governor-General (in fact recommendations of the Native Commissioner); and two were
elected representatives of the people. Twelve of the 26 districts operated this electoral
system. In the rest of the Transkei, where there were no Paramount Chieftaincies, two
representatives were government nominees, and four were popular representatives.
Each District Council sent three representatives to the U.T.T.G.C. The councils in the
Paramount Chieftaincies had one member elected by the District Council, to represent the
people; one appointed by the Chief; and one nominated by the Native Commissioner. The
councils from areas that had no Paramount Chieftaincies had two representatives of the
people, and one government nominee. The Paramount Chiefs themselves were ex officio
members of the U.T.T.G.C.
Inside the District Councils, if there was no pressure brought to bear by government
officials, there was often a fair chance of chiefs` and peoples` representatives taking
the same side on local issues - the only issues they were empowered to discuss, let alone
As popular participation in the machinery of administration increased with growing
political consciousness in the Transkei, the chiefs became less powerful, while their
authority was further eroded with the assumption by the government of more direct control
over land allocation. Government-employed police constables were used to carry out
functions originally performed by sub-chiefs in the name of the Paramount Chief. So the
power of the chiefs was sapped from two directions: the government and the people.
The Bunga dealt with education, roads, agriculture, irrigation, customary law, and
limitation of stock. Its annual revenue was about £170,000 in the forties, derived from
quit-rents and a local hut tax of 10s. a year, and from this revenue it had to maintain
about 4,000 miles of roads, construct and maintain over 1,000 dipping tanks, pay the
salaries of agricultural demonstrators, maintain agricultural schools, and pay for medical
services. The population it administered was well over a million, yet its income was
little more than half the amount spent by the South African government on the one item `
printing and stationery `.
The system was hailed as a notable experiment of political science, in the training of
Africans to the task of local self government. But it was a system controlled by
nomination, and run in the presence of White government servants; while above all, the
overcrowding and poverty of the reserves placed the task of administering them far beyond
the capacity of any local council.
In their rural backwaters the Councils met and talked, debated and passed resolutions.
The Bunga asked for direct representation in Parliament year after year. Year after year,
the Bunga demanded greater administrative powers.
The 1946, post-war, session passed the resolution - `This Council requests the
Government to extend a direct individual franchise to all Africans in the Union with the
same qualifications as in the Cape.` `We are told better times are coming. We want to know
what our share in these better times will be,` said a Councillor at this session.
Trusteeship was debated. Is it easy for a guardian to release his authority and hand it
over to his ward? Councillors asked. Cllr. F. T. Qamata said: `We are a people that was
created by God and we should therefore find ourselves one day entering into the control of
this country and enjoying the rights that are enjoyed by others today. We are entitled to
The tone grew stronger year by year. By 1949 the new, Nationalist, government was in
power, and after a debate on apartheid the resolution of the Bunga deplored `The
Government`s native policy of apartheid ... as a serious injustice ...` and urged a policy
`in harmony with civilized standards`. Said Cllr. Mabude: Apartheid is a measure designed
for our oppression. The African people maintain that if in this policy there is anything
new, it is that which is not true, and if there is anything true, it is that which is not
new. That which is true in apartheid is the outmoded political manoeuvre practised by herrenvolk
politicians . . . to frighten Whites on the platteland4 with the Black
On a national scale, there was the same story of dissatisfaction, disillusionment and
growing revolt within the Native Representative Council.
Within the whole Council system its participants had given up all hope of sharing in
the government of their people and their country. They were talking loudly of
In the beginning the White rulers had trusted these institutions to turn discontent and
aspiration inwards. They had hoped that the Africans would become so absorbed in the
settlement of petty disputes, in the issues within and between the tribes, that they would
cease to require a place in the political sun. But contrary to expectations, the annual
sessions of these Councils served merely to bring the peoples` representatives from
different parts of the country close together, so that together they could hammer out
The Bunga was demanding the extension of the Cape African franchise to the northern
provinces, and direct representation for Africans in parliament. The Native Representative
Council calling itself a toy telephone, because though it talked and talked, nothing of
what it said seemed to reach the ears of the government - was on strike.
Open defiance was looming.
The Nationalist government began to turn its serious attention to the whole problem of
There was pressure from inside the reserves as well as from the African urban ranks for
self-rule. The same pressure, even stronger, was coming from outside South Africa.
Colonialism was on the decline.
Apartheid - the black bogey cry to woo White voters - won the election for the
Nationalists in 1948, but was still not much more than a slogan, even if Nationalist
professors were busy dressing it up into a universal myth. The problem was plain apartheid
had to find a new way to administer Africans, because the pressure for more rights was
growing too strong a challenge, while the broadcasts of the outside world could not be
jammed forever by an endless repetition of old phrases.
The traditional system in South Africa had been one of direct rule: White government
officials sat over the Chiefs. Everyone knew that the Commissioner was the boss. Yet now
the White government official had become too visible and accessible a target for
anti-government action. The need was clearly to devise a system under which the Africans
appeared to be managing their own affairs. This, too, of course, was nothing new. Indirect
rule had been carefully evolved by Lord Lugard for the British colonies in Africa; Nigeria
and the former Gold Coast had both been governed in this way. But the Nationalists had
taught their followers to regard British policy as their constant and implacable enemy, so
that the British system of indirect rule could not be directly copied. In any event, it
had failed to contain the pressures for independence in the areas where it had been
The Nationalists set to work to evolve a variation. It turned out to be a hybrid of
direct and indirect rule. It was given the grand name of self-development. The
Native Commissioner now rechristened a Bantu Commissioner, in vogue with the term `Bantu`
which the Nationalists insisted should replace the more compromising word `Native` - and
other government officials were represented as advisers who would be required only for as
long as the Africans needed training (to do the will of their masters).
Apartheid sounded promising enough to White voters; but for all the years after the
Nationalist government came to power, it had brought only hardship to the African people:
the tightening up of the pass laws, the introduction of inferior education, the banning
and banishing of political leaders; the growing ferocity of the police.
The people were becoming increasingly bitter and hostile. At this rate white supremacy
would not last.
The propaganda extolling the virtues of apartheid had to be stepped up, and an
important sector of the African people in the country won over to its side. These were the
Chiefs. Government schemes to entice their support coincided with the swelling popular
opposition to the Bunga or Council system.
Now the government performed its great conjuring trick and got Chiefs - many of them,
let it be said, proving comfortingly cooperative - to accept declarations about self-rule
and development as the genuine article. The unwary sat back to wait for great impending
Old Shapes in New Rags
Instruments of Apartheid Rule
South Africa, the Nationalist Party proclaimed of a country in which Blacks outnumber
Whites four to one, had to be `kept white`. The doctrines and ordinances of apartheid
were, of course, sacred; yet the Africans could not be denied even an illusion. The
substitute for African parliamentary representation was to be the Bantu Authorities
system. No new general, district, or local councils of the Rhodes variety were created in
the reserves. The two general councils of the Transkei (with its 26 district councils) and
of the Ciskei remained for the moment, while besides these there were three further local
councils in the Cape, three in Natal, and 13 in the Transvaal. But under the 1951 Bantu
Authorities Act new-look Bantu Tribal Authorities were established, mostly in the northern
provinces, by proclamation of the Governor-General (in fact, the Minister of Bantu
Affairs). He designated chiefs to head these Authorities - and could at any time depose
them; he also fixed the minimum and maximum number of councillors to serve on each
Authority. The Bantu Commissioner had the right to veto any appointment. The system
entirely excluded the elective principle. The Minister and his officials had strict
control over the membership of the Authorities; and members of the general public could be
excluded from their meetings.
The aims of the Bantu Authorities Act were to abolish the Native Representative Council
as an elected `umbrella organization` representing all Africans, and to substitute
councils based upon tribal and ethnic groups - whose members would be largely selected by
the government. It was these councils or Bantu Authorities through which later apartheid
and Bantustan measures would be forced on the African people in the guise of consultation
and consent. The government would ensure for itself an easy passage in advance by rigging
up a network of non-elected councils around nominated chiefs for the expression of
In 1955 the Bantu Authority system reached the Transkei, and the Bunga, with its 26
District Councils, was erased - after it had accepted the Bantu Authorities Act in
principle. At the base of the new administrative pyramid are the Tribal Authorities,
composed of the chiefs and headmen. All chiefs owe their office to appointment by the
government. They are government officials. The State President (the Department of Bantu
Administration and Development, in effect) decides the size of the Tribal Authority and
its composition. Chiefs may appoint a number of councillors - the number is decided by the
State President - and of the remainder the Bantu Commissioner nominates one third and the
taxpayers, with the chief`s approval, two thirds. The administration has the right to veto
The District Authority is the next stage in the pyramid. Its head is the chief of the
dominant tribe in the district, and it includes at least eight other members - nominated
by the head, the Bantu Commissioner, and the taxpayers - all of them drawn from the Tribal
Authorities. All appointed chiefs in the district are members ex officio. It is a method
of indirect selection by the traditional chiefs and White bureaucrats.
Still higher come the Regional Authorities - of which there are nine in the Transkei -
each embracing two or more District Authorities. The head of the Regional Authority is a
Paramount Chief, if there is one; if not, the leading chief in the area; and members are
drawn from the District Authorities by the indirect method previously described. The
Regional Authority includes all chiefs ex officio while most of the other members are
appointed by the Paramount Chief and the Bantu Commissioner.
Finally, for the Transkei at least, comes the Territorial Authority, consisting of all
the members of all the Regional Authorities. They nominate a presiding head with the
approval of the State President.
The Minister may veto the appointment of a councillor to the Territorial Authority, as
indeed he may at all lower levels of the pyramid.
It is clear from the composition of these bodies that they do represent merely the
messengers of government will; the elected element is so small and so remote from the
voters that it can hardly be held even to contribute popular participation. The thesis of
government policy is clear - Africans are still in the tribal stage, chiefs are the
natural rulers, and the people neither want nor should have elected representatives.
By 1959 the government had set up 324 of these Tribal Authorities throughout South
Africa (123 in the Transkei); 26 District Authorities (all in the 26 districts of the
Transkei); 16 Regional Authorities; and one Territorial Authority (the old Bunga,
The stage was now set for further legislation. The Promotion of Self Government Bill
was introduced in 1959. As with so many other South African laws, the title is of course
misleading. For the real object of the Act was to abolish the representation of Africans
As a substitute for depriving the Africans of this small share in the supreme
law-making body of the country, the Territorial Authorities created for each ethnic group
were to be given greater powers, and the Prime Minister, Dr. Verwoerd, even declared: `If
the various Bantu national units show the ability to attain the required stage of
self-sufficiency, they will eventually form a South African Commonwealth, together with
White South Africa, which will serve as its core and as guardian of the emerging Bantu
In all, there were to be eight Territorial Authorities topping the pyramids of Tribal,
District, and Regional Bantu Authorities: for the North-Sotho; the South-Sotho; the Swazi;
the Tsonga; the Tswana; the Venda; the Xhosa; and the Zulu `national units`. At the time
that the national units were announced, the extent of the territories they would compose
were not specified, and they have not been specified since. White Commissioners-General
were to be appointed by the government to the areas of these `national units`.
The Chiefs had long had their duties outlined to them, but again these were stressed as
the maintenance of law and order, the reporting to the Bantu Commissioner of any unrest,
the enforcement of all government laws and orders, and the dispersal of unlawful
The new Authorities had to maintain contact with the Commissioners-General for their
areas; and could have assigned to them ` such powers, functions, and dudes relating to the
conduct of African Affairs as might be specified by the governor-general`. The Authorities
had power to provide for the establishment of markets and pounds, and to allocate trading
and other sites to Africans. They could make enactments on matters assigned to them by the
Governor-General; but this would not divest the latter, or the Minister of Bantu Affairs,
of any powers. All enactments had to be approved by the Governor-General and published in
the government gazette. The powers extended to these bodies would be mainly
administrative: the Bantu Authorities would play no part in the framing of education,
health, employment, or any other policy, except in so far as the Territorial Authorities
could influence the government through the Commissioners-General.
The system thus provided nothing like a genuine system of African self-government. (For
that matter one half of the African people - those living in the towns or on White-owned
farms - were to be excluded altogether from its scope.)
These legislatures for self-government, however dressed and decorated, were meant to be
- and are - only advisory boards. If they possess any independence at all, it is on minor
matters of administration, inside the patterns imposed on them and unalterable by them.
Dr Verwoerd has certainly been clever. But it is to be wondered whether he hasn`t,
after all, been too clever by half. For having once embarked upon his new order, he has
been swept, by it further than he or his followers ever originally intended.
The Transkeian Constitution Act of 1963 is a devolution of authority which neither
Africans nor Whites have ever desired. Transkeian Africans have consistently clamoured for
more authority, but never at the expense of their claim to participation in the government
of the whole country. Dr Verwoerd denies them this right of participation on the grounds
that they are citizens of the Transkei, but aliens in the rest of the Republic. Yet this
contention is totally unacceptable to all Africans, including the Chiefs. Even when they
clamour for more power in their own areas, they do not mean to accept local government in
place of participation in the government of the whole country. This and other measures
provided the occasion in South Africa`s all-white parliament for full dress debates on
apartheid, and the development to its furthest point yet of the `independence for the
Bantustans` theory. Dr Verwoerd expounded the necessity of apartheid if White supremacy
was to survive.
Dr Verwoerd and the Nationalist Party - indeed, all the supporters of White supremacy
in South Africa - cannot allow that people may take this political stand in accordance
with their individual interests. To them no interests transcend racial criteria. Dr
Verwoerd sees human groups only as behaving in a stereotyped and easily predictable
manner. To his eyes, the conduct of human beings, like that of wild animals, is governed
by instincts. Under the irresistible power of the gregarious instinct, racial groups, like
baboons, are drawn together and respond in a given manner to certain stimuli.
(If human beings should behave in a way that does not readily conform to such behaviour
patterns, they must be beaten into them, he might have added.)
Each racial group, by this reasoning, will register its votes as a group. Because the
Africans outnumber everyone else, Dr Verwoerd maintains that they would - if they could -
dominate all other groups. To the Nationalists, thus, the whites are faced with a simple
choice, and Dr Verwoerd has chosen: `unequivocally that the people of South Africa cannot
accept the consequences of having a multi-racial state unless the Whites, the Coloureds,
and the Indians are prepared to commit race suicide `. 5
One may reasonably ask if it is in reality the fear for the continued existence of the
minority racial groups that motivates the policy of the White supremacists towards the
non-Whites. For if the Whites were impelled solely by this fear of committing `race
suicide`, why should they want to create, against their clearly expressed wishes and
interests, group areas and separate grades of citizenship for Coloureds and Indians, who
constitute, in relation to themselves, minority racial groups without the capacity for
It is the fear that they may lose their privileges, the benefits of their own
supremacy, which drives the Whites to ever more desperate courses. Yet, if racially
discriminating laws have failed all these years to crush the aspirations of the Africans,
Coloured, and Indians, how effective a divisory mechanism can these new illusory homelands
in the reserves prove to be?
The basic purpose of the Bantustan policy was not to create an African nation-state,
but to carry the apartheid programme a step further. In the words of the Prime Minister in
1962: `I choose division`. 6 And why should he not, since it is a division which
guarantees the supremacy of the Whites?
Dr Verwoerd then set out the benefits accruing to the Africans from his plans. Each
group, he said, would be able to exercise control over its own people. `That,` he said,
`could prevent them from being too envious of their fellow-men and from trying to take
away from them what belongs to them. 7
To what extent can the proposed Transkei Legislative Assembly exercise control over its
people - since South Africa`s State President is given the over-riding power to allow, or
reject, laws passed by the Territorial Authority ? Further, the proposed oath of
allegiance makes it obligatory for members of the Authority to swear to be loyal, not only
to the Transkei, but also to the Republic of South Africa.
Dr Verwoerd argued that his measure ` could offer an opportunity to develop equalities
amongst the groups `. The Bantustan would be on an equal footing with the government of
the White area and the two could negotiate with each other as equals. Generally the plan
`could satisfy the desire for the recognition of human dignity,` declared the Prime
Minister. Negotiate as equals? At most the measure acceded to the African people a system
of local government controlled by a Minister and subject to a parliament in which they
would have no representation. The Transkei `Legislative Assembly was to be permitted no
truck with defence, internal security, communications, and the other matters of a vital
nature to the independence of a state.
The Legislative Assembly itself would consist largely of government-appointed chiefs,
and the right to appoint chiefs, even after `self-government`, would still vest in the
Minister of Bantu Affairs.
Far from creating the climate for `human dignity`, the plan prepared the ground for the
development of a permanently subject African population, lulled, it was hoped, into
submission by false promises and fallacious argument.
Dr Verwoerd had another reason for his plan:
`Throughout history,` he proclaimed, `the creation of states has brought with it
contentment.` 8 He went on to announce that in Africa satisfaction had only come with the
creation of states inhabited by national entities. In other words, only states that had
been established for ethnic groups had had peace. It is as unlikely,` he declared `... to
hold together the Whites and the Bantu in peace ... in one multi-racial unit as it is to
throw together Xhosa, Basuto, and Zulu without conflict into one communal entity.` Yet the
fact is that different tribal groups have been living peacefully together for many years
in South Africa, especially in the urban townships.
If the Nationalist Government were sincere enough to carry this argument to its logical
conclusion, then it would be busying itself with plans to set up separate satellite
states, for Jews and English - even for the Afrikaners of French, German, and Dutch origin
- to spread racial contentment. But in reality it remains the skin colour that determines,
for the Nationalist, where each belongs. There are no national groups amongst Whites for
as long as they allow the Nationalist government to pursue its overall policies of White
supremacy. And the price is small if it merely means that within their colour supremacy,
the white minority groups like the Jews and English succumb to Nationalist Afrikaner
The further advantage which the Prime Minister visualized in his plan would be the
formation of an alliance between the apartheid states with the object of advancing mutual
interests. Consultative machinery would be set up between the Bantustans and the White
government similar to that which exists for the member-states of the British Commonwealth.
Certain members of parliament - on the opposition benches, of course - were then reported
to have burst into laughter.
A clearer picture of what the government had in mind in its plan for African
self-government was painted by Mr G. F. Froneman, an outspoken apostle of apartheid.
Members of the United Party had tried to counter the `self-government` thesis with the
argument that if the Black states became independent they would be able to enter into
treaties which might prove embarrassing to White South Africa. The Black states might be
able to extend their borders. Their industries might be able to undercut those in the
White areas. Africans who remained in the White state would be unlikely to remain passive
while their brothers in the neighboring dominions were enjoying freedom: they would form a
gigantic fifth column. Mr Froneman emphatically repudiated this. Far from being
independent states, the Bantustans would be no more than racial group areas, subject to
Nationalist race laws but administered by self-seeking members of each particular group.
Time and again Cabinet spokesmen have claimed that the steps which the Nationalist
government is taking to implement apartheid are on a par with the constitutional
developments that a colonial country goes through before it becomes independent. In fact,
the Prime Minister claims, South Africa will arrive at the same place, if by a different
He expects the Western powers to see the two-fold advantages to be derived from his
plan; that `South Africa is here doing what the Metropolitan powers themselves did, viz.
Iiberating nations`; and that `under our system we are doing what the Black communities
wanted. viz. the liberation of states.` (House of Assembly Debates, 23 January 1962. c85.)
In support of their contention, the Nationalists often quote Nigeria and Basutoland.
They argue that the reason why the former appears to be forging ahead on the Western
capitalist political pattern is that the Chiefs emerged as the leaders of the country when
it shed its formal colonial status. Basutoland is held out as providing the typical
example of how migrant labour can keep its contact with the country of its origin, and
even take an active part in its political life, as when elections take place in
Basutoland, and its citizens in the Republic are allowed to vote by post.
Similarities there are, yes. The evolutionary development of all human societies has
certain aspects in common, in the same way that growing babies have certain common
features. If a child is properly fed, its body completes the normal process of growth and
in due course the child grows and develops into a healthy adult, who assumes his or her
duties and responsibilities in society. But if the child is, at a certain critical stage
of growth, denied nourishing food, exercise, and education, it becomes stunted physically
and retarded mentally, so that at the time when it should be taking its place in society
it is able to do so.
That is precisely the condition which the Nationalists are trying to create for the
Africans. If Africans have had Chiefs, it was because all human societies have had them at
one stage or another. But when a people have developed to a stage which discards
chieftainship, when their social development contradicts the need for such an institution,
then to force it on them h not liberation but enslavement.
In all the colonial or formerly colonial countries the tendency is towards the
unification of peoples who have been torn apart and set one against another under colonial
conditions. But in South Africa the Nationalist government is deliberately nourishing
disunity, attempting to erode the very unity evolved over the years, in order to re-create
manageable and weak tribal communities.
We may well ask: what is meant by self-government? Of course it has different meanings
in different contexts. The Nationalists try to fit their Bantustans into one or all of
these meanings, as the occasion demands, decorating the concept with a profusion of words
irrelevant to any accepted definition. Local self-government means that residents of a
town or district have the power to make laws and administer them within the given area.
The local governing body has a clearly defined set of powers and functions, and operates
under the control of the central government. `Self` here means merely that the local
community can decide some things for itself.
In a federal system, as in Nigeria or Australia, the component `states` or provinces
have wide powers which are safeguarded by the constitution, and which cannot be changed
without the consent of the various states and central or federal government.
State` (provincial) self-government is a more extended and entrenched form of local
When an independent state not owing allegiance to another country makes its own laws
and conducts its own affairs, both internally and in relation to other independent states,
it is said to be self-governing. In this case it is a sovereign state and, in formal
constitutional law, is not bound by laws made by other states unless it voluntarily adopts
them as its own. When applied to former colonial dependencies, `self-governing` means that
they have been emancipated from alien rule, and have become sovereign and independent.
The published terms of the proposed constitution for the Transkei go no further than a
small measure of self-government on a tribal basis.
There is thus no similarity at all between what the people of Kenya or Sierra Leone on
the one hand have acquired by the withdrawal of their imperial masters, and what, on the
other, the Nationalist government is imposing on the Africans in order to secure permanent
The astonishing thing is how the apostles of apartheid themselves, in their desire to
impress others with the grandeur of their plans, over-reach themselves and produce
grotesque misrepresentations of the reality, even though the effect of such is to
discredit the plan itself.
Dr Verwoerd`s 1962 parliamentary session speech on self-government for the Transkei was
immediately taken up by Mr Douglas Mitchell, leader of the United Party in Natal. Mr
Mitchell commented: `This is one of the most tragic speeches that we have had-since this
government came into power, tragic for all races - this day will be looked upon as Black
Tuesday in the history of South Africa in the years that lie ahead. 9
Mr Douglas Mitchell was clearly aghast. He believed that Dr Verwoerd in his
self-government plan was holding out the future of sovereign independence to the Africans.
Sleight of Hand in the Transkei
The Transkei Constitution Act of 1963 is a statute of the South African Parliament, in
which no African sits, nor any African representative. Yet the South African government
claims that the Act represents the desires and reflects the intentions of the Transkeian
people. The government would have the world believe that in drawing up this constitution
it acted in the same way as the British Parliament does when enacting a constitution that
confers self-rule on a former dependency. To test this assertion, one has only to examine
the negotiations and discussions that preceded the framing of the constitution. To what
extent were the people of the Transkei consulted directly or through their
representatives? How far have their aspirations shaped the constitution?
The suggestion for self-rule did not come from the Transkei at all, but from the
As far back as January 1959, the pro-government newspaper Die Vaderland quoted
`the highest authority` as saying that Native ` parliaments were to be established in the
Union during 1960 to coincide with the abolition of Native representatives in Parliament,
and that Natives would have ` complete control in their own areas `.10
The Minister of Bantu Administration and Development, Mr de Wet Nel, took the credit
for announcing the establishment of self-governing Bantu national units when he drafted
the white paper on the Promotion of Bantu Self-Government Bill in 195911
In December 1961, the Executive Members of the Transkei Territorial Authority were
summoned to Pretoria for consultations with Cabinet Ministers, these consultations being `
the result of requests put to us by these Ministers during their visits to the Transkei
some months before`.12 There, in Pretoria, the Prime Minister discussed with
them third resolution of May 1961 asking for self-government, and both he and other
government officials helped them to prepare proposals that would serve as a basis for a
draft constitution. 13
The first official announcement of a revised constitution which would set the Transkei
on the road to self-rule came from the Prime Minister in January 1962, when, addressing
the House of Assembly, he suddenly declared: `The government will grant the Transkei
self-government,` adding that the Transkei Territorial Authority would have to `obtain
clarity as to its ideas concerning the form and content of the constitution.`
There is an essential difference between the Transkeian constitution and that of Kenya,
Ghana, or Tanganyika. The constitutions of these countries were the result of considerable
struggle for self-government by the peoples of those countries. Dr Verwoerd has inferred
that the transfer of authority to the Transkei does not result from a principled policy,
but is the reaction to pressure. The South African government has taken the step of
granting self-government not because it wants to, but because its hand has been forced. He
said on 10 April 1961, during one of his numerous Bantustan policy statements, that the
Bantu would be able to develop separate Bantu states, which might possibly even achieve
full independence. `That is not what we would have liked to see. It is a form of
fragmentation which we would not have liked if we were able to avoid it. In the light of
the pressure being exerted on South Africa there is however no doubt that eventually this
will have to be done, thereby buying for the White man his freedom and the right to retain
domination in what is his country . . . 14
The initiative came from the government, and it was taken up at once by a few chiefs
who saw in the scheme of self-rule the possibility of sudden pickings for themselves. To
win support from the rest of the councillors, they played on the widespread desire to have
the magistrates removed from their system of government. But the real issue, whether local
autonomy for the Transkei could ever compensate for the right to take part in the
government of South Africa, was never put to them. Nor were the councillors allowed to
debate it. When Dalindyebo raised the issue in an appeal for a multi-racial constitution,
he was outmaneuvered and brow-beaten into silence.
As for the mass of the Transkeian people - the two million who have a right, surely, to
decide the constitution that will govern them - no one ever asked their opinion, and if
any of them had dared to raise a voice in opposition to government policy he would have
run the risk of imprisonment without charge or trial for an indefinite period, under the
emergency regulations covering the whole area.
When the Prime Minister was accused in the House of not having consulted the Africans
either within or outside the Transkei on this issue, he replied: That has nothing to do
with me. It was the responsibility of the Recess Committee - the Committee composed of
Executive Members of the Transkei Territorial Authority and other chiefs - which had met
the Prime Minister at Pretoria in December 1961.
Only eleven days after the Prime Minister`s statement of 10 April 1961, the following
resolution was moved at the Transkeian Territorial Authority`s annual session:
That in order to ease the present situation of uneasiness in the Union of South Africa
and in view of the Government`s policy of separate development and the fact that the Bantu
people in the Union have no representation in the Union legislature:
- this Territorial Authority in session respectfully requests the Government to declare
the Transkeian Territories as a whole a self-governing state under the control of the
- that arrangements for the drawing up of the relative constitution be made by the
authorities in consultation with the leaders of the Bantu people in the Transkeian
- that this item be given priority in order to take advantage of the presence of
Government officials from head office. 15
The Councillors seized the opportunity to express themselve8 in favour. But
they tried to avoid making too direct a demand for freedom They played about, on the edges
of their real objective, fearing to arouse the anger of the government, hoping all the
while that they might catch unawares the guardians of long-established privilege.
They honeyed their words, gently reminding the government that by asking for the right
to govern themselves they were only complying with stated government policy.
The Chiefs, it now seems clear, had genuinely gained the impression from the public
pronouncements of Cabinet Ministers that under the policy of apartheid Africans could gain
their freedom from White rule. Councillor S. S. Majeke referred to a Bunga resolution of
1952, which had firmly declared it to be the wish of the people of the Transkei that
Parliament should not consist of only one racial group. He recalled how the government had
pointed out then that if that position were allowed to go on, there would never be peace
in this country.` 16
By passing the Promotion of Bantu Self-Government Act, he argued correctly, the
`government was hindering us from having direct representation in Parliament.` After
pointing out that the lawmakers were in a minority, he posed the question: `How long will
this position remain and what will be the end?` To secure harmony amongst the various
races,` he urged the government, in compliance with its own policies, to allow Africans to
govern themselves. 17
Paramount Chief Sabata Dalindyebo expressed it more forthrightly. Resisting any
attempts at postponing a decision to the following year under the pretext of tapping the
feelings of the African people he pointed out: `When we put this matter before the people
at our respective places, the people will demand complete freedom.
Realizing that the Councillors were demanding in their careful resolution more than the
government had ever intended, the White officials busied themselves in getting the debate
adjourned till the following day. In the meantime Kaizer Matanzima, the presiding chief,
and an unashamed supporter of the Bantustan scheme, had also sensed danger in the
resolution, and sought its delay for a year. Its passing, he observed, `would involve
probably a complete amendment of the Bantu Authorities system.` He cautioned the
Councillors to `hasten slowly`. 18
The short postponement of the debate gave officialdom its chance to redirect the minds
of the Councillors into the narrow path which the Nationalist government wanted to tread
in the interpretation of self-government ` or Bantu State `.
Instead of passing the original motion, the T.T.A. adopted another. On the surface it
appeared similar to the first, but in fact it was designed to support the Nationalist view
of apartheid. This new resolution not only gave a twisted interpretation to the wishes of
those who had moved the original motion No. 101, but established - with rigid terms of
reference - a special Recess Committee to translate Resolution 101 into reality within the
framework of apartheid.
Here is the decoy resolution with its terms of reference:
That whereas it is the stated policy of Government that the Bantu territories shall be
developed to the status of self-government, and whereas this Authority has now been in
existence for about five years and whereas this Authority, considering the supreme
importance of the Government`s policy does not doubt the sincerity of the Government in
this respect, and considering that motion No. 101 pertains to this policy, this Authority
accepts the motion in principle and resolves to appoint a recess committee of 27 members,
with powers to co-opt such persons as it may deem fit, to go into the implications of the
granting or otherwise of self-government to this Authority during the next session, and
that the following be the terms of reference:
- To consider the financial implications of the granting of self government, bearing in
mind, inter alia, all taxes direct or indirect, payable by Bantu in these Territories;
- To consider, in the event of such self-government being granted and established, it
shall not in any way tamper with the present set-up of chieftainship in these Territories;
- To consider the relations between the Government and the proposed Bantu State;
- To consider the possible date of granting the self-government.
- To consider the manner of approaching the Government in order to effect self-government.
This new resolution, while cunningly endorsing the principle of the original, evaded
the central issue of African exclusion from Parliament, gratuitously paid a tribute to the
government`s `sincerity`, and assured the Chiefs that self-government would not be allowed
to weaken their position.
In adopting this resolution the Transkeian Territorial Authority made it clear beyond
any question that self-government would be of the apartheid variety and that the Chiefs
would form the basis of administration and control.
In terms of this resolution the Recess Committee was to draft a plan for
self-government. Its members went to Pretoria for this purpose - an unprecedented step in
the history of the Transkei, where Recess Committees have always worked in Umtata, the
territory`s capital. We do not know what happened in Pretoria; but after spending some
time there incommunicado, the Committee members returned, flourishing a plan. This was
placed before the Transkeian Territorial Authority in the following year, 1962, and
In terms of the final paragraph (71) of the Recess Committee`s report, the Republican
government was asked to draft the necessary legislation to implement the plan, in so far
as the plan was acceptable to it; in other words, the government of the Republic was to
draft the constitution based on the Recess Committee`s plan.
Such was the genesis of the Transkei Constitution Act.
What made the Councillors adopt the Recess Committee`s plan?
It was not merely a matter of subtle manoeuvring by the Nationalists, of shrewdly
manipulated debate during the 1962 session, though this had much to do with the success of
The history of the T.T.A. and of the Bunga before it, as contained in the official
record of proceedings, reveals strong and unremitting pressures for self-government in the
Transkei, even among the Chiefs.
It is an old cry from the Africans to be given self-government,` Councillor N. P. P.
Ndamase told Nationalist officials trying to foist the Bantu Authority system on the
Earlier, at the 1950 session of the Bunga, when Dr Eiselen, the Secretary of Native
Affairs, had arrogantly asked, Can you carry the burden (of self-government) ? Councillor
Qamata had replied to him:
Not one government official has at any time said `You are growing up to manhood `, but
all say `you are children `. We are surrounded by laws to prevent us growing up. If we are
children, why does government after government make laws so that we do not progress?
And Councillor T. Poswao added:
The ward does grow up and the time arrives when you should hand over to him the right
he should have. We have been looking forward with eyes filled with tears to that time.
But after twelve years of Nationalist government, an influential group within the
Transkeian Territorial Authority began to give up all hope of ever sharing - by consent of
the authorities in the central government of the country. They began to wonder how best
they could preserve such power as they possessed under a different variation of
`self-government` and `independence`, and here they fell into the apartheid trap that had
been cleverly laid for them.
For years the Chief-dominated council system had operated to make the councils
dependent on the goodwill and approval of government officials, who always had the final
word to say. Yet they were too obviously the masters, these White Commissioners, and they
stirred an unnecessary resistance. Carefully, therefore, from 1951 the government prepared
the ground for the final adoption of the Bantu Authorities scheme, with its grid of
rigidly conservative tribal authorities covering the reserves like a lid.
Slowly stooges were groomed to take over from the White officials, who themselves stood
further back in the shadows, still holding the whip and cracking it when necessary.
In the Transkei councils the rot began when the Bunga voted to dissolve itself in 1955.
It was the May session of the Bunga that year which had resolved to send to the Bantu
Affairs Department in Pretoria a deputation against the whole system of Bantu Education,
which it deplored, and noted with dismay`. Among others, the group included the late Saul
Mabude (once a Native Representative Council member); Charles Sakwe, a headman who had
also served on the N.R.C.; E. Qamata another one-time N.R.C. member; and Chief Poto; all
men of influence in the Transkei. But when the deputation reached Pretoria, it found
itself talking not about Bantu Education, but about the government`s new scheme for Bantu
Authorities. The Transkei was promised the earth, or as much of it as Whites did not
already inhabit. Then, no sooner had the deputation returned home - before it had even had
the chance to report back on its mission to the full Bunga - than it was whisked round the
territory in government transport to persuade various district councillors, chiefs, and
headmen that Bantu Authorities should be accepted. By the time that the Bantu Authority
scheme was formally outlined to the Bunga`s special session in November 1955, the
spadework for the government had already been done by the deputation sent on that other
mission to Pretoria.
The record of the debate presents a picture of general bewilderment on the part of many
councillors suddenly faced by the Bantu Authority Draft proclamation. A few even expressed
their opposition openly, as when Councillor M. Dlamini declared `Those of us who come from
East Griqualand are totally opposed to the Act.`
Councillors had three copies of the draft proclamation to study amongst them, and they
played for time, for a chance somehow to defer a decision. Said Councillor Moshesh:
The draft proclamation is unknown to us. Even the Bantu Authority Act on which it is
based is unknown to us. We took over our pencils and were told to delete such and such a
thing on page so-and-so, but the contents of the section being deleted or approved or
amended in some way are unknown to us. Personally if I were asked what is the constitution
of this new authority I would say I don`t know.
But the members of the T.T.A. Recess Committee, which had already done work on the
proclamation in between sessions, was on the side of the government, and a campaign of
carefully sustained pressure secured approval of the proclamation.
A commentary on how the government worked to win over Council members was provided
again by Councillor Moshesh, when he objected to the dispatch of a T.T.A. deputation for a
new interview with the Minister of Bantu Affairs on the subject of Bantu Authorities. He
was highly suspicious of these deputations. He said:
We have had experience of these delegations which go to the Government in Cape Town or
Pretoria to protest for us against various things like Bantu Education, and what happened?
They were thanked by the Government and when they came back they were the preachers. They
were the people who said: `You were wrong. It is the proper thing to accept it.` How shall
we know whether the amendments we have made will also be rejected and the deputation will
be persuaded to say: `You are all wrong.`
Government pressure is not all of it disguised. The open threat is flourished wherever
necessary. Hardly had the special session of the Bunga accepted Bantu Authorities than the
Chief Magistrate made it plain that the new Bantu Authorities would have to move at a
prescribed pace. He said:
I hope we will get the same speed and energy from the people concerned in establishing
their own authorities ... We are now giving you the horse to ride (when I say `we` I mean
the Government); but do not forget while you are riding it that the Government will be
behind with a big sjambok, to see that it goes, and you must not think or let the people
think they can just get on that horse and go to sleep.
Whoever did not get the horse to gallop would be replaced by another rider at the
command of the government.
Opening the same session, the Under Secretary for Bantu Affairs readily revealed the
contempt for democratic practice that is the principal characteristic of Nationalist
dealings with the African people. He made it clear that the machinery of administration
which the government intended to establish under the Bantu Authorities Act would not
provide for elected members. He told Councillors:
`The chiefs and headmen are leaders by virtue of their birthright and traditional
tribal law. If then they are leaders by birthright or by tribal law, then there is no need
to elect them to a position which they already hold.`
There was also official encouragement for the use of force by chiefs and headmen in
ensuring popular submission. The speech made by the Chief Magistrate of the Transkei
(reported in Umcebisi Womlimi Nomfuyi) at the opening of the school for chiefs
and headmen at Tsolo in January 1959 leaves no doubt as to the attitude of the government
and its officials when they want to implement their policy. After praising the
incendiaries in the Tsolo and Qumbu districts, who had rendered many families homeless by
their campaign of terror, the Chief Magistrate reminded his audience:
`Don`t forget you are authority and power and whoever is against authority and power is
against you . . . Be your own police in your own interests, find out those men who respect
authority and tribal institutions, and band them together as the chiefs` and headmen`s
Impi which will turn out when called to keep your tribes and locations clean and
well-behaved. Honour these men. Give them some sort of badge by which they will be known
and honoured as upholders of the law and respecters of the chief Use moderate violence . .
. just like a good policeman would do.`
Government manipulation of the chiefs - and the willingness of some of them to be
manipulated - is illustrated most sharply in the 1962 proceedings of the T.T.A., to which
the Recess Committee of twenty-seven first reported after its work in Pretoria.
From the start the debate was bogged down in confusion. The Recess Committee report had
been signed by all twenty-seven members, including those who during the session were to
oppose its major aspects. Chief Sabata Dalindyebo said:
`Are you aware that when I was requested to sign I had to sign because I am a
The more acute problem for those Chiefs and Councillors who had misgivings about the
plan was how the views of their tribesmen would be conveyed. Here the procedure of the
debate was skillfully manipulated by Kaizer Matanzima, who scotched general discussion on
the principle of the plan at the outset, made the T.T.A. plod methodically through all the
clauses of the plan, and when that had been done, ruled that there could be no further
debate on principle since the constituent parts of the plan had already been accepted. The
Chiefs, too, were preoccupied by the problem of whether they were bound by their
membership of the Recess Committee, or responsible, in the final analysis, to their
Chief S. S. Majeke expressed his difficulty:
`We should like to receive the views of the different regions that were tabled here so
that we can all hear them ... The regions were requested to confer on this matter ... What
was the object in the Recess Committee sending out all those reports ... if now we are
assembled here they say the individual members must raise amendments? I, as one of the
Recess Committee members, am in an unenviable position . . . It must be clear . . . that
when we attached our signatures to the Recess Committee report we had not yet received the
views of the broad masses . . . The position is that in my own area I tabled the report
and the people said they wanted this or that. The situation now appears difficult because
it appears that as a signatory to the report I must not voice the views of the people
because I have already signed, and they have their own views. I think quite a number of
members of the Recess Committee are in the same difficult position in which I find myself
. . .`
A government official immediately intervened to contradict the dangerous assertion that
any of the Chiefs or Councillors had a duty to consider the views of the people, and to
ensure that there would be no delay in accepting the report. Councillor Majeke, he said,
had been elected by the T.T.A. to the Recess Committee; and had a duty there to apply his
own mind to all issues; and by signing the report had presumably agreed with everything in
it. If he were now to go home and find that there were people who disagreed with him, it
did not mean that his opinions should change . . . it was for him to decide what to do.
The Chiefs were in a dangerous dilemma. Many of them came from large and important
areas which were hostile to the whole self-government bluff; but in the council chamber
they were confronted by government officials who held them to their signatures on the
Pretoria plan and, of course, were the authority over and above chieftainship. Councillor
In order for me to do the right thing I must bring forward those views so that it will
not be taken as having suppressed them. My district says that in view of the fact that the
Commissioner-General participates in the Assembly, he and the Chief Minister should
forward the laws direct to the State President.`
In other words, the Cabinet should have no power of veto over the laws of the
For the most part, though, procedural intricacies and rulings left the T.T.A. members
helplessly confused, and the debate on the clauses of the Recess Committee plan went
Minutes before the end came to the several days of debate, Chief Sabata Dalindyebo
again rose to his feet:
`Now, Mr Chairman, what shall I do with the views I have obtained from the Tembus?`
Kaizer Matanzima made it plain that such views did not concern the Authority at all. In
a reply to Councillor G. Nantala, who said that the people should be given more
representation, Matanzima declared:
I should like to know who those people are, because in my view the chiefs are the
people. They form an integral part of the community in which they are, with this
difference - that they are the elected leaders of the respective tribes. An assertion has
been made by various people that the chiefs are government servants. I wish to refute that
assertion as I did so in Pretoria before the Prime Minister, and fortunately the Prime
Minister supported my contention . . .`
It had been the practice of the Bunga to refer controversial matters to the people
through the District Councils. But on this occasion, consultation with the people was a
mere pretence; the government neither wanted nor allowed the heads of the Regional
Authorities to report on popular reaction to the proposed self-government plan. Chief
Matanzima himself made this clear.
`When the suggestion was made that copies of the report [of the Recess Committee]
should be sent to the members of the Regional Authorities in order that they should inform
their regions, there was no intention that the heads of the regions would then come back
and report to the Recess Committee. The intention was to make the members of the
Territorial Authority ready for discussion in order to save the possibility of them
saying: Let us take the matter back to the people; because it is expedient that the
decision of this Chamber should be submitted to the Government as soon as possible . .
How differently all would have gone if not only the Chiefs but the people also had been
consulted. Popular organizations like the African National Congress and APDUSA are
unlawful. But where their leaders have spoken illegally, they have repudiated the
Transkeian constitution altogether. No mass leader with a claim to express the feelings of
the peasants and workers of the Transkei has approved the constitution. The only ones who
have given their approval are the Chiefs, and only a few of even these have spoken.
Throughout this crucial session of the T.T.A., sly use was made of chiefly ambitions
and jealousies. A major point of contention was the balance of Chief -- commoner
representation in the new Legislative Assembly. Officialdom reproved `eleventh hour
constitution makers` who were trying to change the work of the Recess Committee. The
Secretary for Bantu Administration said significantly
`... it rests in the hands of the Government of the Republic of South Africa to decide
what it will concede to the Transkei in the form of self-government.`
He told the T.T.A., on the subject of Chiefs` representation:
`. . . what is important for you to decide is whether you want Chiefs as ex officio
members, and once having decided that in the affirmative, I do not see how you can leave
any Chiefs out. Who is going to say that one is better than the other one?`
The same official, days later in the debate, made his point again, more forcibly:
`The point made by Chief George Matanzima [Kaizer`s brother] was rightly in line with
what I said yesterday; that it is not a question of whether there are going to be
"X" number of Chiefs. The question is: Are there going to be any at all in the
House of Assembly? Once this Authority decides there are going to be Chiefs, ex
officio, then they have accepted that principle. And once they have accepted that
principle, if they are going to do so, then there is nobody in this House or in the
Transkei who can say there is not one Chief good enough to be here. In other words, once
the principle has been accepted of having Chiefs in the House, then obviously every Chief
fits into that category. . . . If the Chiefs are not represented in this Assembly, then
this House must pass a resolution abolishing the principle of chieftainship . . .`
The last thing that the Chiefs wanted, of course, was any weakening of their authority
. . . And so the Transkei Legislative Assembly is to be overweighted with Chiefs, who
constitute the basis of the entire Bantustan scheme. Without them it would never have been
accepted in the Transkei, and without them it has no prospect of lasting.
Do the Matanzimas really believe that they will arrive at genuine independence in this
Matanzima, when a minor Chief and member of a District Council, said at one time in
`We are fed up with being ruled by the Whites. We want to do it ourselves.`
In those days he might have been called an African patriot; he was certainly hostile to
the whole machinery of White rule. Doubtless, in the beginning, he snatched at anything
that seemed to transfer a greater share of government from White to African shoulders.
Such men, once caught in the Nationalist contrivance, could not escape with safety; and,
indeed, they involved themselves even deeper for what they could get out of it. Chiefs
ambitious for a greater measure of independence and power had first to become prisoners of
the scheme. Many must now know, in their hearts, that the self-government scheme has
proved a swindle. But now they have a profitable interest in keeping it going.
The shrewdness of the Nationalist play should not be underestimated. The Chiefs have
been used with skill. Every little Chief, even those not getting large stipends from the
government, has been placed in a position where he can make money for himself at the
expense of the people. Fresh powers of civil jurisdiction have been placed in the hands of
the Chiefs, for example, and many have amassed small fortunes in fines and bribes.
In the beginning even Paramount Chief Sabata - now one of its most powerful opponents -
accepted the Bantustan scheme. Gradually he grew disillusioned, as he witnessed the
workings of the Bantu Authority system.
The Tembu story of 1957 onwards is an ideal case in point, and it emerges graphically
from a 1958 memorandum written by four Tembus (one of them had been private secretary to
Paramount Chief Sabata) exiled from Tembuland for their opposition to Bantu Authorities
Three of the four had been members of the official Tembu deputation to Pretoria, sent to
protest against the manner in which Bantu Authorities were being implemented in Tembuland.
In the beginning it had been hoped that the Bantu Authorities Act would `restore the
golden age of African chieftainship`, when headmen were answerable to the Chiefs, not to
government officials; `when the power of the Paramount Chief derived directly from the
people and did not depend on an army or a police force.` White conquest had reduced the
Chiefs to mere figureheads, minor cogs in the administrative machine of the Native Affairs
Department. But far from strengthening the position of the Tembu Paramount Chief, the new
Bantu Authorities proved to be a source only of weakness and division. The Paramount Chief
made various recommendations for the implementation of Bantu Authorities in areas under
his control. The recommendations were ignored. In the matter of appointments over certain
vital areas, the government ear was cocked not to the Paramount Chief, but to a certain
minor Chief, Kaizer Matanzima. The headman regarded as natural leader in the area east of
the Tsomo river was swept aside, and after a long and heated dispute Matanzima reached the
top, from which he admonished those who opposed Bantu Authorities and himself:
`It is wonderful when the government gives you your rights and you go against that
policy. All the fruits of the land are enjoyed by those who obey the government . . .`
The Sabata-Matanzima quarrel was long-standing and bitter. The Tembu complaint was that
their Paramount Chief was threatened by an upstart Chief, who was using Bantu Authorities
to achieve his own ends.
While Tembu resistance to Bantu Authorities had arisen in the first place because the
method of demarcating authorities and appointing heads undermined the rights of their
Paramount Chief, their resistance throughout was underpinned by their resentment of
Matanzima`s upstart claims. Once, in Emigrant Tembuland, Matanzima had administered one
district of St Marks. Then he had been handed CaLanga, formerly under Sabata`s own
control, in a government move to further enhance his status. Next he claimed Lady Frere in
the Glen Grey district of the Ciskei, and even though no legal transfer took place, the
government implemented Bantu Authority regulations in the area and then placed it under
Matanzima, to add once more to his domains. Accessions to his empire turned Matanzima into
the fanatical supporter of Bantu Authorities, and the whole Bantustan fantasy, that he has
become, while his rivalries and intrigue turned the Tembu and their Paramount Chief Sabata
into the strongest antagonists of the scheme in the whole Transkei.
Throughout the Sabata-Matanzima dispute, the government openly took sides. To Sabata
the Chief Magistrate of the Transkeian Territories wrote (1 November 1957):
You would do better to interview me if you have anything to say rather than sign
impertinent letters composed and written by your secretary. If I receive any further
letters from you criticizing my actions, I shall have to cancel your appointment as
The Chiefs could be powerful in the Transkei - when they obeyed government commands.
Peasants in Poverty
The story of chiefs and commoners, of constitutions, proclamations, and debates is
important for an understanding of the Transkei today; but even more important is the
economic aspect of Bantustan policy. For the Bantustans are the most densely populated
African rural areas in South Africa, the homes of millions of peasants who live in
grinding poverty, and so the traditional reservoirs of labour for the entire country. Can
they exist in `independence`? Would any government pledged to maintain White supremacy
allow and assist them to develop their resources on the scale necessary to make
self-government possible ?
Can the Bantustan policy really work? The Tomlinson Commission studied the position for
many years and its recommendations formed the basis of much subsequent apartheid doctrine.
The fundamental premise of apartheid is that the Whites refuse to `sacrifice their rights
of existence as a separate national and racial entity.` The Tomlinson Commission
... Where the continued existence of a people is at stake, purely rational
considerations play a relatively unimportant role.
The racial legislation which has broken over the African people in great waves of
parliamentary acts and ministerial decrees is stirred by this irrational fear. And as
anybody who is seized by fear of a non-existent danger, terror of something that may
spring suddenly out of darkness, starts running away even from his own heart-beat, the
Nationalists are hurling themselves headlong, not knowing where, destroying everything of
value before them. They claim to be doing all in order to preserve the White population.
The Tomlinson Commission reports White spokesmen as having `expressed the conviction that
the European population feels so strongly over this matter, that, if given the choice, it
would be willing to subordinate economic considerations and advantages to this aim.`
This sums up the determination of the Nationalist government to pursue its apartheid
policy with absolute ruthlessness. Whether the policy is practicable or not is beside the
point. The Nationalist Party has to carry it out or abdicate. It will stop at nothing to
hold on to its power, to preserve the supremacy of its race.
What are the socio-economic implications of this policy? What will apartheid do to the
lives of millions of Africans at whom it is aimed?
The Union of South Africa came into being in 1910. Three years later, in 1913, the
Botha-Smuts government passed the Native Land Act, which limited the land occupation
rights of Africans to only those areas listed in a schedule to the Act. These areas became
known as the `scheduled areas`, but they mirrored no change in their new name. The Act
merely defined a situation which had already been established when the last war for
African independence was lost.
In 1936 the Smuts and Hertzog Coalition passed the Native Trust and Land Act, in terms
of which some areas, prohibited to African occupation under the Land Act of 1913, were
released. These released areas - 7.25 million morgen in extent which consisted of
European-owned farms adjacent to, or within the reserves, were to be bought by the
government for African occupation. When all the released areas are bought and added to the
scheduled areas, the total area set aside for African occupation in terms of the two Acts
will constitute 13 per cent of South Africa`s land surface. But only 5 of the 7.25 million
morgen have, in fact as yet been acquired, so that today some 11,000,000 Africans have
rights to only 9 per cent of the land, while 3,000,000 Whites own and occupy the rest.
Furthermore, Africans in all but a very few areas cannot acquire individual title to
their land. It is legally held by a Trust on behalf of the State, and the peasant
occupiers are - in effect - tenants, holding their land under conditions imposed by the
government. The new Transkeian constitution provides for the transfer of reserves in the
Transkei to the new Authority.
In pursuance of apartheid policy, the Nationalist government is not only preventing the
further acquisition of any released areas, but also eroding the scheduled areas
themselves, either by reducing the extent of the land, or by mass removals of population
from fertile to more arid areas. `Black spots` must be eliminated from the `White areas`,
and so Africans are shifted from reserved areas in so-called White territory. The law
requires equivalent areas to be added to reserves in compensation, but the quality of new
land is usually inferior to the land lost.
Group Areas proposals for the Ciskei starkly illustrate the erosion. Dispossessed
Africans will be removed to the constantly drought-stricken over-populated districts of
Middeldrift, Keiskama Hoek and a portion of the Kingwilliamstown area. Removals are to
take place from:
- Peddie - all the locations along the fertile coastal belt east of the National Road.
- Fort Beaufort - the whole district.
- Victoria East - all the areas south-west of the Tyumie River.
- East London - all the fertile areas along the Transkei Road.
- Queenstown and Stutterheim - the Lessyton and Mgwali areas respectively.
- All the farms owned by Africans under freehold tenure in the fertile border belt of the
East London, Komgha, Stutterheim, and Queenstown districts.
Not only is the area of African occupation here to be reduced, but it is proposed to
remove them from an area that has great farming potential.
The mass removal of Africans from the naturally watered area of Linokana in the
Transvaal to the Mentz-Trust, where agricultural operations can only take place under dry
farming conditions, is a further illustration.
From the outset the purpose of maintaining the reserves was to provide a source of
cheap labour for White agriculture, mining, and industry. On the one hand the reserves
have served as mating camps for the production of migrant labourers, while on the other
they have proved suitable dumping grounds for the physical wrecks whom industry discards
in the same way as waste fibre is thrown away after its juice has been extracted.
At first most of the labour from the reserves was drawn into work on the farms and
mines. Only during the last forty years, and more noticeably since the Second World War,
has secondary industry absorbed large numbers.
The reserves have been able to provide this labour because there has never been
sufficient land to give most of the inhabitants an arable allotment. Within a few years
following the wars of resistance to white settlement there developed a class of men whose
only stake in the reserves was a Kraal site 70 X 70 yards - where a man put up a few huts
to shelter his family, while he spent most of his time away at work on the mines.
This class of landless people arose first in the larger reserves, the Transkei and the
Ciskei, where a number of districts seven in the Transkei and all in the Ciskei - were
surveyed. In these districts the principle of one man one allotment was strictly pursued,
and succession was in practice by right of birth, although the government always reserved
the power to seize an arable allotment once its registered user died or otherwise
The imposition of taxes - poll tax, quit-rent or hut tax - and the dwindling fertility
of the soil caused a regular drift of able-bodied men from the reserves to seek work in
the industrial areas, where they could earn cash wages to pay for the ever-increasing
demands of a changing society.
As time went on, the twin evils of dwindling fertility, itself a major cause of falling
agricultural yields, and the exodus of migrant labour from the reserves to the industrial
areas became mutually helpful in speeding up the rate of both. But although some of the
peasants who had arable allotments could still supplement their produce from the land by
the sale of stock that they grazed on communal pasturage, they did not enjoy this
advantage for very long. The landless also invested in stock, which grazed on the same
pasturage, till there were far fewer head of stock per man, while the stock total itself
increased beyond the grazing capacity of the land. The essential problem of the reserves
has always been - as it still is - too many people on too little land, rather than too
large a stock population. In many parts of the reserves the density per square mile has
always been as high as 120. Five districts of the Transkei have a density of 122, while
the average for the whole territory is in parts of Natal it is over 200. The Ciskei, with
its exhausted earth and sunken peasantry, is a typical example of the ravages to man and
land of a policy that was inspired by the insatiable appetite for more and more labour
from the reserves.
The development of primary and manufacturing industry, coupled with the resultant
growth of other services - commercial, public, and domestic - tended to correct the social
evils of the earlier period, when only the men without their families were drawn into the
compounds of the mining industry. Economic conditions in the reserves, however,
deteriorated as productivity declined, till today they are finally incapable of producing
minimum food requirements for the populations they contain.
A survey of the Keiskama Hoek area in the Ciskei, conducted by Rhodes University,
revealed that productivity per morgen was two bags a year if the rainfall was more or less
evenly distributed during the summer months, when the main crop mealies or `kaffir corn` -
is grown. During a drought, however, which occurs more commonly in these areas than a
summer with a normal rainfall, what harvest there was, was less than the seed that had
The report of the Tomlinson Commission corroborated the findings of the Keiskama Hoek
survey. The Commission stated that an average production in the reserves was 2.5 bags per
In the scheduled areas each family possesses an average of 3.6 arable morgen, and at
2.5 bags per morgen this would give a total of 9 bags.22 In the same paragraph,
the Commission estimated that a family of five requires 15 bags a year. So the shortfall
A government-sponsored survey of the tribes in the Kingwilliamstown District records
that the area is 249,024 morgen or 824 square miles in extent. Of this, 100,614 morgen
belong to scheduled area and 12,150.98 morgen to released area, 9,440.42 morgen of which
are owned by the South African Native Trust.
It has been estimated that the average amount of food produced per capita in
the district during the period 1956-7 was one bag, 65 lb. (265 lb.) i.e. 6 bags, 125 lb.
(1,225 lb.) per average family of five. As the accepted food requirements per year for
such a family are considered to be 15 bags, the food supplies produced during the period
under review were only enough to feed a family for approximately six months. The
balance is made up by going out to work. It is also estimated by the Agricultural Section
of the Department that the average income per capita per annum is in the region
And in Willowvale, as a similar survey showed, the average yield is one bag per acre,
while each family owns on an average one field of eight to ten acres in extent. (One
morgen is equivalent to 2.12 acres, so that production each year would be eight to ten
bags, compared with the minimum established as necessary by the Tomlinson Commission of
fifteen bags a year.) 24
Taking into account the portion of their cash earnings that the menfolk in industrial
areas sent out to their families in the reserves - it was estimated ten years ago that the
average annual income of a peasant family was £43. There is no reason to suppose that the
figure has risen.
This amount was made up as follows:
|Value of produce||£22|
|Migrant labour earnings||£21|
By comparison the average production on White farms is 6.6 bags per morgen. It is
significant to note that the White farmer`s production is not all that higher than the
African`s, in spite of the fact that the White farmer has, readily available to him, three
essential factors conducive to higher productivity. Capital is made available to him
through state-sponsored institutions and private credit facilities; the Land Bank which
allows farmers loans bearing little interest and repayable over a long period - in some
cases upwards of forty years - has often written off large sums of money as irrecoverable.
There is labour - the most important of these factors - which, like wild figs, is there
for the asking, because the whole state machinery of African administration is put at the
disposal of the farmer, providing him with semi-slave labour through the pass system. And
thirdly, under South African farming conditions, the extent of land available to a farmer
largely determines his success or his failure. Under dry farming conditions - which
prevail throughout the reserves - only extensive methods of farming are suitable for the
production of maize, the main crop produced by Africans. The White farmer does well by
growing maize because he has extensive areas under cultivation Otherwise his average
production of 6.6 bags per morgen could never enable him to maintain the White or
`civilized` standard of living. In the days when there was a substantial poor white
problem, one of the main causes was the sub-division of farms into uneconomic units. The
poor white problem was solved, in the main, by the absorption of the poor whites from the
countryside into industry. But the policy of apartheid commands only a
back-to-the-reserves programme for Africans, a programme which must, inevitably, import
into the already cramped and poverty-stricken areas more and more problems of poverty.
Studies of infant mortality in the Transkei and the Ciskei reveal an alarmingly high
rate. Some surveys have estimated it as high as 45 per cent, while the Tomlinson
Commission found that `nearly one-fifth of children born alive die before they reach their
first birthday . . . `
Moreover, those who succeed in cheating death during their childhood are not usually
lucky enough, on the average, to dodge it after the age of 26 years. Comparative
statistics for the life expectancy of the four main racial groups illustrates how
different living standards determine the life span of different coloured South Africans.
|66 years||50.3 years||42.8 years||36.4 years|
According to the Tomlinson Commission Report, for Whites, Asiatics and Coloured,
`living in rural areas appears to be a cause of longer life`, while among Africans
urbanization increases life expectancy.
This goes to show that low as African wages are in the urban areas, they enable
Africans to maintain higher standards of living than those elsewhere in the country.
...A study of population increase rates points, thus, to a terrifying trend. It is
fixed government policy to drive Africans from areas where higher standards of living
prevail to those in which it is difficult to eke out even the barest necessities of life.
The following table shows the comparative net rate of population increase among the
The trend among Africans is therefore: a high death rate among children; a low rate
of increase in population; a low life expectancy among adults.
A significant admission which the Tomlinson Commission makes must increase the horror
with which the policy of apartheid is measured. Comparing the birth rate of rural African
women with that of urban ones, the report estimates that the birth rate in the rural areas
is higher than in the urban areas, but the fertility of urban women is greater. The higher
fertility rate among rural women is attributable, of course, to superiority of numbers.
Otherwise everything points to a premature sterility among rural women, resulting from
their lower living standards.
What is behind the Nationalist Party plan to force back to the over-populated reserves
more and ever more people?
The `Fraud` of Separate Development
Feathering the Nationalist Nest
`Go back to the Bantustans!` This is what the Nationalists tell the African
people. `Develop there, along your own lines`. What lines? During its own investigation
the government-appointed Tomlinson Commission found itself faced by the hard facts of
poverty and over-crowding in the reserves, by the declining productivity, the
over-stocking, the denuded soil. These facts had to be waved aside by a theory, by talk of
`development` schemes which might lead people to think that some miraculous change was to
come about. Above all the new arrangement should not be made to look as though it were
simply a matter of reshuffling the old furniture in the old house. How to do this? After
all, it had been done before. From a few small fish five thousand people once ate and were
filled, and the remains filled seven baskets more. There was no need in the reserves for
additional land, said the Nationalist Government. All that was necessary was that the
reserves should support an increased population! And the Nationalist Government proclaimed
itself ready to invest some money in this wild venture` even though such development might
not be financially practicable`. (Of course, the money could be drawn off somehow from the
poor African peasantry, too.)
The scheme, in outline, had four aspects to fit Africans into the
The first aim, it was stated, would be to reduce the number of people dependent on
small-scale farming as a livelihood;
the second, to create a ruling aristocracy of hireling chiefs;
the third, to remove from the land all those who had no arable allotments, and place
them in special settlements consisting of the landless and the dispossessed;
the fourth, to foster the growth of a middle class of professional men and traders.
The Nationalists propose to set about their task by a revision of the practices
governing the holding of arable land. According to the Tomlinson Commission`s report 25 an
African family in the reserves `requires, on the average, 52.5 morgen of land to make a
gross annual income of £70.` (In contrast, it is estimated that a White farmer requires a
minimum of 250 morgen if he is to operate successfully as a grain producer.) On this
basis, the reserves would be able to sustain only 50 per cent of their present number, so
that - the argument concluded - there had to be a radical change in the customary
practices of land-holding.
The Nationalist government has already issued instructions that married men without
arable allotments should not be granted residential sites in the farming areas of the
reserves. In addition, men who own stock and have no arable allotments are being denied
opportunities to rear and graze stock on the communal pasturage. The government goes even
further and dispossesses many peasants of the arable allotments they hold if they cannot
show that they have adequate means to work the land; their allotments are then turned over
to those who can show such means. In this way the government hopes that, in due course, it
will develop a class of small-scale farmers, who will concentrate on agriculture and
constitute a display for how the policy of apartheid has developed the reserves.
The shrewder and the relatively well-to-do have not been slow to seize their chance of
acquiring more land. And the government has utilized their appetite for land by demanding
complete collaboration from them first, promising them in return increased crop yields
from extensive lands (not yet obtained) and the creation of a closed market for the
disposal of their products.
The Chiefs, without whose participation the apartheid plan as applied to the reserves
cannot work, are conscious of the importance of their role. And one of their first moves
has been to get from the government tangible material gains rather than mere promises. A
resolution taken at the 1958 session of the Transkei Territorial Authority read:
That a special extra allocation of arable land be made to each chief and headman the
better toe enable him to provide hospitality which is expected from him by persons
attending meetings called at this kraal for administrative purposes.
The resolution was referred to a Select Committee and amended so as to read:
That a special extra allocation of arable land be made to each chief and headman in
stabilized or reclaimed areas as a consideration for the additional responsibility and
dues devolving upon them.
It will be observed how the Select Committee, which works under the guidance of a Bantu
Affairs Department Commissioner, wants to make the granting of additional land dependent
on the fulfillment of certain conditions. In the main, a chief or headman can only qualify
for the grant of extra arable land if he has ensured that the residents of his location
have accepted the soil reclamation measures. (The Committee`s amendment was defeated.)
Does this plan to give a reduced land-owning population larger farms provide an answer
to the central problem of low productivity in the reserves? No: for the reserves are
required to support not only their current population but also the additional numbers
which the government endorses out of the urban areas.
The government, however, will gain by creating a class of favoured land-owners, for by
its very nature, the authorities calculate, this class will ally itself with them in
defence of the privileges they have given it.
In all, it is estimated that 300,000 families (1,800,000 people), or
half the existing population of the reserves, will have to be moved off the land.
What is going to happen to them, thrown out of farming, and to the people whom the
government expels from the `White` towns under its harsh influx control regulations?
The Nationalist propagandists have proclaimed that certain sites are to be earmarked
for the establishment of rural townships inside the reserves. These rural townships or
settlements will then provide homes for workers who will supply the labour requirements of
small industries to be established in the reserves themselves and of industries in border
areas. Furthermore, the government will grant trading sites, with tenure tied to certain
strict conditions. One of the most important of these conditions stipulates that if a
trader or his employee should be found to be associated with any anti-government political
organization, the trader will forfeit his right of occupation.
In its report the Tomlinson Commission estimates that an almost inexhaustible supply of
labour will be available when these settlements have been set up to absorb the thousands
of dispossessed peasants. Said the Commission:
According to the calculations of the Commission 50,000 opportunities of employment will
have to be created in the Bantu Areas annually.... The most important factor
involved here, is that work will have to be provided for 20,000 Bantu annually in
secondary industry, including the construction industry. The economic activities arising
from this and from agriculture, will, according to expectation, stimulate tertiary
activities to such an extent that the remaining 30,000 workers will be absorbed by the
To give some idea of how large are the numbers of people which the Nationalist
government plans to remove, we may cite a few instances.
|Area||Number of Families
due for Removal
In the Ciskei it is expected that nearly a quarter of a million people will be
displaced and dumped in these settlements, after the Group Areas proposals for the region
have been carried out.
It is sufficient to study the nature of the industries which the government proposes
should be set up in the reserves to realize how fraudulent the whole development scheme
basically is. In their pronouncements Cabinet Ministers and Bantu Affairs Department
officials have been deliberately imprecise in their references to industrial development
in the reserves. Their formulation has been `small industries which the Bantu can
manage themselves.` The type of industry which the Nationalist government envisages,
however, can be gauged from the type of raw materials which it has encouraged to be grown
as a basis for industrial development in the reserves.
The Tomlinson Commission, which embarked on an exhaustive study of the industrial
potentialities of the reserves, mentions forestry products, fruit and vegetable products,
and fibre crops like sisal, as the main sources of raw materials.
On this base, there may develop the manufacture of cheap doors, household furniture,
and coffins of a quality that would be within the reach of the destitute survivors of
those who die in their self governed poverty. Light industries for the processing of fibre
from sisal to make ropes are mentioned frequently by government spokesmen. Perhaps the
rope will be useful not only for tethering horses, but for the many who find life in the
At best it is in four out of twenty African areas that the Tomlinson Report regards the
circumstances as `sufficiently favourable` for an initiation of industrial development.
- The Transkei Block around Umtata
- The Letaba-Shingwedzi Block in the vicinity of Sibasa
- The Umsimkulu-Harding Block, at some suitable site along the railway
- The Olifants-Blyde Block, also at some suitable site along the railway.
In announcing its plans, the government has made no mention of developing power and
communications - essential factors in industrial production and the distribution of the
finished product respectively. The Transkei, which is being advertised as the government
showpiece, has very poor railway facilities. Four rail lines terminate either just inside
the border - like the railheads at Maclear, Matabele, and Kokstad - or about 100 miles
from the heart of the area. But then the purpose of the railheads is to serve as funnels
for the draining off of labour from the reserves. A system of poorly developed roads act
as tributaries along which labour flows to railway sidings and into the main stream
More and more it seems, however, that the government has gradually dropped the notion
that Africans should undertake the development of industry in the reserves, and the
emphasis is now on border industries.
Yet how much work has, in fact, been done in the establishment of border industries,
and what chances of success are there?
At first the country was led to believe that by border industries the government meant
new industrial sites, to be established away from the existing urban areas, with new
towns, new communications, new water supplies, provided. This does not, however, seem to
be the case.
In the main it would appear that the government intends to convert into border areas
some of the existing industrial centres not far from the reserves,27 like East
London, Pinetown, Pretoria, Kingwilliamstown, and towns in northern Natal such as
Newcastle, Ladysmith, Colenso, and Dundee. In addition to these areas, the government
claims, there are already industries in some of the small towns near the borders of the
reserves and these, it is said, already providing employment to Africans, constitute a
fulfillment of government policy. Such towns are Bergville, Harrismith, Kokstad, Maclear,
Elliot, Indwe, and others.
Here is a sample of industries that have been set up in these small border towns:
|HARRISMITH:||As a result of a plantation in that district, a saw mill has been started. It employs
|ALIWAL NORTH:||The mill at Aliwal North employs 115 Africans, while a furniture factory employs two
Africans and twelve European joiners.
|MACLEAR:||The saw mill employs eight Africans. (March 1959.)|
In the report of the Natural Resources Development Council, which works in
collaboration with the Bantu Affairs Department officials, the employment pattern at
twenty-two undertakings visited in border areas was found to be as follows:
Since the Tomlinson Commission envisaged that if the excess agricultural population in
the reserves was toe be taken off the land, other employment would have to be found in
secondary industry, including construction work, for 20,000 a year, the above figures
provide a very thin cover for the government`s real intentions. 28
Speaking in Parliament Sir de Villiers Graaff, Leader of the (white) Opposition,
referred to the slow rate of development: `It seems to us that progress is so small that
the whole thing is becoming something of a joke. 29 It seems rather more than a joke that
the government should be packing millions of people into an area where they can find no
work, no food, none of the basic necessities required to maintain life, and, by and large,
none of the services required to relieve the human suffering resulting from lack of such
The plan for border industries is supposed to be based on the need to provide
employment for Africans displaced from the soil in the cause of making agriculture in the
reserves fully productive. But above all it is designed to check what is a natural
historical development: the drift of the peasant into the towns and industry. For the
Black peasant must not establish himself in South Africa`s `White` towns!
In terms of Nationalist policy, the siting of border industry is to take place not
because its development will, in time, spread benefit to the displaced population of the
reserves, or to the Bantustans, so critically in need of development, but because
apartheid dictates that Black labour must go where White master can exploit it best, and
control it most firmly. Labour must not be allowed to flow to industry; industry must be
brought to labour, in a way that will ensure the continuance of White supremacy. There are
some existing centres with industrial potential conveniently sited near the reserves. The
government proposes to settle the surplus reserve labour along the borders of the reserve,
near these centres. But there are also government plans to remove African labour from
these industrial centres themselves and re-settle it in the new border `towns `. The
classic example of this attempt to reverse the natural flow of labour from the rural to
the urban areas is seen in the cases of Kingwilliamstown and East London.30 It is planned
that African labour will rush into the industrial areas in the morning, and in the evening
after work flow back across the border into the area regarded as its natural habitat.
The wages paid in the border townships will be barely an improvement on the pitiful
old-age pensions paid to Africans. At the Zwelitsha Textile Factory, the starting wages
are 18s. a week. African youths trained as machine operatives rise from this wage to
£2.10.0 a week. This factory of the Good Hope Textile Corporation is a joint undertaking
of South Africa`s Industrial Development Corporation and the Calico Printers` Association
of Great Britain. A government proclamation gives the house rentals at Zwelitsha as
In terms of Proc. 362 of 1948 as applied to Zwelitsha by Govt. Notice 107 of 21 January
1949 the following tariff is proscribed as from 1 April 1959.
|Type of House||Rent per Month||Charges per Month|
|Lowest rental||J.3.||£ -.15.4||19s|
|Highest rental||Revised R||£1.19.10||19s|
Provided that the rental to be charged i.r.o. sites or any type of building occupied by
Bantu employees on fixed establishment of government or provincial administration
departments shall be 7.5% of the value thereof.
Provided further that no officer or employee shall be liable to pay as rent a greater
amount than is represented by 12.5% of his salary.31
The government proposes to establish a border African township about eight miles out of
East London along the Kingwilliamstown road at a place called Mdantsane. This falls just
outside the boundaries of the Municipality of East London.
In the proposed township thousands of workers now settled in the East London location -
more particularly the older section, which is one of the ugliest slum areas in the whole
Republic - will be removed to Mdantsane.
