Consolidating Apartheid

South Africa Table of Contents

The government took several measures in the 1960s to make the theory of apartheid work in practice. The Nationalists wanted particularly to establish alternative political structures for Africans in the homelands or reserves (see Glossary), and to eliminate the squatter camps that had grown up around the major cities in the 1930s and the 1940s. In 1963 the Transkei homeland, poverty-stricken and overpopulated, was made self-governing, and in 1976 it was declared "independent," although no country except South Africa recognized the new state. Other homelands were even less economically viable. Bophuthatswana consisted of nineteen separate pieces of land spread hundreds of kilometers apart, and KwaZulu (formed out of Zululand and other parts of Natal in 1972) was divided into at least eleven fragments interspersed with white farms and coastal lands allocated to whites. The South African government, nonetheless, moved ahead with preparing them for independence.

Under the provisions of the Group Areas Act, urban and rural areas in South Africa were divided into zones in which members of only one racial group could live; all others had to move. In practice, it was blacks who had to move, often under the threat or use of force. Between 1963 and 1985, approximately 3.5 million blacks were removed from areas designated for whites and were sent to the homelands, where they added to the already critical problem of overpopulation. Still, even though the homeland population rose by 69 percent between 1970 and 1980, the numbers of blacks in the cities continued to rise through natural growth and evasion of influx control, so that by 1980, after twenty years of removals, there were twice as many blacks in South Africa's towns as there were whites.

South Africa enjoyed an economic boom in the 1960s. Foreign investors had withdrawn their funds and white immigration had come to a halt in the immediate aftermath of Sharpeville, but Vorster's harsh measures rebuilt confidence in the security of investments and the stability of the state, and money and people returned. Foreign investment in South Africa, attracted by rates of return on capital often running as high as 15 to 20 percent, more than doubled between 1963 and 1972, while high immigration levels helped the white population to increase by 50 percent during the same period. Investment and immigration fueled an impressive economic boom.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress