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A STRATEGY FOR DEVELOPING THE EASTERN CAPE

BY

PROFESSOR HERBERT VILAKAZI

 

 

(Mhlontlo Municipality SAGRIPP Seminar: March 4-5, 2014; vilakazi@icon.co.za; www.professorvilakazi.wordpress.com)

[This document has been published world-wide by WordPress. Copy-Right

  Regulations apply.]

 

 

Mhlontlo Municipality is almost totally rural: indeed, from the standpoint of a correct strategy for development, Mhlontlo Municipality must be considered 100 percent rural. That is to say that the most decisive factor shaping the economic-social fate of that region of Eastern Cape is the collapsed rural economy, which deforms and takes the wind out of non-rural economic activities in the region and country as a whole.

 

All the statistics on social life in Eastern Cape speak of severe poverty and deprivation: “The Eastern Cape tops the list of poor provinces in terms of exposure to average deprivation both in 2007 and 2011” (The Eastern Cape Socio-Economic Review and Outlook, Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism, 2013)

Life expectancy for males in Eastern Cape, between 2006 and 2011, was only 50.2 years, lower than the national average of 52.1 years; for females, it was 54 years, lower than the national average of 56 years.

 

Regarding the most basic life requirement, food, the Eastern Cape “has one of the highest levels of food insecurity in South Africa” (Ibid). While in the country as a whole, 64 percent of households are considered food insecure, in the Eastern Cape, the figure of food insecurity is 78 percent of households. “Further analysis of the characteristics of food insecure households show that the majority of food insecure households in the province reside in rural areas, are Africans, are headed by females, have larger family sizes, and have higher dependency rations” (Ibid.),

 

Another significant statistic is that the Eastern Cape has not registered any growth since 2002, judging by the province’s contribution to the National GDP.

 

Extreme poverty and underdevelopment in the Eastern Cape reveal not only a catastrophe in the South African economy, but also a severe crisis of South African economics. Almost 20 years ago, I stated this general crisis as follows:

“A crippling weakness of established South African economics is the invisibility in it of the masses of African people. The main concern of official economic policy is the ups and downs of the white-controlled economy, which has a very narrow base within the larger society, and within which the majority of Africans do not feature. We must counter-pose to this economic policy our own view: economics from the standpoint of the downtrodden” (Vilakazi, Herbert, “Time Ripe for Economics of the Ghetto”, City Press, 21 January 1996; also see Vilakazi, Herbert, “Rural Masses Key to Sick Economy”, Business Day, 19 August 1996, p. 9).

 

We not only have a catastrophe in the economy; we also have a catastrophe in our official thinking about our economy.

 

This catastrophe is national. Look at the neighbouring province, KwaZulu/Natal.

The diet system of the majority of people in KwaZulu/Natal has collapsed, as a result of deep poverty. This constitutes a horrendous human catastrophe. As a consequence, KwaZulu/Natal now has a high mortality rates (death rates). The Provincial Growth and Development Strategy (2011) document informs us that “Adult life expectancy in the Province has dropped from 53 years in 1996, to 51.6 in 2000 to 43 in 2009.”

 

The document further tells us that KwaZulu/Natal “has the highest disease burden associated with underdevelopment and poverty”.  “Despite high levels of government spending in health and welfare high levels of infant mortality and decreasing life expectancy are still the norm.”  Further, employment in agriculture has declined by 64% since 2000, and employment in manufacturing has declined by 20% since 2000.

 

This is the scale and depth of the human catastrophe in our country; this cannot help but bring about hopelessness of spirit, an enormous sense of personal insecurity in this world, which makes many people to hold on to religion with their last spiritual thread. This is the sum and substance of the human catastrophe which brings degradation and dehumanization to intellectual life, to community life, to political life, to government life, to social life, and to sexual life.

 

 

 Through the migrant labour system of the past, millions of rural people were forcibly brought to work in mines and urban areas. A large bulk of the African rural population has migrated together with their poverty and misery to urban areas, forming shanty-towns attached to the original townships.

 

These millions of Africans constitute the Colony inside South African society: Africans constitute the colonial economic component inside the South African economy. The South African economy has the shape of a Colonial Economy. The White-owned and controlled Industry, Commerce, Banking, and Commercial Agriculture constitutes the Metropolitan Power of the South African economy.

 

African rural communities and Coloured rural communities constitute the Colony, which extends to the Townships and Shanty-towns of urban South Africa. Figures indicate that most of working-age urban Africans are not workers in modern industry and commerce, but are in what is called the “informal economy” – in our terms, are in the colonial economy.

 

Eastern Cape is a massive component of the Colony in the South African economy, and in South African society.

 

 This is the fundamental problem of South Africa.

 

The underdevelopment of African rural communities, and of their off-springs in urban areas, are now the heavy drag that is pulling down the entire South African economy. The national economy cannot develop any further as long as it contains this colony. In accounting terms, when conducting an audit of the national economy, the colony, comprising the vast majority of society, is simply entered in the loss column. The cost of the colony to the national economy is many times the value of the Gross National Product of the country.

 

The colony is now sapping and negating the vitality and growth potential of the national economy and society. South African economists and statisticians often calculate and bewail the cost of a holiday to the national economy. The cost of the colony to the South African economy, the cost of unused capacity of tens of millions of African and Coloured people should  run into trillions of Rand: that is how big the South African economy can be if the colony were eliminated.

 

The economy of KwaZulu/Natal can be 3 or 4 times larger than what it is, if the millions of African people become vigorous and creative participants in the economy. Likewise, the economy of the Eastern Cape can be many times what it is, if the Colony were eliminated and the millions of Africans in the Province were to become vigorous and creative participants in the economy, as producers, as entrepreneurs, as Bankers, industrialists, scientists, engineers and technicians.

 

The measures that must kick-start the economic process leading to the elimination of the colony within the South African economy must occur within the colony itself, not outside the colony. The initial, main measures must be in the home-base of the colony, African rural areas, and from there move to the off-springs of rural areas, the shanty-towns and townships, leading to the growth and rejuvenation of the national economy.

 

The present massive underdevelopment of the majority of society, Africans, is rooted in the fact that the Agricultural Revolution, which was the basis of the Industrial Revolution, did not occur within the African community –the Agricultural Revolution did not occur within the Colony. It occurred only in the White community.

 

It is a major error among economists guiding our government to assume that the Agricultural Revolution which occurred in the White rural community renders the Agricultural Revolution in the African community unnecessary. This error follows from the wrong assumption that the White-dominated industrial economy of the nation is the major actor, the Big Brother, of the other twin, the Colonial economy; that the White economy shapes the national economy. That was the case in the Colonial era; in the post-Colonial era of our time, it is the Colonial economy, the Colonial population, which, in the deficit sense, shapes the national economy.

 

The National Development Plan tells us that 60 percent of the people are now in urban areas. That has led some industry-centered economists to think that African rural areas are of minor significance in the national economy, which they identify with the modern White economic sector. It is one thing for the majority of rural people to disappear because they have been absorbed by national industrialization, as happened in England; it is something else for the majority of rural people in the Colony to disappear because underdevelopment and misery in the Colony’s rural areas have forced them to flood the cities, where there is no prospect of their being absorbed by developing industry in the White economy.

 

The millions of Africans who have been forced by underdevelopment and misery to migrate to urban areas, who actually constitute the larger bulk of the unemployment problem, have moved to urban areas because of the big default in the nation’s economic history: the fact that South Africa’s Agricultural Revolution took place only in White rural areas. African rural areas, the site of the overwhelming majority of society, remained pre-industrial. In the Western Cape, the Coloured rural community also remained pre-industrial.

 

To get a better view and correct understanding of our fundamental national problem, picture Rural South Africa as a huge high-rise building with four floors. I shall start at the top:

 

FOURTH FLOOR:  

The Top Floor is occupied by the Owners/Controllers of Big Corporate Agriculture, as well as by Owners/Controllers of the Big, Independent Commercial Farmers. These employ hundreds and tens of thousands of Farm workers. All these Owners/Controllers, by and large, are White.

THIRD FLOOR:

Below the TOP floor, on the THIRD FLOOR, we find Independent, Middle-Layer Commercial Farmers, who employ, in total, hundreds and thousands of Farm workers. All these Independent, Middle-Layer Commercial Farmers are also, by and large, White. We may find, here and there, an Indian Farm owner, a Coloured Farm owner, and an African Farm owner.

SECOND FLOOR:

The SECOND FLOOR is occupied by

 by SMALL COMMERCIAL FARMERS, who live precarious lives as business people. The current Government policy of creating/promoting “Black Farmers” adds individual farmers to this Floor. We cannot emphasize enough the extreme precariousness of the economic existence of these farmers, as business people. They employ tens, perhaps hundreds, in total, some thousands, of Farm workers. The creation/promotion of Women Farmers features here.

FIRST-FLOOR

The First Floor is occupied by approximately 90 to 95 per cent of people in African Rural Areas and Coloured Rural Areas. These are people engaged in self-subsistence farming activities, people who just scratch the bare soil for their means of existence. These are the most “food insecure” people, who are not guaranteed a meal each and every day of their lives.

 

In the year 2000, the then Deputy-Minister of Trade and Industry, Lindiwe Hendricks made this announcement: “Our recent survey finds that one out of two people in rural SA do not have food to consume in a day” (Business Day, 21 November 2000, p. 2). If, as we are informed by the Eastern Cape Socio-Economic Review and Outlook, (2013), 78 percent of households in Eastern Cape are suffering from food insecurity, it means that conditions of life in `rural SA’ are actually worse than there were as reported by the Deputy-Minister in the year 2000. It means that, in the Eastern Cape, 3 out of 4 people in our times `DO NOT HAVE FOOD TO CONSUME IN A DAY’.

 

The Human Catastrophe in current South Africa is on the FIRST- FLOOR of rural South Africa! FIRST-FLOOR RURAL SOUTH AFRICA is the source of the statistics about destitution, poverty, misery, dehumanization, diseases and high death-rate. The Provincial Growth and Development Strategy document for KwaZulu/Natal (2011) informs us that “Adult life expectancy in the Province has dropped from 53 years in 1996, to 51.6 in 2000 to 43 in 2009.”