The answers given by the Minister of Bantu Administration and Development to questions
put to him in Parliament are most revealing, and I have no hesitation in reproducing them
||It is the intention to buy the land as early as possible|
||The future of any vacated houses in Duncan Village is a
matter which rests with the local Authority.
||As in other new Bantu Townships everything will be properly
Government regulations have recently been promulgated for the administration and
control of these townships in the reserves (known as Bantu areas in the decree). 34 No
person belonging to an ethnic group other than the one for which the township has been
established may reside there, except with the permission of the Minister for Bantu
Administration. Indeed, the essential feature of these townships is that, unlike the urban
ones administered by the local authorities, they are to fall under the direct control of
the Minister and his government department. Meetings in the townships may be held only
with official permission. (See Appendix 1)
Africans in established industry are thus to be ejected from their homes and removed
out of sight, beyond the responsibility of urban areas and their services. Those settled
in the border townships will receive lower wages than ever, with an unwritten ultimatum:
`Take what the border factory gives you, or go without wages altogether.` The Prime
Minister has said* that lower wages would be paid because of the lower productivity of
labour and the lower cost of living in these areas. 35
But then death from poverty is regarded as death from natural causes, especially if the
sick and dying are out of sight of White eyes. The reserves and all that goes on inside
them will be sealed off from anyone who is not there at the time, so that even workers
whose homes and families are back in the reserves will be effectively isolated from their
fate. Already the districts of Marico and Peddie are subject to the provisions of a
government proclamation 36 forbidding entry or departure from reserve areas without the
written permission of the Bantu Affairs Department Commissioner. When the African
population of East London is removed from East Bank location to Mdantsane, it will be to
work and to live there under the direct control of the Nationalist government`s ubiquitous
The government is busy making a great deal of noise about the new rural `townships`
being established to house the hundreds of thousands of displaced peasants. The noise,
however, seems calculated only to conceal the fact that pitifully little has been done for
the absorption of workers into new employment.
What of these new `townships`? The Minister of Bantu Affairs and Development answered
questions in Parliament: about the proclamation and establishment of towns at sites of
proposed border industries. He was asked:
- How many new Bantu Townships, villages, or locations have been established in scheduled
or released areas, and where have these been established?
- (a) How many houses have been built there, and
(b) What is the population of each such township, village, or location?
The Minister replied:
- Twenty-three townships have been established and proclaimed, while twenty-one are in the
process of being established but not yet proclaimed. The towns have been established at,
among other places the following places: Kingwilliamstown, Bushbuckridge, Eshowe,
Hammanskraal, Ladysmith, East London, Pietersburg. Those that are in the process of
establishment are at the following areas: Kingwilliamstown, Thaba Nchu, Tzaneen,
Camperdown, and other places.
- (a) At these places 6,437 houses have been built and 1,632 of these by the Africans
(b) The estimated population is 23,000.
The following table reproduces the figures quoted by the Minister to show the progress
made with the building of houses:
|New town||District||Houses in 1959||Houses in 1961|
Immediately after the Minister`s reply to the questions, the author organized a team of
independent investigators to visit some of the `townships`. The team visited the following
places: Kayalethu, Mngqesha (Kingwilliamstown), Mdantsane (East London), Soto (East
London), Zwelitsha (Kingwilliamstown).
Except for Zwelitsha, on the border of Kingwilliamstown, where there is a textile
factory that employs 2,000 workers earning on the average 18s. a week, the investigators
failed to find the houses that the Minister boasted of in Parliament.
At Mdantsane and Mngqesha, they found no new towns arising out of the bush.
At Kayalethu and Soto they found that the new towns consisted mostly of thatched mud
huts and about half a dozen houses - built in rows. The occupiers told the visiting team
that they had put the huts up themselves.
At the Soto location, they learnt from the people that the old unplanned location had
51 huts, whereas the new location has 207 huts, all of which were built before 1960.
As will be seen from the above, only small beginnings have been made in establishing
these townships. Their establishment is not intended to - or, at least, in practice does
not - keep pace with the numbers of people to be thrown into these camps.
In referring to the creation of employment within such townships, the Minister
evidently had in mind the old established peri-urban locations like Zwelitsha at
Kingwilliamstown and Umlazi at Durban. The Minister referred to the developmental work at
these places, and even quoted figures to show progress. At Wonderboom, Pretoria, he said:
`There is a Bantu making bricks, and he is employing Zwelitsha more than a hundred Bantu.`
At Umlazi, he claimed, there were more than 1,000 Africans employed.
To claim that Africans employed in these townships have to be thankful to the Bantustan
extravaganza is to stretch credulity rather too far. In ordinary circumstances, even if
these townships were urban townships and not peri-urban or border ones falling outside the
jurisdiction of the local authority, African labour would still have to be employed. In
fact, even for the building of White houses in the heart of Johannesburg or in any of the
cities and towns which the Nationalist government considers to be White areas, this
African labour would have been employed, since by White South African standards most hard
work is merely `kaffir work`.
But these employment opportunities are far from developing the Bantustan areas and
putting them on the road to `independence`.
Within the reserves themselves, how much progress has been made in establishing
industries to provide employment for the thousands who have no arable allotments and are
denied the opportunity to escape from the reserves to find employment in industrial
If the position were not so tragic, it would indeed be a joke. Here is a list of
industries in the Transkei:
The Vulindlela Furniture Factory near Umtata was built by the South African
Native Trust at a cost of £29,000. It produces creosoted poles, furniture, and timber,
and employs Africans as clerks, carpenters, and labourers. There are 64 African workers; labourers
are paid 6s. 6d. for each day worked, and carpenters earn £11 a month. There are
eleven Whites employed as superintendent, assistant superintendent, administrative
officer, mechanics, and works foremen. There are also African motor drivers.
Spilkin`s Clothing Factory: A private clothing concern employing 150 African
women at 16s. a week.
Madeira Cane and Wicker Works: Basket-making with African women workers, paid
at the rate of 15s. a week.
Mineral Factories: Nelson`s Mineral Factory and Kamki Mineral Factories
produce cool drinks.
Bread Manufacturing: Umtata Bakery, Collen`s Bakery, and Woodman`s Bakery.
Building: Several contractors for brickmaking and building; they employ mainly
Coloured for brick-laying, and some undertake carpentry with African labourers.
Motor Industry: There are twelve established garages for motor sales, repairs,
body building, and the like, employing Whites, Coloured, and Africans. Africans are
employed as labourers, handymen, and petrol attendants, with their wages scaled according
to length of service, from £I.10.0 a month.
Dairy Industry: Several dairy farms, for milk production, employ Africans with
wages running from 10s a month to about £6, depending on age, length of service, and
responsibility, such as whether the employees are used for driving trucks and vans.
Fencing Work in the reserves is being given out to private African
contractors, and by the middle of 1962 there were 160 at work, each employing a gang of
about ten men.
There is a sisal production scheme in its infancy, and employment is also
available on the plantations of the Transkeian Territorial Authority. There are
thirty-four such plantations in all, covering 13,723 acres, and the T.T.A. employs some
thirty two plantation foremen, with pay at the rate of £96 x £12 to £216 a year,
together with a fluctuating number of labourers according to season, with wages at the
rate of 2s. 6d. to 6s. 6d. a day worked by men, and 1s. 3d. a day worked by women, who are
treated as casual labourers. There are, in addition, about forty government plantations
and their produce is about the same in quantity as that of those under the T.T.A. White
Foresters, African Assistant Foresters, African clerks and labourers are employed on them.
The Bantu Investment Corporation had its share capital increased by £500,000 in 1962.
In the previous year the Corporation had made eighty-two loans to individuals for the
extension of existing business undertakings, and loans to individuals or partnerships for
new businesses. Forty-four of the loans had been to general dealers, eight to butcheries,
and others to a boarding house, a shoemaker, and an attorney. By September 1962 the
Corporation director said that only 1.5 per cent of the applications for loans had been
approved. Official reports state that by 1962 there were 316 African traders in the
Transkei and that Africans in the area owned about 300 bus services with 400 vehicles. 37
It has never really been the intention of the Nationalist government to encourage the
growth of a significant capitalist or middle class in the reserves by a programme of
massive industrialization. Indeed, to the very degree that it would be in the interests of
the landless and the dispossessed to have such industries established, such a development
would corrode the very foundations of the government`s apartheid policy.
The apartheid state rests squarely on the constant and readily available supply of
migrant labour; the Bantustan schemes simply ensure that the migrants have less foothold
than ever in the White state. Even stable urban African communities are to be turned into
migrants under the newest development, the 1964 Bantu Laws Amendment Act.
The government has no intention of letting Africans develop industries in their
`homelands` and so undermine the whole system of migrant labour. In any event - as no one
is more sharply aware than the government itself - Africans have not the wherewithal to
create industries. What small progress is being made in opening tiny enterprises in the
reserves, like a sweet factory, a tin smithy, or a show-and-saddle repair shop, can hardly
be called industrialization, and such are the frontiers set to present African middle
class advance, even with the help of government agencies. Africans are simply not in a
position to sustain any industrial programme that will create substantial employment
opportunities and so increase the carrying capacity of the reserves.
Yet White private capital, the government has declared, is not to be allowed to flow
into the reserves - except, that is, Nationalist capital, filtering into and near the
reserves in the guise of state capital. This is the way that the Nationalists intend to
feather their own economic nest through the new Bantustans. Combinations of private and
public capital have already been successfully employed in South Africa, and I.S.C.O.R (the
huge iron and steel corporation), S.A S.O.L. (the oil and chemical from coal plant), and
Zwelitsha itself are prominent examples.
Afrikaner capitalism built itself up by exploiting the racial sentiments of the
Afrikaner worker, but now it needs new territory for expansion. Competition from the
longer-established industrial enterprises under English and Jewish control is too fierce,
and so Nationalist capital is seeking for less crowded pastures. In the reserves the
machinery of the state, such as the pass laws, can be used to regiment large African
populations as cheap labour and as a market for the products of the new near reserve
The Nationalists have already cleared the record with White South Africa. The
government guarantees, they shout from every platform, to ensure the survival of the
Whites as a separate and a dominant racial group. There is only one way to remove the
cause of the White South African`s fears: the African must be sent back to his `natural
home` - the reserves. The reserves have vast agricultural and industrial possibilities. If
the Africans have not the resources to establish industries there themselves, then the
White manager, with his skills, his capital, and experience will establish them on behalf
of the Africans. And to that section of the African people whose cooperation is needed for
carrying out this scheme, there goes the promise that when Africans are ready to take over
the industrial enterprises, White control will be withdrawn.
The way has been carefully cleared for Nationalist capitalist ambitions. Collaborators
have been found among the Africans, and White South Africa has been persuaded that the
Nationalist entrepreneurs are ensuring not their bank balances but the future of the
`race`. The greenest pastures to which Nationalist enterprises will trek will be on the
White border-side of the reserves. Here the countless people dispossessed of their land
will be settled in reserve locations near enough to the border to enable this new labour
force daily to cross to work in the White-owned factories situated on the other side.
Such factories will have considerable advantages over others in the established
industrial centres. They will operate in areas outside those affected by industrial
legislation agreements and will therefore pay very low wages. They will be under no
obligation to provide amenities for their labour, because the workers are, after all, `in
their own areas`, and the responsibility for housing them rests with the Bantu Affairs
Department.38 This will mean in practice, of course, that the Africans themselves will be
made to bear the entire burden of transport and public health services, housing, and
When the border industries are competently established, it is quite clear that the
Nationalist government will provide them with preferential treatment. Traders in the
reserves will almost certainly be coerced to give preference to products of Nationalist
concerns. And if, as a result of this competition, factories in the towns close down, the
nationalists will invoke job reservation to keep White workers in employment, while
calling on the Whites, as part of the sacrifices they agreed to make for apartheid, to
provide the money to help unproductive workers maintain White standards.
The Nationalist planners want the Africans to pay the costs of building the new
capitalist empire of Afrikanerdom, and the Whites, should they be required to do so, must
shoulder the consequences. The whole scheme for separate development will in this way be
harnessed to diverting the labour and purchasing power of the Africans into Nationalist
controlled business concerns.
The Bantu Investment and Development Corporation fits neatly into this pattern. By
providing small financial aid to the African middle class it will `bribe` the
beneficiaries to remain quiescent, while enabling the government, through the officials of
the Bantu Affairs Department, to keep a constant eye on those who obtain loans and engage
In keeping with the contention that African businessmen require guidance, the B.A.D. is
sending out field workers to show Africans how to run their business, and those who get
loans will have no choice but to submit themselves to the closest control by these
Africans rarely have security when they apply for loans. Traders and artisans without
landed property constitute an `unsafe risk`, and loans will accordingly be advanced to
them only under strict supervision. The regulations for holders of trading licences in
urban and rural locations are already a pointer to this supervision. For instance, no
trader can employ a salesman until he has the approval of the Location Superintendent.
The second and more important purpose of the Investment and Development Corporation is
to provide the Nationalist controlled industrial concerns and finance institutions with
the opportunity to control the purchasing power and savings of the Africans. The
Nationalists will use a small percentage of the Corporation funds - those contributed by
Africans themselves to implement the fraud of Bantu Authorities, but most of the
Corporation`s resources will finance the establishment of border industries, finding their
way into Nationalist-controlled institutions for the payment of expansion.
According to the Report of the Tomlinson Commission, the Investment and Development
Corporation `will be the central body for promoting capital formation through commercial
institutions, and for making long and short term capital available to its own and other
This object is to be achieved by the establishment of:
A Bantu Commercial Bank, with branches in the Bantu Areas and in Bantu Locations.
A Bantu Savings and Credit Bank which, in addition to providing savings facilities, and
personal loans, would normally undertake industrial banking, in respect of Bantu sole
traders, partnerships, and other small undertakings, and would provide them with capital
on longer terms than can be obtained from the commercial banks.
A Bantu Insurance Company which will . . . grant loans on mortgage to Bantu landowners.
The Report further envisages that `small insurance companies already established by the
Bantu` should participate in this Company, or that the Corporation itself `might also
consider establishing the Company as a joint subsidiary in which other insurance companies
in the Union could participate`.
A Bantu Building Society would operate on terms similar to those outlined above.
The golden thread that links these projected `Bantu` institutions with others that are
not `Bantu` glitters through the scheme. Middle group Africans, traders, independent
artisans, and farmers with land will be held to ransom by the conditions that they have to
satisfy in order to get loans. Their savings and the purchasing power of the Africans as a
whole will be swallowed up by the Investment Corporation which, in turn, will reinvest
these funds in Nationalist controlled finance institutions acting as joint subsidiaries
with the `Bantu` companies.
The purchasing power of the people will be confined to their own areas, where it can be
spent only at approved business places, and so, in the course of time, Nationalist finance
experts hope to obtain the largest slice of it - calculated to total £400,000,000 a year
at present - and to place it at the disposal of the small group of Nationalist capitalists
who have seized hold of the state machinery. The policy of apartheid thus promises to be
more profitable than it has ever been. Its apostles have cast the bread upon the waters,
but have been careful that it is not their own slice, in case it is never recovered. If,
as they hope, it will be returned multiplied, theirs will not have been the risk, as
theirs will not have been the cost.
If experience is a teacher, South Africa should have learnt a lesson from what has
happened wherever the majority on a town council has slipped into the hands of the
nationalists. Banking accounts have been transferred from non-Nationalist banks to a bank
under Nationalist control. A few days after the Under-Secretary had announced the
willingness of the Bantu Affairs Department to help African traders in the Transkei
establish a wholesale firm, the Transkeian Territorial Authority passed a resolution
demanding the withdrawal of investments, which had been previously placed with
non-Nationalist town councils, and their placing with the Bantu Investment and Development
Corporation. It will not be surprising if African-controlled insurance companies are
advised to re-insure with one of the Nationalist controlled insurance companies. In their
desperate bid to build their economic empire the Nationalists claim everything for
Like entrepreneurs everywhere, they are also anxious to hold on to what they have, or
hope to get, and they are making every effort to break down the hostility of certain
elements in the population of the reserves, to find allies within African ranks. the
chiefs are already being skillfully manipulated, and now there are promises of substantial
opportunity for other Africans in the new Bantustans, who are to fill the posts
intermediate between the top directorate and the unskilled labourer. Such collaborators
would reap the benefit from such subsidiary enterprises as trading stores, eating houses,
and the processing of raw materials, so that another small sector of reserve society may
be given a vested interest in apartheid.
Throughout South Africa`s history capital has shown no tendency to move from the
industrialized centres to the reserves. The Nationalists know that it would have to be
tempted there with the hope of greater profit than can be realized in the existing
industrialized areas. This is one of the purposes of the border industries and the border
In 1962 the government announced a five year plan for the development of the reserves.
During the period from 1961-2 to 1965-6, the government proposes to spend 114,342,269
Rands (2 Rands = £I) on schemes such as:
90,155 houses, to be built in 33 villages or `Bantu towns`;
5,000 further plots to be prepared for sale to Africans;
2,761 miles of roads and 71 bridges;
a further 14,911 morgen of land to be irrigated, and 8,743 families to be settled there;
1,329 dams and 1,531 boreholes to be built;
30,000 miles of boundary and soil conservation fencing to be erected;
10,000 morgen to be planted with fibres;
and 129 new dipping tanks to be built.
The anticipated expenditure on the items is:
|Houses and development of villages
Staff accommodation stores and workshops
Roads and bridges
Dams and boreholes
Contour banks and grass strips
Auction pens for stock
This amount applies to all the reserves, throughout the country of course. Noticeable
especially is that almost three-quarters of the money is to be spent on houses, so that
peasants may be shunted into these Bantustan border area towns or townships. Most of the
towns will be merely dormitories for the families of landless migrant labourers.
The Tomlinson Commission calculated that close to two million Africans would have to be
taken off the land and found other occupations, but this seems to be an under-estimate.
Professor Hobart Houghton of Rhodes University 40 found that in the Kingwilliamstown
experiment to re-settle non-agricultural families hardly more than one third of the
population in the area could be supported, and that two thirds of the population, with all
natural increase in the future, would accordingly have to find employment. No amount of
agricultural reform on its own would solve the problem of poverty in the reserves, the
professor said, and the only answer was to create alternative employment on a massive
scale - some 300,000 jobs at ;£10 a month.
The professor declared that in some of the non-agricultural settlements established
there was still acute poverty; and he quoted from a survey that he had conducted into one
of the three Bantu towns of the Ciskei (the government has planned forty in all).
This was the Bantu Township of Kayaletu, in the district of Victoria East. Families
there, he had found, were still largely dependent on the earnings of migrants. No firm
economic foundation had been created for the settlement, and many families were still
living - and dying - in abject poverty. The remittances from migrant workers in the towns
did not adequately support their families back home in Kayaletu, for such wages are based
on the belief that they are supplemented by subsistence income from land and cattle in the
reserves, and in these small nonagricultural settlements this is not the case.
`Agricultural rehabilitation offers those who secure full economic units a reasonable
prospect of adequate support and a united family life. The admitted evils of the migratory
labour system have been removed from them, but will in future be concentrated upon those
families which the land can no longer support. These people are committed to perpetual
migrancy, and these new urban centres will become slums littered by the fragments of
broken families and oppressed by poverty unless industries in or near their homes are
Thousands of peasant families wait to be absorbed in these mythical new industries,
while the government swamps the already overcrowded reserves with more and more landless
and workless people, deported under the policy of apartheid from the cities, and from the
industries of the Western Cape.
The Tomlinson Commission estimated in 1954 that some £I00 million over the next ten
years - or an average of £10 million a year - would have to be sunk in the reserves if
they were to support their existing populations and natural increase.
In a paper on ` Border Industries ` read to the Race Relations Conference, 41 the
economist Harold Fridjon quoted the estimate made by Professor W. A. Lewis in 1953 that
£1,000 for each man to be employed is necessary to capitalize industry in underdeveloped
countries. Between 1946 and 1959, the total number of people employed in South African
industries rose from 374,300 to 648,300, or by just over 270,000, and during this period,
total fixed capital employed in industry increased by £406 million to a total of £505
million. During this period, therefore, £1,493 was invested per head of additional
manpower employed. Even if this figure is taken as excessive, because heavy investments
were made after the war in projects with high initial costs like S.A.S.O.L. and
I.S.C.O.R., and the estimate by Professor Lewis is employed instead, £500 million would
be necessary to provide jobs in industry for the 500,000 wage earners who will have to
support the 300,000 families removed from the land in terms of the Tomlinson proposals. In
other words, to cope with only part of the country`s needs, the present capital investment
in industry would have to be doubled. And this is besides the money required to provide
the necessary infrastructure which is inseparable from further industrialization.
The money spent in 1961-2 on the development of the reserves, on Bantu administration
and development, represented 7.02 per cent of the total estimated expenditure for the
Chiefs in the Saddle
Transkei test case
The deterioration of the peasant economy has reached a dangerous point. The decline in
productivity and the absence of local industries have forced increasing numbers of
peasants on to the labour market, while the general economy has not expanded sufficiently
to absorb the landless army of peasants. The migration to the towns has given rise to
appalling slums, while far worse, from the government point of view, has been the
incompatibility between the steep rise in urban African population (over one million
between 1951 and 1960) and its professed aim of separate development.
It was obvious, and the Tomlinson Report so recommended, that something would have to
be done to arrest the deterioration in the reserves. The government began by implementing
proposals that had been put forward as far back as 1945 under the title of `a new era of
Reclamation`. This envisaged the removal of landless peasants to towns or urban
settlements within the reserves, whose residents would depend on wages earned by men
employed either in local industries or in the big towns. Peasants who remained on the land
would be expected to farm under supervision on so called `economic plots` of about eight
acres each. Grazing and cultivated land would be controlled.
These measures inevitably antagonized the peasants, who were suspicious of any
interference by a hostile authority in their traditional way of life. Above all, those who
were being pushed off the land were bitterly resentful. They forfeited the right to graze
stock and had to abandon the one form of security to which they clung - the occupation of
an arable plot with the right to share the common pasturage.
The stubborn resistance of the peasantry held up administrative reforms for some time,
but then, with the establishment of Bantu Authorities, the government could try and crack
down forcing the Chiefs to comply. Many have been the techniques that the Chiefs have
employed to implement government policy against the will of the people, but they have not
broken popular resistance and their conduct has even increased it.
In the last few years the government has taken stern measures to prevent any further
soil erosion, by constructing miles and miles of contours, ensuring that portions of the
peasants` small arable holdings are left fallow, and disallowing use of some of the worst
eroded lands. The critics say that the government prograrmme for land rehabilitation is
slow, and that the land cannot ever support the millions of peasants in the reserves as
well as the huge numbers thrown out of the cities by the pass laws. The government`s
honey-birds say in reply: `Come and see the contours. 42. `The government quotes figures
for the miles of fencing erected to limit the pasturage to its carrying capacity and to
keep out the stock of persons resident in neighbouring locations. And the government says:
` For this the only gratitude we get from the ignorant Balltu is to plough across these
contours or cut these fences. If progress appears to be slow, it is because the government
has to battle against such odds.` Whites are often taken in by this argument and agree
that it is difficult to know just what the Africans want. But are the peasants in the
reserves delighted to see their land eroded? Are they grateful for the growing decrease in
productivity, which has become obvious even to those who are uninitiated in better farming
methods and agricultural economics? Do they welcome the high death rate of their stock
through lack of vegetation? And if they are not satisfied with all this, why do they
oppose measures meant to achieve what they also want - fertile land covered with
life-giving vegetation, fattened and increasing stock, and greater yields of food?
A bare outline, in passing, of the essential features of the government land
reclamation schemes in the reserves may help to place in proper perspective the
uncompromising opposition of the peasants.
The government, with the support of the overwhelming majority of White South Africans,
persists in regarding the reserves as the home of all Africans. Yet not only have these
areas been neglected, but under present farming conditions are heavily over-stocked and
over-populated. The failure to make a success of farming in these areas is not the fault
of the Africans who live there. Given the same conditions, White or any other farmers
would be reduced to the same position as the African peasant, and the land would have been
exhausted to the same extent.
What then is the effect of the government measures? Because there are more peasants
than the land can support, the government has introduced periodic reductions of stock, and
has limited the privilege of owning stock at all. Only those who have arable allotments
are allowed to graze stock on the pasturage, and the total number of stock owned is
limited in accordance with the carrying capacity of the pasturage.
The peasants claim that this measure is intended to impoverish them. It bars the door
of opportunity to those who may not own cattle or may not graze all the cattle that they
wish to acquire.
