LET US FORM A `UNION OF SOUTHERN AFRICA’ [USA AFRICA]
PROFESSOR HERBERT VILAKAZI
(September 2014. http://www.professorvilakazi.wordpress.com)
I am proposing that the people of Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Zambia, Malawi, and Namibia, should form a `Union of Southern Africa’ [USA Africa]. The present territorial boundaries are artificial, having been arbitrarily drawn by European colonialists guided only by European interests and motives; none of these States are viable as Nation-States, all the more so in our epoch.
The formation of this Union should be in stages; the first stage is the formation of an Economic Union, embodied in the formation of a Central Economic Council for Southern Africa.
This economic Union should go much further than the mere formation of a `single trade area’, or a `common market area’, or different national currencies hanging on a Rand or Dollar, or something similar to a West African or East African Economic Community; indeed, this goes beyond Nepad: this Central Economic Council for Southern Africa should be the decisive arm and brain in formulating Planning and Investment Policies for the entire Union.
The formation of the `Union of Southern Africa’ shall/may be in stages also in the sense that not all the currently existing States may agree to merge at the same time, even at the economic level: the `Union’ may begin, perhaps, with the agreement of two or three Nation-States; others may follow later, as happened with the European Common Market, and, later, the European Union.
Hunger, poverty, unemployment, diseases, the degradation of the environment, dislocation of communities, and psychological-mental illnesses, are on such a large scale now that African societies are facing a crisis and catastrophe similar to a war-situation or a war-threat. A serious war-threat, or a war-situation, such as that faced by Britain in 1940, requires centralized decision-making, centralized Planning and mobilization of resources.
Leon Trotsky, the father of National Planning, warned, in his criticism of Stalinist Planning, that centralized management of the economy and national life implies not only great advantages but also the “danger of centralizing the mistakes, that is, of elevating them to an excessively high degree. Only continuous regulation of the plan in the process of its fulfilment, its reconstruction in part and as a whole, can guarantee its economic effectiveness.” This requires the inclusion of democratic discussion and a critical spirit within the centralization and planning process.
The economic crisis, the depth and scale of underdevelopment, dislocation, and diseases in Africa as a whole, are such that they call for Planning and centralized decision-making over the fundamental economic and social trends and activities. This basic need within the contemporary world has been generated by capitalism. Capitalism emerged as a world-transforming system. It gave rise to economic processes that want to cross all territorial boundaries in the world, as well as to cultural process that cross all boundaries; capitalism also generated the modern desires for equality and freedom. The positive features of capitalism became intertwined with its negative features. Both the positive features and negative features of capitalism call for cooperation and coordination among Nation-States.
The need for the formation of a `Union’, for the benefit of all, forced the separate States of North America to forge unity as the United States of America; in the 20th century, this need and tendency gave rise to the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. In Europe, the different nations formed the European Common Market, which later became the European Union. Integration of Nation-States at the regional level, and across the boundaries of the entire world, is a universal inner urge and tendency of our time. This universal urge and tendency must be knit together and guided by justice and equality for all communities. The integration of economic and science activities is occurring informally across territorial boundaries and Nation-States; what needs to occur now is the formalization of this integration at the political Nation-State level. These tendencies, and this urge, are also manifesting themselves in Southern Africa.
I made a similar proposal in 1990 (Sowetan, November 22), as well as in 1994 when our new government published the RDP policy (Star, December 13). I argued that RDP must not stop at our borders. I wrote: “South Africa is, indeed, destined to be the growth engine for the whole of Southern Africa, but not the way we are going about it, thinking that by bringing growth to the South African economy, we shall, subsequently, bring about growth to the economies of the neighbouring states.”
We need a Single Investment Plan for entire Southern Africa. The overall Planning for the development of Southern Africa, and the Investment decisions, should be made by the Central Economic Council for Southern Africa. This Planning and Investment Council should be composed of representatives, in equal number, of Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Mozambique, Zambia, Malawi, and Namibia. The Planning and Development Fund in the hands of this Council should aim to accomplish the following:
1. To plan and develop the infrastructure for entire Southern Africa: this includes the solution of the water problem in the region; electrification and alternative sources of power; telecommunication; roads; railways; airports; harbours;
