"The danger begins only when they make a virtue of necessity and want
to freeze into a complete theoretical system all the tactics forced upon them
by these fatal circumstances,...."
Rosa Luxemburg wrote in 1918 about the Bolsheviks. Could that admonition not
also be directed at the South African national liberation movement (NLM) and the
Comrade President Mandela has often remarked that we should not behave as if
we are dealing with an enemy whom we defeated on the battle field. Implicit in
this warning is that the enemy is still strong and might well have un-exhausted
reserves of power and energy that he could marshall against us.
What remains unsaid, but should be read between the lines, is that the
elections of April 1994 entailed a degree of compromise, some concessions and
postponements, many of which took account of the enemy`s real strength and
untapped power. Others were made to draw to our side of the conflict vacillating
class elements and strata who might otherwise have reinforced the ranks of an as
a yet undefeated enemy. Yet others were made to widen the fissures and cracks
within the enemy`s own ranks and to buy time that would enable us to consolidate
the gains made. There were also compromises forced upon us because we could
ill-afford to jeopardise the larger prize - majority rule - in pursuance of a
It is in this context that I want to locate the national question in the post
April 1994 period, focussing specifically on the issues of uprooting the
institutions of Colonialism of a Special Type (CST), Ethnicity and Culture and
Some Comparative Comments.
1997 marks the 50th anniversary of Indian Independence, it will also be the
48th Anniversary of China`s Liberation on 1 October. These two anniversaries and
the movements associated with them probably were the central influences on the
post World War II process of decolonization.
In many respects the two movements are contemporary and their victories are
just two years apart. Yet they are referred to very differently by both
protagonists and antagonists. We speak of the "Struggle for Indian
Independence", but we speak of the "Chinese Revolution". Is there
any significance in how we refer to the two movements? Does our expression point
up a fundamental difference between the two?
The attainment of Indian Independence was of great political, social,
psychological and symbolic importance to all the peoples in the colonies. India
was the world`s largest colony. It was probably the richest British colony -
fondly referred to as the "Jewel in the Crown" in the literature of
imperial nostalgia. The independence of India in 1947 was the first decisive
triumph of the liberation movements in the colonies and semi-colonies.
Independent India was also the very first country to place the issue of racial
oppression in South Africa on the agenda of the newly founded United Nations
Organisation. As such it had a very direct bearing on the struggle of our own
people. For the other colonies it represented the implicit guarantee of colonial
freedom. It gave a very positive impetus to the irresistible drive towards
colonial freedom that unfolded during the 1950s and 1960s.
Yet, the emancipation of India came in a form that was far less than the
movement for independence had fought for. The country was partitioned along
religious lines. The creation of Pakistan was a totally arbitrary act of
colonial despotism because there was no precedent of such an entity - a Muslim
state - in pre-colonial India. That act built into India`s hard won independence
a virtually permanent source of tension. A cancer, so to speak.
The liberation of China came about by a very different route. An armed
struggle, characterised by two revolutionary Civil Wars, briefly interrupted by
a War of Resistance to Japanese imperialism, culminated in the routing of the
Goumindang`s armies and the armed seizure of power by the Communist Party at the
head of a successful peasant`s revolt.
Yet the "un-finished character" of Indian independence, is echoed
also in the liberation of China. With the support and assistance of the US,
Taiwan seceded under Guomindang rule; the British were allowed to remain in Hong
Kong until July 1997; and the Portuguese are still in Macao .
Despite their un-finished character, both these movements were nonetheless
victories. And the significance of their achievements is not diminished by the
concessions that had to be accepted or that were foisted upon them.
Virtually all the liberation movements that attained victory after 1947,
including our own, have been forced to make compromises at the point of victory.
National liberation has rarely come in the form that the movement sought.
Consequently, the terrain on which the triumphant movement has to manoeuvre
after victory is not necessarily all of its own choosing or making.
Anniversaries are important as marking a climax, the crucial nodal point in
time - the people finally assuming power. But, while we might focus on a single
day, a single event, or happenings - revolutions are not a moment, they are
processes. Processes in which there are nodal moments - like 27 April 1994 - but
they are a continuum. Our own national democratic revolution is no different.
April 27 1994 will remain a very significant day in South African history, but
in reality it merely marks a high point in a continuing process.In that ongoing
process there will be moments of rapid advance, but there will also be the need,
sometimes, to retreat. Retreating does not mean conceding defeat, it is most
often a tactical manoeuvre undertaken to put off till a more opportune time,
action one would have preferred to take in the present.
What I am suggesting therefore is that national liberation movements have, in
many cases, been compelled to postpone aspects of their programme and policy in
the light of an intractable tactical conjuncture. The retreat, in other words,
is undertaken in order to prepare for a more coherent and better planned
It is important that we boldly acknowledge and accept that the movement has
had to seek compromises and make concessions to the old order so that we could
attain the important beach-head of majority rule in 1994. A victory that was
further consolidated with the signing into law of the constitution in December
How Did We Understand Apartheid?
Since 1969 Morogoro Conference the ANC has held the view that the
contradiction between the colonised Black majority (Africans, Coloureds and
Indians) and the White oppressor state is the most visible and dominant
contradiction within apartheid ruled South Africa.It has further argued that
this contradiction could not be solved by the colonial state "reforming
itself out of existence", and consequently, only struggle to overthrow the
system of colonial domination would lead to the resolution of this
contradiction. Moreover, it was our view that since the colonial state and the
colonised people could not be spatially separated, there was no possibility of
the two co-existing - as is the case in classic colonialism where the colonial
power packs off its staff and goes home, leaving the former colony to fend for
itself. In the South African context, this necessarily meant that the struggle
would have to result in the destruction of the apartheid state.
The ANC always regarded apartheid as much more than mere racial
discrimination, though of course racial discrimination was central to its
practice. We regarded apartheid as a multi-faceted and comprehensive system of
institutionalised racial oppression with the following characteristics:
It was a system of White minority rule in which the Black majority were
staturorily excluded from the political process. Political power, except for
some marginal delegated powers, was explicitly the monopoly of the White
minority. The indigenous people were ruled as a conquered and colonised
It was based on the conquest and dispossession of the indigenous people of
their land and its wealth. This dispossession was itself institutionalised
in formal legislation. The watershed law was the 1913 Natives Land Act in
terms of which 13 per cent of the land area of the country was set aside as
"Native Reserves" and Africans were excluded from land ownership,
save by special licence, in the remaining 87% of the country. Consequently,
access to the decisive sectors of productive land was racially determined to
the advantage of the Whites.
