How Natal politics can affect us all


By dr. Wynand Boshoff

The news this past weekend was dominated by the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), which was able to fill the giant Moses Mabhida stadium, closely followed by former president Jacob Zuma’s party, which according to polls is going to make a big mark.

All this is KwaZulu-Natal politics – something that is confusing and dangerous at best. Should one only look at it from a distance, or will it affect those in other provinces as well?

I’m going to take a long spin to answer the question, let’s call it a Natal spin this time.

South Africa as a state is a strange amalgamation of cultural communities, which basically share one thing: Their interest in the economy of Gauteng, or the Pretoria-Witwaterarand-Vereenigingregion, as we would say 30 years ago.

There is something else in common: Afrikaners ruled most areas at one time or another.

British imperialism shadowed Boer expansion in the 1800s. First the Cape Colony’s borders were expanded to include all the migrant farmers.

The Great Trek since 1834 was actually a form of passive resistance. The Boers would not throw off the British yoke by force, they would just pull out from under it.

The British were not at all amused and first tried to ban it, and then recaptured from them all the land that Boers had bought, exchanged or conquered.

However, the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek (ZAR or Transvaal) and the Republic of the Orange Free State were able to maintain themselves – up to a point.

When the world’s richest goldfields were discovered in the ZAR, Britain simply had to scoop them up. In a world economy operating on the gold standard, gold is money – the only money.

Thus the Boer republics were conquered in 1902 after a long and bloody struggle and united with the neighboring British colonies in 1910.

South Africa becomes the mini version of the British Empire, with one all-dominant economic region around Johannesburg – the PWV. First only gold, but later also coal, factories and financial services.

Each part of South Africa is defined by its role in the service of the PWV – one provides port services, another electricity, the other maize, the other labour, the other meat. And the tax generated by the PWV develops roads and railways, agricultural credit schemes, water projects and power lines across the country.

Whoever controls the PWV controls South Africa, it soon becomes clear. First it was the English, then Afrikaners, and since 1994 “Black Africans”.

This understanding was essential in this conquest. Every black cultural group is gathered in a certain area and has historical claims there – but who does the PWV belong to?

If Zulus would accept KwaZulu as a political home under white government, they would lose their claim to the PWV. The same with Xhosas in Transkei or Tswanas in Bophuthatswana. But if they are all just “Black”, they are 90% and the ruling whites only 10%.

Whites were willing to cede a lot of land in other areas to so-called homelands, but certainly not the PWV!

It is as the political flag bearer of South Africa’s “Blacks” that the ANC takes over in 1994 – the whole country, but especially the PWV, since then Gauteng.

For a certain group to maintain control, the unity of South Africa is essential. Xhosas were gathered in the Eastern Cape. How can they control Gauteng? By dominating the ANC, while the ANC dominates the unitary state of South Africa.

For Xhosas it worked from 1994 to 2009. From then on Zulus did the same and it worked for them. In 2018, a member of the small Venda people became president – ​​this can only happen in a united South Africa.

By this time, Afrikaners had accepted that we had lost the PWV and were never going to get it back. Those of us for whom freedom is important realize that this is not going to happen in Gauteng.

But as long as the “Empire of South Africa” ​​continues to exist as a close entity (albeit with serious power struggles in the “Black” elite), so long will Afrikaners’ freedom be opposed with force and violence. This will be dismissed as mere racism and longing for an unjust past.

Back to KwaZulu-Natal in the 2024 election.

Since 2018, Zulus in the ANC have been pushed out more and more. That is why the IVP has grown strongly at the same time. If Zulus cannot control South Africa (read Gauteng), they lose interest and prefer to focus on their own “kingdom”.

This is where Zuma and his MK party come in. He says they are going to save the ANC. Of what? From a disintegrating South Africa, starting in KwaZulu-Natal.

If MK cannot make Zulus get their share from Gauteng again, they might do better with an independent KwaZulu-Natal. This makes an independent Western Cape easier. Swazis in Mpumalanga may prefer to join Eswatini and Tswanas in the North West to Botswana.

If Afrikaners try to break out of the suffocating, centralized “Empire of South Africa”, it just looks like Apartheid to other people and they don’t like it.

If KwaZulu-Natal does it first, it becomes easier for everyone else – including Afrikaners.

  • Dr. Wynand Boshoff is a FF Plus Member of Parliament.