Segregation still prevails in post-1994 South Africa

Ashley westaway
Segregation continues to exist in South Africa after the 1994 democratic elections and regime change.

Internationally acclaimed rural development champion and current Grahamstown Area and District Development Agency (GADRA) Manager, Ashley Westaway, said that segregation did not get washed away when South Africa had its democratic elections. Just as there were pre 1948 and post 1948 segregationisms there is a new and third phase of segregation in South Africa ushered in by the ANC-led government to control the black majority.

Westaway, who was speaking as part of the 2013 Think!Fest programme on the Land Act centenary, said that one of the evidence of this new form of segregation is the maintenance of the ‘bifurcated’ state or two states in one country as was the case during apartheid. These two states continue to exist in South Africa in the form of Bantustans or apartheid homelands and urban areas.

He presented four sets of evidence to support his claim that there is a new form of segregationism that outlived the 1994 elections. These are governance arrangements, land issues, economic strategies and the characterisation of contemporary welfare state.

On the issue of governance arrangements, parallel leadership structures have been re-introduced in rural areas. This was done through the introduction of Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act which gave traditional leadership authority over people in rural area based on 1951 Bantu Authority.

There has also been an introduction of the Traditional Courts Bill. This bill “sets up courts which are manned by the same people who sit on tradition councils”, said Westaway. “It is a fusion of judicial and executive power exactly on the same lines as was crafted through colonialism.”

“As these traditional structures are rising, we must understand that the electoral structures are declining,” he said.

On land issues, Westaway said that there is no difference in the year 2013 in terms of African land rights from what it was in 1930s. There are cases where people have claimed their land and government refused to transfer the land to people because chiefs are regarded as having the land rights and people who live on the land as their subjects.

In terms of economic strategies, Westaway said that locations are used to determine the amount of resources that should be invested. Bantustans and rural areas are seen as non-strategic. The vast areas that are deemed strategic are urban areas. Government money is pumped into the so-called strategic areas while rural areas left without resources or development.

“The consequence of being regarded as strategic as opposed to being non-strategic is massive,” he said. “Coega gets everything and the Ciskei gets nothing.”

Westaway explained that the lack of a rural strategy in South Africa is not a mistake or an oversight but it is because it is not reconcilable with the dominant economic model. “The only thing that is of significant in rural development if to look at what is happening in Nkandla. It is all about patronage, it is all about paternalism and it’s all about welfarism,” he said.

In terms of the characterisation of the welfare state in South Africa Westaway said that grants for the poor are only a small segment of the essence of the welfare state in the country contrary to popular believe.

The core is the de-professionalised civil service. “The role of a teacher today, in a public school, is not to teach,” said Westaway. “The role of a teacher is to pretend to teach and draw a large welfare cheque at the end of the month.”

He said that the same could be said for nurses in public hospitals, which is the reason why public service in South Africa is in the state that it is in.

Westaway said that Bantustans are entirely dependent on welfare transfers to both the poor and the middle class. The function of the state in these areas is to sustain life and not to develop people, which is the reason for the lack of service delivery in those areas.

“The welfare state system simultaneously sustains and supresses,” said Westaway. “It is a technique of power that produces blind loyalty.”

It is public sector employees, who are also card carrying members of the ANC, who benefit from maintaining the status quo. He said that even in the next election the rural citizens will be the majority of those who vote for the ruling party

Segregation has been maintained as a mechanism of maintaining power. This form of power is increasingly dominating politics in South Africa.

Instead of questioning whether South Africa is becoming a Banana Republic, maybe we should ask if South Africa is becoming a Bantustan republic,” said Westaway.

Click on the following link to listen to his lecture: Ashley westaway

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