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Resettlement and the making of the Ciskei Bantustan, South Africa, c.1960–1976

06 Mar 2014-Journal of Southern African Studies (Routledge)-Vol. 40, Iss: 1, pp 21-40

Abstract: The cynical objectives and coercive actions of the apartheid state in engineering forced removals to the Bantustans have been well documented. These ‘dumping grounds’ were notorious examples of the poverty and human suffering produced in the name of ‘separate development’. Processes of mass resettlement in the Bantustans had multiple meanings, far-reaching effects and uneven political dynamics and outcomes. This paper traces local dynamics of power and clientelism in two resettlement townships in the northern Ciskei, as the apartheid government set about establishing indirect rule under this self-governing Bantustan. It explores the role of resettlement in extending the reach and the influence of the state by tracing the history of local administration and institutions of indirect rule, their everyday operations and political effects. The relations of patronage constructed under the ‘white chiefs’ of the Department of Bantu Administration and Development (BAD), which had starkly gendered dimensions and co...
Topics: Clientelism (53%), Indirect rule (52%)

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Resettlement and the making of the Ciskei Bantustan,
South Africa, c.1960–1976
EVANS, Laura <>
Available from Sheffield Hallam University Research Archive (SHURA) at:
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EVANS, Laura (2014). Resettlement and the making of the Ciskei Bantustan, South
Africa, c.1960–1976. Journal of Southern African Studies, 40 (1), 21-40.
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Sheffield Hallam University Research Archive

Resettlement and the Making of the Ciskei Bantustan, South Africa,
(University of Cape Town)
The cynical objectives and coercive actions of the apartheid state in engineering forced
removals to the Bantustans have been well documented. These ‘dumping grounds’ were
notorious examples of the poverty and human suffering produced in the name of
‘separate development’. Processes of mass resettlement in the Bantustans had multiple
meanings, far-reaching effects and uneven political dynamics and outcomes. This
paper traces local dynamics of power and clientelism in two resettlement townships in
the northern Ciskei, as the apartheid government set about establishing indirect rule
under this self-governing Bantustan. It explores the role of resettlement in extending
the reaches and the influence of the state by tracing the history of local administration
and institutions of indirect rule, their everyday operations and political effects. The
relations of patronage constructed under the ‘white chiefs’ of the Department of Bantu
Administration and Development (BAD), which had starkly gendered dimensions and
consequences, formed the critical basis upon which new Tribal Authorities were
superimposed, becoming subject to new political imperatives. One of the outcomes of
mass resettlement was to foster, through clientelism, new political constituencies for
the Ciskei. Through the provision of housing, particularly to former farm-dwellers,
apartheid authorities were able to encourage, albeit temporarily, a limited compliance
in these areas.
Removals and mass resettlement in South Africa’s homelands were cornerstones of
apartheid. For contemporary commentators, violent and traumatic forced removals and
the widespread human suffering caused by homeland resettlement provided stark
evidence of apartheid’s injustices.
These episodes, owing to the enduring impacts they
have wrought and the attention that land restitution has generated around them, are
vividly remembered in contemporary South Africa.
Between 1960 and 1982 more than
This paper is based on doctoral research funded by the White Rose Consortium at the University of
Sheffield, and prepared with the support of a University Research Committee Postdoctoral Fellowship at
the University of Cape Town. I am grateful to Ian Phimister, Anne Mager, Maanda Mulaudzi, Koni Benson
and Jeff Peires for their comments on earlier drafts, and to the Journal’s two anonymous reviewers. All
errors and weaknesses are mine alone.
T. Huddleston, Nought For Your Comfort (London, Collins, 1956); C. Desmond, The Discarded People:
An Account of African Resettlement in South Africa (Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1971); Surplus People
Project, Forced Removals in South Africa: The SPP Reports, Volumes 1-5 (Cape Town, SPP, 1983).
S. Field, Lost Communities, Living Memories: Remembering Forced Removals in Cape Town (Cape
Town, David Philip, 2002); U. Dhupelia-Mesthrie, ‘Dispossession and Memory: The Black River
Community of Cape Town’, Oral History, 28, 2 (2000), pp. 35-43; ‘Tales of Urban Restitution, Black
River, Rondebosch, Kronos, 32 (2006), pp. 216-243; A. Bohlin, ‘The Politics of Locality: Memories of

