Article from ROAPE Volume 11 Number 29
Forced Resettlement and the Political Economy of SA
Perhaps the most significant and, almost certainly, the ugliest, social process under apartheid has been the policy of forced resettlement, involving the massive removal of some 3 million Africans to designated reserves or ‘homelands’ since the fifties. If intra-urban forced removals are added, some 15 per cent of the population of SA has probably been subjected to resettlement. Situating the origins of the policy in what Smuts considered the ‘failure’ of segregation to stem the movement of peasants into the cities during the forties, Freund assesses the use of various influx control measures under apartheid to remove dependents and minors, rural tenants, and inhabitants of designated ‘black spots’ rezoned for whites under Group Areas and other legislation. Urban dwellers are removed to become commuters in ‘homelands’ bordering on industrial centres while in the bantustans another form of removal is implemented as ‘betterment schemes’ redistribute property rights and access to resources. One purpose of the policy is to improve political control by the state, not least in creating new security structures in the bantustans. Another is to stem the flood of out-migration from reserves no longer capable of functioning to reproduce African labour power. Population removals also serve to relocate the unemployed and marginalised. But, more importantly, they act to divide black workers into those who have skills and freedom of movement and those who do not, in accordance with the differing needs of different sections of capital.