 

This high death-rate in rural South Africa, which then migrates to urban South Africa, is directly caused by the collapse of the diet system. Correct, nutritious food is the first medicine that the human body gets. When the supply of correct, nutritious food collapses, the health of masses of people collapses; then you get the high death-rate from avoidable diseases.

 

The economic collapse on the FIRST-FLOOR of Rural South Africa, and the consequent collapse and decay of social-cultural-political life, migrates to urban South Africa, poisoning the physical, social, moral, cultural, and political life of the entire country.

 

The foundation of the gigantic problem of South Africa today is the continued existence of the FIRST-FLOOR of Rural South Africa.

 

The Crisis we are facing in this country is exactly similar to the crisis of a National War situation, comparable to the National War situation that confronted the people of England in 1940, when Nazi Germany was concentrating its powers for conquering England. The challenge that faced the people of England in 1940 was to gather and mobilize the economic, spiritual, political, military, scientific, manpower and womanpower of England, to save themselves and the Nation from destruction, and to defeat Nazi Germany. Everything in England was reshaped so as to point to the main and immediate aim, to fight and win the War.

 

There was total re-priotization of National Life. The new starting point of National and Local Policy, in all departments of Governments, and in all institutions of society, was mobilizing the power of the people to fight and win the War, to save England and preserve human decency.

 

I am saying to you that we in South Africa are facing a similar challenge. There is an enemy that is destroying our Nation, our Society, and our Community as Human Beings: THE ENEMY IS LOCATED ON THE FIRST-FLOOR OF RURAL SOUTH AFRICA!

 

It is the collapse of the economy on the First-Floor of Rural South Africa; the collapse of morality; the collapse of the Spiritual Power of people on the First-Floor; the injury to the cerebral-mental development, and psychology, of children born and growing up in extreme poverty; and the injury and collapse of the African philosophy of life; and deep injury to the African Soul –this all takes place on the FIRST-FLOOR of Rural South Africa.

 

As this deep injury and collapse of life on the FIRST-FLOOR of Rural South Africa migrates to urban South Africa, it poisons the life-stream of the nation, of society, and of the Human Community of South Africa, as we are now.

 

It is important to stress that the construction of this new structure of Rural South Africa, with this deep injury and collapse on the FIRST-FLOOR, did not begin with the Presidency of Jacob Zuma; nor did it begin with the Presidency of Thabo Mbeki; nor did it begin with the Presidency of Nelson Mandela.

 

This new structure of Rural South Africa, with this deep injury to the indigenous people of South Africa, and the collapse of the indigenous economy, was the result of the incorporation of Southern Africa within the new European-centered world capitalist economy; when the African people became a Colony of European Powers; when the indigenous African economy was reshaped to meet the needs of the European world capitalist economy (Wallerstein, Immanuel, The Modern World-System: Capitalist Agriculture and the Origins of the European World Economy in the Sixteenth Century, New York, Academic Press, 1974; Wolf, Eric R., Europe and the People Without History, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1982).

 

The great fault and shortcoming of our leadership and Government has been to vow to the major Western Capitalist Powers, and to implement the vow, NOT to bring about fundamental changes in the  South African economy. This vow, and its implementation, means, of course, the continuation of the present FIRST-FLOOR of Rural South Africa, and the maintenance of the Colonial Economy. Development policies to be implemented within the existing World Capitalist Economy, and shaped by this world economy, are unreal, are worse than a “pipe dream”, to use Alan Paton’s phrase. The `vow’, and its implementation, have been discussed by the retired University of Stellenbosch economist, Professor Terreblanche (Terreblanche, Sampie, “Whites Must Make Sacrifices to Uplift South Africa’s Poor”, Business Report, August 14, 2013).

 

 

 

 

WHAT MUST BE DONE?

 

The starting point in solving South Africa’s gigantic problem is to initiate real development within the FIRST-FLOOR of Rural South Africa.

 

Since the FIRST-FLOOR of Rural South Africa is the site of the most desperate and extreme food insecurity for the masses of people on that floor, the first and most immediate necessary task is to assure these masses of people food security.

 

The first act needed to eliminate poverty, unemployment, and inequality in South Africa is to initiate an Agricultural Revolution in African and Coloured rural areas. This is to cut the roots of massive poverty, unemployment, diseases, and abnormally high death rate in rural areas and in the nation as a whole.

 

The immediate aim of this policy should be to increase and improve the capacity of every rural household in the Colony to produce needed food for sustenance. The immediate target are the millions of African and Coloured people on the FIRST FLOOR of Rural South Africa. Rural Africans should also be encouraged to grow, again, traditional African crops, using traditional non-chemical methods, which kept Africans with few of modern diseases for thousands of years, and kept life-expectancy much higher than what it is in our times.

 

When it comes to Agriculture and Rural Development, the logic of the World Capitalist Economy has over four or five decades now advised and led our Government to focus on the SECOND, THIRD, and FOURTH floors of Rural South Africa. The FOURTH Floor, occupied by owners/controllers of the largest Corporate Agricultural Producers, and by the largest Independent Commercial Farmers, and the THIRD Floor, occupied by Middle-Layer Commercial Farmers, have over many decades received the largest bulk of Government assistance to the Agricultural sector.

 

The Department of Agriculture, the Development Bank, the Development of Land Affairs, and the Land Bank, can tell more than a tale on assistance from the Public Purse given, almost free of charge, to occupants of the THIRD and FOURTH Floors.  

 

When the “Winds of Change” reached our shores, as British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan put it in his historical speech in the South African White Parliament, in Cape Town, in 1960, warning White rulers in Southern Africa of the inevitable power of African Nationalism, a new theme was introduced in  Development Policy: this has been the policy of giving State assistance to promising individuals in African rural communities to join the Agricultural Capitalist Class: these promising individuals were not given the large, almost automatic, assistance given to White farmers on the THIRD and FOURTH Floors.

 

The intention and hope was to have these promising individuals in the African Rural Community to join the Small White Framers on the SECOND FLOOR. This has been the policy of breeding the so-called “Black  Farmers”. These farmers live a precarious existence as capitalist farmers, for they do not have sufficient money, reliable markets, and guaranteed high prices, for their produce.

 

The boosting of promising individual African agriculturalists to the SECOND Floor has been part of the strategy to create a “Black” capitalist class in African rural areas, just as the BEE strategy in urban areas is an effort to create a “Black” capitalist class.

 

What should be noted in this strategy, which was conceived, and is supported, by the World Bank and IMF in Washington D. C., is that it aims to uplift individuals. In a community of 100 households, you can empower and uplift 15 individuals and their families, and promote them to the SECOND FLOOR; but you have not solved the problem of rural poverty on the FIRST-FLOOR, because you have left 85 households and their families still in poverty, food insecurity, diseases, and high death rate.

 

The rural African community is collectivist in orientation. This collectivism has its roots in collectively-owned land, Communal Land, which goes back to the beginning of human history. Communal ownership of land has survived longest in Africa.

 

In our own country, South Africa, Communal Land is still a living fact in the African rural community:

 

“The department of land affairs estimates more than 21m people –almost half our population- live in communal areas. These are areas that were part of the homeland system under the apartheid government. All are plagued by intense poverty.” (Financial Mail, November 24, 2006)

 

When capitalism emerged in Western Europe, it waged a ruthless, uncompromising, and deadly war against the institution of Communal Land in West European society. Rulers of this society successfully uprooted Collectivism and Communalism in West European rural communities. Collectivism, Communalism, known as Communism, had to be born anew in the cities as the idea and movement of Socialism by thinkers of the industrial working class.

 

In Africa, and in Tsarist Russia, Collectivism and Communalism remained alive, based on the widespread existence of Communal ownership of land. In both cases, we have seen capitalist interests, national and international, with their hirelings, mobilizing their powers in their attempt to destroy the Collectivism and Communalism of rural people founded on Communal Land. Communal Land, and the Trustee of Communal Land, African Traditional Leadership, became `Enemy No. 1’ to the so-called `modernization’ movement.

 

The aim of this war is to kill and bury Communal Land, Traditional Leadership, the Collectivism and Communalism of rural African people, and to implant above that grave Individualism, Private Property, and an economy shaped by the World Capitalist Economy.

 

All this, of course, is destined to fail. Just as rural Russia, before the Bolshevik Revolution, never became capitalist, so rural African communities have not, and shall not, become capitalist.

 

The question then remains: What Must be Done?

 

We have to build a new economy using as the starting-point and foundation the rural African community. First and foremost, our task is to bring about genuine development on the FIRST FLOOR of Rural South Africa, thereby eliminating all the indices of misery and underdevelopment concentrated on that Floor.

 

We must not abide by the logic and philosophy of capitalist development, which focuses upon the single individual, and empowers the single individual and his/her family.

 

Our logic and philosophy is to focus upon the Community on the FIRST-FLOOR of Rural South Africa, and to empower the entire community to a better and higher economic status and well-being.

 

Our approach is Collectivist and Communal, after the fashion of the rural African Village as it came to us from the beginning of time.

 

You must understand the vicious War that was waged by capitalist civilization against the Collectivism and Communalism of rural people in the home of capitalism in Western Europe, in India, in Africa and other regions now called the Third World. In Western Europe itself, Communal Land and the Collectivist life of the European peasantry was totally destroyed, and replaced by the supreme reign of Private Property, Individualism, and focus on the single person and individual wealth.

 

In Africa, Communal Land and the Collectivist life of rural Africans could not be uprooted as capitalism had uprooted Communal Land and Collectivism of the European peasantry. Capitalist structures existed as islands in Africa, confined to areas settled by Europeans.

 

Rural African areas were simply vandalized of manpower, natural resources, and minerals.

 

The rest of rural Africa was left to stagnate and rot and eventually became, in our case, the FIRST FLOOR of Rural South Africa.

 

This is where we must start, on the FIRST FLOOR of Rural South Africa, where the overwhelming majority of rural Africans and rural Coloureds are; almost all the Africans in the Shacks and Shanty towns come from there; indeed, Townships in urban South Africa are the off-springs of the FIRST FLOOR of Rural South Africa.