The dominant White minority enjoyed an undisguised monopoly over economic
power - the land, mines, industry and commerce - which was racially
apportioned to its advantage. As a result the propertied classes were
virtually exclusively White, while Blacks, on the whole, owned little or no
It was a system of labour coercion in which a multiplicity of
extra-economic devices had been deployed with the specific purpose of
compelling the indigenous people to make themselves readily available as a
source of cheap labour power.
In order to function, the system had required a highly repressive state
machinery, which was directed against the conquered people whom the
apartheid rulers regarded as a rightless mass to be held down by force of
All of this was rationalsed on the basis of the racial superiority of the
Whites. Apartheid was however also a racial hierarchy, graded on the basis of
skin colour, resulting in a high degree of differentiation among the oppressed
in terms of job opportunities, access to certain types of training, the exercise
of property rights, etc. At the core of the system of national oppression was
the conquest and domination of the African majority who were the most exploited
National oppression thus found expression in the palpable form of a number of
economic, social and developmental indicators - such as poverty and
underdevelopment, the low levels of literacy and numeracy among the oppressed
communities, their low access to clean water, the non-availability of
electricity, their low food consumption, their invariably low incomes, the poor
state of their health, the low levels of skills, the generally unsafe
environment in which these communities lived, etc. Thus the uprooting of
national oppression required, amongst other things, the correction of precisely
these conditions. In the view of our movement the content of freedom and
democracy would be the radical transformation of South African society so as to
create an expanding floor of economic and social rights for the oppressed
majority. The changes that we felt would bring about this transformation were
set out in our Programme, the Freedom Charter. Though it is not a programme for
socialism, the Freedom Charter envisaged the seizure of economic assets in the
land, the mines and monopoly industry as essential to the transformation of
How Do We Understand April 1994?
It would not be unreasonable to characterise 27 April 1994 as the
commencement of a new phase of South Africa`s national democratic revolution.
The democratic elections ushered in political democracy, enabling the people of
this country for the first time to put in office a government of their choice.
But the political democracy that came into being was one based on a host of
preceding institutional arrangements.
Firstly it was parliamentary democracy, on the British model, which
prescribes that the executive be constituted by the party that held the majority
of seats in parliament. Secondly, there were the terms agreed at Kempton Park,
that parties that polled more than five percent of the total poll could enter
into a coalition of national unity.
However, political democracy also placed in the hands of the democratic
government, led by the ANC, levers of power which could be used to address the
most immediate and pressing social and economic needs of the oppressed
communities. The RDP was an attempt to reconcile our vision of transformation
with what was immediately attainable in practice. The RDP has been further
refined through the government`s GEAR strategy, which is aimed at
operationalising the RDP in the context of the global environment within which
South Africa has to live. But parliamentary democracy means that the ANC has now
entered the era of electoral politics.And winning a working majority in the
legislative chamber at local, provincial and national levels determines whether
or not we will be given the mandate to govern.Electoral politics requires that
we package our policies and tasks in a platform that can muster the votes needed
to win at the polls.
Without the mandate of the electorate, the movement will not have the
authority to put in place the programmes that can bring nearer the attainment of
our strategic goals.[i]
Our message of a "Better Life for All" in 1994 , was a bid to
encapsulate the long term and immediate objectives of the movement in a catchy
and memorable phrase. True to itself and its traditions, the ANC also addressed
itself to the entire nation, rather than a section of it. In spite of this the
election results demonstrated that we garnered support mainly from the African
people, sections of the Coloured and Indian middle classes and a tiny fraction
of Whites. In KwaZulu- Natal a sizeable portion of the African rural population
supported the IFP, as did sections of the White and Indian professional classes.
The overwhelming majority of Coloured and Indian working classes voted for the
National Party. Whites went overwhelmingly for the NP; a sizeable fraction of
the Afrikaners voted FF, while the remainder, a tiny fraction totalling 2% of
the electorate, voted DP.
The policy positions the ANC put forward could not be faulted by any of its
opponents. Some even sought to mimic them! But the election results indicated
that in many instances it was identification with particular parties and fear of
others, rather than political platforms per se that persuaded voters how to cast
their votes. Race, ethnicity, gender and class were very evidently salient
factors in voter choice.
The National Question in Context.
As conventionally understood in South Africa, as elsewhere, the National
Question concerns the oppression of one or a number of other people/s by a
dominant colonial power. Consequently, the right to self-determination or to
national freedom/independence does not apply to the dominant group, but is
applied exclusively to the oppressed or dominated group. [Thus it would have
been absurd for Britain to have characterised the decolonisation of India as an
act of British self-determination.] International law, as it evolved after World
War II, including a number UN Security Council resolutions on South Africa,
further underwrote this interpretation of the right to self-determination.
International law, convention and established tradition does not recognise any
right to self-determination by an oppressor group or nation. This is a right
that can be claimed exclusively by the oppressed!
What then is the relevance of this to South Africa today?
Among the tactical options the ANC was compelled to consider was that of
accommodating the demand for a Volks chamber on the part of the White ultra-
Right. I submit that it would be utterly wrong to interpret this as some form of
recognition of the right to self-determination on the part of the Afrikaners.
Firstly this would violate every precept of international law as it has
evolved since 1945, and would also run counter to the ANC`s own conception of
How then do we view our acceptance of the Volks chamber?
The example of the Volks chamber serves to highlight a concession that is
most glaringly inconsistent with both the democratic foundations of the South
African constitution and the tradition to which the ANC has always adhered.
There are a number of others, perhaps less jarring, which had to be made at the
time as a means of smoothing the transition. It is however of paramount
importance that we assess whether these were temporary arrangements which should
not be allowed to congeal into a status quo or were regarded as options that
could become permanent. I would like to discuss some of these concessions, as
well as their tactical significance in relation to how we view ethnicity, the
issue of culture, affirmative action and the emergence of a black capitalist
It has become impolitic in South Africa to speak of tribalism. Firstly,
because this is an expression that has been used by racists and other enemies of
the African people as a means of stigmatising Africans as peculiarly prone to
"tribalism". Secondly, many have argued that what are usually referred
as "tribes" in the African context, in Europe would be called nations,
or at least nationalities. "Tribe" by this account is yet one other
example of derogatory language applicable exclusively to Africans as a way of
belittling us. Thirdly, the term "tribalism" is itself highly
politically charged and consequently adds more heat than light to an argument.
We have developed a preference for "ethnicity" as a consequence.
The South Africa that was finally brought under White control and domination
at the end of the Anglo-Boer War had formerly been divided amongst at least nine
different African political communities. In the south east there had been the
kingdoms of the Xhosa, sub-divided into a number of principalities (or
paramountcies as the colonialists preferred to call them); in the north east the
Zulu Kingdom; the Tsonga kingdom; and the Venda Kingdom. On the highveld were
the baPedi kingdom, the Tswana and southern Sotho Kingdoms. In addition to these
there were the independent Coloured principalities of the Gri(qua) and
Nama(qua), under the leadership of Kapteins (Chiefs) At the Berlin conference of
1884 the colonial powers of Europe had shared Africa out amongst themselves. In
many instances the newly established colonial borders divided these kingdoms, as
was the case with the Swazi kingdom, whose people lived on either side of the
borders, the southern Sotho, the Tsonga and many of the Tswana.
Conquest, accompanied by the growth of agrarian capitalism and later mining,
had set in train a number of socio-economic processes that continue to unfold
till this very day. The colonial authorities regarded all Africans, irrespective
of their affiliation or origin, as a conquered and subject people. A handful
could, by the grace of the colonial regime, buy their way out of their helot
status by acquiring property of a certain value, or by practising a profession
or by engaging in a trade that earned a certain income. These were the
"exempted Natives", who in the Cape and Natal were allowed to vote and
were not required to carry passes. Large numbers of Africans, formerly outside
the modern economy, were drawn into it first on the mines, then in the
developing urban areas.
Most importantly, conquest had drawn African, Coloured, White and the most
recent immigrant population, the Indians , into a common society in which the
capitalist economy, dominated by the Randlords of British descent was
pre-eminent.The Africans` shared status as colonised people conspired with the
economic evolution of the country to create the material conditions for the
birth to a national consciousness. This emergent national consciousness was
articulated first by the African intelligentsia - clergymen, professionals - in
the first decade of this century.
Before and immediately after the Anglo-Boer war, the Colonial authorities in
London, had mitigated the worst excesses of the settler White minority in South
Africa. Indeed Britain had entered the war proclaiming as one of her aims the
amelioration of the condition of Africans in the two Boer Republics. Because of
this Black intellectuals and political leaders had come to regard the British
government, and those South African Whites who identified with the imperial
power, as protectors, patrons and allies. Britain promptly betrayed these
undertakings once the Boers had been defeated and sought instead an
accommodation with her former enemies to "keep the darkies in their
place." The 1905 Native Affairs Commission sealed the British imperial
state`s betrayal of the hopes of all Blacks by confirming their colonial status
in no uncertain terms. National consciousness emerged as a response to conquest
and the shedding of past illusions about the imperial state.
The main agencies for the socialisation of Africans into modern life were the
mines and factories, churches, schools, formal and informal orgainsations, and
as literacy grew, the press and other media. All of the latter were controlled
by the Black intelligentsia. Acculturation thus unfolded largely as a process
guided by them and on their terms. This accounts for the extra-ordinary
ideological hegemony of this stratum over modern African communities despite its
puny numbers. The values and mores of this intelligentsia were quintessentially
the product of transition from pre-colonial to colonial society. In the urban
areas new opportunities arose for mixing with Africans and other Blacks from
diverse social,ethnic, linguistic, cultural and religious backgrounds. In the
towns education, training, skill, wealth and other achievements were the measure
of status rather than lineage and descent. New points of contact based on
economic, social and political activity in this new environment assisted in
forging new identities. The jettisoning of some inherited values, the retention
of others and the embracing of new ones, made for a more variegated cultural
surroundings which offered more opportunities for the energetic, the creative
At the same time the homogenising effect of urbanisation on the whole society
expanded the area of shared values among Africans, Coloureds, Indians and Whites
as members of a common society. The Black - African, Coloured and Indian -
leadership that grew within these circumstances accepted the modern world
because they recognised its liberatory potential in opening up new vistas for
themselves and their people. They were modernists.[ii]
Thus by the time the Act of Union was passed in 1909, Africans drawn from
varying ethnic stocks belonged to the same church, worked at the same jobs,
played the same games, read the same newspapers, belonged to the same sports
clubs and shared the same political ideals. Thus one person could be of Zulu
birth, be a member of the Congregational Church, work as a clerk on the mines,
be a star soccer player, a reader of The Star, and a member of the Native Voters
Association, like his neighbour who was Venda, Xhosa, Tswana, Sotho, etc. Such
urban Africans shared many of these affiliations with Whites, Coloureds and
The modernist African intelligentsia consequently evolved an inclusive vision
of South Africa, embodied in Rev. Z. R Mahabane`s invocation of: "The
common fatherhood of God, and the brotherhood of man". From its inception
African nationalism in South Africa eschewed ethnicity, racism and tribal
particularism in favour of a non-racial national agenda expressed in the
preamble of the Freedom Charter as "South Africa belongs to all who live in
This process of homogenisation grew apace with time, picking up speed
particularly during and after World War II when millions of Africans from the
rural areas were called forth to man industry. As the members of this urbanising
African community restructured and reconstituted their identities to take
account of the new roles that living and working in a modern economy imposes on
them, so too have the significance of particular language communities and ethnic
backgrounds assumed diminished importance in the manner in which they conduct
The concept of a common society was also embraced by the left-wing of the
then pre-dominantly White labour movement, organised as the South African
Communist Party, in 1924. A handful of White liberals within the dominant
capitalist classes began to see it as the inevitable result of the changes
wrought by World War II. White liberalism made its last ambivalent attempt to
force this recognition on the rest of White South Africa through the 1946 Fagan
Commission on Native Laws. Otherwise the majority of White South Africans
rejected the notion of a single society, and insisted on excluding Blacks from
Colonialism of a Special Type (CST) carried within it two contradictory
tendencies - the one, segregationist ; the other, its counter-vailing trend, an
integrating impulse. Capitalist development in a colonial setting co-opted the
numerous existing instruments of coercion, including racism, and created others
of its own for purposes of capital accumulation. Victorian racist ideology,
merged with that of the ex-Boer Republics, was the chief instrument of the
emergent capitalist classes. The empirical facts of institutionalised racial
discrimination, arranged in the hierarchical manner already referred to, have
acted upon the consciousness of South Africans to the same or a greater degree
than the objective socio-economic forces. The society at large, including the
economic institutions themselves, have been the objects of forces and political
currents generated within the dominant racist order.
The Segregationist Forces.
The principal counter-vailing tendencies to integration were the economic
interest of the dominant White capitalist classes - in mining and agriculture -
and the sectional interests of the Afrikaner petty bourgeoisie.
Like any other dominant class, the White oligarchy in mining and commercial
agriculture sought to limit access to their economic and social status. Law,
inherited custom and the mores of British colonialism in Africa were used to
deny Africans access to various forms of productive property. This was first
applied in the mines, but was incrementally extended to commercial agriculture,
then to various trades and professions,then to a number of commercial
activities, culminating in "Stallardism", that excluded Africans from
the urban areas except when "ministering to the needs of the Whites".
By the 1920s all Whites, including the recently landed immigrant and even the
beggar, were defined as members of an exclusive community, collectively endowed
with certain rights and prerogatives solely on account of their race.
Racial domination - in its various guises of "white supremacy with
justice" a la Smuts` United Party, or the "apartheid" of
the National Party - was also the means of domination employed in the pursuance
of particular class interests. By legislative fiat and administrative measures,
the White autocracy steadily destroyed the property-owning classes among Blacks.
Beginning with the Natives Land Act of 1913, these measures were followed up by
the Natives Land and Trust Act of 1935, the Asiatic Land Tenure Act of 1946, The
Group Areas Act of 1951, the Bantu Authorities Act of the same year and a host
of others that bankrupted the Black property-owning classes by restricting their
rights to own property and engage in commerce. Policies such as the White labour
policy instituted by the Nat- Labour Pact government after 1924, then further
elaborated in the Job Reservation Act of 1954 also made certain forms of skilled
work the exclusive preserve of Whites. State policy thus created a racial
hierarchy graded by skin colour, with Whites at the top and Africans at the
An intricate dialectic of race and class was thus devised, resulting in a
class stratification coinciding in large measure with a racial hierarchy, so
that in general terms the overwhelming majority of Blacks were propertyless
working people, while the propertied classes were virtually lily White. The
ANC`s policy thrust of tilting in favour of the working class and its mass
organisations is grounded in this reality. Historical expreience is also the
basis of the alliance with the Communist Party and COSATU.
These racial exclusions were institutionalised in the 1909 Act of Union, then
by extension differentially applied to the other Blacks. Indians, as a
numerically weak minority of recent immigrants, were the easiest victims.
Coloureds, the majority of whom were the descendants of propertyless servants
and former bonded persons, were to witness steady encroachments on their rights
well into the 1970s.
The second powerful reinforcement of racism came from the sectional interests
of the Afrikaner petty bourgeoisie and intelligentsia. British victory in the
Anglo- Boer War destroyed Afrikaner independence and threatened to plunge the
Afrikaner people into a cosmopolitan, industrialising society dominated by
British monopoly capital. The impoverished Afrikaner ex-farmer of the early
1900s, like his African and Coloured counterparts, entered the job market as the
least skilled and least acculturated to urban life. All three these groups of
former peasants now had to re-invent and restructure their identities as new
persons living in a common society. From the perspective of the Afrikaner petty
bourgeois intelligentsia - whose domain was the Dutch reformed churches and its
educational institutions - this process held out the prospect of the urbanising
Afrikaner community drifting away from the church, the "volk" and
other institutions dominated by themselves.
Consequently, the bearers of Afrikaner nationalist ideology were the small
property owners and related strata amongst the Afrikaners, whose livelihood
depended on the preservation and elevation of that community`s distinct
language, the preservation of its churches and exclusive schools, as well as
other institutions. They manipulated the totems and symbols of the Afrikaner`s
recent past - defeat in war, the destruction of their republics, suffering at
the hands of the British occupation forces, etc - to cocoon their community
against the influences of the cosmopolitan environment. An ethnic nationalism,
which alleviated the pain of the Afrikaner working people`s alienation, but
could not redress their political and economic subordination was the result.
Afrikaner ethnic nationalism defined an ethnic "home" for a people who
had been rudely torn from their pre-industrial life by war and bankruptcy and
placed them under the ideological domination of the Afrikaner propertied classes
who thenceforth employed ethnic mobilisation as the means to carve out a niche
for themselves in South Africa`s developing capitalist economy.
The Afrikaner nationalists found ready helpers among the right wing of the
White labour movement, led by the South African Labour Party. An electoral pact
between the two in 1924, defeated Smuts` South African Party and began an
inexorable reinforcement of racism through law. The White labourites hoped to
promote the claims of White workers to certain rights by an appeal to their
status as Whites in a colonial society. White labourism`s alliance with the
racists was sealed at the expense of the Black people in general, but the Black
working class in particular.As the majority of White workers embraced racism, so
too did they drift away from the Labour Party which virtually disappeared from
White South African politics by the outbreak of World War II. This led to the
coalescence of a racial bloc - Whites as a dominant racial group - led by the
capitalist classes, who projected the particular interests of the White
propertied classes as the general interest of all Whites.
The third, but no less important countervailing trend was White racist state
policy. Once institutionalised, racial domination and its twin, racism infected
every pore of society. The compound labour system, originally designed to give
mining employers greater control over their work force, was extended to
virtually every section of African workers. After the Report of the Stallard
Commission in 1923, Africans were arbitrarily defined as aliens in all the urban
areas of the country. They were residentially segregated to improve control over
their movements and residential segregation quickly became the norm in urban
areas outside a few areas of the Cape, Natal and some freehold locations in
The Evolution of So-Called African Customary Law.
But the chief institutional plank of segregatory politics came as a response
to an emergent, inclusive African nationalism as expressed in the phenomenal
growth of the ICU during the 1920s. The formulation of "Native policy"
in the Nat-Labour Pact government of 1924 was in the hands of so-called
"experts" from Natal, schooled in the Shepstonian policies of divide
Dismayed at the ability of the urban blacks (mainly African and Coloured) to
master the organisational skills appropriate to their environment these experts
hit on the notion: "Bantu communalism rather than Bantu Communism" as
a riposte. This was translated into the Native Laws Amendment Act of 1927 - the
earliest attempt to create a comprehensive legal framework for racial oppression
- which statutorily changed all African chiefs into servants of the state and
elevated the Governor-General to the status of "Supreme Chief of all
Natives" (in much the same fashion as the king of Britain was Emperor of
India.) All Africans, irrespective of their preference, would henceforth be
assigned to a "tribe" and placed under the authority of chief or
headman to whom they would be obliged to pay allegiance. The chiefs and headmen
were given extra-ordinary powers of coercion over their "subjects".
They were granted power to administer the distribution of land,
"tribal" justice, and the system of labour recruitment and control.