3.5 million people were directly affected by the apartheid government’s programmes of
population relocation.
Many thousands of these people, removed from urban areas under
influx control and Group Areas legislation and evicted from rural settlements by stringent
‘anti-squatting’ measures, ended up in resettlement sites in the Bantustans. Many more,
squeezed out of the countryside by racist land laws and by the effects of agricultural
capitalisation (the consolidation of land holdings, mechanisation, and a shift towards full-
time wage labour were manifest in rapid ‘labour shedding’ from the middle of the
twentieth century), dwellers of the ‘white’ countryside had few alternatives but to seek
accommodation in the new residential areas opening up on the fringes of South Africa’s
reserves. From the mid-1960s a plethora of rural settlements, established with minimal
state planning and provision, rapidly expanded across these areas, which were
simultaneously subject to the promotion of Bantustan ‘self-government’- the apartheid
ideologues’ answer to decolonisation and demands for political equality. Commentators
struggled to communicate the misery of these resettlement camps: ‘...miles from a centre
where employment is available, a small plot of land for each family, no grazing for
livestock, accommodation in tents, no shops, no schools, no medical services, no fuel,
very little water, pit latrines…’.
Histories of apartheid relocation have rightly emphasised the coercion employed
by the state and the highly repressive nature of these programmes.
Urban removals under
the Group Areas Act, around which the majority of the historical literature has focused,
exposed the brutality and violence employed by the apartheid state in its projects of social
Studies that have focused on rural relocation have emphasised the heavy-
handed and repressive role of the state in efforts to remove so-called ‘black spots’ from
the white landscape. These plans were met with fierce resistance in the 1970s and 1980s
as civic organisations rallied around threatened communities. Recent historical interest in
rural resettlement has tended to cohere around such instances of organised resistance.
District Six in Cape Town’, in N. Lovell (ed), Locality and Belonging (London, Routledge, 1998), pp. 168-
188; A. Bohlin, ‘Places of Longing and Belonging: Memories of the Group Area Proclamation of a South
African Fishing Village’, in B. Bender and M. Winer (eds), Contested Landscapes: Movement, Exile and
Place (London, Berg, 2001), pp. 273- 287; C. Walker, Landmarked: Land Claims and Land Restitution in
South Africa (Johannesburg, Jacana Press, 2008).
Surplus People Project, Forced Removals in South Africa: The SPP Reports, Volume 1 (Cape Town, SPP,
1983), p. 6. Well over one million of these people were from farms. Between 1960 and 1970 an estimated
340,000 registered labour tenants and 656,000 unregistered tenants were evicted from South African white
farms, and a further 400,000 tenants were expelled between 1971 and 1974. M. Morris, ‘Apartheid,
Agriculture and the State: The Farm Labour Question’, SALDRU Working Paper No. 8, (1977), p. 54; M.
Morris, ‘The State and the Development of Capitalist Social Relations in the South African Countryside : A
Process of Class Struggle’ (PhD Thesis, University of Sussex, 1979), p. 282.
M.W. Cluver, ‘The Resettlement of Africans in South Africa’, The Black Sash, 13, 4 (1970), p. 27.
Surplus People Project, SPP Reports, Vols. 1-5 (Cape Town, SPP, 1983); E. Unterhalter, Forced
Removal: The Division, Segregation and Control of the People of South Africa (London, International
Defence and Aid Fund for Southern Africa, 1987); B. Freund, ‘Forced Resettlement and the Political
Economy of South Africa’, Review of African Political Economy, 29 (1984), pp. 49-63; L. Platzky and C.
Walker, The Surplus People: Forced Removals in South Africa (Johannesburg, Ravan Press, 1985).
Field, Lost Communities; Dhupelia-Mesthrie, ‘Dispossession and Memory’; ‘Tales of Urban Restitution;
Bohlin, ‘The Politics of Locality’.
L. E. Wotshela, ‘Homeland Consolidation, Resettlement and Local Politics in the Border and the Ciskei
Region of the Eastern Cape, South Africa, 1960 to 1996’ (DPhil Thesis, University of Oxford, 2001);
‘Asiyi eCiskei [“We are not Going to the Ciskei”]: Removals and Resistance in the Border” Region, 1972-

Anthropological work from the 1980s and early 1990s offered detailed insights
into Bantustan resettlement, the processes of settlement that this involved and the social
landscapes of impoverished livelihoods that characterised ‘displaced urbanisation’.
literature has been particularly developed for Qwaqwa, the tiny Bantustan bordering
northern Lesotho where the impacts of resettlement were pronounced and the farce of
homeland independence glaring.
In the context of mass opposition to the oppression and
violence of the homelands system in the 1980s and early 1990s, scholars sought to lay
bare the precarious reality of ethnic nationalism from which homeland regimes drew their
While the political economy and local political consequences of
resettlement have not been overlooked, the role of resettlement in the making of
Bantustan regimes deserves further scrutiny.
This paper explores the making of matrices of power and authority in two Ciskei
resettlement sites established during the 1960s: Sada, and Ilinge (see Figure 1). While the
National Party’s (NP) rhetoric and pursuit of homeland independence have been well
documented, quite how these policies and agendas played out in everyday state
interventions in the homelands is less well understood. While a variety of accounts have
examined the emergence of homeland elites and the patronage of resources that allowed
1988’, South African Historical Journal 52 (2005), pp. 140-69; C. Sato, ‘Forced removals, Land NGOs and
Community Politics in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, 1953-2002’ (DPhil Thesis, University of Oxford,
2006); S. Schirmer, ‘Reactions to the State: The Impact of Farm Labour Policies in the Mid-Eastern
Transvaal, 1955- 1960’, South African Historical Journal, 30 (1994), pp. 61-84; ‘African Strategies and
Ideologies in a White Farming District: Lydenburg, 1930- 1970’, Journal of Southern African Studies, 21, 3
(1995), pp. 509- 527; ‘Removals and Resistance: rural communities in Lydenburg, South Africa, 1940-
1961’, Journal of Historical Sociology , 9, 2 (1996), pp. 213- 242.
C. Murray, ‘Displaced Urbanization: South Africas Rural Slums’, African Affairs, 86, 344 (1987), pp.
311-329; ‘Struggle from the Margins: Rural Slums in the Orange Free State’, in F. Cooper (ed), Struggle
for the City: Migrant Labour, Capital and the State in Urban Africa (London, Sage, 1983), pp. 287- 311.
J. Sharp, ‘A World Turned Upside Down, African Studies, 53, 1 (1994), pp. 71-88; ‘Relocation and the
Problem of Survival in Qwaqwa: A Report From the Field’, Social Dynamics, 8, 2 (1982), pp. 11-29; I. A.
Niehaus, ‘Relocation into Phuthaditjhaba and Tseki: A Comparative Ethnography of Planned and
Unplanned Removals’, African Studies, 48, 2 (1989), pp. 157-181; ‘Disharmonious Spouses and
Harmonious Siblings’, African Studies, 53, 1 (1994), pp. 115-135; L. Bank, ‘Angry Men and Working
Women’, African Studies, 53, 1 (1994), pp. 89-113.
J. Peires, ‘Ethnicity and Pseudo- Ethnicity in the Ciskei’, in W. Beinart and S. Dubow (eds), Segregation
and Apartheid in Twentieth-Century South Africa (London, Routledge, 1995), pp. 256-284; ‘The Implosion
of Transkei and Ciskei’, African Affairs, 91, 364 (1992), pp. 365-387; P. Harries, ‘Exclusion, Classification
and Internal Colonialism: The Emergence of Ethnicity Among the Tsonga-Speakers of South Africa’, in L.
Vail (ed), The Creation of Tribalism in Southern Africa (Berkeley and Los Angeles, University of
California Press, 1989), pp. 82- 117; L. Bank, ‘Between Traders and Tribalists: Implosion and the Politics
of Disjuncture in a South African Homeland’, African Affairs, 93, 370 (1994), pp. 75-98; ‘The Failure of
Ethnic Nationalism: Land, Power and the Politics of Clanship on the South African Highveld, 1860-1990’,
Africa: Journal of the International African Institute, 65, 4 (1995), pp. 565-591.
Peires, ‘Ethnicity and Pseudo- Ethnicity’, pp. 264- 267, 259; J. Sharp, ‘Relocation, Labour Migration,
and the Domestic Predicament: Qwaqwa in the 1980s’, in J. Eades (ed), Migrant Workers and the Social
Order (London, Tavistock, 1987), pp. 132- 133; P. Green and A. Hirsch, ‘The Impact of Resettlement in
the Ciskei: Three Case Studies’, SALDRU Working Paper No. 49 (Cape Town, Southern Africa Labour
and Development Research Unit, 1983); L. Wotshela, ‘Territorial Manipulation in Apartheid South Africa:
Resettlement, Tribal Politics and the Making of the Northern Ciskei, 1975-1990’, Journal of Southern
African Studies, 30, 2 (2004), pp. 317- 337.