The rehabilitation measures require that those whose lands are being reclaimed by the
building of contours should only keep a portion - two thirds of the arable allotment -
under cultivation at any one time, while the other third is left to lie fallow. Those who
do not own an allotment are being removed to work colonies for the landless, which the
government prefers to call Bantustan towns.
The peasants claim that the application of these measures is merely reducing the
cultivators to a state of even greater impoverishment. They may use only a portion of
their already small and inadequate arable allotments, while those who do not own such
allotments at all are being pressed into an army of mine and farm workers who, together
with their children and their children`s children, will be condemned to live in perpetual
want and insecurity.
Unmindful of these arguments, the government proceeds with its rehabilitation schemes,
turning to the Chiefs and offering to those whose areas will accept rehabilitation
measures appropriate incentives: increased special stipends, increased land allotments,
words of praise and places of honour, and, behind all, the right to continue as government
appointed Chiefs. With these fruits of office dangling before them, the Chiefs often
commit peasants to acceptance of the rehabilitation scheme without consulting them. Then,
when preparations are made for the implementation of the scheme - fencing material is
piled up at various points in the location and teams arrive to start work on the contours
- the peasants question with surprise the cause of all this activity. Where was this
scheme discussed and accepted, they ask? And now the Chief hits back at them mercilessly.
The instigators of the discontent are brought to the `Bush Court` 43 with the greatest
haste and the least formality.
Some pretext is found to confront the hostile peasants with a charge for which a heavy
fine is prescribed, and invariably those charged are convicted, because the charge they
are facing in the captive court is merely a cover to hit at them for their opposition to
government plans for their land.
The initiation of land betterment schemes has taken place on a comparatively wide scale
throughout the reserves. Barbed wire fences have been unrolled, dams have been
constructed, and there has been the rigorous application of the regulations relating to
the reduction of stock.
Yet the government has hardly touched the fringes of the problem. The reserves still
cannot provide even a bare subsistence level of life for all its inhabitants. Taken to
task in Parliament for not having spent more on the development of the reserves, the Bantu
Affairs Department Minister argued that the government was obliged to handle with care a
situation which might be explosive if the pace were increased. ` We do not want to force
this developmental work upon the Bantu who is conservative by nature. the moment you try
to force it on him you make an enemy of him. 44 When else has the Nationalist government
taken into consideration the feelings of the people, one might ask?
Expenditure on the scheme has been low because the government uses compulsory unpaid
labour. The Minister himself admits this. He told Parliament ` The fact of the matter is
that by making use of the services of the community we are carrying out those same works
at half the cost estimated by the Tomlinson Commission.` He cited the case of a dam which
cost the Smuts government £15,000 to construct, while the government was, with forced
labour, building a similar dam `at the cost of £800 or £1,000`. Compulsory unpaid labour
not only robs the peasants of the meagre £3 - £4 a month which they would otherwise
earn, but saps their energy and their time.
This unpaid compulsory labour adds insult to the injury already suffered by the
peasants in the new Bantustans. Men who should be earning a living in the industrial
centres have been dumped in the reserves and there drafted into work teams to dig holes
for the creosote poles and erect the barbed wire fences - without pay - under the
supervision of paid officials. The women, meanwhile, must make their own contribution by
cooking for the teams of forced labour or carrying the fencing materials on their heads
from the depot to the working teams. Officialdom does not provide the women with the food
that they must cook for the work teams; they must find it themselves, and if any woman has
to leave her own children without a meal it is an eventuality that the Chief or government
official happily overlooks. For authority all that matters is that the woman must comply
with the order to provide food for the working teams when her turn comes. Failure to
comply with the order is punished as defiance of authority; a complaint against its
harshness is punished as incitement to disobedience. Mute acceptance of orders and the
tacit endurance of hardship is the only response allowed. 45
More and more public works, such as road making, contour building, the removal of
noxious weeds, the repairing of dipping tanks, and the construction of houses for the
Chiefs, come under the category of services to which compulsory unpaid labour is drafted.
For many years the peculiar situation existed in the reserves whereby both judicial and
administrative functions were performed by a single man - the magistrate or Bantu
Commissioner, to give him his official title.
Most cases that came before the courts, especially civil ones - with the possible
exception of those involving traders and their debtors - were between Africans, and the
Commissioner presided over them all.
Apart from faction fighting there is little serious crime in the country areas, and so
most of the criminal cases in the reserves have arisen out of some law or decree,
controlling the lives of rural Asians in the interests of White supremacy. Anxious to see
that government policy is carried out with the least possible hindrance, therefore, the
Bantu Commissioners have waged an untiring struggle to eliminate the lawyer from their
courts, and to settle themselves not only disputes between Africans but also criminal
prosecutions for the contravention of government decrees. A Xhosa expression sums up the
lack of confidence that the peasants have in such judicial administration - `ngaphandle
kweGQwetha usisisulu setilongo` (the surest way of going to jail is to appear in court
without a lawyer).
Bitter legal struggles involving thousands of pounds have taken place in the reserves
over measures leading to the administration of land, stock limitation and cattle dipping
regulations. In dealing with these, the Commissioners have found the normal legal
procedure cumbersome, and the presence of a lawyer has delayed the full implementation of
government plans. The government has accordingly always viewed it as desirable to
eliminate lawyers altogether from the machinery of law administration in the reserves. On
the other hand, the peasant believes that by taking advantage of available legal
processes, he delays the evil day when the government will have subdued him altogether.
And the money spent in that struggle has been quietly accepted as a fair enough price to
Now a concerted effort is being made by the Chiefs and Bantu Affairs Department
officials to place all civil cases between Africans, and all criminal cases that are
within the jurisdiction of the Chiefs, before Bantu Authorities Tribunals.
The Nationalist government has two aims here. First, the Bantu Commissioner will be
left free to devote all his time to seeing that government policy is carried out, for this
is his true role. Secondly, the government hopes the Chiefs may succeed, where the
Commissioners have failed, in breaking down the resistance of the peasant and draining him
of substance by the imposition of heavy fines for minor offences.
How is this new machinery working in the Bantustans? In the first place the Bantu
Authorities Tribunals have become the courts of first instance. The Commissioner`s Courts
- where lawyers may still be briefed - have won a new status. They are now Courts of
My own research work in the Transkei reveals that both in the districts where the power
of the Chiefs had declined before the establishment of Bantu Authorities and in those
where the Chiefs still exercise some influence on the people, the roll of civil cases
heard in the Bantu Commissioner`s Court has declined noticeably. In the districts where
chieftainship has been long established, there is already a significant decline in the
number of minor criminal cases heard in the Commissioner`s Courts, as these have now been
diverted to the Bantu Authorities Tribunals. In the districts where the power of the
Chiefs had been almost completely broken down, the number of crimins1 cases, which include
appeals from the Chief-run Bush Courts, is on the increase. This is attributable to the
fact that normally law-abiding people have found themselves far more frequently
contravening one or other petty regulation, such as disobeying a Chief to whom they feel
no particular loyalty. Almost invariably people convicted in the Bush Courts for such
offences have appealed to the Commissioner`s Courts, thus swelling the rolls there.
How do these Bush Courts work?
If a complainant wishes the Court to take up his case, he pays a minimum fee of £1 - a
practice which is commonly known as `Ukunrnda InEundla` (To open the Court). A panel of
men appointed by the Chief and approved of by the Bantu Commissioner then conducts the
Not infrequently, where the complainant gets a favourable judgment and is awarded
damages, he shares the award with the Chief. For instance where a complainant brings an
adultery case against another, and wins his case, the Chief gets at least a beast out of
the damages and costs, or its value in money - £10 to £15. This has become such a source
of easy income for some Chiefs and their hangers-on that in the Transkei`s small villages
the Chief`s fast swelling bank and building society accounts have become subjects of
In several areas where the people show a disinclination to hand over cases to the Bush
Court, there is developing a class of paid `accusers`, who are believed to be acting on
the Chief`s instructions. The function of such hirelings is to concoct a civil claim
against some of the more wealthy peasants who show any sign of resistance to government
policy or the rule of the Chiefs.
When the Chief requires the accused to appear before him, he usually writes a short
note in which he tells him to appear on a certain date, but without stating the purpose.
Naturally this type of procedure is highly resented by the peasants, who often have to
travel scores of miles to get to the Bush Court. One man who decided to write and find out
why the Chief wanted to see him, received the following reply:
I wish to inform you that my instructions that you should appear before me on the
appointed date cannot be ignored by you. I have to instruct you once more to appear before
me at ... on ... at.......... Should you fail to comply with this instruction I will be
reluctantly compelled to institute compulsory means to cause your appearance as
To forestall the growth of a disgruntled group of professional men, the Nationalist
government is already canvassing the few African attorneys in the Transkei to take up
positions in the Bantustan establishment. They are being promised positions as
`magistrates` and ` judges` amongst their people.
One attorney has been appointed a Chief at an official monthly salary of £30 - made up
partly from the Bantu Affairs Department account and partly from tribal funds. He will
compensate for the loss of his practice by making more money. And in addition he can
readily surround himself with comforts by calling upon the people to impose a levy on
themselves for such purposes as to buy the Chief a car - usually referred to as a `horse
for the Chief`. In the Transkei a number of Chiefs are being bought these ` horses `. As
an increasing number of attorneys choose this easier path to wealth, and to infamy, the
people are being deprived of all legal protection in the courts of law.
Here is a sample of the information supplied by a number of attorneys whom I
interviewed in a survey of the Transkei:
No attorney is allowed to appear in the Bush Court.
There is hardly any recording of evidence in these courts, so that any appeal from them
to the Commissioner`s Courts are de novo.
The fines in the Bush Courts are exorbitant - usually the maximum allowed.
The Chiefs regard the attorneys as a nuisance who undermine their authority and make
their work difficult.
A cautious lawyer summed it up with a good deal of understatement: `I have the
impression that the interests of justice will be jeopardized and there may be
malpractices. In the legal profession there is already a certain amount of concern and
anxiety over its future.`
The Chiefs are naturally very proud and conscious of their newly acquired status. They
feel insulted when litigants resort to the Commissioner`s Courts and to lawyers, and they
employ all means at their disposal to discourage people from using these channels.
It was left to the Chief Bantu Commissioner, who is also Chief Magistrate of the
Transkei, to tell councillors how they could raise their stipends and increase their
allowance. After expressing sympathy with a resolution to raise the headmen`s stipends, he
told the Authority that there was only one source from which it could be possible to
provide for such an increase, and that was an imposition of a tax on the community. `I am
not going to suggest any specific amount that should be paid to the head of a tribal
authority,` he said, ` but from my own knowledge of other districts I can assure you that
they are paid.` He went on to assure the councillors that he was going to hold a meeting
at which he intended to have a full discussion on how to squeeze more money by way of
taxes from the people for tribal funds; and if that could be done, he added, it would be
an answer to the motion before councillors.
Who is to pay for these Bantustans? The government has been quick to relieve White
taxpayers of any anxiety they may have that they will have to dip into their own pockets.
Increased powers, the government has told the Chiefs, go hand in hand with increased
duties and added responsibilities. Taxation of their subjects was one of the functions
which the Bantu Authorities should not shirk.
The burden of taxation on the peasants in the reserves is the most serious source of
popular discontent. Every year a multitude of motions is tabled before the Transkeian
Territorial Authority, pressing for increases in subsistence and travelling allowances to
the Chiefs and their lieutenants who attend meetings connected with the operation of the
1. That transport allowances applicable to councillors be raised from 7d. (6c.) to 2s.
(20c.) and from 8d. (7c.) to 2s. 6d. (25c.) per mile to meet the rising costs of
travelling. 2 That chairmen of district authorities be paid a subsistence allowance of
12s. 6d. (R1.25c.) and a travelling allowance of 7d. (6c.) for every mile necessarily
travelled for each day`s visit to the District Authority Office.
A number of other motions relating to finance press for an increase in the stipends of
headmen. Here is a typical motion and the supporting argument:
That the government be respectfully requested to increase the stipends of all heads of
tribal community authorities who are headmen so as to be the same as those of sub-chiefs.
[In support of this motion, the mover argued:] What they (headmen) are doing now is part
of what the magistrates used to do.
Emphasizing the need for an increase in headmen`s allowances, the seconder of the
The bulk of the Bantu people are under the impression that the heads of tribal
authorities have had their status increased, and it is a well-known fact that they perform
the same duties as those performed by sub-chiefs.
The implication is that the stipends should be raised in order to surround the heads of
tribal authorities with an aura of respectability in the eyes of the peasants. An even
more significant purpose is to bribe the Chiefs to stand by the government
One of the really startling features of the whole Bantustan project is the almost
sensational increase in the stipends of salaries paid to the Chiefs. Headmen used to start
on £12 a year, and after 16 years of good and loyal service, reached the maximum of £32.
The Nationalist government began, in 1950, to bribe the Chiefs. It introduced two
scales for headmen in that year. One group was placed on the scale £30 X 6 - £96, and
the other on the scale £24 X 6 - £52. In addition, all headmen received a bonus of £8 a
year for collecting tax. The four most important Chiefs were paid £900, £750, £600 and
Headmen were given another rise a few years later. They were graded according to the
number of taxpayers in their areas, and paid on a corresponding scale. Those at the bottom
of the scale received £60 a year in basic allowance and bonus; those at the top of the
scale received £144. The salaries of the four most important Chiefs were increased to
£1,200, £900, £800 and £600. Chief Kaizer Matanzima, who is not a Paramount Chief,
In 1960 the government announced a further 25 per cent increase all round, and a
doubling of the tax-collection bonus. This raised the headmen`s salaries to £88 for those
at the bottom of the scale and £224 for those at the top.
The introduction of the Transkeian Legislative Assembly has been made an occasion for
giving the Chiefs still bigger bribes, for the reward must be made sufficiently attractive
to overcome opposition. The headmen do not get more pay - they are now the underlings of
the Chiefs. It is the Chiefs who benefit from the new order. The four Paramount Chiefs
(who are ex officio members of the Assembly) receive £2,000 a year each. This is also the
salary of the Chief Minister, who is the `head of government`. Other Ministers get
£1,700. Chief Matanzima gets a special reward of £1,000 a year though he is not a
Paramount Chief. The salaries of seven other Chiefs range from £110 to £300. Chiefs who
are members of the Legislative Assembly get, in addition, £400.
For the first time in South African history, the government is paying a Black man more
than a White. The scale of a Bantu Affairs Commissioner is £1,440 X 6 - £1,620.
The salaries of Chiefs and headmen were formerly paid from the general revenue, but the
Transkeian Constitution Act makes them a charge on the Transkeian Revenue Fund. This Fund
consists of various taxes, fines and levies, plus an annual grant from the Consolidated
Revenue Fund, which is to reimburse the Transkeian Territorial Authority for expenditure
on matters transferred to it from the Republic government. The cost of the new Legislative
Assembly is clearly not such a matter. It will have to pay its way without a subsidy for
the salaries of its members.
The present Transkeian budget, however, cannot feasibly bear the cost of these
salaries, which are quite out of keeping with former standards. In 1962, the total income
was £683,982, almost all of which was spent during the financial year. The peasants will
have to pay. Already in 1961, when the expenditure was at a comparatively low level, the
White officials told the Transkeian Territorial Authority that there had been a decrease
in tax collections every year and that there was no money to pay the increases which the
Chiefs demanded. He could not understand, he said, why there was a decrease. ` There must
always be an increase because the population increases,` he said.
His statement typifies the inhumanity of apartheid policies and those who enforce them.
The Bantu Commissioner counts heads and expects a corresponding amount in taxes. It does
not dawn on him that the implementation of the Bantu Authorities system and the harsh
influx control regulations operating in the urban areas have had the joint effect of
impoverishing the peasants even more.
`Nobody likes to pay taxes,` he says. In his mind these arrears are no more than
conscious evasions of tax by malcontents. An African must find the money to pay his taxes
for the implementation of apartheid, irrespective of whether he earns it or not. By the
1961 session of the T.T.A., however, the Chief Bantu Commissioner no longer displayed
absolute confidence in his African collaborators. He complained: `It is unfair of you to
ask my Bantu Affairs Commissioners, who are already overburdened with the terrific amount
of work thrust upon them, to give this matter much more attention.` But the Chiefs and
headmen on the other hand also claimed that they had taken over considerable dudes which
had previously devolved on Bantu Commissioners. For the additional work which necessitated
their travelling by taxi or other public transport, they required an increase in their
wages and their travelling allowances. ` I appeal to you in your own interests,` replied
the Chief Bantu Commissioner, `to collect the outstanding amounts due.... Use every means
in your power to assist your Bantu Affairs Commissioners; to assist your messengers (of
the court) and their deputies to bring in this amount.`
Councillors brought forward ingenious suggestions to facilitate the collection of the
general levy (Impundulu) and other taxes. Councillor E. A. Pinyana suggested that the
Transkei Territorial Authority should devise ways and means of persuading the employers to
collect this money. Although the Councillor made the important admission that `when the
messenger of the court goes to the dipping tank in order to attach cattle for the unpaid
taxes he finds the young man has no cattle,` he still did not attribute the failure to pay
the taxes to poverty.
Another dynamic proposal came from Councillor C. W. Monakali. The Recess Committee on
Finance, of which he was Chairman, proposed that the Chiefs be employed as tax collectors!
`When the scheme of appointing (Chiefs`) representatives in the towns matures, then our
representatives will meet the representatives of the employers of labour and there they
will find ways of collecting the outstanding taxes belonging to those area.` 47 The
(White) Supervisory Officer pointed out that the Bantu Affairs Department had already
sought unsuccessfully to arrange for stop order facilities with big employers in the
industrial areas to collect these taxes. The principal difficulty had been that while
everybody in the country knew the general tax, the local tax, and quit-rent, the Transkei
had other rates to consider. In his words: `In addition there is the general levy, the
balance of the health rate still owing, stock rate and about seventy different kinds of
Bantu Authority rates, location levies, tribal levies and so forth.`
Who must pay taxes? Every male over the age of 18 even if he has neither land nor work.
Every widowed woman, for though a woman is under every other law declared a ` child `
dependent on the male heir, in matters of taxation she assumes the position of the absent
Rates and taxes are levied to run the Bantu Education schools where the children are
trained to accept subservience to White authority; to meet the deficits in the Territorial
Authority budget. For some of the taxes the peasants have their own names; others are
known just as taxes. One of those for which a name has been found is called ` Impundulu` _
the blood_sucker tax _ but most of the taxes are regarded as such.
In addition to the legalized taxes, which are announced by proclamation, there are the
smaller unofficial taxes, extorted from individuals by the Chiefs before granting a permit
for one thing or another. A peasant will pay for a permit to cut wood, to cut thatching
grass, to brew beer, to hold initiation rites for boys and girls. And not only must these
numerous unrecorded taxes be paid to the Chief, but a bribe must also be paid to the
toadies around him, since without their cooperation the Chief`s consent for the permit may
not be obtained. The Chief wants such men around him in order to feel secure, and he
therefore allows them Latitude to farm an income for themselves on the side_lines, so as
not to have to pay them himself for the services they render him.
There are other taxes for the Chief too, for the people are told that they must buy
goods for the `father` (the Chief) and the `mother` (the Chief`s wife). Large sums of
money have been collected in this way to buy the more ambitious Chiefs flashy American
motor cars; and often a costume with suitable accessories is bought for the `mother` as a
present, when the `father` is presented with his car.
Failure to pay the legalized taxes is an offence punishable by a period of
imprisonment, at the end of which the defaulter is not relieved from the payment of the
tax for which he has already languished in jail. Alternatively failure to pay the arrear
tax is dealt with as a civil matter and stock is attached, while failure to pay the poll
tax may even result in confiscation of land. Although failure to pay the unofficial taxes
is not subject to the same conditions for recovery, whoever refuses to pay such a tax is
made to produce the money elsewhere, as when, on some pretext or other, he appears at
the_Bush Court charged with some offence.
The lives of the people in the Bantustans are thus being regimented into conformity
with a carefully prescribed pattern: to be loyal to one`s Chief and to authority in
general; to obey orders. Peasants are commanded when to plough and when to reap; when
their families may have a beer drink, and how much of it; when young men must come to the
Chief`s place to find out if there is any work for them in industrial centres; when all
men must come to the Chiefs place to hear new decrees from the government.
For years the Bantu Commissioner had to enforce the numerous regulations - most of
which only existed on paper that govern life in the reserves. And White officialdom did
not prod too hard, for fear that the horse would bolt. In the last six years, however,
though the whip has remained in the hand of the White government, it has been the Chiefs,
the new jockeys riding the reserve horse, who have applied the spurs. The Chiefs are now
well in the saddle.
Grouped around them are the headmen, their representatives in the villages. Their
ministers and informers try to be everywhere. For they must do their job properly if they
are to survive. The Nationalist government has turned the Chiefs into the pivot of the
Bantustan scheme. They constitute a ruling aristocracy, but one directly answerable to the
government. The Chiefs are Chiefs because the government has ordained that they may be so.
They are stronger than they have ever been under White occupation - and they are expected
to use their powers to keep quiescent not only the great mass of the dispossessed Africans
in the new settlements, but the land holders and small middle class as well.
The Nationalist government is working on the theory that if it can keep a firm grip on
the Chiefs, they in turn will swing a threatening club over the heads of the middle-class
elements, while together the Chiefs and middle-class elements keep the peasantry
The Chiefs have important powers to control both the landholding group and the traders,
for it is the Chiefs who allocate the land and issue the trading licences.
The land-holders in the reserves will constitute a privileged class of peasantry, but
for their offspring the future is no brighter than for the landless. As under the old
set-up, the eldest son alone will succeed to the occupational rights of the original
land-holder, but now other children will be condemned to life in the settlements.
For the traders there is equally little security, since there can be no security for
anyone when failure to satisfy a corrupt Chief, or false information by an informer, may
be enough to lead to the cancellation of a trading licence.
As for the landless and the dispossessed, they will have nothing at all, let alone
favours to repay. They have hatred and contempt for the hireling Chiefs, and resentment
breaking into open rebellion at their rule.
Resistance and Rebellion
The Peasants Rise
South African peasants have a long history of resistance to oppression. They know what
it is to be crushed by the armed forces of the Whites, to be imprisoned without trial,
banished to desolate parts of the country, and banned from normal social contact.
Since the enforcement of the Nationalist Party`s policies by harsh and frequently
violent means, peasant resistance has been widespread and organized. Africans have
resisted forcible removal from their homes to new territory. They have opposed the
imposition of Bantu Authorities, the extension of passes to women, and schemes for the
rehabilitation and reallocation of land.
Between 1946 and 1962 risings have been provoked in Witzieshoek, on the border of
Basutoland; in Marico, just south of Bechuanaland; in Sekhukhuneland, in the north-west
Transvaal; in Zululand, on the South Coast; and throughout the Transkei, especially in
Pondoland. They have been suppressed with brutal force.
The Witzieshoek `disturbances` resulted in 14 Africans shot dead, and two policemen
killed. 48 Many Africans were arrested and imprisoned. The leaders, including old Chief
Paulus Mopeli, were deported. Mopeli is still in banishment; for 14 years he has not seen
his home. As elsewhere, the dispute culminated in violence because of the government`s
open indifference to the peasants` complaints.
The dispute arose over land and stock. The Witzieshoek reserve is a tiny fragment of
what was once Sotho territory, annexed by the Boers in the 1860s.
The reserve was given by treaty with the Orange Free State in 1867 to the
great-grandfather of Paulus Mopeli, and his tribesmen. Nearly a century later the peasants
(descendants of the original owners of the Free State) were ordered to cull their stock
and to cease using the watersheds as grazing land because of the effect on the `White`
farming area lower down. No alternative land was offered them.
These stock farmers refused to cull their cattle, and they cut the fences enclosing
their grazing ground. They petitioned the Minister in 1947 to appoint a commission that
would inquire into their grievances. The government refused their request and ordered the
culling to continue. 49 When the government eventually appointed a commission in November
1950, it was too late to avoid bloodshed.
Witzieshoek opened a decade of turbulence and struggle against apartheid and its
armoury of unjust laws. Many thousands took part in the great Defiance Campaign of 1951/2;
masses of women demonstrated against the pass laws; parents, children and teachers
protested against the Bantu Education Act. These protests were centred in the towns but
had their repercussions in the reserves.
Early in 1957, in the Transvaal, a major peasant revolt broke out against the extension
of pass laws to women.
