The Peasants’ Revolt. Govan Mbeki.
The deterioration of the peasant economy has reached a dangerous point. The decline in productivity and the absence of local industries have forced increasing numbers of peasants on to the labour market, while the general economy has not expanded sufficiently to absorb the landless army of peasants. The migration to the towns has given rise to appalling slums, while far worse, from the government point of view, has been the incompatibility between the steep rise in urban African population (over one million between 1951 and 1960) and its professed aim of separate development.
It was obvious, and the Tomlinson Report so recommended, that something would have to be done to arrest the deterioration in the reserves. The government began by implementing proposals that had been put forward as far back as 1945 under the title of ‘a new era of Reclamation’. This envisaged the removal of landless peasants to towns or urban settlements within the reserves, whose residents would depend on wages earned by men employed either in local industries or in the big towns. Peasants who remained on the land would be expected to farm under supervision on so-called ‘economic plots’ of about eight acres each. Grazing and cultivated land would be controlled.
These measures inevitably antagonized the peasants, who were suspicious of any interference by a hostile authority in their traditional way of life. Above all, those who were being pushed off the land were bitterly resentful. They forfeited the right to graze stock and had to abandon the one form of security to which they clung — the occupation of an arable plot with the right to share the common pasturage.
The stubborn resistance of the peasantry held up administrative reforms for some time, but then, with the establishment of Bantu Authorities, the government could try and crack down by forcing the Chiefs to comply. Many have been the techniques that the Chiefs have employed to implement government policy against the will of the people, but they have riot broken popular resistance and their conduct has even increased it.
In the last few years the government has taken stern measures to prevent any further soil erosion, by constructing miles and miles of contours, ensuring that portions of the peasants’ small arable holdings are left fallow, and disallowing use of some of the worst eroded lands. The critics say that the government programme for land rehabilitation is slow, and that the land cannot ever support the millions of peasants in the reserves as well as the huge numbers thrown out of the cities by the pass laws. The government’s honey-birds (Honey-birds — a popular African expression for men who talk the sweet, honeyed words of the government.) say in reply: ‘Come and see the contours.’ The government quotes figures for the miles of fencing erected to limit the pasturage to its carrying capacity and to keep out the stock of persons resident in neighbouring locations. And the government says: ‘For this the only gratitude we get from the ignorant Bantu is to plough across these contours or cut these fences. If progress appears to be slow, it is because the government has to battle against such odds.’ Whites are often taken in by this argument and agree that it is difficult to know just what the Africans want. But are the peasants in the reserves delighted to see their land eroded? Are they grateful for the growing decrease in productivity, which has become obvious even to those who are uninitiated in better farming methods and agricultural economics? Do they welcome the high death rate of their stock through lack of vegetation? And if they are not satisfied with all this, why do they oppose measures meant to achieve what they also want — fertile land covered with life-giving vegetation, fattened and increasing stock, and greater yields of food?
A bare outline, in passing, of the essential features of the government land reclamation schemes in the reserves may help to place in proper perspective the uncompromising opposition of the peasants.
The government, with the support of the overwhelming majority of White South Africans, persists in regarding the reserves as the home of all Africans. Yet not only have these areas been neglected, but under present farming conditions are heavily over-stocked and over-populated. The failure to make a success of farming in these areas is not the fault of the Africans who live there. Given the same conditions, White or any other farmers would be reduced to the same position as the African peasant, and the land would have been exhausted to the same extent.
What then is the effect of the government measures? Because there are more peasants than the land can support, the government has introduced periodic reductions of stock, and has limited the privilege of owning stock at all. Only those who have arable allotments are allowed to graze stock on the pasturage, and the total number of stock owned is limited in accordance with the carrying capacity of the pasturage.
The peasants claim that this measure is intended to impoverish them. It bars the door of opportunity to those who may not own cattle or may not graze all the cattle that they wish to acquire.
The rehabilitation measures require that those whose lands are being reclaimed by the building of contours should only keep a portion — two thirds of the arable allotment — under cultivation at any one time, while the other third is left to lie fallow. Those who do not own an allotment are being removed to work colonies for the landless, which the government prefers to call Bantustan towns.
The peasants claim that the application of these measures is merely reducing the cultivators to a state of even greater impoverishment. They may use only a portion of their already small and inadequate arable allotments, while those who do not own such allotments at all are being pressed into an army of mine and farm workers who, together with their children and their children’s children, will be condemned to live in perpetual want and insecurity.
Unmindful of these arguments, the government proceeds with its rehabilitation schemes, turning to the Chiefs and offering to those whose areas will accept rehabilitation measures appropriate incentives: increased special stipends, increased land allotments, words of praise and places of honour, and, behind all, the right to continue as government appointed Chiefs. With these fruits of office dangling before them, the Chiefs often commit peasants to acceptance of the rehabilitation scheme without consulting them. Then, when preparations are made for the implementation of the scheme — fencing material is piled up at various points in the location and teams arrive to start work on the contours — the peasants question with surprise the cause of all this activity. Where was this scheme discussed and accepted, they ask? And now the Chief hits back at them mercilessly. The instigators of the discontent are brought to the ‘Bush Court’ (Bush Court’ — The Chief’s Court.) with the greatest haste and the least formality.
Some pretext is found to confront the hostile peasants with a charge for which a heavy fine is prescribed, and invariably those charged are convicted, because the charge they are facing in the captive court is merely a cover to hit at them for their opposition to government plans for their land.
The initiation of land betterment schemes has taken place on a comparatively wide scale throughout the reserves. Barbed wire fences have been unrolled, dams have been constructed, and there has been the rigorous application of the regulations relating to the reduction of stock.
Yet the government has hardly touched the fringes of the problem. The reserves still cannot provide even a bare subsistence level of life for all its inhabitants. Taken to task in Parliament for not having spent more on the development of the reserves, the Bantu Affairs Department Minister argued that the government was obliged to handle with care a situation which might be explosive if the pace were increased. ‘We do not want to force this developmental work upon the Bantu who is conservative by nature. The moment you try to force it on him you make an enemy of him. (House of Assembly Debates, 9 May 1962, c.3288.) When else has the Nationalist government taken into consideration the feelings of the people, one might ask?
Expenditure on the scheme has been low because the government uses compulsory unpaid labour. The Minister himself admits this. He told Parliament ‘The fact of the matter is that by making use of the services of the community we are carrying out those same works at half the cost estimated by the Tomlinson Commission.’ He cited the case of a dam which cost the Smuts government £15,000 to construct, while the government was, with forced labour, building a similar dam ‘at the cost of £800 or £1,000’. Compulsory unpaid labour not only robs the peasants of the meagre £3-£4 a month which they would other wise earn, but saps their energy and their time.
This unpaid compulsory labour adds insult to the injury already suffered by the peasants in the new Bantustans. Men who should be earning a living in the industrial centres have been dumped in the reserves and there drafted into work teams to dig holes for the creosote poles and erect the barbed-wire fences — without pay — under the supervision of paid officials. The women, meanwhile, must make their own contribution by cooking for the teams of forced labour or carrying the fencing materials on their heads from the depot to the working teams. Officialdom does not provide the women with the food that they must cook for the work teams; they must find it themselves, and if any woman has to leave her own children without a meal it is an eventuality that the Chief or government official happily overlooks. For authority all that matters is that the woman must comply with the order to provide food for the working teams when her turn comes. Failure to comply with the order is punished as defiance of authority; a complaint against its harshness is punished as incitement to disobedience. Mute acceptance of orders and the tacit endurance of hardship is the only response allowed. (R. v. Skade is a case reported in 1957 S.A. Law Reports, vol. 3, p. 315, in which a peasant was fined for refusing to join a team to erect a fence).
The evidence showed that residents of Nqgolowa location decided to apply for the areas to be declared a betterment area. An inkundla (a meeting of the men of the location) agreed that five men must do the fencing each week. The accused won his appeal as the order was not given by the headman and the fence was not being erected under the authority of Proclamation.)
More and more public works, such as road making, contour building) the removal of noxious weeds, the repairing of dipping tanks, and the construction of houses for the Chiefs, come under the category of services to which compulsory unpaid labour is drafted.
For many years the peculiar situation existed in the reserves whereby both judicial and administrative functions were performed by a single man — the magistrate or Bantu Commissioner, to give him his official title. Most cases that came before the courts, especially civil ones — with the possible exception of those involving traders and their debtors — were between Africans, and the Commissioner presided over them all.
Apart from faction fighting there is little serious crime in the country areas, and so most of the criminal cases in the reserves have arisen out of some law or decree, controlling the lives of rural Africans in the interests of white supremacy. Anxious to see that government policy is carried out with the least possible hindrance, therefore, the Bantu Commissioners have waged an untiring struggle to eliminate the lawyer from their courts, and to settle themselves not only disputes between Africans but also criminal prosecutions for the contravention of government decrees. A Xhosa expression sums up the lack of confidence that the peasants have in such judicial administration — ‘ngaphandle kweGqwetha usisisulu seniongo’ (the surest way of going to jail is to appear in court without a lawyer).
Bitter legal struggles involving thousands of pounds have taken place in the reserves over measures relating to the administration of land, stock limitation and cattle dipping regulations. In dealing with these, the Commissioners have found the normal legal procedure cumbersome, and the presence of a lawyer has delayed the full implementation of government plans. The government has accordingly always viewed it as desirable to eliminate lawyers altogether from the machinery of law administration in the reserves. On the other hand, the peasant believes that by taking advantage of available legal processes, he delays the evil day when the government will have subdued him altogether. And the money spent in that struggle has been quietly accepted as a fair enough price to buy time.
Now a concerted effort is being made by the Chiefs and Bantu Affairs Department officials to place all civil cases between Africans, and all criminal cases that are within the jurisdiction of the Chiefs, before Bantu Authorities Tribunals.
The Nationalist government has two aims here. First, the Bantu Commissioner will be left free to devote all his time to seeing that government policy is carried out, for this is his true role. Secondly, the government hopes the Chiefs may succeed, where the Commissioners have failed, in breaking down the resistance of the peasant and draining him of substance by the imposition of heavy fines for minor offences.
How is this new machinery working in the Bantustans? In the first place the Bantu Authorities Tribunals have become the courts of first instance. The Commissioner’s Courts — where lawyers may still be briefed — have won a new status. They are now Courts of Appeal.
My own research work in the Transkei reveals that both in the districts where the power of the Chiefs had declined before the establishment of Bantu Authorities and in those where the Chiefs still exercise some influence on the people, the roll of civil cases heard in the Bantu Commissioner’s Court has declined noticeably. In the districts where chieftainship has been long established, there is already a significant decline in the number of minor criminal cases heard in the Commissioner’s Courts, as these have now been diverted to the Bantu Authorities Tribunals. In the districts where the power of the Chiefs had been almost completely broken down, the number of criminal cases, which include appeals from the Chief-run Bush Courts, is on the increase. This is attributable to the fact that normally law-abiding people have found themselves far more frequently contravening one or other petty regulation, such as disobeying a Chief to whom they feel no particular loyalty. Almost invariably people convicted in the Bush Courts for such offences have appealed to the Commissioner’s Courts, thus swelling the rolls there.
How do these Bush Courts work?
If a complainant wishes the Court to take up his case, he pays a minimum fee of £1- a practice which is commonly known as ‘Ukuvula Inkundla’ (To open the Court). A panel of men appointed by the Chief and approved of by the Bantu Commissioner then conducts the case.
Not infrequently, where the complainant gets a favourable judgment and is awarded damages, he shares the award with the Chief. For instance where a complainant brings an adultery case against another, and wins his case, the Chief gets at least a beast out of the damages and costs, or its value in money — £10 to £15. This has become such a source of easy income for some Chiefs and their hangers-on that in the Transkei’s small villages the Chief’s fast swelling bank and building society accounts have become subjects of common talk.
In several areas where the people show a disinclination to hand over cases to the Bush Court, there is developing a class of paid ‘accusers’, who are believed to be acting on the Chief’s instructions. The function of such hirelings is to concoct a civil claim against some of the more wealthy peasants who show any sign of resistance to government policy or the rule of the Chiefs.
When the Chief requires the accused to appear before him, he usually writes a short note in which he tells him to appear on a certain date, but without stating the purpose. Naturally this type of procedure is highly resented by the peasants, who often have to travel scores of miles to get to the Bush Court. One man who decided to write and find out why the Chief wanted to see him, received the following reply:
I wish to inform you that my instructions that you should appear before me on the appointed date cannot be ignored by you. I have to instruct you once more to appear before me at ... on ... at.... Should you fail to comply with this instruction I will be reluctantly compelled to institute compulsory means to cause your appearance as instructed. (This letter came from Kaizer Matanzirna. )
To forestall the growth of a disgruntled group of professional men, the Nationalist government is already canvassing the few African attorneys in the Transkei to take up positions in the Bantustan establishment. They are being promised positions as ‘magistrates’ and ‘judges’ amongst their people.
One attorney has been appointed a Chief at an official monthly salary of £30 — made up partly from the Bantu Affairs Department account and partly from tribal funds. He will compensate for the loss of his practice by making more money. And in addition he can readily surround himself with comforts by calling upon the people to impose a levy on themselves for such purposes as to buy the Chief a car — usually referred to as a ‘horse for the Chief’. In the Transkei a number of Chiefs are being bought these ‘horses’. As an increasing number of attorneys choose this easier path to wealth, and to infamy, the people are being deprived of all legal protection in the courts of law.
Here is a sample of the information supplied by a number of attorneys whom I interviewed in a survey of the Transkei:
No attorney is allowed to appear in the Bush Court.
There is hardly any recording of evidence in these courts, so that any appeal from them to the Commissioner’s Courts are de novo.
The fines in the Bush Courts are exorbitant — usually the maximum allowed.
The Chiefs regard the attorneys as a nuisance who undermine their authority and make their work difficult.
A cautious lawyer summed it up with a good deal of understatement: ‘I have the impression that the interests of justice will be jeopardized and there may be malpractices. In the legal profession there is already a certain amount of concern and anxiety over its future.'
The Chiefs are naturally very proud and conscious of their newly acquired status. They feel insulted when litigants resort to the Commissioner’s Courts and to lawyers, and they employ all means at their disposal to discourage people from using these channels.
It was left to the Chief Bantu Commissioner, who is also Chief Magistrate of the Transkei, to tell councillors how they could raise their stipends and increase their allowance. After expressing sympathy with a resolution to raise the headmen’s stipends, he told the Authority that there was only one source from which it could be possible to provide for such an increase, and that was an imposition of a tax on the community.’ I am not going to suggest any specific amount that should be paid to the head of a tribal authority,’ he said, ‘but from my own knowledge of other districts I can assure you that they are paid.’ He went on to assure the councillors that he was going to hold a meeting at which he intended to have a full discussion on how to squeeze more money by way of taxes from the people for tribal funds; and if that could be done, he added, it would be an answer to the motion before councillors.
Who is to pay for these Bantustans? The government has been quick to relieve White taxpayers of any anxiety they may have that they will have to dip into their own pockets. Increased powers, the government has told the Chiefs, go hand in hand with increased duties and added responsibilities: Taxation of their subjects was one of the functions which the Bantu Authorities should not shirk.
The burden of taxation on the peasants in the reserves is the most serious source of popular discontent. Every year a multitude of motions is tabled before the Transkeian Territorial Authority, pressing for increases in subsistence and travelling allowances to the Chiefs and their lieutenants who attend meetings connected with the operation of the Bantu Authorities.
1. That transport allowances applicable to counciflors be raised from 7d. (6c.) to 2S. (20c.) and from 8d. (7c.) to 2s. 6d. (25c.) per mile to meet the rising costs of travelling.
2. That chairmen of district authorities be paid a subsistence allowance of 12s. 6d. (R1.25c.) and a travelling allowance of 7d. (6c.) for every mile necessarily travelled for each day’s visit to the District Authority Office.
A number of other motions relating to finance press for an increase in the stipends of headmen. Here is a typical motion and the supporting argument:
That the government be respectfully requested to increase the stipends of all heads of tribal community authorities who are headmen so as to be the same as those of sub-chiefs. [In support of this motion, the mover argued:] What they (headmen) are doing now is part of what the magistrates used to do.
Emphasizing the need for an increase in headmen’s allowances, the seconder of the motion added:
The bulk of the Bantu people are under the impression that the heads of tribal authorities have had their status increased, and it is a well-known fact that they perform the same duties as those performed by sub-chiefs.
The implication is that the stipends should be raised in order to surround the heads of tribal authorities with an aura of respectability in the eyes of the peasants. An even more significant purpose is to bribe the Chiefs to stand by the government.
One of the really startling features of the whole Bantustan project is the almost sensational increase in the stipends of salaries paid to the Chiefs. Headmen used to start on £12 a year, and after 6 years of good and loyal service, reached the maximumof £32.
The Nationalist government began, in 1950, to bribe the Chiefs. It introduced two scales for headmen in that year. One group was placed on the scale £30 × 6 — £96, and the other on the scale £24 × 6 — £52. In addition, all headmen received a bonus of £8 a year for collecting tax. The four most important Chiefs were paid £900, £750, £600 and £324.
Headmen were given another rise a few years later. They were graded according to the number of taxpayers in their areas, and paid on a corresponding scale. Those at the bottom of the scale received £60 a year in basic allowance and bonus; those at the top of the scale received £144. The salaries of the four most important Chiefs were increased to £1,200, £900, £800 and £600. Chief Kaizer Matanzima, who is not a Paramount Chief, received £400.
In 1960 the government announced a further 25 per cent increase all round, and a doubling of the tax-collection bonus. This raised the headmen’s salaries to £88 for those at the bottom of the scale and £224 for those at the top.
The introduction of the Transkeian Legislative Assembly has been made an occasion for giving the Chiefs still bigger bribes, for the reward must be made sufficiently attractive to overcome opposition. The headmen do not get more pay — they are now the underlings of the Chiefs. It is the Chiefs who benefit from the new order. The four Paramount Chiefs (who are ex officio members of the Assembly) receive £2,000 a year each. This is also the salary of the Chief Minister, who is the ‘head of government’. Other Ministers get £1,700. Chief Matanzima gets a special reward of £1,000 a year though he is not a Paramount Chief. The salaries of seven other Chiefs range from £110 to £300. Chiefs who are members of the Legislative Assembly get, in addition, £400.
For the first time in South African history, the government is paying a Black man more than a White. The scale of a Bantu Affairs Commissioner is £1,440 x 6 — £1,620.
The salaries of Chiefs and headmen were formerly paid from the general revenue, but the Transkeian Constitution Act makes them a charge on the Transkeian Revenue Fund. This Fund consists of various taxes, fines and levies, plus an annual grant from the Consolidated Revenue Fund, which is to reimburse the Transkeian Territorial Authority for expenditure on matters transferred to it from the Republic government. The cost of the new Legislative Assembly is clearly not such a matter. It will have to pay its way without a subsidy for the salaries of its members.
The present Transkeian budget, however, cannot feasibly bear the cost of these salaries, which are quite out of keeping with former standards. In 1962, the total income was £683,982, almost all of which was spent during the financial year. The peasants will have to pay. Already in 1961, when the expenditure was at a comparatively low level, the White officials told the Transkeian Territorial Authority that there had been a decrease in tax collections every year and that there was no money to pay the increases which the Chiefs demanded. He could not understand, he said, why there was a decrease. ‘There must always be an increase because the population increases,’ he said.
His statement typifies the inhumanity of apartheid policies and those who enforce them. The Bantu Commissioner counts heads and expects a corresponding amount in taxes. It does not dawn on him that the implementation of the Bantu Authorities system and the harsh influx control regulations operating in the urban areas have had the joint effect of impoverishing the peasants even more.
‘Nobody likes to pay taxes,’ he says. In his mind these arrears are no more than conscious evasions of tax by malcontents. An African must find the money to pay his taxes for the implementation of apartheid, irrespective of whether he earns it or not. By the 1961 session of the T.T.A., however, the Chief Bantu Commissioner no longer displayed absolute confidence in his African collaborators. He complained: ‘It is unfair of you to ask my Bantu Affairs Commissioners, who are already overburdened with the terrific amount of work thrust upon them, to give this matter much more attention.’ But the Chiefs and headmen on the other hand also claimed that they had taken over considerable duties which had previously devolved on Bantu Commissioners. For the additional work which necessitated their travelling by taxi or other public transport, they required an increase in their wages and their travelling allowances. ‘I appeal to you in your own interests,’ replied the Chief Bantu Commissioner, ‘to collect the outstanding amounts due. ... Use every means in your power to assist your Bantu Affairs Commissioners; to assist your messengers (of the court) and their deputies to bring in this amount.'
Councillors brought forward ingenious suggestions to facilitate the collection of the general levy (Impundulu) and other taxes. Councillor E. A. Pinyana suggested that the Transkei Territorial Authority should devise ways and means of persuading the employers to collect this money. Although the Councillor made the important admission that ‘when the messenger of the court goes to the dipping tank in order to attach cattle for the unpaid taxes he finds the young man has no cattle,’ he still did not attribute the failure to pay the taxes to poverty.
Another dynamic proposal came from Councillor C. W. Monakali. The Recess Committee on Finance, of which he was Chairman, proposed that the Chiefs be employed as tax collectors! ‘When the scheme of appointing (Chiefs') representatives in the towns matures, then our representatives will meet the representatives of the employers of labour and there they will find ways of collecting the outstanding taxes belonging to those area.’ (Act 46 of 1962 provides for collection of taxes by employers at the request of the African employee.) The (White) Supervisory Officer pointed out that the Bantu Affairs Department had already sought unsuccessfully to arrange for stop order facilities with big employers in the industrial areas to collect these taxes. The principal difficulty had been that while everybody in the country knew the general tax, the local tax, and quit-rent, the Transkei had other rates to consider. In his words: In addition there is the general levy, the balance of the health rate still owing, stock rate and about seventy different kinds of Bantu Authority rates, location levies, tribal levies and so forth.'
