The Making of the Lebowa Civil Service: Class Formation and Bantustan Administration

Monday, 6 April, 2020 - 16:00

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This seminar will be held on-line as an experimental Zoom seminar :  register here.

As the apartheid state’s Bantustan policy developed, ten ethnically defined pseudo-states were established across rural South Africa. In keeping with the policy to present these ‘states’ as legitimate expressions of African self-governance, control was decentralised from Pretoria to the ten new rural capitals and local administrations began to grow. As local departments of education, health and public works were established, a civil service urgently was needed to replace the white administrators who had previously governed the territory. Using the Northern Sotho Bantustan, Lebowa, as a case study, this paper examines how Bantustan state employment shaped and stratified society. Though not all state jobs were created equal, those who could secure a regular salary, pension benefits and, importantly, a housing subsidy were in a far better position than most of the Lebowa population who lived in dire poverty or relied on – increasingly diminishing - migrant remittances. In an otherwise depressed economy, government employment made a radical difference to households in Lebowa, accelerating a process of stratification with important implications for the regional political economy.

General seminar arrangements

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