The government had introduced a new weapon in the Bantu Authorities Act, which the
people had dubbed `Uzifozonke cure all ills `. Dr Verwoerd, then Minister of Native
Affairs, fell victim to his own propaganda that if the Chiefs accepted apartheid the
people would too, that the Chiefs` influence on the people was boundless, and that the
people would endure any hardship as long as the Chiefs told them that their suffering was
really a stepping stone to a glorious Bantustan future. The new Bantu Authorities were no
sooner announced by proclamation than the government used them to superintend the
extension of the pass laws to African women.
In the Transvaal, as nowhere else, African women had experienced the burden that passes
had settled on their menfolk
The pass laws bound all men of 16 and over to back-breaking work on the White farms at
meagre rates of pay. Women watched their menfolk wander from city to city and town to
town, unable to secure employment because the entries in their pass-books dictated that
they could take work only in prescribed areas, where the lower wage rates obtained. If a
man looked for a better job elsewhere, he infringed the law and was sent back to the place
where he was born, or where his father or father`s father had been born. Men were thrown
into prison, sometimes flogged because they failed to convince a government official that
they had not been in an urban area for more than three days (72 hours) without obtaining
permission. Not a home, not a woman did not know the searing anxiety that the pass laws
brought. And now these hated laws were to be extended to women.
In the Marico district, adjoining the Bechuanaland border, is the Bafurutse reserve of
Linokana. The recognized senior Chief was Abraham Moiloa. He had already been in bad odour
with the authorities in 1956 for his unwillingness to sign the Bantu Authorities Act. In
March 1957 he was summoned to the office of the Commissioner in Zeerust and told to
instruct the women of his tribe to take out pass-books. He simply conveyed the
instruction. In April, the issuing unit arrived, but only 76 women took books.
Three days later the Commissioner arrived in the royal village and summarily deposed
the Chief, who was ordered into exile. The tribe interpreted this as a drastic reprisal
for their refusal of pass-books. Crowds of women forced the minority that had taken out
the pass-books to surrender them, and the books were burnt.
Incidents flared up first in one village, then in another. When a group of women was
pointed out to the authorities as being those responsible for a pass-burning, a large
crowd of women thrust themselves forward, shouting: ` If they are guilty, we are also, you
must arrest us all.`
Meetings of more than ten were declared illegal. The government took under its
protection the submissive Chiefs, whose bodyguards began a reign of terror against any
tribesmen or woman who opposed them. When the bodyguards met with popular resistance the
police force stepped in to reinforce them with rifle and sjambok.
A poignant account of the Bafurutse ordeal is given in Brief Authority 50 by
Charles Hooper. Many of the Bafurutse fled from the disturbed areas into Bechuanaland,
leaving crops untended in the fields, and their cattle without herders. Those who had
opposed the government became marked men, and their families were marked with them. A
series of prosecutions against the rebels was instituted in the courts. In one case, a
judge commented that there had been widespread resentment against the issue of passes to
women. The atmosphere in the area had been `one of menace` and popular resentment had been
`exacerbated by the tyrannical attitude of the Chief`.
Government officials attributed the peasant opposition in the Zeerust area to
`agitators`, essentially the African National Congress. In fact, the African National
Congress had mounted an intensive campaign against the pass laws and the Bantu
Authorities. A.N.C. volunteers from the towns did go to their home villages to dissuade
their wives from taking out passbooks and cooperating with the implementation of
apartheid. But A.N.C. organizers, or `agitators`, as they are dubbed by the government, do
not create the conditions for struggle out of thin air. Zeerust throbbed with the spirit
of resistance during those anxious days. The A.N.C. men and women, with many others who
belonged to no political body at all, were able to lead only because the people were
clamouring to follow.
The next place that trouble broke out among the peasants was also in the Transvaal,
this time in the east, in Sekhukhuneland. Once again, opposition to Bantu Authorities
flared into open resistance, when the government banished the Chief Moroamoche and some of
his leading councillors.
The trouble began when a tribal meeting, pressed by the government to accept Bantu
Authorities and Bantu Education, rejected both these facets of government policy in May
Several leading men of the tribe were exiled, and then the Commissioner arrived with
police at the tribal headquarters to depose Chief Moroamoche himself. The Chief won an
appeal against his suspension in March 1958, but he was deported, nevertheless, to the
A retired policeman was appointed to act in his place, but the new Chief was rejected
by the mass of the tribe, who refused to pay any taxes until Moroamoche was restored.
Riots broke out in several villages and a mobile police force seized control of the area.
More than 200 were arrested in one incident alone. A grisly trial led to II death
sentences, among them a woman chieftainess, but the sentences were later commuted to life
imprisonment. Here are the names of the eleven:
Madinoge Morwamoele (the chieftainess)
John Makopole Kgolane
Jack Mogase Mariri
Johannes Machele Ngwako
Klaas Marweshe Mabinane
James Kgologi Mahlagaume
James Monompane Motubatse
Frans Morewane Tswaledi
Jim Kgoro Makgoleng
Jim Makalapeng Morewane.
In both these Transvaal reserves the struggle was brief, brutal and bitter. It was easy
for the government to isolate and crush all open resistance because the Transvaal reserves
are small and scattered in pockets in the vast `White` farming areas.
The Bantustan octopus stretched its tentacles in other directions too. In Zululand the
government seemed to be meeting with less organized opposition as it thrust the main Chief
- Cyprian Dinizulu - forward to give the impression that the glory and splendour that once
characterized the Zulu was being restored.
Yet opposition immediately developed in those areas where the government started
implementing aspects of its Bantustan policy.
In Tokazi, for instance, popular apposition to land `rehabilitation` was so strong that
a clash occurred between most of the peasants and the few who were accepting land under
the new government measures. The police were rushed in, and a number of people were
sentenced to death after hut burnings and disorders in the area.
In Zululand, as everywhere else, the trouble centred around the administration of land.
Chief Cyprian Dinizulu had accepted the betterment scheme, and in consequence a whole
community of the Tokazi location in the district of Nongoma was ordered to move to a new
area. When the people refused to leave their old homes, the government retaliated by
denying them the right to plough their arable allotments, as though to say: `If you do not
do as we tell you, we shall see to it that you do not eat.`
In course of time some 24 families yielded to government pressure and moved to the
allotted area. To show its appreciation, or deliberately to set one group against another,
the government then allotted arable plots to the conformists and allowed them to till. The
anger of the resisters was now turned on these families, who were regarded as traitors. A
party of over 200 strong attacked the collaborators, killing two. This resulted in 29
being charged, originally with murder, though in the end only 14 were convicted, on lesser
charges, to various periods of imprisonment ranging from 8 to 14 years.
The remarks of the judge in this case were significant. He said it was dear that there
was deep resentment against Bantu Authorities and that the administration had been aware
of this but had imposed the scheme in spite of opposition. In passing sentence he
therefore regarded this resentment as an extenuating circumstance. The outstanding leader
of the resistance movement in this struggle was a man called Pikinkani.
Similar struggles against the Bantu Authorities Act were fought in the Transkei, where
the resistance of the peasants culminated in the Pondo revolt which broke into the open
early in 1960. At first the government pretended that nothing untoward was happening in
Pondoland. But soon it became clear that a minor war was in progress.
Emergency Proclamation 400 was gazetted in 1960 and according to the official figures,
4,769 men and women were held in custody for indefinite periods during that year. Of this
number, 2,067 were eventually brought to trial. 51
The government suppressed the revolt by bringing in the military to assist the police,
by using sten-guns, Saracen armoured cars, and jets against unarmed peasants, by terrorism
and mass arrests. By that time, however, the Pondos had successfully smashed the Bantu
Authorities system. Members of the Tribal and District Authorities had fled, while
peoples` courts were dealing with collaborators, and Chiefs were in the protective custody
of the government.
Why did Eastern Pondoland of all places rise in the way it did and on the scale it did?
The Pondos have been well known in South African history for their allegiance to
authority. There is no record of the Pondos ever having taken up arms against even the
early British forces who first occupied Pondoland. On one occasion in 1895, when it seemed
that a clash was inevitable over the refusal of the Pondos to pay taxes and a British
punitive force was on the point of marching to Pondoland, the situation was saved by Chief
Sigcau himself, who surrendered at Kokstad and was subsequently transported to Robben
From these early days successive governments have allowed Pondo Chiefs a much greater
measure of control over the tribal structure than elsewhere. Here, as probably nowhere
else, the missionaries, most of them from the Wesleyan Church, exercised great influence
over the principal Chiefs. Chiefs` sons, the heirs to chieftainship, were trained at the
homes of the White missionaries, many living with them as members of their families. On
the completion of their apprenticeship, they returned to their people, bringing vigour and
a new approach to the conduct of chieftainship.
Both at Qaukeni (Eastern Pondoland) and Nyandeni (Western Pondoland), the Chiefs
erected modem offices and conducted cases on the pattern of a magistrate`s court. With
slight modifications to adapt the pattern to, local conditions, the Pondo courts had
officers, a dock, a fairly good recording of proceedings, and proper systems of filing.
For a long time the Pondo Paramount Chiefs were the only Chiefs in the Transkei with
civil jurisdiction. They exercised real power over the distribution of land within the
framework of government policy, and they used these comparatively wide powers to entrench
their chieftainship. Up to the time that Bantu Authorities were introduced the people
contributed to the Chiefs` treasuries with little complaint.
Then the Nationalist government moved to invade the area with its new policies, and
from the very start it went wrong, making the serious mistake of choosing as the
arch-champion of Bantu Authorities Chief Botha Sigcau, a man already discredited in the
eyes of his people. As far back as 1939, when the choice had had to be made of a successor
to the Paramount Chief of East Pondoland the government of the day had picked on Chief
Botha in preference to his half-brother Nelson, who had been regarded by many as the
rightful heir. The use of Chief Botha by the Nationalists to introduce Bantu Authorities,
in the face of popular opposition to his chieftainship, was bound to provoke widespread
Lusikisiki and Bizana
Several years before revolt finally flared, the government had made efforts to induce
the peasants to accept Bantu Authorities. In 1953 it tried, through Paramount Chief Botha
Sigcau, to force the rehabilitation scheme upon Eastern Pondoland, but at a meeting held
in Lusikisiki at which Botha Sigcau was present, the people categorically rejected the
scheme. The meeting was highlighted when one man by the name of Mngqingo turned his
backside to Botha Sigcau, a sign of non-confidence; the people supported him and booed the
chief and the officials. A few days later a large contingent of police entered the area,
and Mngqingo took a large peasant army with him to the thick forests. When the government
appeared to give up the affair, however, Mngqingo emerged and disbanded his impi. He was
eventually arrested and deported to the district of Cala and the opposition to the
government measure gradually subsided.
Discontent then manifested itself in the district of Bizana, which lies between
Lusikisiki in the south and the Umtamvuna river on the border of Natal in the north. In
September 1957, the Pondos of Bizana rejected Bantu Authorities, Bantu Education and the
rehabilitation scheme at a meeting to which the peasants came in their thousands. They
demanded that Botha Sigcau should publicly declare whether he was the head of the Pondo
tribe or the boot-licker of Verwoerd, the then Minister of Native Affairs. Botha Sigcau
left surreptitiously, and the meeting went out of control, ending in disorder and the
widespread cry `Umasiziphathe uya Kusebenza sifile`, or `Bantu Authorities will operate
over our dead bodies.`
Then, in 1958, all the Pondoland districts were invited to send representatives to a
large gathering called by the Minister of Bantu Administration and Development, Mr de Wet
Nel, and Botha Sigcau. The people were led to believe that the gathering was some sort of
celebration but found on arrival that it was an attempt to get Bantu Authorities under
Chief Botha announced that he had been promoted to take over the chair/of the Chief
Magistrate of Umtata, and that in turn some of the Chiefs would be promoted in the various
districts. The Pondo Court would be enhanced in status, and great changes would be brought
about. In short, the people were told that they were getting self-government. 52
In practice, however, Chief Botha alone made promotions; it was he who selected
councillors for the courts from his own supporters. The people steadily lost confidence in
the courts, and corruption set in among the councillors, who knew that their position
depended not on the goodwill of the people, but on their maintaining their friendship with
Chief Botha. This cancer in the heart of tribal justice was one of the main reasons for
the breakdown of the whole tribal structure, and for the subsequent development of a new
system during the Pondo revolt.
The rot ate ever deeper into the once healthy organism of tribal life. Government
appointees to positions of authority were increasingly spurned by the people, and had to
rely on the police and the magistrates to impose their authority. Many Chiefs and headmen
found that once they had committed themselves to supporting Bantu Authorities, an immense
chasm developed between them and the people.
Gone was the old give-and-take of tribal consultation, and in its place there was now
the autocratic power bestowed on the more ambitious Chiefs, who became arrogant in the
knowledge that the government`s might was behind them.
Frustration and dissatisfaction were mounting, and at the Isikelo Location in the
district of Bizana anger boiled over. The people called a meeting to demand that Mr Saul
Mabude, Chairman, and members of the District Authority explain Bantu Authorities to them.
Mabude did not attend. The meeting was punctuated with grim silence, a premonition that
all was not well in Pondoland. Laughter and easy talk, characteristics of the Pondos, were
totally absent. The meeting ended in disorder. On a Sunday morning, some time later, a
large impi marched to Mabude`s kraal, while the women raised the war cry - ` I- iwuuu I ii
wu iwu ! ` Mabude`s house was surrounded, his pigs and fowls were slaughtered, and his hut
was set on fire.
The government struck back savagely. Police traversed the country in heavily meshed
cars; armed police swarmed into the kraals on the hillsides, terrorizing women and
children, arresting the men. Two battalions of the Mobile Watch moved in with armoured
vehicles and camped at the villages of Bizana, Lusikisiki and Flagstaff. 60 `Native`
police underwent special courses to assist in the training of home guards.
The Mountain Committee
A vast popular movement of resistance arose amongst the people in March 1960, and
although meetings were illegal, they were held just the same and attended by thousands of
peasants, who came on foot and on horseback to chosen spots on the mountains and ridges.
This is how the movement became known as ` Intaba ` (the Mountain), when it was not
referred to as ` Ikongo ` (Congress).
The Mountain Committee rallied the majority of the tribesmen in their Bizana district
into open struggle against the authorities and their henchmen. But its series of huge
meetings, summoned to discuss the plight of the Pondos and make plans to carry on their
struggle, inspired neighbouring tribesmen from other districts in East Pondoland who
carried back the news to their areas.
Repeated requests by the Mountain Committee for the magistrate to come and hear the
people`s grievances were ignored, and the only reply returned was that the meetings were
illegal and should cease at once. At this stage the government officials made it clear
that they would have no dealings whatsoever with the leaders of the popular movement and
would continue to carry out government policies through the channel of Bantu Authorities.
The Pondos then found that news of their meetings was reaching the magistrate`s ears
and that their new-found unity was being undermined from within by government agents.
Drastic action was taken against these informers; their huts were fired, and many were
forced to flee from the area. Between March and June, 27 kraals were reported to have been
The most serious clash took place on June 6 in a valley adjoining Ngquza Hill, between
Bizana and Lusikisiki. Africans from a score of kraals had met there to discuss their
complaints. Two aircraft and a helicopter dropped tear-gas and smoke bombs on the crowd,
and police vehicles approached from two directions. The Africans raised a white flag to
show that their meeting was a peaceful one, but police suddenly emerged from the bushes
surrounding the meeting-place and fired into the crowd. At first the government refused to
disclose how many had been killed, but strong representations were made and finally an
inquest was ordered. Relatives found the bodies of 11 men which had been left all day for
dogs and other animals to feed on. Twenty-three Pondos were arrested after the meeting on
a charge of `fighting`, and of these nineteen were convicted and sentenced to terms
ranging from 18 months with 6 strokes to 21 months.
Subsequently, at an inquest on the shootings, the magistrate declared that the firing
of sten-gun bullets was `unjustified and excessive, even reckless`. Several of the men
shot by the police had been found with bullets through the backs of their heads.
Policing of the area increased after this incident. Saracens and radio cars were
brought in. The breakdown between the authorities and the Pondos was complete.
Commission of Inquiry
Recognizing that police massacres could not break the people`s resistance, the
government announced that a Commission of Inquiry, composed of Bantu Administration
officials, would be appointed to hear popular grievances.
The demands of the people were: the withdrawal of the Bantu Authorities and Bantu
Education Acts; representation in the Republic`s Parliament; relief from the increased
taxes and passes which hampered free movement; and the removal of Paramount Chief Botha
The findings of the Commission were announced at a public meeting near Bizana on
October 11 and it is significant that on this occasion the government was forced to
by-pass its much vaunted Bantu Authorities machinery in order to convey its findings to
the people, and negotiate with the Mountain Committee which had become the generally
accepted tribal representative.
The Commission ignored or brushed aside the popular demands and gave irrelevant replies
to selected grievances. For instance, to the request that Africans should receive the same
education as Whites, the Commission replied: ` Bantu Education is not inferior.` On the
hardships of reference or pass-books, the Commission`s comment was that `the hardships
were due to non-compliance with the law.` 53
The Pondos were far from satisfied with the Commission`s findings. At a meeting on 25
October, they formally announced their rejection of the report, and expressed their
determination to continue the struggle against Bantu Authorities. They decided to stop
This momentous decision taken by thousands of Pondos, many of them delegates from
distant locations, was a sharp reminder that the Pondos were in a desperate frame of mind.
At the same time, five top leaders of the Pondoland National Committee surrendered to the
police as they had lost their appeal to the Supreme Court and had been refused bail. They
had been sentenced to over a year in prison for attending an illegal meeting!
As a mark of their anger at the jailing of their leaders, and in protest at the
attitude adopted by most of the Whites in Bizana, the people decided to boycott the town.
The Pondos felt that the traders in Bizana had shown partiality towards the government
instead of sympathizing with the people from whom they made a living. One Pondo explained:
`We boycott the traders because they helped the government in trying to break us. When we
boycott them, we are boycotting the government.`
A further sign that the government had decided to suppress the popular Pondo movement
and return to the offensive was the arrest and banishment of Anderson Khumani Ganyile the
young Pondo leader.
From January 1960, the Nationalist government had assumed complete control of Fort Hare
University College, where Anderson Ganyile was a student, and in February, when Fort Hare
was due to reopen, the new administration notified Ganyile and a few other students that
they would not be re-admitted. Ganyile`s political activities as an African National
Congress Youth Leaguer had caused his black-listing.
Ganyile returned to his home at Bizana, where he was immediately drawn into the peasant
struggle. The post Sharpeville national state of emergency caused his detention for four
months at the Fort Glamorgan jail in East London, but once released he threw himself into
the Pondoland struggle again without reserve. After his return from Fort Glamorgan, he and
other Pondoland leaders - Mvangeli Solomon Madikezela, T. Tshangela, H. Mbodla, S. Mpini,
and N. Ntshangase helped direct the struggle.
A few months passed, during which the Mountain movement grew from strength to strength.
Then the government confined the people`s lawyer, Rowley Arenstein, to the magisterial
district of Durban, thus preventing his appearing in the Bizana court where he had
successfully defended a number of cases.
State of Emergency
In November 1960 the government declared a state of emergency, promulgated in
Proclamation 400. 54
Proclamation 400 provides for the prohibition of meetings, control of entry to and exit
from the areas affected, limitation of free speech, and powers of banishment. Any meeting
not permitted by the Bantu Commissioner is illegal. It may be dispersed with force, and
those attending commit an offence. No one except a resident of the area may enter without
the written permission of the Bantu Commissioner. Migrant labourers returning after years
of employment in an urban area have frequently found themselves in jail for having entered
their `homeland` without a permit. Likewise, residents may not leave the area without
permission. This virtually imprisons the entire population of the Transkei.
Any person making a subversive statement, undermining the authority of the Bantu
Commissioner, organizing a boycott, or treating his Chief with contempt is guilty of an
offence. Chiefs are clothed with wide powers of banishment, and boundless powers to do
what they please with the immovable property of those they banish. In short, they can ruin
a man and his family. A Chief has power to order 55 the removal of an African, together
with his family and household goods, from one area to another under his jurisdiction and
to destroy his hut. In other words, the Chief can lay waste a man`s whole life`s work, the
fruits of his resources and energy, and force him to start all over again in a territory
where he has no friends.
The Proclamation is still in force.
The government was out for vengeance and life became a nightmare for peasants in the
troubled areas. Thousands of men and women were held in prison for indefinite periods.
Some were released after sitting in cells for several months, only to be rounded up again
and thrown into jail a second time. What offences had they committed? More often than not
they did not know, because they were not brought to court and faced with any charge.
Distressed relatives thronged the police stations and offices of the Bantu Commissioners
to seek news of family members who had disappeared, but were told: ` It is a state of
emergency, a time when the operation of normal laws is suspended.`
Between 24 August and 28 October of the following year, 30 Pondos were sentenced to
death for complicity in the Pondoland revolt. It is significant that the murders of
pro-government Chiefs, for which these sentences were given, took place in the main at the
end of 1960, after the responsible leaders of the campaign had already been banished,
jailed or had disappeared.
Women played an active part in the campaign against Bantu Authorities. They remained at
home when the men took to the hills, and raised the war cry to mark the arrival of police
Landrovers. They wore black to show that Pondoland was in mourning. They refrained from
any action that might bring strife to the tribe, knowing that unity was all-important.
The campaign was non-racial, and Whites were invited to lend their support. White
traders were asked to be civil to African customers, not to report meetings to the police,
and not to recruit Pondos to take the place of fellow-workers who might be on strike for
higher wages. Traders who collaborated with the government were boycotted.
Peoples` courts took the place of the Bush Courts controlled by the Chiefs. Justice,
not money became the criterion; people did not have to pay in order to have their cases
heard. These courts were faced with the formidable task of sifting chaff from wheat,
fighter from traitor. If a man was a member of a school board, or school committee, he was
ordered to resign in conformity with the boycott of Bantu Education, and show evidence
that he had done so. Those who were found guilty of greed or selfishness were fined and
the money used later for defence in cases which the government brought against the people.
Those who did not agree with the ruling of the people`s court could appeal to the
Pondoland High Court on Ndlovu Hill, headquarters of the Mountain movement.
Proclamation 400 of 1960 still applies to the Transkei. If tourists see fewer road
blocks, it is because the police have relaxed their vigilance along the highways and
stepped it up amongst the people in the locations by the employment of more informers, by
lending stronger police support to individual Chiefs, and by increasing the striking
capacity and mobility of the police. Army and police manoeuvres, with Regulation 400, have
sealed off the Transkei from the rest of the country, and White South Africa has carried
on unconcernedly, ignorant of what is taking place in the largest of the reserves or, if
aware, satisfied that law and order is being maintained.
The mobile army has spotter planes and helicopters that have landed almost on the
threshold of peasant homes in the reserves. Villages have been encircled and searched from
hut to hut for suspects, who have been collected in thousands and driven away in packed
army trucks for screening at the main depot in Bizana. An eye witness reported (in the
columns of New Age):
A large contingent of armed police and soldiers seal off an area, usually after
midnight. Each hut is raided by two armed men who take away everything that remotely
resembles a weapon. In some areas, even hoes are confiscated.
Gruesome stories of ill-treatment have seeped out of the sealed area. Thousands of men
and boys were at first kept standing at the screening depot the whole day or longer
without food, and then finally crowded into jails throughout the Transkei and pressed to
give information that would lead to the charging and conviction of people in connexion
with some of the deaths and burnings. During one preparatory examination into the death of
a government supporter, the accused told the court how they had been subjected by the
police to cruel torture. They related how they had been beaten up, and then been given a
series of electric shocks.
At Lady Frere some of the more than two hundred men and boys who had been rounded up
and packed into guarded army trucks and driven to Queenstown for screening related how
they had been left without food in crowded conditions for two days.
Many peasants have reported how soldiers and police burst into their huts at night and
looked on while women, taken by surprise, crossed hands over the fronts of their bodies to
hide their nakedness. They have told of how their food was looted, their milk cans and
calabashes turned upside down and emptied, their money stolen. Stories are common of how
some of the army and the police interfered with women and forced them to have sexual
intercourse with them, of how men were made to stand or sit down in a doubled-up position,
with their arms tied and thrown over a stick slipped behind the knees, so that the skin
over the buttocks was fully stretched and the area properly exposed to beating or kicking.