2. Develop the infrastructure for Education; Health; and Environmental care.
3. The most important challenge facing the Central Economic Council for Southern Africa should be the Initiation of the Agricultural Revolution in the region. The aim, here, is to develop Agriculture to be an economic asset of the first order, as a foundation for the dynamic, historical growth and development of all of Southern Africa. The aim is to regard food not merely as necessity to avoid hunger and emaciation, but also as a successful business in the World Economy. The World Bank made the following statement in 2013, regarding prospects for African agriculture and the World Economy: “Africa’s farmers and agribusiness could create a trillion-dollar food market by 2030 if they can expand their access to more capital, electricity, better technology and irrigated land to grow high value nutritious foods” (World Bank, “Growing Africa –Unlocking the Potential of Agribusiness”, 2013). Non-chemical based agriculture shall have an enormous impact on the condition of health of the masses of human beings consuming that food. The first medicine the human body gets is food. Non-chemical based, or organic agriculture, shall considerably lower the medical expenses of government.
An important, overall aim of this entire strategy is to bring about balanced, rational, and just, development in the entire region, that is, ultimately to bring about economic-social equality between the different parts of Southern Africa. Pretoria tries to apportion funding to different universities of the country in this fashion, although the formula used is still not just and rational as far as the African population is concerned.
To stop hundreds of thousands and millions of people from poorer regions of Southern Africa flocking to Johannesburg, Durban, Cape town, Bloemfontein, and other cities and towns, for jobs and better living conditions, and opportunities for development, the Council should plan, encourage, and direct investments to less developed parts of the region.
There are sound, convincing, compelling economic reasons for the formation of this Central Economic Council for Southern Africa. The economic problems of each of these Nation-States shall be solved much better and effectively, if these Nation-States become a single economic union guided by a rational overall Plan.
Historical and Cultural Reasons
There are also sound, convincing, and compelling historical and cultural reasons which justify the formation of a `Union’ composed of the current Southern African States. The people comprising these Southern African States are historically and culturally ONE people. They can be said to be members of one historical family, which was artificially split by the European Colonialists. Let us note these few examples: the people called BaTswana stretch all the way from what today is called Botswana to Pretoria –but the European colonialists drew an arbitrary line separating the BaTswana in Botswana from the BaTswana in a country called South Africa; the people called the Swazi stretch from the country called Swaziland to Mpumalanga, which is part of South Africa –but European colonialists drew an arbitrary line separating the Swazi of Swaziland from the Swazi of South Africa ; the people called BaSotho stretch from the country called Lesotho to the South African Province called Free State –but European colonialists drew an arbitrary line separating the BaSotho of Lesotho from the Basotho of South Africa. The same applies to the formation of a country called Mozambique, as well as to the drawing of the boundaries separating present-day Zimbabwe from South Africa.
People in pre-colonial African communities that had not developed the modern State, with its police force, prisons, separate legislatures, courts, and passports, were not restricted in their movements and in their consciousness by fixed territorial boundaries. For them, in the main, there was just one world. Every individual was a specimen of Humankind. In pre-colonial Southern Africa, there were no nations called Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Swaziland, South Africa, Tanzania, Angola, etc. People were more or less the same; in their consciousness they were more or less the same, and they occupied more or less one world. “In traditional societies, hence for the greater part of history, peasants regarded themselves, and indeed were, the basic type of humanity” (Eric Hobsbaum).
It is important to stress that there was a constant movement of people from one area of Africa to another. Today we move as individuals, or as individual families; in the pre-capitalist, pre-colonial era, we moved as communities. The history of all clans and peoples in Africa begins with the legend of how the people got to be where they are from somewhere else. We know, for example, of the movements of communities of people from what today is KwaZulu/Natal, which spread to different regions of Southern Africa, stretching all the way to the Congo and East Africa: we know of communities led by Soshangane, who established a Kingdom in what today is Mozambique; of communities led by Mzilikazi ka Mashobane, who settled consecutively in what is now Gauteng, the North West, and later Zimbabwe; we know of communities led by Zwangendaba, who moved up to what now is Malawi and parts of Zambia and Tanzania; we know of Shemane, King Zwide’s son, who moved with his community to what today is Limpopo. In sum, these communities were mixtures of Nguni, Sotho, Shona, Tswana, and other cultures. All these peoples were one family; they are linguistically and culturally kindred. This was, more or less, one world. Language is, among other things, a very significant piece of evidence in historical-community genealogy.
The noted American anthropologist, George Peter Murdock wrote: “The nation known as the Nguni represents the southernmost extension of the Bantu.” (Murdock, George Peter, Africa: Its Peoples and their Culture History, p. 380) He then goes on to list communities throughout Southern Africa, Tanzania, and the Congo, that he considers branches of the Nguni tree.
