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
Chief Sabata Dalindyebo the Transkei opposition leader, once described the ‘freedom’ offered by South Africa in the Transkei as a ‘fowl run’. He was referring to the particular constitutional manifestations (minority of elected members, non-crucial portfolios only handed over, reserved power in hands of South African Government). But in the face of the overall socio-economic situation, almost any constitution, for the Bantustans or the High Commission Territories, would provide as little freedom. The sanctions which South Africa could apply are sufficient to deter leaders in the High Commission Territories from seeking aid from ‘unwelcome’ sources, from harbouring persons or organizations hostile to South Africa, from attempting to restructure their economies—just as the carrots and sticks used in the Bantustans have thrown up a leadership prepared to work within South Africa’s terms of reference.
Both Hill and Munger are content to little more than enunciate these ‘problems’ for the leaders of South Africa’s ‘African areas’; they throw in the occasional cluck of sympathy for the unfortunate position in which the leaders are placed and Munger, at least, heaves a sigh of relief that Botswana will escape that ‘extreme’ ideology of African nationalism.
The future development of the African areas, both hct’s and Bantustans, demands a shift of power at the South African centre. But this obvious fact, once stated, takes one no farther. It is difficult at this stage to evaluate what tactical flexibility is latent in either the High Commission Territories or the Bantustans: could resolute nationalist movements, capturing power in the High Commission Territories, bargain any harder with South Africa? Botswana straddles the only South Africa-Rhodesia rail link (though another railway is projected elsewhere); Lesotho holds the headwaters of the Orange River. The Opposition party in the Transkei, should it capture power, has opportunities for at least embarrassing the South African Government. Many have imagined that revolution in South Africa will begin in the densely populated sections of the rural areas—an analysis, based on Mao and Fanon, which has been used, for example, by Govan Mbeki. There are strong arguments against this theory—the two most important of which are that the rural areas are compartmentalized and isolable, and that they are peripheral to the South African power structure. But the rural/urban argument in South Africa is still an open question.
These two books add little to our understanding of the dynamics of Southern Africa, though Hill’s is the more competent in description.