Thus a parallel legal and administrative regime, applying exclusively to
Africans, was established. Its impact was, and continues to be, particularly
severe on African women whose rights are radically curtailed in terms of what
purports to be "African customary law". A key component of the
"triple oppression of African women" were the institutions of
so-called "customary law", which reduced them to the status of legal
minors, constricting even further the very limited rights African women could
claim under apartheid.
These measures were touted as the promotion of "traditional" forms
of African government and the recognition of "traditional" African
leaders, whom the racist state saw and treated as a counterweight to the modern
political leadership offered by the intelligentsia and the urban labour
There was, however, little or nothing that was traditional about these
"traditional authorities" created and installed by the White minority
government. No nineteenth century African king or prince would have recognised
himself in the tinpot autocrats invented by the 1927 Act.
The institutional incorporation of "traditional" leaders was a
thorough corruption of pre-colonial legal traditions and merely an extension of
racial domination by proxy. As system of indirect rule favoured by colonial
powers everywhere. Its purpose was creating a caste of relatively privileged
Africans who would thus acquire a direct material interest in the preservation
of the institutions of racial domination at the expense of their own people. The
fact that some of these cooptees could trace descent from the pre-colonial heads
of kingdoms and other notables was purely incidental. The White minority state
repeatedly demonstrated its low regard for such niceties by the arbitrary
deposition of legitimate chiefs and the elevation of lesser figures in a lineage
purely on the basis of their attitude towards the racist state.
Because their livelihoods depended on it, these "traditional"
authorities acquired an interest in fostering an ethnic consciousness by
wielding the totems, symbols and other paraphernalia of a particular
"culture" or practises that differentiated their subjects from those
of other chiefs. Language and "customs" proved useful foils in such an
exercise. The power of "traditional" authority was augmented with the
active connivance of the mining industry who agreed to recognise
"tribal" affiliation in the housing of their labourers in the
compounds. This device was eagerly seized upon by other employers of migrant
workers who readily recognised it as a cheap means of extending further control
over their workforce.
Thus was "bantu communalism" harnessed to combat, not only
communism, but more importantly, an inclusive, progressive African nationalism.
The revival of African ethnicity thus had little to do with nostalgia for past
greatness on the part of the Africans. It was even less the articulation of a
"psychological urge" (as the theorists of ethnicity claim) to cohere
as members of a unique ethnic community. It clearly was a deliberate act of
state policy to subvert the struggle for equality and freedom on the part of the
After 1927 the African chiefs and other notables, who had been accorded a
special status as an "upper House" in the ANC, with some outstanding
exceptions, withdrew from the national liberation movement. By 1936 the House of
Chiefs had fallen to disuse. It was finally abolished under A.B. Xuma`s
Presidency in 1943.
Verwoerd and the Rise of the Ethnic Entrepreneur.
The NP`s victory at the polls in 1948 marked the political defeat of those
amongst the Whites who had accepted a common society. The White electorate
effectively turned its back on liberalism in 48 offering it only the
extra-parliamentary route to attain its goals. African Nationalists, Communists,
liberals and other democrats collectively would thenceforth have to devise new
strategies to realize a common society.
Though the White minority regime had assigned "bantu communalism" a
distinct role in the strategy of domination, it vacillated in its use of the
chiefs as an instrument of power. It was only under the post-1948 NP regime that
Verwoerd set out quite deliberately and more consistently to sponsor the
"traditional leaders" as the state`s front forces of repression in the
rural areas set aside for African occupation and as a rival centre of political
authority to the national liberation movement .
Verwoerd`s method differed from that of previous White pro-consuls over the
"bantus" in that he invested both money and personnel in raising the
stature of the "traditional" authorities to transform them into the
central players in a chain of political patronage, presided over by Pretoria.
The "traditional authorities" would be the vital transmission point
for such patronage. By this device Verwoerd hoped to endow the "traditional
leaders" with a greater degree of authority by disbursing tangible material
rewards to them, which they in turn could dispense to helpers, supporters and
Verwoerd theorised his strategy in terms of apartheid ideology, arguing that
South Africa was not a common society. An historical accident had resulted in
the artificial forcing together of members of a number of discrete nations.
Thirteen of these were the "bantu nations", the others were the
Afrikaners, the Brits, the Coloureds and Namas, and the Asians. By his account,
each of these "nations" was striving for independence, which apartheid
was designed to facilitate, by creating the space for each to "develop
along its own lines."
The first step the regime took in this direction was the Bantu Authorities
Act of 1951, which further inflated the powers of "traditional
leaders", but simultaneously increased the apartheid state`s control over
them as well. All through the 1950s into the early 1960s, peasants resistance to
the impositions of the racist regime, converged with the resistance of specific
chiefs and lineages to the corruption of African tradition as they understood
it. The upshot was the peasant uprisings in Witzieshoek (Qwaqwa), Sekhukhune
(Lebowa), Rustenburg and Zeerust. The exception to this pattern was the revolt
of the Transkei peasants in 1960 to 1961, which was directed against both the
newly installed "Bantu authorities" and their paymasters in Pretoria.
That revolt was inevitably led by commoners who identified with the modern
liberation movement and whose assemblies adopted the Freedom Charter as their
In the wake of African independence and the rural uprisings of the 1950s and
early 60s, the apartheid regime took its strategy still further. Still under the
guidance of Verwoerd, by then elevated to the post of Prime Minister in
recognition of his services, the "Bantu Self-government Act" was
passed in 1961, ostensibly as the first step to granting independence to the
developing "bantu nations". The 13 percent of the land area of South
Africa set aside as "Native Reserves" in 1913 was now redefined as
"Bantu homelands" where, Verwoerd proclaimed, all African political
aspirations would have to be realised. By definition all African claims in the
rest of the country were thus illegitimate and intrinsically seditious.
The act was however an extremely cynical political sleight of hand designed
to delegate further repressive powers of control to the "traditional
leaders" and to enmesh them even more thoroughly in the enforcement of
apartheid. To make the package more attractive to those who would go along with
it, the means of political patronage were greatly augmented as were the
arbitrary powers "traditional authorities" were granted over their
subjects. Verwoerd`s pro-consuls assiduously revived long forgotten
chieftaincies and scoured even urban townships to uncover individuals with some
tenuous link to an obscure lineage in order to give substance to this new policy
thrust. Once found, such non-entities were encouraged to stake their claims and
were duly crowned as"headmen", "chiefs", or "paramount
chiefs" by the "supreme chief of the Natives". The
"traditional leaders" were encouraged to become ethnic entrepreneurs,
who could acquire the status of "royalty" and enrich themselves
provided they were prepared to do the bidding of the apartheid regime. To lend
some dignity to this deceitful exercise, the regime also assisted its appointees
to constitute what were purported to be modern political parties, but were in
fact machines for the dispensing of patronage. The Chief of the Buthelezi clan
in KwaZulu proved to be the most adept at using the instruments of the
"homeland" system in constructing a political machine and an effective
system of patronage.