for the rise of political elites and a homeland middle class,
less attention has been paid
to the effects of the reconfiguration of power, the creation of new Bantu Authorities, the
expansion of the apparatus of homeland states, the local networks of clientelism that
emerged in the course of these processes and their political effects. The analysis that
follows shows how the racist, modernist project of the apartheid state - fragmented and
uneven as it was translated into everyday administrative interventions in the Ciskei
resettlement townships. It shows how the apartheid state’s ‘mix of vision and blunder,
principle and pragmatism’ played out through everyday administrative interventions into
a hegemonic project of indirect rule.
The paper traces the evolution of indirect rule in one locality, as rule through the
Magistrates and Bantu Commissioners of the Department of Bantu Administration and
Development (BAD, the renamed Department of Native Affairs) was overlaid with and
replaced by new Tribal Authorities (TAs). It examines the gendered vision that
underpinned the BAD’s administration of the resettlement townships in the late-1960s
and the consequences for social control. By describing the new relations of clientelism
that developed under the administration of the BAD the article shows how the shift to
rule under TAs in this locality was characterised as much by ‘blunder’ as by ‘vision’.
the new resettlement areas, where tribal structures had virtually no historical basis,
newly-created TAs inherited the peculiar modernist institutions of the apartheid state and
the structures of patronage created in the course of paternalist governance under Bantu
Commissioners- the ‘white chiefs’ of the colonial state.
Colonial planning and
patronage came to be subject to new political imperatives under the administration of
Ciskei. Relations of clientelism, which permeated everyday life, formed the foundations
of power and authority for the Ciskei in these localities. Given the upheavals of
resettlement, the terrible living conditions that prevailed in the townships and the deep
poverty experienced by the majority of residents, the limited resources provided by state
planning initiatives allowed for the production of regimes of power and control that had
considerable local influence. Agrarian change and the abolition of labour tenancy, which
involved widespread eviction of farm-workers, constituted an important dynamic in these
processes: faced with little choice but to move to one of the new Bantustan townships,
former farm-dwellers formed a crucial constituency for the making of new matrices of
power in the Ciskei.
The paper, and the PhD thesis on which it is based, draws, alongside a range of
other sources, upon oral history interviews conducted in 2008 and 2009 in Sada and
See especially R. Southall, South Africa’s Transkei: The Political Economy of an ‘Independent’
Bantustan (London, Heinemann, 1982); ‘The Beneficiaries of Transkeian ‘‘Independence’’’, Journal of
Modern African Studies, 15, 1 (1977), pp. 1- 23; D. Innes and D. O’Meara, ‘Class Formation and Ideology:
The Transkei Region’, Review of African Political Economy, 7 (1976), pp. 69- 86.
D. Posel, The Apartheid Project, 1948- 1970’, in R. Ross, A. K. Mager and B. Nasson (eds), The
Cambridge History of South Africa, Volume 2, 1885- 1994 (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press,
2012), p. 320.
I. Evans, Bureaucracy and Race: Native Administration in South Africa (London, University of
California Press, 1997), pp. 9- 16, 224-5; M. Mamdani, Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the
Legacy of Late Colonialism (Chichester, Princeton University Press, 1996), pp. 62- 108; T. McClendon,
White Chief, Black Lords: Shepstone and the Colonial State in Natal, South Africa, 1845- 1878 (Rochester,
N.Y., University of Rochester Press, 2010).

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