The study of languages spoken by people in Southern Africa shows that these people have kindred ties. For example, linguists who have studied the structure of Nguni and Sotho languages have concluded that the Nguni language is the skeleton of Sotho languages; through separation of groups, migrations, and interface with differing environments and activities, different flesh and accents emerged: “If genetic relationship among a number of languages can be demonstrated, it constitutes prima facie evidence that the ancestors of the speakers of those languages shared a common location at some time in the past” (Reconstructing African Culture History, edited by C. Gabel and N. R. Bennett, 1967, p. 31). In a striking passage of the history of the Zulus, written by Cecil Cowley in the form of an autobiography of Queen Mkabi, who was King Senzangakhona’s first wife, who lived through the reign of Kings Senzangakhona, Shaka, Dingane, Mpande, and Cetshwayo, dying in 1879, we read as follows about the people who came to Zululand with her grandfather: “They settled with my grandfather between Nhlazatshi mountain and the Ceza forest, and far from considering themselves a unit, they continued to call themselves by their name of origin `Base Nguni’, as they still do. I think most of the people in Zululand also came from the country of the Nguni people long ago, but they have formed new nations” (KwaZulu: Queen Mkabi’s Story, p. 8).
The historical process of capitalism, Western imperialism, colonialism, and racism, thrust itself into the world, and into the body of Africa, the way a sharp large blade of a spear is violently thrust into a human body. African societies and African consciousness, Western societies and Western consciousness, were spiritually gored and severely wounded. Capitalism, the African Slave Trade, imperialism, colonialism, and racism, were like an enormous world-wide landslide that radically altered and reshaped the structure and process of the human mind and consciousness throughout the world.
It was during the same historical period, the beginning of the 20th century, that modern Pan-Africanism was born; that the Bambatha War occurred; that Southern Africa was cut and carved by European powers into new White-ruled nations; that the union of Whites into the Union of South Africa occurred; and that the ANC was formed.
The important point to stress here is that the ANC was, originally, an organized African movement for Africa, ultimately for entire Africa, for the emancipation of masses of African people. Pan-Africanism was originally the Soul of the ANC: hence Dr. Seme’s trips to regions of Southern Africa, mobilizing support for the ANC; hence the singing of Nkosi Sikelela IAfrika in Southern Africa at large; hence the financial support of the ANC given by King Sobhuza’s grandmother, Queen Labotsibeni, who requested Dr. Seme and Patrick Vilakazi to relocate to Swaziland and bring up the young Sobhuza in the tradition of the ANC; hence the participation of a representative of the Royal Leader of Swaziland in the drafting of the original ANC Constitution!
The first Constitution of the ANC, adopted in 1918, takes it for granted that the peoples of what today is Botswana, Lesotho, and Swaziland, are constituencies of the new organization. In her landmark history of the ANC, Mary Benson wrote as follows:
“Early in January 1912, from the kraals in the Highveld and lowveld of the Transvaal, from Zulu villages, from the beautiful bare uplands of the Transkei, from the arid expanses of Bechuanaland and the royal capital of Swaziland, from the Paramount Chief’s fastness in the mountains of Basutoland, came chiefs and their followers…Among them were the chiefs from the neighbouring High Commission Territories: Prince Malunga Ka-Mbandeni, Regent of Swaziland, just back from England; Chief Maama, descendant of Moshoeshoe the Great, representing the Paramount Chief of Basutoland; and Chiefs Molema, Montsioa and Mankwane from Bechuanaland.” (Benson, Mary, The African Patriots:The Story of the African National Congress of South Africa, pp. 26-27)
The founders of this organization were very clear about the fact that they were forming a “Pan African association”: Mary Benson continues:
“The conference resolved to `unite together and form a federation of one Pan African association.’” (p. 28)
It must be emphasized that this `Pan African association’ would form a Union with a single Parliament, of which what today are Lesotho, Botswana, and Swaziland would be constituent parts. Ms. Benson continues:
“The conference accepted Seme’s recommendation that the Congress should be modelled on the American Congress and it was also decided to combine British parliamentary structure and procedures in an Upper House of Chiefs and a Lower House of Commoners, each with a President. The Paramount Chief of the Basuto, Letsie ll, was unanimously elected Honorary Governor, leader of the Upper House in which `Princes of African blood’ were to hold their seats for life.” (p. 28)
Yes, the Kings and Queens of Southern Africa, Traditional Leaders, played a role second to none in the original formation of the ANC. It is a sharp, cutting irony that these god-parents of the ANC are precisely the ones excluded from the real governance of the country by the 1996 Constitution largely drafted by ANC lawyers and representatives. This exclusion of Traditional Leaders from real governance of the country lies at the bottom of the virtual dysfunction and near collapse of local government in rural areas.