At the same time the draconian powers that the 1927 Act had vested in the
"supreme chief of the Natives" were wielded with a new vigour to
depose those who proved unwilling to cooperate; to exile and deport those who
were defiant; as well as to elevate the most willing collaborators. Thus, for
example, Chief Kaiser Matanzima, from a relatively junior lineage among the
Tembu, was raised to the same status as his cousin, King Sabata Dalindyebo. And
at the other extreme, Chief Moroamocha of the baPedi, who refused till his dying
day to cooperate with the apartheid state, was deposed and condemned to internal
Ethnicity, specifically that associated with the "homelands" and
"bantustan" politics, quite clearly has nothing to do with
"blood", "the ancestors, "the soil" and other
attributes which ethnicists invariably invoke. It does however have everything
to do with White racist policies to thwart the aspirations of our people for
freedom, democracy and equality.
The National Question in Post Apartheid South Africa.
The sub-heading elicits the question: Is there a national question in post
Apartheid South Africa? The easy answer is: not in the form in which it is
conventionally understood! Racism is no longer institutionalised; all South
Africans now have the franchise; racial restrictions on property rights and on
access to the professions, trades, forms of work have been abolished; the
instruments of labour coercion have been done away with; and a democratic
constitution has put an end to legal repression.
Yet no one can pretend that South Africans share a common patriotism and a
common vision of the future of their society. Ours is still a highly racialised
society and, since the 1970s, racism has been amplified with a sharpening of
Both racism - attitudinal as well as institutional - and ethnicity are
functions of the development of South African capitalism in a colonial milieu.
Ethnicity, we have demonstrated, was artificially fostered by the Afrikaner
nationalist intellectuals and the White minority state. In the one instance as
an instrument of ideological domination over the Afrikaner working people; and
in the other, to create an opposing centre of authority to the political
leadership coming from the modernist intelligentsia and the labour movement.
Though rooted in these material realities, both forms of ethnicity have
produced resonances within the society, and often for very similar reasons.[iii]
Less stable and consequently more erratic, is the ethnic consciousness
presently found among the Coloured and Indian communities. As Black national
minorities both these communities suffered under the apartheid regime, though
the extent was marginally better than that endured by Africans. What is peculiar
about both is that neither is an assertive identity of "selfhood". In
the case of both communities there is a dependent identification with their
former White masters who are now regarded, at best, as "the devil we
know", and at worst, as a bulwark against a perceived "black
peril" - the African majority - which supposedly will take away their jobs,
housing and welfare opportunities.
The driving force behind this ethnic` consciousness is competition with
fellow Blacks over scarce resources. The perception of Africans as a clear and
present threat is reinforced by a powerful mood of contingency - a fear of
change - which would much prefer the known world to remain as it is, rather than
risk the uncertainties of change. To the sections of these communities who
embraced this outlook, the NP represented the continuity they craved. The
electoral behaviour of Coloured and Indian working people is unlikely to change
until visible delivery on the part of the democratic government demonstrates
that there could be sufficient resources for all the disadvantaged.
Affirmative Action, Corrective Measures and the Freedom Charter.
This paper proceeds from the premise that the ANC had to make a number of
distasteful concessions to the old order in order to secure the beach-head of
majority rule in 1994. These were made with the implicit understanding that the
main thrust of movement policy would be to consolidate that beach-head and
employ it to lay the foundations of a truly democratic society.
We have further argued that the economic unification of the country spawned a
number of centripetal forces which have conspired to create a common South
African society. However, the productive relations structured and determined by
CST, reproduced a racial hierarchy which was institutionalised and has
engendered equally centrifugal forces reinforced by the racial and ethnic
divisions sponsored by the apartheid state.
Our third premise is that the national liberation movement, with the ANC at
its head, has been the most consistent advocate of an inclusive South African
nationhood rooted in the universalist, liberatory outlook of modernity and the
realities and imperatives of South Africans of all races sharing a common
territory. Arising from these, I would contend that issues of democracy, non-
racialism and national liberation, on the one hand, and those of racial
oppression and ethnicity, on the other hand, come together in acute fashion. And
that the attitude one adopts to these two sets of issues defines distinct
The ANC has always held that democracy, national liberation and non-racialism
are inseparable. But, we have equally forcefully said that for democracy to
advance national liberation it must entail the empowerment of the oppressed and
most exploited - the Africans, Coloureds and Indians. The institutional form
this democracy assumes therefore is of crucial importance to us. The Freedom
Charter remains the seminal statement of our movement`s vision. Empowerment as
laid down in it envisages the radical restructuring of key aspects of the
economy so as to destroy the material basis of the White racist power structure.
It is this context that I want to pose the issues of Affirmative Action and
No serious person, even from among our opponents, could pretend that South
Africa today is not a country of far greater opportunity than it was ten years
ago. The opening up of new opportunities for many who never had a chance to
pursue their own ambitions, aims and individual aspirations before has created
an environment conducive to the emergence of a class of Black capitalists, a
stratum of very senior Black managers and business executives, a stratum of
senior Black civil servants and bureaucrats, a stratum of Black professionals,
as well as a Black lower middle class. And, Sandile Dikeni`s tastes
notwithstanding, there is nothing wrong with this.
After all the struggle for democracy was also a struggle to create
opportunities for men and women of colour to rise as high as their talents can
take them. Obviously the ANC cannot bar Blacks from becoming and being
capitalists, any more than it could debar them from becoming lawyers, doctors,
accountants, engineers, skilled workers,etc.The high visibility of these strata
should not deceive us. In absolute terms they number far, far fewer than their
equivalents among Whites.
The vast majority of Blacks, however, remain workers and other working
The movement adopted as policy the conscious and deliberate de-racialisation
of South Africa by undertaking a host of measures, among which are affirmative
action, to ensure that the results of decades of systematic discrimination and
denial of job opportunities are reversed. In other words, the purpose of
affirmative action is to create circumstances in which affirmative action will
no longer be necessary.
