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New Left Review I/41, January-February 1967


M. L.

‘Bechuanaland: Pan-African Outpost or Bantu Homeland; Bantustans: The Fragmentation of South Africa’

Edwin S. Munger, Bechuanaland: Pan-African Outpost or Bantu Homeland. Institute of Race Relations, oup, 9s. 6d.

Christopher R. Hill, Bantustans: The Fragmentation of South Africa. Institute of Race Relations, oup, 9s. 6d.

The difference in formal status between independent Botswana (Bechuanaland Protectorate until October 1966) and the Transkei, the model ‘Bantustan’ with an almost powerless Legislative Assembly, is little more than a historical accident. Both these territories, like the other ‘Native reserves’ within South Africa and the other High Commission territories, are inserted in the same manner into the Southern African socio-economic structure: both show the same symptoms of sub-subsistence agriculture, massive labour migration to urban areas, financial dependence on the Republic. In Botswana, 87 per cent of exports are based on livestock, largely sent to the Republic, and 98 per cent of the inhabitants depend on cattle for subsistence or cash income. At any one time 20 per cent of the adult male population (says Munger, though his figure is low in comparison with the estimates of others) are away working in South Africa, and, because of lack of development of water resources, only 5 per cent of the land is under cultivation, making the territory extremely susceptible to drought. A substantial part of Botswana’s revenue is derived from her share of South Africa’s customs receipts. In the South African ‘reserves’ the pro-Government Tomlinson Commission itself estimated that the land could carry no more than 50 per cent of the people who were on it; apart from the Government’s rather halfhearted attempt to establish a small African bourgeoisie in the ‘reserves’ noncompetitive with whites, the result is still massive labour migration to the mines or industrial areas.

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M. L., ‘'Bechuanaland: Pan-African Outpost or Bantu Homeland'; 'Bantustans: The Fragmentation of South Africa'’, NLR I/41: £3
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