The Effect of Apartheid’s “Tribal Authorities” on Chieftaincy and the Zulu People: Separate Development in Mtunzini District 1950-1970

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Seminar Date
February 27, 2013
The 1951 “Bantu” Authorities Act (BAA) and the 1959 Promotion of “Bantu” Self-Government Act (PBSG) interfered with the structures of ubukhosi transferring power from traditional leaders to the state. Through the creation of tribal, regional, and territorial authorities, the BAA provided the National Party with a network into the vast rural areas. Apartheid withheld sovereignty from the “tribal” authorities as approval resided with the local Bantu Commissioner and final “authority” with the Governor-General. Traditional leaders who would not “accept” Tribal Authorities were deposed, incarcerated, and/or assassinated then replaced with compliant appointed amakhosi. The 1951 BAA provided the foundation for the 1959 PBSG which required Africans to live in ethnic “homelands” or “Bantustans,” where independence was offered in exchange for the loss of South African citizenship. The protection of Afrikaner racial purity and the need to preserve the status of di volk as the chosen people underpinned apartheid policy. Secondary, I contend was the need for accessible black migrant labour. As the map of the reserves created by the 1955 Tomlinson Commission showed, each of the eight “ethnic” groups was not conveniently located within its own reserve, for example, over half of the amaZulu lived in urban areas. To meet the National Party’s criteria for separate development, a plethora of forced removals, euphemistically called “resettlements” were initiated. Africans not living in their specified group reserve were removed to their ethnic homeland so they could develop along their own lines (i.e. Xhosa with Xhosa, Zulu with Zulu, Venda with Venda, etc.). Separate Development was apartheid’s answer to assimilation which Hendrik Verwoerd called impractical in his “New Vision” Speech to the House of Assembly in 1959. The BAA was the main apparatus for creating “homelands” out of the reserves so that the National Party could have power in local rural matters. Initially, ubukhosi resisted “Tribal Authorities,” but as more apartheid legislation was passed amakhosi saw no avenue open to resist and were forced to “accept” Tribal Authorities. The Mtunzini District in the uThungulu District Municipality is the lens to trace the path of distortion of ubukhosi by ubandlululo between 1950-1970.
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