Emerging conflict themes in the Transkei

Thumbnail Image
Szeftel, Morris
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Racial conflict in South Africa stems from whites' determination to perpetuate their monopoly of land and cheap labour resources, by means of political supremacy, and African opposition to this control. This African opposition stems from the common values which industrial and urban society has created in the country and which lead Africans to assert their right to equality and to share in economic wealth. The escalation of conflict in the fifties and early sixties was due to intensified white efforts to entrench their position and intensified black efforts to resist and challenge this hegemony. The aspirations for the common society dominated African thinking in these years. Whites became increasingly dependent on coercion as a means of conflict resolution. The policy of territorial balkanization of the country, called separate development, is a white attempt to expel this conflict from the urban areas of white privilege by granting Africans autonomy in rural "Homelands" or "Bantustans" while retaining white control of economic wealth. The policy rejects racial integration which would end white privilege and instead seeks "political independence with economic interdependence". Africans living in the cities who are not employed by whites are expelled to the rural areas. Bantu Education is used to ensure that Africans will continue to remain a low-paid proletariat. Border industries, created near the Bantustans ensure that capital resources remain in white hands while black labour is located nearby. And the Bantustans themselves aim to give Africans citizenship of these rural, tribally defined areas while denying them such citizenship in the rest of the country. But conflict in South Africa shows a distinct causal relationship "between African aspirations and perceptions of deprivation on the one hand, and conflict, on the other. Whether or not such a relationship exists in the Bantustans as well, will determine whether or not such a policy of conflict exte realization can succeed.The Transkei is the prototype Bantustan. Here the chiefs have been given power and electoral representation has been confined to a minority of the seats in the Legislative Assembly. In 1963» when the elected seats went overwhelmingly to candidates opposing apartheid, the chiefs were able to ensure that their pro-apartheid leader formed the first Transkei government. Yet the Transkei Legislative Assembly has provided a platform for anti-apartheid criticism of the government and the small electoral mechanism has required the chiefs to seek a popular mandate for their policies. The result has been that the black version of apartheid has been expressed as a policy seeking an end to white domination and calling for a racially exclusive society free of white exploitation of blacks. In the 1968 election such racial symbols appear to have helped the chiefs win a majority of the elected seats. And their victory has led to a further intensification of grievance articulation against the white government. In the name of apartheid, the Transkei has demanded more land, greater economic development and independence for the region.Poverty has also resulted in a renewal of populist agitation and violence (there was a populist revolt in I960 against apartheid land policies) and this resurgence is likely to further intensify demands from the Transkei as chiefs attempt to maintain their new political support. Increasingly the demands are being made in terms of African poverty and are inclusive of African life in the rest of South Africa as well as the Transkei. The relationship between persisting deprivation and conflict appears to hold for the Transkei as well. The conflict externalization policy would thus appear to be misconceived.Events indicate that the urban African is likely to increase in numbers and thus the Transkei appears to be an additional source of conflict rather than a means of perpetuating white privilege.
Transkei (South Africa) -- Politics and government. , Transkei (South Africa) -- Social conditions.