 

 

 

PROGRAM-OF-ACTION ON THE FIRST-FLOOR OF RURAL SA

 

1.            Our first task is to make sure there is Food Security for all on the FIRST-FLOOR of Rural South Africa: hunger deforms not only the physical human body, making it underdeveloped and not well-developed; hunger also deforms and under-develops the Spiritual body and Intellectual-Mental capacity of children born and raised amidst hunger; hunger weakens and destroys the Immune System of the human body, opening the body to attacks by a host of vicious diseases; hunger reduces life-expectancy, or vastly increases the death-rate in the community; hunger not only produces physiological diseases, but also produces diseases and deformations of the Human Spirit, of the Human mind; hunger tends to create distrust or untrustworthiness among people; hunger tends to make human beings dangerous: all sorts of psycho-pathologies emerge –violence in the community, violence of the State and law, violence within the family, violence against women, violence against children, sexual violence and sexual pathologies; violence against oneself, alcoholism and addiction to drugs; hunger tends to force people to migrate; hunger tends to dehumanize human beings. Therefore, assuring Food Security on the FIRST-FLOOR of Rural South Africa should be our No. 1 Task.

2.            Our approach differs from the approach of capitalism: the logic and philosophy of capitalism focuses on the single individual; the approach of capitalism is to empower and enrich the single individual, who then takes care of his/her own family. Individualism is the logic and philosophy of capitalism. We, on the contrary, want to use, as a valuable resource, as capital, the ages-old African philosophy of UBUNTU. Our approach is Collectivist, Communal. WE WANT TO EMPOWER AND ENRICH THE ENTIRE VILLAGE.

        

         The organizational structure, or organizational vehicle we want      

         to create, promote and empower is the combination and

cooperation of the Households of the Village. THIS is the organizational framework that came with African history itself. This is the organizational framework whose foundation was Communal Land (Toulmin, Camilla and Quan, Julian, editors, Evolving Land Rights, Policy and Tenure in Africa, London, DFID, 2000).

                 

WE must be clear about the ruthless, uncompromising, deadly 

war waged by capitalist civilization against Communal Land

and Traditional Leadership. I pointed out that Communal Land was completely uprooted in West European society. It remained a massive fact in Colonial Africa. The ruling Whites only entered into war with African Communal Land and Traditional Leadership when this African heritage was sitting on minerals and other resources wanted by capitalists and the Colonial State. As long as masses of African people were not active participants in World Politics, the Capitalist Powers saw no need to wage a war against Communal Land and Traditional Leadership.

 

With the emergence of African Nationalism, seeking to play an active role in World politics, in the midst of the Cold War existing between forces of Socialism/Communism, on one hand, and forces of Capitalism, on the other hand, the forces of capitalism, national and international, mobilized all their strength, including their well-paid ideologues, in order to wage was against African Communal Land and Traditional Leadership. 

 

 The World Bank and IMF, until relatively recently, stigmatized Communal Land as an obstacle to development, and advised African governments to take steps to destroy the system of Communal Land with its twin, Traditional Leadership. Individual ownership of land, and `democracy’ were advocated as substitutes. As we know, in all wars the first casualty is the Truth. All sorts of lies and half-truth have been broadcast about African Communal Land and the system of African Traditional Leadership. Western advisors, journalists, NGO leaders, and academicians then day-in and day-out repeat what in fact is the Gospel of capitalism with regard to Communal Land. “The evolution of the World Bank’s land policy is of interest because it reflects wider historical changes in understanding amongst researchers and policy makers, and because the World Bank and other Western donors have tended to dominate debate on land tenure, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa” (Evolving Land Rights, Policy and Tenure in Africa, op. cit., p. 36 –emphasis mine HWV)

 

African Communal Land also became a victim of the Cold War between Capitalist Powers and the Soviet Union. Because the Capitalist West was waging war against what they termed the “evil of Communism”, the Communal ownership of land in Africa was thrown into the bag as an evil to be fought against. No argument was permitted, then, in favour of the preservation of Communal Land in Southern Africa. African Traditional Leaders, and other African intellectuals, who did not repeat the Gospel of Capitalist civilization with respect to Communal Land and Traditional Leadership, were sprayed with the terrible odor of feudalists, reactionaries, and opponents of `progress’.

 

This emphatically does not mean that we should not correct the errors or injustices which are identified within the inherited system of Communal Land ownership and in the system of African Traditional Leadership. One issue, in particular, that needs to be attended to, and inequalities removed, is that of Gender power, both in the ownership/control of land, and in the institution of Traditional Leadership. This is all the more important and urgent, in our case, as the majority of adults on the FIRST-FLOOR of Rural South Africa are women! Note that the British Parliament just recently equalized the eligibility of a girl-child to occupy the Throne of England similar to that of a boy-child.

 

The thesis that African Communal Land is an obstacle to rural development is just capitalist ideology, which demands only capitalist institutions to prevail to enable capitalism to thrive. One Civil Servant answered this capitalist gospel with this classic statement: “All I know is that crops will grow on the soil with or without a title deed”. When people raise the issue of rural people not able to raise capital/loans from banks or government because there is no “individual title deed”, we are talking about prejudice in the minds and hearts of funders who have made up their minds not to give financial assistance to anyone who does not produce a particular document giving him/her individual ownership of a piece of land. We are talking about a regulation and requirement coming out of capitalist business culture.   

