The adherents of tribal regimes for Natal/Kwazulu miss two critical points. First, Mangosuthu Buthelezi's claim to speak on behalf of 'the Zulu people' is highly dubious; his regime is shored-up by a mixture of corrupt patronage and coercion. He knows he would have little chance in any free election, even in Natal where more than 80 per cent of the voters are Zulus. Chief Buthelezi is not trying to prevent the Zulu people being dominated by the Xhosas (who are numerically smaller), but is seeking to preserve the hold on power of an increasingly isolated and unpopular Zulu rural elite.
The second factor undermining the viability of any ethnic state has been the massive social changes wrought by the industrialisation and urbanisation of South Africa. Within 40 years, about 80 per cent of South Africans will be urban dwellers, throwing up entirely new patterns of political allegiance; already the rejection of Chief Buthelezi by a large number of urban Zulus is vehement and total.
Contrary to the Rev Morton's assumptions, an ethnic state solution is not only rejected by black South Africans - witness the celebrations at the downfall of President Mangope's make-believe Tswana state - but its foundations also have been removed by the urbanisation of the country.
The writer worked in Natal for the development agency Link Africa from January 1991 to January 1994.Reuse content