Others have related how they were made to stand against a wall and their heads dashed
against it until they collapsed.
Indaba Zase Monti (East London News) in its issues of 20 February 1960 and 19
March 1960 reported the following incidents:
A certain Mr Makoko escaped with his life by a narrow margin On one day a sub-chief in
the Umtata District, Nxeko Mtirara, in the company of his bodyguard came to Makoko`s home
and demanded that he slaughter a sheep. He refused claiming that he would rather slaughter
for his family than for them. Shortly after this incident Makoko was summoned to appear at
the Chief`s Bush Court, where he was charged with treating a chief with disrespect. The
fine was an ox, or 10 flock of sheep, or R20 (£I0). When he could not pay the fine, he
was immediately seized upon and a rope tied round his neck. In an unoccupied hut he was
belaboured with sticks and rhino skin. As a result of this severe beating Mr Makoko was
taken to the Umtata hospital in an ambulance.
Another incident occurred in the Engcobo district.
A young man, Leonard Ntolosi, of Nomaheya location in the Nqamakwe district, was asked
by his host Mr Makangela, with whom he was staying during a short holiday at Xonya in the
Engcobo district, to drive a beast to Tora, a neighbouring location. Unable to accomplish
his business and return home before dark, Leonard asked for shelter, as peasants so often
do, at some home. The owner of the home reported the matter to the local sub-chief who
came with his bodyguard. After interrogating him they searched his person and found a pin
which they alleged to be a dangerous weapon. He then had his hands bound with a rope and
was hung from a cross bar. Thereafter the sub-chief and his bodyguard made a fire under
him, and his body dangled from a cross bar in the roof of a hut. Subsequently when the man
appeared in a Native Commissioner`s Court charged with being found in possession of a
dangerous weapon, he was found not guilty and discharged.
From Pondoland the terror has extended its sway to other parts of the Transkei - Tsolo,
Umtata, Willowvale, Kentane, Engcobo.
At the same time as the army has swept through villages to crush all manifestations of
resistance, it has carried out police duties, collecting arrear taxes, confiscating stock
in lieu of cash, and enforcing communal fines where whole villages have had to make amends
for the burning down of a collaborator`s hut. Peoples` leaders have been arrested and
charged with holding illegal meetings. In the case of Solomon Madikizela and three
compatriots who were acquitted on the charge and released from custody in Maritzburg -
outside the area under a state of emergency - the four men were virtually kidnapped and
whipped back into the Transkei, to be held in terms of the emergency proclamations.
The declaration of a state of emergency in 1960 was not limited to Pondoland. After
Sharpeville and the successful strike in protest against the shootings, when the burning
of passes spread through the country, all South Africa was blanketed in martial law. In
the urban areas, the struggle proved to be short and sharp: the fire leapt in one place
while the government tried to quell the blaze in another, but resistance could not last
longer than a few weeks in urban areas where army and police might was concentrated. Yet
in Pondoland, throughout the months of the emergency, resistance, far from abating, spread
not only from village to village, but also into neighbouring districts, increasing all the
while in intensity. It was in these reserve areas, too, that the struggle assumed the
truly mass character which it lacked elsewhere. Every peasant had to show himself in
favour of or hostile to Bantu Authorities.
Although they had long been encouraged by the officials who administered them to think
of themselves in terms of a specific locality under a certain sub-chief, the people soon
realized that they had a common enemy in the government and the Chiefs who supported its
oppressive policies. They coordinated their struggle and conducted it under a unified
leadership. Ndlosu (the elephant) - the name given to the leadership of all the locations
- symbolized in their minds that in unity they had the strength of an elephant.
The Pondoland struggle had its origin in local grievances, and in their initial
protests the Pondo people limited their demands to issues of immediate concern. At first
their methods of struggle were the traditional ones - the holding of meetings, deputations
to the magistrate, and written petitions. But very early on, new features made their
appearance, and the aim of resistance became the attainment of basic political ends.
Towards this end the movement adopted the full programme of the African National Congress
and its allies as embodied in the Freedom Charter. Consequently the struggle in Pondoland
became linked with the national struggle for liberation, and brought alive to the
leadership of the A.N.C. in a manner it had never done before the vital need for linking
up the struggles of the peasants with those of the workers in the urban areas.
While pressing for the attainment of the ultimate goal - the enjoyment of political
rights on an equal basis with the Whites the Pondo peasant leadership did not for one
moment allow the people to avert their eyes and efforts from active struggle to right
purely local wrongs.
So the Pondoland struggle had a long-range view, coupled with an unerring appreciation
of the practical local issues which cried out for immediate solution. It is this which
brought the peasants in their masses into the struggle and filled them with confidence in
the inevitable victory of their cause. The demands which they placed before the government
commission that investigated the causes of dissatisfaction bear testimony to the clarity
and foresight of the leaders and their people. In broad outline the basic demands of the
people in Pondoland were summed up in the comprehensive statement made by Khumani Ganyile.
`We`, he declared `shall be satisfied with nothing short of going to Parliament.`
Not only did the leaders of Pondoland resistance see the need to link their struggle
with the national one, but they were acutely aware of the urgent need to coordinate the
struggle in Pondoland with that taking place, in varying degrees, in other parts of the
Transkei. They realized that as long as the 21 other districts of the Transkei just
passively expressed their dissatisfaction with Bantu Authorities, victory in Eastern
Pondoland would be doubtful. No opportunity, therefore, was lost to coordinate the
struggle in various parts of the Transkei.
Next, the leaders always left open the door for negotiation with the government and
made it plain that they looked to the Commissioner to arrange meetings between their
representatives and himself as well as with the Chief Bantu Commissioner. In this respect
history will record, unmistakably, how the Nationalist government - as so often, before
and since - ignored the hand of peace and instead produced the report of a Departmental
Commission which totally ignored the people`s demands and displayed a provocative
The struggle in Pondoland showed once again how even in the most desperate of trials
Africans have not allowed themselves to lose sight of the real issues and be blinded
purely by racial considerations instead. During the course of Pondo resistance, the
Nationalist government once again tried to explain away the trouble as a conflict between
two racial and therefore irreconcilable groups. The Civic Association, the mouth-piece of
the White trading community in the Transkei, expressed itself on the side of the
government. But the people of Pondoland kept their struggle above the level of racial
animosities. To them the dividing line was clearly between one group that wanted equal
rights for all, and another, led by the Nationalist government, which upheld, as a divine
gift, the right of the Whites to dominate the Blacks.
There is another vital feature which this struggle disclosed and which had a resounding
impact both on the thinking of the Congress leadership and the people themselves. The
Pondo movement succeeded by example in accomplishing what discussion had tailed to do in a
generation - convincing the leadership of the importance of the peasants in the reserves
to the entire national struggle. The leaders realized at last that a struggle based on the
reserves had a much greater capacity to absorb the shocks of government repression and was
therefore capable of being sustained for a much longer time than a struggle based on the
urban locations. The urban-based campaign, which starts on a high note after very
intensive and costly propaganda work, consumes itself by the intense energy it generates
to carry the masses to the climax - usually a general strike. And because, among other
factors, vast masses of the workers are concentrated in a comparatively small area which
is easily sealed off by the police and army, urban-based struggles are more difficult to
sustain for much longer than a few days.
The struggles of the peasants start from smaller beginnings, build up to a crescendo
over a much longer time, are capable of pinning down large government forces, and are
maintained at comparatively much lower cost.
A proper blending of the peasant and worker struggles, therefore, coupled with skillful
timing of joint action, is a matter which must engage the serious thinking of the
The Pondo struggle had another distinctive feature: it developed a new sense of
discipline in political struggle. For the first few months, the firing of homesteads
belonging to people who supported Chiefs and who were hostile to the people`s cause was
almost the only method of struggle employed. That hut-burning had successful results there
can be no doubt, more particularly because it was not used indiscriminately nor in order
to settle personal scores.
Yet even at the height of the hut-burning campaign, those who waged the struggle
against Bantu Authorities did not shed their humanity. Hundreds of lives might have been
lost in the blazing huts. But in by far the most instances, the people whose homes were to
be set alight were given due warning to leave, and once outside were not beaten or injured
physically. On the whole the burning of huts was a warning if harsh, that the owners
should mend their ways. This attitude helped to win more and more people to the popular
ranks, and showed how even a method of struggle that left destruction and desolation in
its wake could be used constructively in the hands of forces bent on achieving the popular
good. The same hut-burning method, in the hands of the Chiefs at Mbizana and Bolotwa in
Matanzima`s domain, was employed to wreak vengeance on whole villages: personal effects
that the victims managed to flee with were wrenched from them and thrown back into the
fire. That is the difference between a people`s organized force and a band of thugs
collected for the sole purpose of sustaining a tyranny that lives in perpetual fear of its
own failure, as the Chiefs today and the government that has appointed them are doing.
Again, the widespread refusal to pay taxes showed how the movement enjoyed mass
support, and how well the leadership knew the pressure points. Not since the Bambata
rebellion in 1906 had there been any attempt even by the national movement to call for the
non-payment of taxes.
Yet here in the heat of a struggle that the people felt to be their own, they seized
upon this method of resistance as one among others. The money that would otherwise have
helped the government pursue its oppression, was diverted instead to funds used to further
the struggle, such as the defence of those who in consequence of their resistance, were
charged before the Commissioner`s Courts.
Boycott as a method of struggle was developed one stage further, for never before in
South Africa have the commercial activities of an entire business village been brought to
an absolute standstill. For weeks on end all the shops of Bizana were boycotted. The
technique of economic boycott has in other places been successful against individual
business enterprises, while the people were left free to purchase their day-to-day
requirements from other traders, or in the case of a boycott against a special commodity,
substitutes of similar quality have always been left free to fill in the gap. For example,
when the United Tobacco Company products were boycotted, those of other industrial
concerns were left free to be sold. But when a boycott of Nationalist products was
declared, that of the U.T.C. commodities was lifted. But the boycott of Bizana was in a
class of its own; it was not directed against any particular shop, nor against any
particular commodity. It was aimed at hitting the trading community as a class and as a
branch of the Civic Association, and so at moving the Civic Association itself - as an
organization with considerable influence over the Whites in the Transkei - to exercise
pressure on the government to change its policies. Carried out on as successful a scale in
other parts of the Transkei, this move would have had the effects that a successful
politically-inspired general strike would in the first place have on industry and commerce
and the main public services.
It was enough to hint to the teachers that if they opposed the people`s struggle the
schools would themselves be boycotted by the children.
A decision to boycott all labour-recruiting agencies - which include, among others,
recruiting agencies for the gold, coal, and other mines, for the sugar plantations, and
for the farms was also taken, and but for a request by the agencies to give them an
opportunity to despatch the labour whose contracts they had already finalized, the
declaration of the Emergency Regulations at the end of November 1960 would have found this
method of struggle in an advanced state of development. Had this technique been widely
adopted by the people, as the chances were favourable that it would have been, it is
difficult to see how the sugar industry, which depends largely on labour recruited from
Pondoland, would have survived the shock. This would have taught a new tactic in the
national struggle - the withdrawal of migrant labour at its main source of supply, in the
reserves, rather than in the urban locations which, as we have already observed, are so
readily exposed to intimidation by police and employers.
Another technique of struggle - the ostracism in life and death of those supporting
Bantu Authorities - proved very effective in reducing the number of collaborators. At the
funeral of the late Saul Mabude, a close supporter of Chief Botha Sigcau, the entire
village kept away, and his grave, which would normally have been dug by voluntary labour,
was left to a few members of his family to dig.
Mass demonstrations by thousands of peasants took place on an unprecedented scale in
the reserves. The march through Bizana, when an old man carrying a black flag at half-mast
led a procession of 5,000 peasants without any experience of mass forms of pressure, must
be one of the greatest feats of organizational ability that the liberation movement and
the oppressed people of this country have so far accomplished.
As one method of struggle after another was introduced by the leadership and handed
down to the ranks for execution, the people gained greater confidence in their leaders
because they saw how effective such methods could be in use. Furthermore new heights of
discipline were reached as the people themselves realized the need for it if the struggle
was to be carried to a successful conclusion. One of the most outstanding manifestations
of this mass self-control was the decision to suspend weddings, because nothing should be
allowed to threaten the unity which the people had created out of the hard struggle of so
In these areas of the Transkei conflicts usually occur between boys of different
locations at wedding parties, and more often than not, in the excitement of battle between
the opposing groups, the men from the respective localities have found themselves in the
fray taking sides. These frays have sometimes aroused bitter feelings, and when a struggle
such as the one that was waged in Pondoland is conducted across location boundaries, it
was absolutely essential that the highest measure of unity should be sought and
maintained. It was.
As the people began to realize their strength, they set about creating their own
machinery of administration so as to sever practically all connexion with the Chiefs and
the Bantu Commissioners. As area after area came under the influence of the movement,
informal peoples` courts arose, and they administered a popular justice as a promise of
the democratic way of life that the peasants would one day have. It was this glimmer of
real self-rule that made people withdraw their cases from the Chiefs` and Commissioners`
Courts, and to pay fines - light by comparison, even for those who had committed the
serious offence of supporting Bantu Authorities - with the satisfaction of knowing that
their money was not going to be used to line the pockets of a corrupt tyranny, but to
further the popular cause. The setting up of these peoples` courts probably did more than
anything else to show the peasants what a difference it would make to run their own
machinery of administration in keeping with the democratic goals that they had set for
There were other lessons not well learnt in time, however. When the village struggle
was at its peak, the peasants tended to forget that they had declared war on a powerful
government, ruthless and equipped with an armoury of techniques for repression. The
hut-burnings of collaborators were watched by jubilant crowds, and it was accordingly easy
for the authorities later to pick out victims for reprisals.
The Pondos paid dearly for their failure to ensure the safety and security of their
forces at the height of the struggle. And in this they were not alone. Zululand and
Zeerust suffered similarly, although on a smaller scale. But the people do not bear
sufferings, such as they bore when the army occupied the Transkei, without becoming
steeled in their determination to regroup, re-examine their methods of struggle, develop
new ones, and retain the spirit that seeks forever for freedom.
Dilemma in `Self-Government`
The Constitution and the Elections
Less than two years after Dr Verwoerd announced in Parliament that the Transkei was to
be given ` self-government`, Parliament passed the Transkei Constitution Act (No. 48 of
1963) conferring ` self-government in the Transkei `. The event was commemorated for all
time by the issue of a special postage stamp. The ceremonial launching of the Legislative
Assembly ended with praise chants of Chief Kaizer Matanzima, the Chief Minister, performed
for television cameras and with senior White officials of the Republican government asking
Matanzima and his five Cabinet Ministers for their autographs. It was, on the surface, all
very amicable. The Minister of Bantu Administration and Development, Mr De Wet Nel, had
spoken at the opening session for the South African Cabinet, stressing repeatedly that the
Transkei was part and parcel of South Africa, and the newly elected Chief Minister had
assured him in reply: ` I have no doubt that my colleagues and I will live up to your
An analysis of the Transkei Constitution Act shows that whatever rights have been
bestowed on the Transkei parliament, ultimate control remains firmly in the hands of the
Republic`s government. In fact, the powers delegated provide no more than a measure of
The Act demarcates the area of the Transkei as 15,000 sq. miles, only 3.2 per cent
of the total area of the Republic.
It is the Republic`s government that has the power to alter the boundaries, provided
that any area excised be replaced by an area of equal value. It will, of course, be the
Republic`s government that decides what is `of equal value`.
The Transkei government may legislate only for Transkeian citizens, and a citizen is
defined as a native born in the Transkei, or settled there for five years, whose home
language is Xhosa or Sotho. The Minister of Bantu Affairs was unable to give the exact
number of citizens outside the Transkei, but at the 1951 census it was more than 50 per
cent. The number of registered voters is 270,000.
Although Whites and Coloured live within the territory, the Transkeian government has
no jurisdiction over them. (Asians are refused residence there altogether.) This is in
keeping with the Nationalist point of view that however integrated different races are,
they do not constitute a multi-racial state so long as they do not have the same political
rights within that state.
The Act provides that citizens of the Transkei shall not be regarded as aliens in the
rest of the Republic and shall be treated for all external purposes and in terms of
international law as citizens of the Republic. Yet a newly-arrived White immigrant has
more rights in the Republic regarding property, employment, and the franchise than the
citizens of the Transkei.
The Act provides for a single house of 109 members - the Legislative Assembly - which
consists of 64 Chiefs, including four Paramount Chiefs, and forty-five elected members.
The Chiefs are appointed by, or their appointments are approved by, the State President.
He represents the Republic`s government and can depose them at will. In other words, the
Chiefs are responsible to the government of the Republic, not to the Transkei voters.
There is no upper house, or house of review.
That the Chiefs, who are in the majority, play a dominating role in the new Assembly
became clear during the election of the Chief Minister, Chairman, and Deputy Chairman, in
November 1963, after the first general election. Two of these Chiefs were rivals for the
post of Chief Minister: Kaizer Matanzima and Victor Poto.
Victor Poto, aged 65, is Paramount Chief of Western Pondoland. He has been a
member of the Pondoland General Council, the United Transkeian Territorial General Council
(the Bunga) and the Transkei Territorial Authority, as well as a member of the one-time
Native Representative Council. His frequently declared policy supports multi-racialism in
the Transkei after independence; a bicameral system of government, with an elected lower
house and an upper house of Chiefs; the formation of political parties; and the
development of industries in the Transkei with the participation of White capital.
He is supported by Sabata Dalindyebo, Paramount Chief of the largest tribe in
the Transkei, the Tembu, who have been in a state of continuous conflict with the
government over Bantu Authorities. The little support that Chief Sabata musters in the
council chamber of the Transkeian Territorial Authority is no indication at all of popular
feeling in the Transkei, which is right behind Sabata and, indeed, would wish his
opposition to go even further. Commoners, the two million peasants of the Transkei, have
long stopped expecting the Chiefs to speak for them, representing their grievances and
demands; but Sabata is one of the few Chiefs who have not betrayed the tradition of
speaking for their tribes, even when they know what they say must earn them the
disapproval of the government, even the threat of deposal or banishment.
Kaizer Matanzima, aged 48, is not a Paramount Chief but has, with government
support, played a leading role in Transkeian politics. A cold, haughty man who nurses an
enmity towards Whites and wishes to escape their oppressive presence, Matanzima has chosen
to try to do this by using apartheid, since, in theory, it will vest control in his hands,
and it will also serve him in keeping an authoritarian grip on the restless commoners of
the Transkei. Here are some of the statements Matanzima has made:
Separate development offers the Africans of the Transkei the opportunity of getting
their land back . . . We must revert to the old system where the land belonged to the
people with the Chief as trustee.... We don`t want to mix with the Whites ... Liberals?
They are rubbish. They want to make a muddle of the country. We must not be hoodwinked by
their slogans. They are not far from Communists ... Africans must be able to buy
properties in the towns of the Transkei. That is why I support the government. They have
offered us land. Dr Verwoerd is a friend of the African people ... Lutuli and the Congress
people have brought misery to their people. . . . It is madness to go to jail for your
Asked about his relations with leaders of other African states, Matanzima said:
We cannot appeal to external forces. They are jackals. I have no affinity with other
African states. I am a South African. Our affairs are not their Indaba.
On the United Nations:
The United Nations stinks. They meddle in other people`s affairs while they cannot even
stop the war in Morocco. That body should be dissolved.
I am competent to deal with any situation on a national or international level.
His manifesto stands for the continuation of Chiefs in the legislature; no
multi-racialism anywhere; no White capital for industrial development; an all-Black civil
service; a Black battalion under the control of the Republic`s defence force; the
surrender of land now occupied by Whites within the Transkei and on its borders to the
The government made no secret of its support for Matanzima during the first Bantustan
election of the Transkei in November 1963. Yet despite the resources at Matanzima`s
command, the absurdly complicated election procedures with the consequent widespread
confusion in the territory, despite the restrictions on open election campaigning and the
deadly hand of the emergency regulations, the peasants of the Transkei showed unmistakably
their complete rejection of apartheid and their support of the policies of Poto as against
those of Matanzima. Of the forty-five elected members, thirty-eight supported Poto, and
the election of a Poto supporter as Chairman of the Assembly showed that Poto policies had
the support not only of the great majority of the elected members, but also of several
Chiefs as well. That session of the Legislative Assembly was held in great secrecy with
police-guarded doors. Strong pressure must immediately have been put on many of the
Chiefs, for directly after a lunch adjournment, when the Assembly reconvened, it chose a
nominee of Matanzima as Deputy Chairman and then went on to elect Matanzima himself as
Chief Minister. He defeated Poto by fifty-four votes to forty-nine, and it is thought that
the fourteen Chiefs from Eastern Pondoland, under Paramount Chief Botha Sigcau (the first
Transkei Chief to accept Bantu Authorities and the man who had to live under police
protection during the Pondoland rising) gave Matanzima his narrow majority at the last
minute. The new Chief Minister`s election photograph shows him with arms raised in
triumph, entirely surrounded by white policemen. Not a single African was in sight of the
The Cabinet consists of a Chief Minister and five other Ministers, whose number may be
increased to nine; all are elected in secret ballot by the members of the Assembly from
among their number. It is the State President, however, who decides whether the number
should be increased and assigns the administration of further departments to the Cabinet.
The six departments provided for in the Act are those of Finance, Justice, Education.
Interior, Agriculture and Forestry, Roads and Works.
Matanzima has chosen his brother George as Minister of Justice. A former attorney who
was struck off the roll for malpractices, George Matanzima stood for election as a farmer.
The Minister of Agriculture and Forestry is Mr Columbus Madikizela from Qaukeni, a general
dealer and owner of a bus service; he has complained that since his election as Minister
his business has been boycotted. The other Ministers are Mr Bennett Mdledle a former
teacher from Emigrant Tembuland; Chief Jeremiah Moshesh, a retired teacher; and Mr Matanda
Mvusi a farmer from Umzimkulu. The Chief Minister himself is also Minister of Finance.
Although the Legislative Assembly may decide to remove any Cabinet or Cabinet Minister,
the State President may refuse to endorse its decision. Thus the people of the Transkei
through their representatives in the Assembly will not have the final say if they wish to
unseat ` their ` government. The Republic`s government accedes if it `deems fit`. This
power of veto is, of course, contrary to the accepted principles of responsible
government, where the Cabinet holds power only so long as it has the confidence of the
legislature, not as in this case, of a higher authority.
Powers of the Legislative Assembly
The Legislative Assembly may make laws in respect of matters defined in a schedule to
the Act. Every bill passed by the Legislative Assembly must be presented to the State
President, who may give his consent or refer it back.
The powers range from the protection of animals to Bantu Education. The Assembly has no
power to legislate in regard to military matters, factories for the manufacture of arms,
negotiations with foreign states, internal security, communications either postal or by
rail, `the entry of persons other than Transkeian citizens`, currency, customs, or
amendments to the Act itself.
It is certainly an unusual form of ` self-government` where:
- The Republic`s government can veto any measure passed by the Transkei Legislative
- The Republic`s government can refuse to accede to a petition from the Legislative
Assembly for the dismissal of its government;
- The Legislative Assembly has no power over defence, police, foreign affairs,
immigration, communications, currency, or customs.
Forty-five members of the Legislative Assembly are elected. Who were they and who were
the voters, in the election of November 1963?
The voters are Transkei citizens who pay tax (from 18 years upwards) or who are 21
years of age. Men and women vote, but only if they are Black. A citizen who has been
convicted of a crime for which the sentence is imprisonment without the option of a fine,
is disqualified, and the effect of this is to disqualify hundreds of government opponents
alleged to have been members of the African National Congress and Pan Africanist Congress,
organizations that once were legal and are now declared ` unlawful `.
Commissioners were instructed to use all available means to get citizens to register.
The majority of voters in the Transkei were women, children, and old men; most of the
young men were, of course, absent working for the Whites in the Republic. In several
districts nine out of ten voters were illiterate, and they whispered their choice of
candidates to the Presiding Officer, in the presence of two witnesses. The ballot,
therefore, was not secret.
A total of 880,000 voters registered, of whom 610,000 were within the territory.
Percentage polls in the nine electoral districts averaged 70.
No political parties were able to take part in the elections. Transkeian politics up
till now have been largely a matter of contest between Chiefs and other traditional
leaders for jobs and prestige, and the masses have not been involved except as victims.