 

Almost all African Nationalist elites, from Ghana’s independence to our time, were prejudiced against African Traditional Political Authority structures. Western advisors, assisted by African Nationalist leaders who were well-educated by the West, implanted, parachuted, on to African soil, Western political institutions and structure from Europe and the West. I am talking about systems of government, and Constitutions, similar to the Westminister model, to the German model, to the French model, to the American model, to the Canadian model.

 

This is the reason that the modern, post-Colonial State in Africa is misfiring so much; this is the reason that it is in crisis, because it is a misfit within existing African culture. It is not the individuals who are at fault; the problem is the parachuted, implanted, Western system, which is being rejected by the African body. We did not want to bring about a synthesis of African tradition, on the one hand, and European-Western tradition, on the other hand. The first generation of African Nationalist leaders who took over the new State in Africa simply wanted a total victory for the Western/European model. That is our present gigantic problem, which we must attend to and resolve, sooner or later.

 

The remarkable African scholar, resident in the USA, Ali Mazrui, has commented on this massive problem: “Who killed African democracy? The cultural half caste who came in from Western schools and did not adequately respect African ancestors. Institutions were inaugurated without reference to cultural compatibilities, and new processes were introduced without respect for continuities. Ancestral standards of property and legitimacy were ignored. When writing up a new constitution for Africa these elites would ask themselves `How does the House of Representatives in the United States structure its agenda? How do the Swiss cantons handle their referendum? I wonder how the Canadian federation would handle such an issue?’ On the other hand, these African elites almost never ask how did the Bunyoro, the Wolof, the Igbo or the Kikutu govern themselves before colonization?” [Ali A. Mazrui, “Who Killed Democracy in Africa? Clues of the Past, Concerns of the Future”, Key Note Address, Conference on Democracy, Sustainable Development and Poverty: Are They Compatible?, Development Policy Management Forum, United Nations Conference Center, Addis Ababa, 4-6 December 2001, p. 7]

 

 

In line with that prejudice, our modern urban elites find it difficult to imagine engaging with the Traditional Communal/Community/Village structures which came with African history and tradition, in preparing the path for development.

 

In line with the capitalist spirit and ideology, modern elites will rather attempt to create individual entrepreneurs/capitalists within the rural communes, and focus resources towards developing those individual entrepreneurs.

 

In line with their prejudice mentioned above, just as they parachuted political/state institutions from Europe and the West, so modern urban African political activists have parachuted on to African rural soil urban-conceived and urban designed “Cooperative” structures. They would rather deal with “cooperative” structures from the cities, conceived and designed by Consultants and Advisors with a Western orientation, than deal with Indigenous African rural cooperative structures!  

 

3.            We are then proposing that the “Cooperative” structure we form,

promote and strengthen should be in line with Indigenous African tradition, with the Collectivism and Communalism of Indigenous Africa: it should be in line with the Indigenous logic and philosophy of UBUNTU. The Ancestral Cooperative Structure of Indigenous Africa, the framework of which still exists within the FIRST-FLOOR of Rural South Africa, is the COMBINATION OF HOUSEHOLDS WITHIN THE VILLAGE –Imindeni yeSigodi, or Imindeni yeLali. We are talking here about the same Households who, traditionally, would be part and parcel of ILIMO, the same people from the Village Households who congregate at a home where there has been a death. We are not talking here about Individuals who have come together with other individuals and formed a company; we are talking about the Households of a Village who have become a Legal Person, who can, on that basis, interact with the Municipality and other Government structures.  This type of Cooperative of the Village Households shall have the additional strength of Spiritual and Mental BONDING of neighbours bestowed by Indigenous African culture. 

 

4.            The aim behind the mobilization of these Households of each

Village into Cooperatives, members of which work together as neighbours, Cooperatives which are also Legal entities which interact with the Municipality, with other economic institutions and other Government departments, is, first and foremost, to assure Food Security to each and every Village on the FIRST-FLOOR of Rural South Africa.        

 

Note that the aim of assuring Food Security to each and every Village on the FIRST-FLOOR Rural South Africa is to reverse or undo the maladies and deformations in the physical beings of individuals, in family life, in Spiritual illnesses and deformations, in social relations in general, as listed above in Section 1.  

 

4.1  We are talking, here, about making available material resources and Community Education to the members of Village Cooperatives with regard, first and foremost, to food production. We must realize that this is not a one-way street, all the education coming from urban, mainly young, graduates  with tertiary education to rural Africans. We must realize and publicly admit that

a lot of scientifically sound agricultural knowledge is possessed by rural people, especially by rural agricultural adults, who have not received any certificates from modern educational institutions.