Who must pay taxes? Every male over the age of 18, even if he has neither land nor work. Every widowed woman, for though a woman is under every other law declared a ‘child’ dependent on the male heir, in matters of taxation she assumes the position of the absent male taxpayer.
Rates and taxes are levied to run the Bantu Education schools where the children are trained to accept subservience to White authority; to meet the deficits in the Territorial Authority budget. For some of the taxes the peasants have their own names; others are known just as taxes. One of those for which a name has been found is called ‘Impundulu’ — the blood-sucker tax — but most of the taxes are regarded as such.
In addition to the legalized taxes, which are announced by proclamation, there are the smaller unofficial taxes, extorted from individuals by the Chiefs before granting a permit for one thing or another. A peasant will pay for a permit to cut wood, to cut thatching grass, to brew beer, to hold initiation rites for boys and girls. And not only must these numerous unrecorded taxes be paid to the Chief, but a bribe must also be paid to the toadies around him, since without their cooperation the Chief’s consent for the permit may not be obtained. The Chief wants such men around him in order to feel secure, and he therefore allows them latitude to farm an income for themselves on the side-lines, so as not to have to pay them himself for the services they render him.
There are other taxes for the Chief too, for the people are told that they must buy goods for the ‘father’ (the Chief) and the ‘mother’ (the Chief’s wife). Large sums of money have been collected in this way to buy the more ambitious Chiefs flashy American motor cars; and often a costume with suitable accessories is bought for the ‘mother’ as a present, when the ‘father’ is presented with his car.
Failure to pay the legalized taxes is an offence punishable by a period of imprisonment, at the end of which the defaulter is not relieved from the payment of the tax for which he has already languished in jail. Alternatively failure to pay the arrear tax is dealt with as a civil matter and stock is attached) while failure to pay the poll tax may even result in confiscation of land. Although failure to pay the unofficial taxes is not subject to the same conditions for recovery, whoever refuses to pay such a tax is made to produce the money elsewhere, as when, on some pretext or other, he appears at the Bush Court charged with some offence.
The lives of the people in the Bantustans are thus being regimented into conformity with a carefully prescribed pattern: to be loyal to one’s Chief and to authority in general; to obey orders. Peasants are commanded when to plough and when to reap; when their families may have a beer drink, and how much of it; when young men must come to the Chief’s place to find out if there is any work for them in industrial centres; when all men must come to the Chief’s place to hear new decrees from the government.
For years the Bantu Commissioner had to enforce the numerous regulations — most of which only existed on paper — that govern life in the reserves. And White officialdom did not prod too hard, for fear that the horse would bolt. In the last six years, however, though the whip has remained in the hand of the white government, it has been the Chiefs, the new jockeys riding the reserve horse, who have applied the spurs. The Chiefs are now well in the saddle.
Grouped around them are the headmen, their representatives in the villages. Their ministers and informers try to be everywhere. For they must do their job properly if they are to survive. The Nationalist government has turned the Chiefs into the pivot of the Bantustan scheme. They constitute a ruling aristocracy, but one directly answerable to the government. The Chiefs are Chiefs because the government has ordained that they may be so. They are stronger than they have ever been — under White occupation — and they are expected to use their powers to keep quiescent not only the great mass of the dispossessed Africans in the new settlements, but the landholders and small middle class as well.
The Nationalist government is working on the theory that if it can keep a firm grip on the Chiefs, they in turn will swing a threatening club over the heads of the middle-class elements, while together the Chiefs and middle-class elements keep the peasantry underfoot.
The Chiefs have important powers to control both the land-holding group and the traders, for it is the Chiefs who allocate the land and issue the trading licences.
The land-holders in the reserves will constitute a privileged class of peasantry, but for their offspring the future is no brighter than for the landless. As under the old set-up, the eldest son alone will succeed to the occupational rights of the original land-holder, but now other children will be condemned to life in the settlements.
For the traders there is equally little security, since there can be no security for anyone when failure to satisfy a corrupt Chief, or false information by an informer, may be enough to lead to the cancellation of a trading licence.
As for the landless and the dispossessed, they will have nothing at all, let alone favours to repay. They have hatred and contempt for the hireling Chiefs, and resentment breaking into open rebellion at their rule.