The practical implementation of these policies, outside the public sector,
has however been problematic. In both the Western Cape and KZN, the impression
has quite deliberately been fostered that affirmative action entails the laying
off of Coloured and Indian workers or denying opportunity to Coloured and Indian
workers to create opportunities for Africans. The mischievous intent of these
practices is obvious and it has already produced handsome returns for the NP in
Racial and ethnic flashpoints over what are seen as diminishing job
opportunities are thus being created to compound the existing tensions
encouraged by the racial hierarchy in jobs and skills of the past.
The questions we have to pose are, do we see it as one of our tasks, among
others, to legislate and lay down strict guidelines for the implementation of
this aspect of policy? Should such guidelines apply to all categories of jobs or
only to certain ones? Would the most effective means of implementation require
the setting of targets by government and the private sector? To what extent
should government hold the public sector corporations to account for their
implementation of affirmative action?
Beyond the sphere of employment, systematic exclusion from opportunity and
property rights has also left a legacy of unrepresentativity in every sector of
the economy. Captains of industry in South Africa are invariably White males.
The same category of persons dominate the boardrooms of every major corporation
in mining, industry, banking and commerce. Commercial farming is virtually by
definition the preserve of Whites.
In the de-racialisation of society, is the fostering and encouragement of
these emergent Black middle classes one of the ANC tasks ? And, if we say it is
not, what will be the consequences of that choice? [because like it or not,
these classes and strata are emerging and will evolve.] If the ANC does not
relate to them other political forces will. Who will those forces be? With what
consequences? What will/should the content of our engagement with these emergent
middle classes be ?
The ANC itself is a multi-class movement, yet it would be correct to say that
historically our`s is a movement that has received far greater support from
certain classes than from others. Since the 1940s, it is specifically the
African working class of town and country who have been the movement`s main base
of support. Historically the movement has employed the classic weapon of working
class struggle - the general strike - as its principal method of peaceful
struggle. Because of the relative weight of the working class and other working
people among the oppressed the ANC has also tilted unambigiously in favour of
their cause and aspirations.
But we insist that the multi-class bloc constituted under the leadership of
the ANC is essential for the transformation process. I would suggest that this
implies that the ANC`s engagement with the emergent Black bourgeoisie should
involve the elaboration of certain standards of conduct and a business ethic
that will speed the realization of the postponed goals` of the national
liberation movement. In the immediate timeframe this must include job creation,
the fostering of skills development, the empowerment of women, the strengthening
of the popular organs of civil society, and active involvement in the fight to
The ANC must also encourage this Black bourgeoisie to cultivate within their
own enterprises and in those where they hold executive positions, the creative
management of the conflict potential in industrial relations. In other words,
the ANC must influence the Black bourgeoisie to assume certain RDP related
responsibilities and to give the lead to the business community with respect to
responsible corporate behaviour.
Since 1994 the multi-class character ANC itself has of course changed.
Whereas in the past there were no captains of industry in the leading organs of
the ANC; today an NEC member heads one of the largest conglomerates trading on
the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. This corporation, moreover, employs thousands
of other ANC members as well as ANC supporters! Prior to 1994 Transnet,one of
the biggest state-owned corporations which employs thousands of ANC supporters
and members organised in SARHWU, was headed by one Johan Maree. Today its MD is
a member of the NEC.
We will neither handle the tensions this new situation can give rise to by
denial nor by a blind insistence that there is no conflict potential between the
director of a corporation and the workers employed by it.
The Struggles Within the Struggle.
Proceeding from what we have said before, it is clear that the movement`s own
non-racialism and non-ethnic ethos is not merely a matter of high moral
principle. The endurance and sustenance of these norms which many today take for
granted, has not been unproblematic. The ever present racism in South African
society and the ethnic and tribal segmentation encouraged by the White minority
state were powerful currents against which our movement has had to contend.
The movement itself has consequently been the site of intense
politico-ideological struggles around the issues of ethnicity, race, class and
gender. During the 1930s, for example, a conservative section of the ANC`s
founding fathers led a campaign to expel Communists from the movement and to
move it closer to the liberal fraction of the White establishment. At around the
same time Dr John L. Dube, led the bulk of the ANC branches of Natal out of the
mother body to set up his own regional organisation in opposition to the ANC.[iv]
It was only in 1948 that Chief Luthuli and others were able to win back the
ground lost to Dube branch by branch, until they could compel re-affiliation of
At the height of the struggles of the 1950s a group of dissidents, led by
Potlako Leballo, tried to manipulate the justifiable anger of Africans against
their oppressors on an "Africanist" platform, a large component of
which was also opposition to Communism. The majority of ANC members resisted
these siren songs despite the evident emotional appeal of the
"Africanist" slogans. The dissidents walked out of the ANC to
constitute themselves as the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) in 1959.
There have been repeated attempts through the years by others to whip up
residual ethnic loyalties and sectional inclinations as a means of mobilising
support around platforms of dubious credibility. To the credit of the ANC`s
membership, none of these attempts have been successful.
Which raises the question: Is the ANC leaving those of our people who
identify ethnically to the political wolves of ethnic entrepreneurship by
continuing to discourage ethnicity and favouring an inclusive nationalism?
Perhaps that question is best answered by posing others. What honour would
accrue to the ANC if it were to compete with the PAC on the issue of
"Africanism"? Or better yet, can the ANC ever hope to outdo the IFP in
the promotion of a Zulu ethnicity and chauvinism? And, if it did try to compete
on such terrain, what price would the movement have to pay in order to do so?
And, what price will it have to pay for having done so? A third question: Would
the ANC profit by trying to pander to the baser instincts of the Coloured and
Indian working people?
It`s proper that we remind ourselves of our strategic goal - creating a
democratic, non-racial, non-sexist society. The radical transformation of the
quality of life of the Black majority is central to these objectives. Putting an
end to poverty, hunger, insecurity, and economic exploitation should therefore
be at the top of the ANC`s agenda.
To the ANC, democracy, non-racialism and non-sexism do not mean that every
five years Tony Leon and his African domestic worker can stand on the same que
in Houghton to vote. They mean creating the conditions in which that domestic
worker`s daughter, has a fair chance of competing equally with Tony Leon`s son,
- for a place at the best schools in South Africa,
- for a chance to play the same sports, on sporting facilities of the same
- to have access to the best cultural amenities,
- to compete with him for a place at Wits,
- to become a lawyer (or doctor, etc) if she so wishes,
- and to move in next door to Leon (or even Harry Oppenheimer for that
- matter), if that is what she wants.