 

There is no country in world history, particularly in modern history, which succeeded in taking gigantic revolutionary steps in economic, technological, and scientific development without a synthesis of, without mixing, the abstract scientific knowledge from cities and higher education, on one hand, and the practical scientific knowledge of ordinary people in rural communities, on the other hand. Here is an amazing instance, relating to the astonishing role of peasants in reviving industrial production in the Soviet Russia in 1921. After World War 1, the 1917 Revolution, and the Civil War, Russian large-scale industry was utterly destroyed: “You know that one of our principal industrial centres is the Donets Basin. You know that there we have some of the largest of the former capitalist enterprises, which are in no way inferior to the capitalist enterprises in Western Europe. You know also that our first task there was to restore the big industrial enterprises; it was easier for us to start the restoration of the Donets industry because we had a relatively small number of workers there. But what do we see there now…? We see the very opposite, viz., that the development of production is particularly successful in the small mines which we have leased to peasants…The peasant mines are working well and are delivering to the state, by way of rent, about thirty per cent of their coal output. The development of production in the Donets Basin shows a considerable general improvement over last summer’s catastrophic position…” (Lenin, V. I., Collected Works, Volume 33, Moscow, Progress Publishers, 1966, pp. 94-95)    

 

All the countries which took gigantic, revolutionary steps in economic, technological, and scientific development, over literally 3 to 4 decades, went through CULTURAL REVOLUTIONS, consisting of the participation of millions upon millions of ordinary rural people in cultural, scientific, technological, and economic production aimed at creating a new society. We are talking about millions upon millions of peasants and ordinary men and women in the countryside and cities being allowed and being free to exercise their imagination, minds, and personalities in solving the problems of society. The Soviet Union experienced a Cultural Revolution from 1928 and during the 1930s (Fitzpatrick, Sheila, editor, Cultural Revolution in Russia 1928-1931,, Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 1978).

 

Perhaps the greatest Cultural Revolution in all history was the Great Cultural Revolution, which took place in China in the late 1960s, led by Mao Zedong. Mao insisted that millions of city people must go to rural areas “to learn from the peasants”. The result was an astonishing cross-fertilization of city knowledge and peasant knowledge, whose impact on economic development, on science, medicine, and technology was more than remarkable (Macciocchi, Maria Antonietta, Daily Life in Revolutionary China, New York Monthly Review, 1972).

 

Another remarkable historical instance of a Cultural Revolution took place in Cuba, a small country, only 90 miles from the US mainland, which survived a total blockade imposed by the most powerful economy and military power in history. Cuba could only survive and make remarkable strides in scientific, cultural, and military development because of the participation of millions upon millions of ordinary Cuban people, above all the peasantry, in the economic, cultural, technological, and scientific development of the country (Castro, Fidel, Can Cuba Survive, Melbourne, Ocean Press, 1992; Castro, Fidel, War, Racism and Economic Injustice, Melbourne, Ocean Press, 2002).   

 

With regard to South Africa, specifically with regard to Eastern Cape, with regard to Mhlontlo Municipality, where we are, in these days of fashionable Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS), which is Government policy, one should not really meet any resistance in suggesting that the knowledge and science of rural people in the Mhlontlo Municipality should be mixed with city and university knowledge in developing this region of the Eastern Cape.

 

5.            We want, of course, to eliminate the FIRST-FLOOR of Rural South Africa. We want to lift, not a few individuals, not a few entrepreneurs, to a higher and better economic status; we want to create wealth, not for a few lucky or crafty individuals; NO, we want to lift entire Villages currently on the FIRST-FLOOR of Rural South Africa, to a higher and better economic status; we want to create wealth, not for a few or crafty individuals, but for entire Villages on the FIRST-FLOOR of Rural South Africa. We want to abolish the FIRST-FLOOR of Rural South Africa altogether. We want to push and promote the masses of FIRST-FLOOR people to the higher floors of economic and social well-being.

6.            There is a tremendous lot which can be done to eliminate Food Insecurity on the existing land available to rural Africans, even before we attend to the issue of Land Re-Distribution, and Re-Distribution of economic power in the nation at-large, which is very necessary to bring about economic justice in the country.

7.            Assuring Food Security to the FIRST-FLOOR of Rural South Africa, to the Villages of Mhlontlo Municipality, means systematically mobilizing the Indigenous Agricultural Knowledge present within the culture of Mhlontlo Municipality, AND mixing it, or synthesizing it, with Agricultural-Scientific knowledge developed in Agricultural Research Institutions and other Tertiary institutions. What is very striking is that the supposedly new knowledge in Agricultural Science, based on the REJECTION of the use of chemicals and Pesticides in Agriculture seems,  in outline, to be going back to the Agricultural Science, and Ecological sensitivity, of Pre-industrial people around the world (Faiez, Shahridan, “Indigenous Water Management Systems and Development in Sub-Saharan Africa”, Resurgence, No. 52, December 1994, pp. 36-38; Davis, Mike, Late Victorian Holocausts: El Nino Famines and the Making of the Third World, London, Verso, 2001; Bittman, Mark, “Now This is Food”, New York Times, October 22, 2013).

8.            We are, then, talking about a synthesis of Indigenous Agricultural Knowledge existing on the FIRST-FLOOR of Rural South Africa, specifically of Mhlontlo Municipality, AND Agricultural Science developed in Research Institutes and Tertiary institutions.

9.            The size of investment needed to assure Food Security (in Rand/Dollar sense) is very small relative to the size of investment needed for Industrial Development. We are talking here about a manageable size of monies from National, Provincial, and Local Municipal Government. Indeed, some of the Funding can come from Local and International Donors.

10.       Another important component of the assistance needed is Training and Educational. We shall need Agricultural Trainers and Educators from the Departments of Agriculture and Land Affairs; from the Land Bank; from Universities and Technikons, and from International organizations specializing in agriculture and Food Security matters.