The first generation of leaders of the new Liberation Movement were well aware that this vast area of Southern Africa was composed of people of ONE historical/cultural family, which was artificially split by European colonialists. In the same way that certain members of the German Culture-Historical School of Ethnology, during the first half of the 20th century, argued that there was a common cultural stratum stretching from African cultures to Old Testament cultures, indeed, at one time, from Africa to the Middle East, and to Mediterranean Europe (Paul Leser, Adolf Jensen), so there is a common cultural stratum underlying the communities of Southern Africa, as the Malawian historian, Mphande, has argued for over 20 years. The first generation of the leaders of the ANC, wanted to build upon that common cultural stratum, and form a “federation of one Pan African association”.
All the subsequent leaders of the ANC descended from that lofty vision and aim. We are bound to ask, what led them to descend to lower levels?
As the new White Nation-State called South Africa became stabilized, consolidated, and triumphant, there began to take place the southafricanization of the ANC. The lure, glare, and prospective pecks that would accrue from playing the game according to the status quo, blinded the leadership, and inclined them to clip their wings to fit within the existing White-defined and delimited Nation-State. The aim and mission became that of fighting for the removal of racist restrictions imposed upon Africans, and fighting for equality, within the Nation-State as designed and delimited by the European settler-community. Thus, the ANC became a South African phenomenon. The Nationalist-Pan-Africanist orientation and intention were put on the back-burner. I must stress, however, that the Nationalist-Pan- Africanist orientation has remained a living current within the Liberation Movement, in conflict with the tendency to reject African Nationalism and Pan-Africanism. Lembede, Sobukwe, Mda, Tambo, Mandela, Sisulu, were all part of the ANC at one time, and out of that conflict within the Movement arose the Pan Africanist Movement.
To reiterate, the first generation of ANC leaders regarded the new organization as a Movement to free the entire African Continent from European colonialism, domination, and racism. The entire Southern Africa participated in the formation of the ANC. The Protectorates of the time, today’s Lesotho, Botswana, and Swaziland, were specifically mentioned in the 1918 Constitution as constituencies of the ANC. The original ANC was never intended to be a solely South African phenomenon, restricted to operate within the territorial boundaries of an artificial country called South Africa, designed and delimited by the European settler-community to suit their own needs and egos.
It is striking that while the ANC clipped its wings to adjust and fit within the Nation-State called South Africa, designed and delimited by the White settler-community, Western capitalism did not respect any territorial boundaries within Southern Africa; Cecil Rhodes, the Mining companies, principally Anglo-American, used semi-slave labour of Africans from Lesotho, Swaziland, Botswana, Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Zambia, to lay the foundation of South African industrialization, i. e., to lay the stable foundation for the new South African State and racial order. It was the forced labour-power of entire Southern Africa which laid the basis of modern South Africa. Cecil Rhodes, Gold and Coal mining knit the entire Southern Africa into ONE economy, with its centre or metropolis being the White-controlled, White designed cities and towns of the new country called South Africa.
I am emphatically NOT proposing that Lesotho, Botswana, Swaziland, Mozambique, and the other existing States should be made part of existing South Africa; I am NOT proposing that Lesotho, Botswana, Swaziland, Mozambique, etc., should be added as new provinces of South Africa, as the United States of America added Hawaii and Alaska as new States of the USA. NO, I am arguing that all the current Nation-States of Southern Africa are artificial creations of European colonialists; that the African masses in entire Southern Africa actually constitute ONE historical/cultural Family; that this Family was irrationally and artificially fragmented; that each one of these Nation-States, in isolation, is unsustainable, first and foremost, economically; that the Gold and Coal Mining industry actually knit the people and regions of Southern Africa into ONE ECONOMY; that this One economy of Southern Africa, which has been existing behind our backs, informally, must now be formalized, initially through the formation of an ECONOMIC UNION, embodied in a Central Economic Council for Southern Africa, composed of equal representation of all current Nation-States, which shall be the decisive brain and arm formulating Planning and Investment Policies for entire Southern Africa. This ECONOMIC UNION shall be the initial first stage, which ultimately shall lead to POLITICAL UNION, and the formation of the Union of Southern Africa [Africa].