The ANC`s vision of empowerment of the mass of our people requires a highly
critical attitude towards ethnicity and sectional claims. This does not imply
insensitivity to the sense of grievance felt by many African communities and
language groups about the relegation and corruption of their languages and
cultural practices. I would however argue that the redress of these does not
require recognition of special ethnic claims or the politicisation of the issue
of language. More specifically,with regard to the claims of the pro-apartheid
Afrikaners and Afrikaans speakers, the democratic traditions offering
constitutional and other special protection to ethnic and linguistic minorities
were designed to secure the rights of oppressed groups whose rights would
otherwise be threatened by dominant oppressor groups. Latter-day attempts to
appeal to the authority of that tradition as a means of sheltering the
privileges of racist and oppressive minorities do violence to that tradition and
are patently fraudulent.
Solving the national question requires that in the first instance we pose the
correct questions and not buy into the mythology and metaphysics of ideologists.
As in all instances, the national question in South Africa is undergirded by the
material realities the development of capitalism in a colonial setting and the
institutions created to sustain those productive relations.
To return to Rosa Luxemburg, we cannot hope to address these problems by
uncritically embracing some of the temporary expedients the movement had to
adopt in the context of a negotiated settlement.
With the exception of the most backward and fanatical racists, the Afrikaner
petty bourgeois intellectuals have forsaken ethno-nationalism, hoping to
constitute a multi-racial coalition of conservative forces to oppose the
national liberation movement in the hustings. They can be expected to continue
engaging in a modified form of ethnic mobilisation around the issue of the
Afrikaans language for the resonances it can produce among sections of the
Coloured population, but most realize that such a policy thrust will prove
unattractive to the majority of voters.
Ethnic mobilization and entrepreneurship, in various its guises - including
that of federalism - however still poses a serious problem and represents the
gravest single threat of destabilization and subversion in our new democracy.
The tap root of ethnicity and political adventures based on it, are apartheid
and the artificial revival of so-called "traditional" institutions
undertaken first in the 1920s then pursued with fanatical zest by Verwoerd and
his acolytes after 1948. The so- called "traditional leaders" all
have, to one degree or another, acquired an interest in these institutions. In
addition to power and prestige, these institutions have become a lucrative
source of income and patronage. Their propensity to reproduce new generations of
ethnic entrepreneurs cannot be under estimated.
A possible solution could be the dis-establishment of so-called
"traditional" leaders, which would include their being allowed to
retain their ceremonial titles and roles, but they should enjoy no state powers
by virtue of these titles. The stipends they presently enjoy from government
could also be phased out over time. Such a step would necessarily also require
the reduction of the house of traditional leaders to a purely ceremonial one and
its eventual elimination as an institution of state. Recognition of a
"traditional" leader should become a voluntary matter, with persons
voluntarily agreeing to pay allegiance, tribute or any other dues that the
office "traditionally" entitled its holder to claim.
"Traditional" leaders should be relieved of various powers - such
distribution of land - that they still retain, despite the democratic
constitution. Their judicial powers should also be subjected to rigorous review
to ensure that all South Africans, especially Africans, are completely equal
before the law. The time frames for such reforms can be negotiated, but the need
for change has to be accepted in principle.
The democratic breakthrough of 1994 has created conditions which enable the
ANC and its allies to steadily eradicate the material base of racism in our
society. Measures that address the capacity of ethnicists to reproduce ethnicity
will greatly assist in undermining its appeal among certain sections of the
population. It can be expected that the NP will try to employ a modified form of
the "black peril" to mobilise electoral support amongst a segment of
the Coloured, Indian and White population, but that too will loose its appeal as
the democratic government`s reforms make it plain that there is sufficient
wealth to address the quality of life problems of all working people.
If we accept that the racialisation of South African politics was rooted in
specific historical and material conditions, there is no reason why radical
transformation of those conditions cannot result in an end to racism and provide
a solution to the national question. This will probably require the ANC to
pursue de-racialisation with the same determination and tenacity as the racists
pursued racism and division.This must be done as a matter of conscious policy.
We should give no quarter to any form of racial discrmination in schooling,
employment, housing and recreation; and must positively reinforce all efforts at
de-racialisation. This will not prevent a person who places some value in being
identified as Venda /Sotho/Tswana /Zulu/ Xhosa, etc from doing so, but it will
not require another, who sets no store by that, being compelled to do so. It
does however require us to reject the insistence of ethnicists and racists that
ethnic origin or race defines an individual`s identity or should take precedence
over everything else in defining it.
Acknowledging the un-finished character of our national democratic revolution
is not to detract from the significance of the gains our movement has made. It
should rather spur us to press even harder for the commencement of the next
phase of an unfolding democratic revolution. Now more than ever the slogan of
the day should be "A lutta continua" - the struggle continues!
Z. Pallo Jordan.
[i] Parties and movements pursuing a
programme of transformation have been tempted to do any and everything they
think necessary to stay in office.The Social Democratic parties in the west have
often done so. But if one weighs the price of losing - as we did here in the
Western Cape - one can see why parties find this route irresistible.
[ii] The Poll Tax Rebellion of 1906 was the
last military attempt to resist the integrative pressures of South Africa`s
evolving capitalism. In spite of the undoubted courage of the rebels, theirs was
a forlorn cause which had little hope of success not only because of the
disparity in arms.The classic proportions of the tragedy are symbolised by two
figures central to the uprising. On the one hand was S`gananda, an old man in
his 90s who had started out as a shield carrier in Shaka`s armies whose lifetime
spanned the years of glory of the Zulu kingdom and those of its decline; on the
other was Cakijana kaGezindaka, a commoner who had lived and worked in the
cities, who served as Bambada`s lieutenant but who had in fact been recruited as
an informer. Unlike the wars of the previous century, the Poll Tax Rebellion was
an instance of secondary resistance - i.e an uprising by a colonised people,
mobilised in terms of traditional values and employing traditional methods to
resist the effects , rather than the threat, of colonialism. The revolt thus had
elements of a modern peasant uprising as well. The prominent role assigned to
Cakijana, a commoner (his treachery notwithstanding), in the rebellion also was
a portent of the future.
[iii] I would submit that it is no accident
that the ethnic chauvinism of the IFP has far greater appeal in the most
impoverished parts of rural KZN, while its appeal in the urban townships of KZN
is at best shaky.
[iv] Natal seceded from the ICU as well
during the years of the ICU`s decline. A.W.G. Champion, one of Kadalie`s
deputies of many years standing, led the Natal branches out of the ICU when he
could not have his way. The ICU of Natal survived into the mid-1930s, long after
the national body had faded into a memory. Champion also played a leading role
in the ANC of Natal.