11.       Another important principle is to investigate possibilities of Mhlontlo Municipality specializing in Organic Farming (Some 2 decades ago, the Kara Heritage Institute, working together with Batho-Batho Cultural Association of Afrika, issued a publication urging Africans to move in the direction of Organic Farming and Medicinal Plants: see Nutritional Agriculture and Medicinal Plant Farming, issued by Kara Heritage Institute, Pretoria). A new and fast developing need in World food consumption is Organically-grown food! A sizable and increasing market for organically-grown food is emerging in the developed countries, especially among educated, professional, middle and upper classes. We are, therefore, not talking ONLY about assuring Food Security for the millions of people on the FIRST-FLOOR of Rural South Africa, specifically the Villages of Mhlontlo Municipality; WE ARE TALKING ALSO ABOUT FOOD PRODUCTION AS A BUSINESS!

12.       Ordinary people in the Villages of Mhlontlo Municipality shall be assisted not only to produce HEALTHY food for themselves to eat, but ALSO to produce a surplus for sale in the local, national, even international, food market. This, of course, requires expertise and specialized planning.

13.       Another policy activity shall be to increase the capacity, and to boost the imagination of those individuals, households, groups, or villages, or companies, that want to develop rural industries or agribusiness. Here we are talking about initiating Rural Industrialization. Another policy activity should be aimed at developing the infrastructure of transportation; boosting the imagination of rural people in designing and constructing culture-friendly and appropriate housing (not duplicating township houses in African rural areas); developing proper health care facilities, and boosting and empowering the imagination of rural people in fostering health care; developing the infrastructure for education, and mobilizing local cultures to facilitate education in rural areas, not just the education of the young, but also the education of adults; supporting and empowering the development and production of the arts; the development of communication technology and science; and research and development of traditional African crops, as well as of African traditional medicine . We are talking here about the totality of rural development.

 

The greatest anomaly in Africa is the total discontinuity between the African village, the basic cell of African society, on one hand, and the African City, the new Western education, the modern African State and modern African politics, on the other hand.

 

We must aim at designing and producing a synthesis of the precious gifts of the African villages, on one hand, and the gifts of the modern city and of other civilizations in our midst, on the other hand.

 

The important point is that this shall have an enormous, positive psychological effect on society as a whole; it shall give rise to hopeful activity within the Province and the country-at-large. It shall inject hope, inspiration, and purpose, into the minds and spirit of the masses of society members in our country, and shall create a sense of purpose to millions of people in society.

 

Mhlontlo Municipality shall be a pioneer in this new type of development.

 

Focus on rural people, and on rural areas, benefits the urban economy, simply because the monies that go into the pockets of rural people are used by rural people to buy goods and services produced in urban areas. Therefore, such developments in rural areas, among rural people, become stimulants to the urban economy, and add dynamism to the entire economy. This contributes towards increasing the purchasing, or buying power, or consumer demand, of the masses of African people.

 

Developing the 60 to 70 percent of our population currently in rural and semi-rural areas means, in effect, creating a wider and bigger market for goods and services than currently exist.

 

This shall have enormous spin-off effects in the entire economy, both provincially and nationally. It is the development of the buying power of the masses of African people, and the creation of a bigger and wider market than currently exist, which shall stimulate the development and growth of the entire economy of Eastern Cape, as well as the entire economy of the entire nation; it is the development of the buying power of the millions of African people on the FIRST-FLOOR of Rural South Africa, which shall then become an attraction for foreign investment. An axiom in US economics is that the buying power and consumer demand of the majority of American people is the driving engine of the US economy. The World Bank and IMF have always said that the Achilles’ heel of the South African economy is the smallness of the domestic economy. That is the decisive bottle-neck, throttling our economy as a nation, and throttling the economy of Eatern Cape.

 

Our development strategy is aimed precisely at developing and creating that large domestic market. We must first free our economy from the restriction of that bottle-neck: the economists advising our government leaders are wasting time, misleading our leadership, and diverting us from the most urgent task before us, by stressing the importance of “producing for export.” That wrong recommendation is, itself, an admission that there is a serious bottle-neck in our economy, but then a running away from the problem! We must attend to the problem identified by the World Bank; we must focus on increasing the buying power and consumer demand of our economy –that is, enlarging and developing the domestic market; let us develop our people, from the base up, so that ordinary African people in the Province, and in the country, become the driving engine of the economy of Eastern Cape and of the country.

 

Our slogan should be: TO THE COUNTRYSIDE! EMAKHAYA! EZILALINI!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About Professor Herbert W. Vilakazi

Professor Herbert Vilakazi was born at Nongoma, KwaZulu/Natal, South Africa. He received his tertiary education at Columbia University, and at the New School For Social Research, both in New York City, USA. He has taught sociology and other social sciences at various tertiary institutions in and around New York City (City College of City University, Essex County College in Newark, Livingstone College, and State University of New York). He has also taught at the University of Transkei (now Walter Sisulu University), University of the Witwatersrand, University of Cape Town, and University of Zululand. He served as Deputy-Chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission from 1998 to 2004. He has also served as Special Advisor to the Premier of KwaZulu/Natal (2005-2007). He is Chairperson of Vilakazi Development Strategies.
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