Nor can they easily be activated with their leaders restricted, under house arrest, banned
under the Suppression of Communism Act, or exiled in terms of the Native Administration
Act. No fewer than 131 former politically active Africans are banned; the majority of the
600 held under the 90-day no trial law during 1963 were Africans; and 592 Africans were
detained in 1963 under Proclamation 400 in the Transkei.
We do not know what line the people`s political leaders would have taken had they been
free to voice their opinions. Of the 179 candidates who stood for election, very few were
from outside, where the most enlightened and politically mature Africans live. Some, no
doubt, would have organized a boycott. In fact, when Matanzima`s envoys visited urban
areas to canvass support, their meetings were effectively boycotted most of the time.
Others, like Hammington Majija, member of the Liberal Party, would have preferred to fight
the system from within the legislature.
Mr Majija announced his intention of standing for election but on the eve of nomination
day was served with orders confining him to the magisterial areas of Wynberg and Cape
Town, and prohibiting him from attending any meetings.
The People`s Party of Pondoland, remnant of the militants who took part in the
Pondoland uprising of 1960, issued a manifesto, organized meetings and prepared to put up
eight candidates. Just before the elections were held, however, the secretary, Mr Mdinga,
was arrested and indefinitely detained. Had these candidates been free to campaign and
been elected instead of Botha Sigcau`s supporters, the outcome of the contest for Chief
Minister might have been very different.
Kaizer Matanzima, on the other hand, was allowed to broadcast on Radio Bantu. He
thanked the government for giving his people ` the highest democratic right . . . namely
to elect our own government.`
Of the candidates, one fifth were farmers; one fifth, headmen; and one fifth, teachers,
including those who had left the profession. There were a few traders, only four
professional men, and two women, one of whom was successful There were no farm labourers,
miners, industrial workers, or entrepreneurs.
Many candidates interviewed a month before the elections said that their policies were
still to be formulated. Umthunywa, a newspaper for Africans, attributed this to a `
lukewarm attitude for something they are accepting half-heartedly.` Headmen and teachers,
both paid by the government, may have considered it wiser to have no policy at all than to
express an anti-government one. Bantu, government-sponsored monthly, gave a write-up of
twenty picked candidates, mostly Chiefs. With monotonous repetition, each one stated that
he stood for the maintenance of the tribal system and good relations with Whites.
In marked contrast, four candidates from Fingoland - the Fingoes have no Chief -
announced that they stood for -
Multi-racialism in both the Transkei and the Republic; the abolition of the emergency
regulations; the abolition of pass laws and the colour bar; radical changes in the
unpopular Bantu Education` system; industries within the Transkei itself and voluntary,
not enforced, rehabilitation schemes.
All four were returned. Mr Monakali, former Chairman of the Transkei Territorial
Authority and Matanzima`s right-hand man, who stood against them, was defeated.
Since the elections Chief Poto has formed the Democratic Party, based on the principle
of a multi-racial Transkei and the maintenance of the territory as an integral part of the
Republic of South Africa. The aim of the Party is to achieve ` democracy for all in the
Transkei and eventually for all in South Africa.` Simulated by this initiative, Chief
Matanzima is now reported to be busy forming his own party, which presumably will be
devoted to the apartheid principles outlined in his election manifesto.
Ominous is the speech made by Matanzima at Qamata on 7 February 1964: `When my term of
office comes to an end in five years` time, there will be only one political party in the
Transkei. That party will be the one that supports separate development.`
Who Pays The Piper?
The total revenue of the Transkei for 1961-2 was less than £750,000. The territory has
no exports except labour. It has to import mealies to keep its people from starvation.
Revenue comes from levies, fines, and taxes imposed on the people. But there is a limit
to the amount which a poor, peasant community can pay. The new government of the Transkei
will have to depend on the appropriation made by the Republic`s government from the
Consolidated Revenue Fund and other sources.
The Bantu Administration and Development Department and the South African Native Trust
will contribute towards the expenditure incurred by the transfer of functions to the
Transkei government. In addition, the Republic`s government will subsidize it to an amount
of approximately £1 million. 56
A total of £57 million was set aside in 1962 for a five-year development plan for the
Bantustans. Of this, a sum of £38 million was earmarked for housing, and of this sum,
only £1.65 million was allocated to the Transkei. Housing, and services such as soil
conservation, forestry and irrigation will not create an economically viable state.
Even poor countries like Guinea and the Somali Republic, with populations comparable to
that of the Transkei, have revenues of approximately £12 million and £8 million
respectively. Israel, a rapidly developing state with a population of 2 million and an
area half the size of the Transkei, has a revenue of over £250 million
Clearly it is the Republic`s government that has the revenue, holds the purse strings,
and therefore retains the real control. The new rulers will have to act in a manner
pleasing to the Republic if they want their grants.
Moreover, the Republic`s government has seen to it that the Transkei is carefully
insulated. It cannot obtain loans or arms from outside. It cannot even admit non-citizens
to its territory, unless the government of the Republic considers them acceptable.
The Transkei is not and can never be a living independent state. Indeed, Nationalist
government spokesmen have made it clear that the territory will have to wait a long time
for `sovereign independence`, if it ever attains such status at all. What has emerged is
basically a continuation of complete economic and political subservience to the Republic`s
government. The mother country will continue to exploit her colony - not by extracting
minerals or raw materials, but by extracting manpower. The Republic`s government will
continue to manipulate the labour force to suit the requirements, not of the Africans
within the Transkei, but of the Whites without.
But the government of apartheid will be unable to contain the aspirations of the people
who want equality and freedom, and have been handed a farcical form of local autonomy
instead. Nothing that the government does can detach the destiny of the Transkei from that
of the rest of South Africa. South Africa is one society; it belongs to all who live in it
and who have contributed brawn and brains, muscle and capital to its development.
The Struggle For Power
The Nationalist government has succeeded in gaining the support of a few Africans at
least, the Transkei Chiefs who fear for their jobs. For the time being, with arbitrary
arrests, banishments, and countless restrictions on individual liberty, the government
will hold in check those who reject separate development and demand full rights for all
within South Africa.
But even the Chiefs are split. Matanzima and his supporters hold power by a slender
majority. If all the elected members were to break away from the Chiefs, they could form a
solid block and hold the balance of power in the Legislative Assembly. Even with
consolidated Matanzima control, the government will be forced to make concessions to
popular demands, on such issues as the removal of mother-tongue instruction in Bantu
But the Transkei scheme, rooted in tribalism and the sway of the Chiefs, is corrupting
itself from within. A victory for Matanzima, paradoxically enough, could result in
tribalism as an institution collapsing more swiftly in the Transkei than anywhere else.
The government has no option but to work through the Chiefs who, like the Nationalists,
have a mortal fear of change and the will of the common peasants. Conservatism is the
lifeblood of the chieftainship system, and change threatens the positions of power that
the Chiefs and the government enjoy. Chiefs and government, therefore, have common aims:
to resist movements advocating multi-racialism and modern social development. Because the
Chiefs hold an overall majority in the new Assembly, the alliance between Chiefs and
government seemed safe enough. But the Nationalists underestimated the deep hatred of
apartheid among the peasants. The great majority of the voters went to the polls not to
signify a meek obedience to their Chiefs, but their opposition to apartheid policies. This
opposition has been clearly expressed. When the Chiefs elevated Matanzima to power,
despite his minority rating in the election, they opted not to express the viewpoint of
their people, but to keep favour with the government that pays them. This denied the
long-established tribal tradition that a Chief is merely the embodiment of his people, and
it must result in the commoners turning with increasing distaste from their Chiefs. If
their traditional leaders fail them, the peasants will inevitably seek other ones. Yet
this is precisely what the government hoped that the Transkei plan would prevent.
Three Tembu aristocrats, two still living in the Transkei, the third serving a life
sentence after the Rivonia case, are the main antagonists for and against Verwoerd,
symbolizing three different ways of life and struggle in the Transkei. All three are drawn
from the Tembu Royal House, share a common grandfather, and were groomed for chieftainship
by the same tutor. They are Kaizer Matanzima, promoted against tribal custom from a minor
chieftaincy to head of the Emigrant Tembus when Nationalist Party administrators cut
Tembuland into two paramountcies, in a blatant divide and rule policy; Paramount Chief
Sabata Dalindyebo, head of the Tembu tribe; and Nelson Mandela, uncle of Sabata,
underground leader of the African National Congress and hero of the African youth.
Matanzima, arrogant and ambitious, explains his acceptance of the Bantustan programme
on the grounds that the Transkei could in this way become South Africa`s first independent
Black state. Yet in practice Matanzima is playing the role of the classic collaborator, as
the strong man groomed by the White government to keep down the peasantry, to destroy the
political fighters of the Transkei who, outlawed and persecuted in the Matanzima kingdom,
are becoming throughout the country an inspiration to resistance. It has been suggested
that apart from his collaborationist role, there is another course open to Matanzima: that
he could try to last a little longer in a Transkei hostile to his despotism by demanding
that the Nationalist talk of independence must be made a reality; that he must find a way
to keep his footing in a Transkei that will not long be satisfied to levy local taxes, but
will need to find large capital sums for development; that he will head a Transkei that
will not be satisfied with the right to rubber-stamp Nationalist policies, and pass petty
decrees, but will demand the power to repeal those laws which so disable the Transkei and
indeed all Africans. The Matanzima way, it has been suggested, will be to call the bluff
of the Nationalists, to bite the apartheid hand that feeds and protects him. Ambition will
undoubtedly drive him to demand a larger share of the takings. But Matanzima knows the
Nationalist government full well - for he is not untutored in stratagems of `Bantu`
administration; he must know that real independence, granted by a Nationalist government,
is impossible, and that if he defies the machine which has made him, he will be destroyed
If there are two courses open to Matanzima - and men who know him well discount the
course of bluff and eventual defiance - both place him in a nasty dilemma. Terror against
the people will in time range across the whole of the Transkei, and counter-terror will
threaten the authority, and the lives, of all the Chiefs who range themselves with White
authority against their people. But demanding that the Nationalist government give the
Transkei real independence will be just as disastrous for the Matanzimas. For the
Bantustan promises to be fulfilled, so that Transkeians have factories and dams and power
stations, and their old worn, over-worked labour reserve is turned into an economically
viable state, millions of pounds must be voted and spent; but the White taxpayer will
never tolerate this. The Transkei is an under-developed region and the recipe for
advancement is simple enough; but White supremacy in South Africa will not supply the
ingredients. The Transkei has the labour, but no power, no transport, no communications,
no capital. The millions recommended by the Tomlinson Commission for a scheme of
development are a nightmare memory to the Nationalists.
The truth is that apartheid is losing its stake fast in the Transkei. Open terror,
imposed for too long, will fire violent resistance. If, in a desperate, though unlikely,
bid to save itself and apartheid from the acid test of the Transkei, the Nationalists try
to push ahead with industrialization and urbanization, they will create in the Transkei,
faster than ever, new forces that will rise to destroy them - those forces now represented
by the Mandela leadership: African workers, removed from the land and based in factories,
who will turn from Chiefs and tribal loyalties to trade unions and political parties. The
more earnestly the Nationalists try to make their fantastic scheme work, the more forces
they will release to resist and eventually bring them down. The harder the Nationalists
set their faces against development, and lean on forces of conservatism and stagnation,
the more farcical becomes the talk of development, of self-government, of Transkei
The Transkei, show-place of the Bantustan scheme, could well be the first battlefield
on which apartheid will be defeated.
PROCLAMATION BY THE STATE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA
No. R293,1962: Regulations for the administration and control of townships in bantu
Ethnic Character of Population of Township
Whenever any township is situated within the area of jurisdiction of any chief or
headman, no person other than a member of the tribe of that chief or of the community over
which that headman has been appointed or who has joined such tribe or community, shall,
save with the approval of the Bantu Affairs Commissioner, be permitted to become an
occupier of such township.
Any person who is head of a family and is desirous of taking up his residence in the
township and of leasing and occupying for residential purposes together with the members
of his family, a dwelling erected by or belonging to the Trust, shall apply for a
certificate in respect of such dwelling and of the site on which such dwelling stands.
The manager on being satisfied that the applicant is a fit and proper person to reside
in the township; shall allot such a dwelling and the site on which such dwelling stands,
to such applicant and issue to him a certificate substantially in the form set out in
Schedule D to these regulations.
No person other than a holder or grantee or the family of such holder or grantee shall
remain in the township for longer than thirty days unless he shall first have obtained a
The superintendent, on being satisfied that;
- the applicant is a fit and proper person to reside in the township;
- the applicant has obtained accommodation approved by the superintendent;
- the holder or the grantee on whose premises the lodger is to reside, has consented to
the issue of a lodger`s permit, shall issue to such applicant a lodger`s permit
substantially in the form set out in Schedule I to these regulations: Provided that the
wife of a lodger and an unmarried child of a lodger residing with its parent or parents
shall not be required to hold a lodger`s permit. A holder or guarantee in respect of whose
premises a lodger`s permit has been issued shall forthwith report to the superintendent
the fact of the lodger ceasing to reside in his dwelling or on his site.
Entering of Premises
No person shall refuse to permit the manager, superintendent, assistant or authorized
employee to enter his premises as provided under sub-regulation (1).
No person other than a Bantu shall be allowed by the trader to share in the profits of
his trade: Provided that this regulation shall not debar the trader from raising with the
approval of the Secretary a loan in the ordinary course of business.
Canvassing for Orders
No person shall without the prior approval of the superintendent canvass or solicit
orders within the township for any trade not conducted in the township.
Hawking and Peddling Prohibited
No person other than a Bantu duly authorized by the Bantu Affairs Commissioner and
licensed or exempted according to law shall carry on the trade or business of a hawker or
pedlar in the township, save for the purpose of the sale and delivery of fresh or skimmed
Any person desiring to hire a hall shall make application there for to the
superintendent and shall furnish such particulars as may be required from time to time.
Grant of Application
The grant of any application for the hire of a hall shall be in the sole and absolute
discretion of the superintendent.
Control, Supervision, Restriction or Prohibition of Meeting or Assembly
The Bantu Affairs Commissioner shall have the right to control, supervise, restrict or
prohibit any meeting or assembly of Bantu persons within the township: Provided that no
such meeting or assembly shall be prohibited unless reasonable grounds exist for believing
that the holding thereof may provoke or tend to a breach of the peace.
Notification of Meeting or Assembly
Subject to the provisions of any other law, any person or body of persons desiring to
convene, hold or conduct a meeting or assembly of Bantu persons within the township shall
lodge an application in writing for permission to convene, hold or conduct such meeting
with the manager not less than seventy-two hours before the proposed time of commencement
or holding of such meeting. Such application shall state particulars of the nature and
purpose of the meeting or assembly, the subject to be discussed thereat and the time and
place where such meeting or assembly is to be held.
Supervision by Police and Trust Employees
A meeting or assembly shall, if circumstances warrant it, be under the supervision of
the police and authorized employees who shall have absolute power to control such meeting
or assembly and whose instructions and directions shall be obeyed.
If during the progress of any meeting or assembly, any subject matter other than that
referred to in sub-regulation (1) of regulation 2 of this chapter is discussed, introduced
or allowed to be discussed, either overtly or covertly, or if circumstances arise which
may provoke or tend to a breach of the peace or if the meeting or assembly becomes unruly
or disorderly from any cause whatsoever, the member of the police or authorized employee
under whose supervision such meeting or assembly is held, may order the chairman to
adjourn the meeting or assembly and to leave the chair and order persons attending such
meeting or assembly to disperse.
Duration of Meeting or Assembly
No meeting or assembly shall be continued later than II p.m. without the approval of
the manager or, in his absence, the member of the police or of the authorized employee
under whose supervision such meeting or assembly is held.
Collection of Money
No person shall, without the prior written approval of the manager, collect any money
for other than bona fide church purposes from the persons present at any meeting
Appointment of Chief`s Representative
The Chief Bantu Affairs Commissioner may in respect of any township, direct the chief
or headman within whose area such township is situated
- to appoint a suitable person as his deputy or sub-headman as the case may be, in the
- to report, within ten days of the date of receipt by him of such direction, to the Bantu
Affairs Commissioner the name of the person so appointed.
The Bantu Affairs Commissioner may within seven days veto an appointment so made and
direct the chief or headman to appoint some other person and to report to him within ten
days of the date of such direction, the name of such other person appointed.
If a chief or headman fails to make an appointment in terms of sub-regulation (1) or
(2), the Bantu Affairs Commissioner may himself appoint a suitable person as the chief`s
deputy or sub-headman and advise the chief or headman of the name of the person appointed.
A person so appointed shall be deemed to have been appointed by the chief or headman.
From the Government Gazette Extraordinary of the Republic of South Africa, 16
November 1962. Vol. VI No. 373.
THE FREEDOM CHARTER
We, the People of South Africa, declare for all our country and the world to know: that
South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and that no government can
justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of all the people:
that our people have been robbed of their birthright to land, liberty and peace by a
form of government founded on injustice and inequality; that our country will never be
prosperous or free until all our people live in brotherhood, enjoying equal rights and
that only a democratic state, based on the will of all the people, can secure to all
their birthright without distinction of colour, race, sex or belief;
And therefore, we the people of South Africa, black and white together - equals,
countrymen and brothers - adopt this Freedom Charter. And we pledge ourselves to strive
together, sparing neither strength nor courage, until the democratic changes set out here
have been won.
THE PEOPLE SHALL GOVERN!
Every man and woman shall have the right to vote for and to stand as a candidate for
all bodies which make laws;
All people shall be entitled to take part in the administration of the country;
The rights of the people shall be the same, regardless of race, colour or sex;
All bodies of minority rule, advisory boards, councils and authorities shall be
replaced by democratic organs of self-government.
ALL NATIONAL GROUPS SHALL HAVE EQUAL RIGHTS!
There shall be equal status in the bodies of state, in the courts and in the schools
for all national groups and races;
All people shall have equal right to use their own languages, and to develop their own
folk culture and customs;
All national groups shall be protected by law against insults to their race and
The preaching and practice of national, race or colour discrimination and contempt
shall be a punishable crime;
All apartheid laws and practices shall be set aside.
THE PEOPLE SHALL SHARE IN THE COUNTRY`S WEALTH!
The national wealth of our country, the heritage of all South Africans, shall be
restored to the people;
The mineral wealth beneath the soil, the Banks and monopoly industry shall be
transferred to the ownership of the people as a whole;
All other industry and trade shall be controlled to assist the well-being of the
All people shall have equal rights to trade where they choose, to manufacture and to
enter all trades, crafts and professions.
THE LAND SHALL BE SHARED AMONG THOSE WHO WORK IT!
Restrictions of land ownership on a racial basis shall be ended and all the land
redivided amongst those who work it, to banish famine and land hunger;
The state shall help the peasants with implements, seed, tractors and dams to save the
soil and assist the tillers;
Freedom of movement shall be guaranteed to all who work on the land;
All shall have the right to occupy land wherever they choose;
People shall not be robbed of their cattle, and forced labour and farm prisons shall be
ALL SHALL BE EQUAL BEFORE THE LAW!
No one shall be imprisoned, deported or restricted without a fair trial;
No one shall be condemned by the order of any Government official;
The courts shall be representative of all the people;
Imprisonment shall be only for serious crimes against the people, and shall aim at
re-education, not vengeance;
The police force and army shall be open to all on an equal basis and shall be the
helpers and protectors of the people;
All laws which discriminate on grounds of race, colour or belief shall be repealed.
ALL SHALL ENJOY EQUAL HUMAN RIGHTS!
The law shall guarantee to all their right to speak, to organize, to meet together, to
publish, to preach, to worship and to educate their children;
The privacy of the house from police raids shall be protected by law;
All shall be free to travel without restriction from countryside to town, from province
to province, and from South Africa to abroad.
Pass Laws, permits, and all other laws restricting these freedoms shall be abolished.
THERE SHALL BE WORK AND SECURITY!
All who work shall be free to form trade unions, to elect their officers and to make
wage agreements with their employers;
The state shall recognize the right and duty of all to work, and to draw full
Men and women of all races shall receive equal pay for equal work;
There shall be a forty-hour working week, a national minimum wage, paid annual leave,
and sick leave for all workers, and maternity leave on full pay for all working mothers;
Miners, domestic workers, farm workers, and civil servants shall have the same rights
as all others who work;
Child labour, compound labour, the tot system and contract labour shall be abolished.
THE DOORS OF LEARNING AND OF CULTURE SHALL BE OPENED!
The government shall discover, develop and encourage national talent for the
enhancement of our cultural life:
All the cultural treasures of mankind shall be open to all, by free exchange of books,
ideas and contacts with other lands;
The aim of education shall be to teach the youth to love their people and their
culture, to honour human brotherhood, liberty and peace;
Education shall be free, compulsory, universal and equal for all children;
Higher education and technical training shall be opened to all by means of state
allowances and scholarships awarded on the basis of merit;
Adult illiteracy shall be ended by a mass state education plan;
Teachers shall have all the rights of other citizens;
The colour bar in cultural life, in sport, and in education shall be abolished.
THERE SHALL BE HOUSES, SECURITY AND COMFORT!
All people shall have the right to live where they choose, to be decently housed, and
to bring up their families in comfort; and security;
Unused housing space to be made available to the people;
Rent and prices shall be lowered, food plentiful and no one shall go hungry;
A preventive health scheme shall be run by the state;
Free medical care and hospitalisation shall be provided for all, with special care for
mothers and young children;
Slums shall be demolished, and new suburbs built where all have transport, roads,
lighting, playing fields, creches and social centres;
The aged, the orphans, the disabled and the sick shall be cared for by the state;
Rest, leisure and recreation shall be the right of all;
Fenced locations and ghettoes shall be abolished, and laws which break up families
shall be repealed.
THERE SHALL BE PEACE AND FRIENDSHIP!
South Africa shall be a fully independent state, which respects the rights and
sovereignty of nations;
South Africa shall strive to maintain world peace and the settlement of all
international disputes by negotiation - not war;
Peace and friendship amongst all our people shall be secured by upholding the equal
rights, opportunities and status of all;
The people of the protectorates - Basutoland, Bechuanaland and Swaziland shall be free
to decide for themselves their own future;
The rights of all the peoples of Africa to independence and self-government shall be
recognized, and shall be the basis of close cooperation.
Let all who love their people and their country now say, as we say here:
`THESE FREEDOMS WE WILL FIGHT FOR, SIDE BY SIDE, THROUGHOUT OUR LIVES,
UNTIL WE HAVE WON OUR LIBERTY.`
(Adopted at the Congress of the People, Kliptown, South Africa, on 26 June 1955.)
Cala, XaLanga District.
In terms of Regulation 12 (1) of Proclamation No. R400 of 1960 I have, by virtue of the
powers vested in me under the said proclamation to order you to remove with the members of
your household, livestock and movable property from Emnxe Location, XaLanga District, to
Keilands location in St Marks District and to remain in the last mentioned location for an
unspecified period. It is ordered that you should report to Chief Zwelibanzi Ndarala of
Banzi Location, St Marks District, not later than thirty days from the date of service of
this order upon you or at your place of ordinary residence.
It is further ordered that you do not visit any other location either in XaLanga or in
the St Marks District and that you report to Chief Zwelibanzi Ndarala weekly.
In terms of the Regulation 12 (1) (b) of the said Proclamation authority has been
granted to the Messenger of the Court, Zilindile Mvuso with the assistance of the persons
accompanying him to demolish any hut or dwelling owned by and occupied by you, situated in
Emnxe location, and in terms of Regulation 12 (1) (c) to cause the removal by force of
yourself together with the members of your household and any of your property or their
property, if you should fail to comply with the order issued under Regulation 12 (1) (a).
Signed: K. D. Matanzima
Regional Chief of Emigrant Tembuland..
Dated at the Great Place at Qamata, this 13th day of January, 1961
MEN FROM PONDOLAND SENTENCED TO DEATH
|From Mpisi Location
|These four men`s sentences were commuted to 15 years. From Amandengane
|Gudu Nkuku||Mpisi Location, Bizana, acquitted on appeal and released on 18.2.62|
|From Isikelo Location, Bizana. Executed March 1962 for murder of
Details as above
|Five men including
|Sentenced for the murder of Stanford