I emphasize, I am not talking about the incorporation of existing Nation-States of Southern Africa into existing South Africa: I am proposing the formation of a new UNION altogether. For those who may find this proposal too difficult to visualise, let me emphasize that this has been done in our very own genuinely African history. A remarkable and dramatic example of a negotiated unification of Nation-States was that of the Zulu Kingdom, during King Shaka’s reign, and the Mthethwa Kingdom founded by King Dingiswayo.
The Zulu Kingdom was originally a small unit, exceeded in size, population, and power by neighbouring nations, the Ndwandwe Kingdom, under King Zwide, and the Mthethwa Kingdom under King Dingiswayo. When Shaka’s father, the King of the Zulus, Senzangakhona, and his mother, Princess Nandi, quarrelled and separated, the mother and son left Zululand. Later, the growing Prince Shaka was accommodated and protected by King Dingiswayo. When news of his father’s death reached him, he marched to the Royal Headquarters in Zululand, accompanied by warriors from the Mthethwa Kingdom, slew the designated successor to Senzangakhona, and assumed Kingship himself.
From the very beginning, King Shaka had the ambition to build a powerful Kingdom, one that would win respect and admiration of all. His biggest problem and threat came from King Zwide of the Ndwandwe Kingdom. King Zwide’s kingdom was larger, more populous, and with a larger military force.
In the face of this massive threat, King Shaka thought of, and proposed, a federation consisting of the mighty Mthethwa Kingdom and the smaller Zulu Kingdom. In his book on the history of the Zulus, told in the form of an autobiography of Queen Mkabi, King Shaka’s senior mother, the event is recorded as follows: “…Shaka collected advisers from the Zulus, including Mapita of the Zulu royal family, and the party journeyed to visit the new Mtetwa king. The outcome of the visit was a compact to become sister nations. Malandela would be undoubted chief of the Mtetwas, and Ngomane would become Zulu Prime Minister. The armies would unite under the command of Shaka, who would establish his chief military kraal in Mtetwaland. Zwide’s threat was to the Mtetwas as much as to the Zulus, and with the strength of this joint army, the two nations would be in a better position than they would be, acting separately and at a distance apart” (KwaZulu: Queen Mkabi’s Story, pp. 73-74)
The significant points, in this event, for the existing Nation-States of Southern Africa, are the following:
1. There is a massive threat facing both King Shaka’s Kingdom, and King Malandela’s Kingdom, which, singly, they could not overcome;
2. There is a Summit Meeting of the leadership of the two Kingdoms;
3. In this Summit, King Shaka proposed the formation of a Federation of the two Kingdoms; and the proposal is accepted.
What are the terms of the Joint Agreement? They are as follows:
i. King Malandela would remain INkosi of the Mthethwa people;
ii. Ngomane, who had been the Prime Minister in the Government of the Mthethwa Kingdom, would become the Prime Minister of the Federation;
iii. The Military organization of strength of both the Mthethwa Kingdom and of the Zulu Kingdom would fall under the single Command of King Shaka
iv. King Shaka’s Chief Military Headquarters, in other words, the Capital, of the Federation would NOT be in the land of the Zulus, But in the land of the Mthethwa people. A new Palace was built for King Shaka, called Bulawayo, located in the Mthethwa region (King Shaka also proceeded to build nearby a Palace for his Mother).
v. Meetings of the Supreme Governing Council, whose Chairperson was Ngomane, took place at Bulawayo, in the territory of the Mthethwa people.
vi. The intellectuals originating from the Mthethwa Kingdom played a very prominent role in government and in national life.
Of course, in a period of incessant wars, and the new dangers foreseen by King Shaka in the arrival of Whites in Southern Africa, the importance of individuals in charge of the military and warfare tend to rise and to overshadow civilian aspects of national life.
These are the decisive steps and measures which lifted the new Kingdom headed by King Shaka to unheard-of heights, and established the international reputation of the Zulu Kingdom.
One of the prominent thinkers in revolutionary thought said that what is needed to achieve great revolutionary deeds is “Audacity, Audacity, and once more, Audacity”. To face and solve the problems and challenges of contemporary Southern Africa, we need “Knowledge and Audacity, Knowledge and Audacity, once more, Knowledge and Audacity.”