July-December 1984

July 21, 1984

There is some discussion of the so called transfer issue or the “Ngwavuma and KaNgwane transfer problem”.  At the time the transfer was announced, the magistrates offices in this area were localized. I was able to interview two of the homeland magisgrates. All of the whites were pulled out and Inkatha paid a great deal of attention to this area.

A great deal of Swazi transfer money from South Africa was said to be put into education, health and social services.  The local population was the unexpected beneficiary of this. Below is the Ngwavuma River which forms a boundary with Swaziland and the area which was to be transferred.

Civil service personnel in the homelands often reflect the attitudes of the South African National Party value system.  “These people are not ready; it will take a long time before they will evolve.”  This value system may be in conflict with the political leadership within the homelands and this was certainly to be the case in KaNgwane.  There remains a generally positive view of Buthelezi however in the Ngwavuma area.


June 22, 1984.

Traveled to Ulundi,Kwa Zulu and had an interview with Mr. H. Khumalo, Administrator, Inkatha National Office in Ulundi.  He stressed his concern about violence.  He was very anti-violence. He had a positive view of the possibilities of political change.  He stressed the importance of communication, media and especially the role that Television might play in influencing white opinion.  He said he was anti-United Democratic Front because the have rejected Inkatha.

June 26, 1984.

Arrived in the South African Homeland of GaZankulu for an interview with Mr. W. B. Matthews, Chief Secretary in the Chief Minister’s Office.  He noted, with regard to the Chief Minister, (Hudson  W. E.Ntsanwisi)  “The Chief Minister is unable to get a cup of tea, between the Petersburg Holiday Inn and Pretoria.  Any standard II, railway worker will be served but not the Chief Minister who is a `Doctor-Professor.’ He has to drink tea in his car.”

The Chief Minister, pictured above in 1973, was a supporter a former lecturer in Bantu Languages at the University of the North.  He generally supported the homeland system but stated in 1990 that he approved of the F.W. De Klerk announcements and proposed reforms.

Mathews noted that all of the Northern Transvaal towns would have to close down if it were not for the black shoppers.  They would scream to the heavens if they boycotted the Checkers but they will not let a black bank open up a branch in Pietersburg or serve and African a bottle of beer.

The Chief Secretary, who appears to be a reformer, talked about the limits of autonomy in the homeland system.  Most of the officials are Afrikaners, seconded from the Department of Cooperation and Development.  They are afraid to use the legal powers invested in the Act.  Their first loyalty is with the people who pay them, who give them their promotions.

They introduced District Control Officers in Gazankulu (D.C.O.) who he said were really development officers.  This met a lot of resistance from Pretoria, from C.&D. and from Justice and here from the Commissioner-General.  But it is within the power of the Chief Minister to make these changes and we are going to do it.  “We are going to push the homeland policy as far as we can,” He said.

The Chief Secretary grew up in the Transkei, spoke fluent seXhosa and had worked in “Native” administration as a magistrate and native commissioner since the 1940s. There was he said, “a tradition of only using English speakers in the reserves on the grounds that paramount chiefs felt more comfortable with them.”  Mathews noted that only two homeland leaders, Ntsanwisi and Buthelezi had requested the appointment of English speaking chief secretaries.

The problem was, he said, that the homeland policy had sparked off an increase in petty nationalism in the Northern Transvaal and in other areas.  Perhaps it will be difficult to put a cap back on it.


June 27, 1984

I returned to the Government Secretary’s Office to have a second discussion with W. B. Matthews.


July 1, 1984

I see a number of themes in the study as of mid-1984.  First, there is a great deal of the politics of symbolism and political quiescence in the homelands.  Because of the economic neglect, they rely on the use of Tribal Authorities and magistrates in a manner unchanged for the last hundred years.  There is a problem in the urban and semi-urban areas in terms of use of traditional authorities. There they have what are called township and community councils. Secondly, there has been an evolution of local level politics in the “white” areas: Provinces and Municipalities and the “Coloured” voters.  The effect of the new dispensation on the regional and local level has been negative.  There is confusion about the responsibility for liaison with the “black” areas and relationships with Seconded officials, and third, there is much discussion and many new ideas about economic regionalism, decentralization and the growth points concept.  These tie in with the dependency literature and on the use of the homelands as

a) commuter bedrooms, communities next to urban areas;

b) as depositories of surplus labor;

c) as responsible for the problem of clashes between ethnic nationalism, such as in the Winterveld area and the economic needs for cheap labor competition.  In other words, within the homeland context whose problem are the alien ethnics behind homeland boarders; and

d) as one notes the irrelevance of the homeland issue except in tracing lines of communications, ie. a verligte (Enlightened) Ministry of Foreign Affairs as opposed to a verkrampte (Very Conservative) Cooperation and Development Department.  Ultimately these will be treated as ethnically based regional authorities with a high degree of economic dependency.  The dependency literature suggests that “politico-economic” decision-making is a continuum of relationships in which de jure status has little relevance outside of “international communication and access to certain IGOs.  Dependency theorists who ignore this continuum because it is ideologically messy have in effect “copped out.”

[The Author at the Cape of Good Hope, 1984]

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