SUBMISSION OBJECTING THE PROPOSED REDETERMINATION OF MUNICIPALITY BOUNDARIES: THE CASE OF THE SAKHISIZWE MUNICITIPALITY

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Introduction

This is a submission in response to the notice in terms of section 26 of the Local Government Municipal Demarcation Act of 1998 which seeks to re-determine the municipality boundaries[1]. The notice was advertised in the Daily Dispatch dated 31 March 2023 on page 10.

This submission addresses itself to the Sakhisizwe municipal area:

∙       DEM 6500 – transfer from Ntsika yethu to Sakhisizwe

∙       DEM 6502 – transfer from Sakhisizwe to Senqu

∙       DEM 6611 – transfer from Dr AB Xuma to Sakhisizwe

The submission is presented by the Cala University Students Association (CALUSA) and the Sakhisizwe Information and Research Centre (SIRC).

Notable is that this submission was prepared without additional information which speaks to the rationale behind the proposal to redetermine the boundaries for the municipal boundaries. This information was formally requested from the Demarcation Board through an application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act no 2 of 2000. Despite promises to provide the information, we have not (28 April at 21H15) received the requested information.

Position of the mentioned organisations

The above organisations vehemently object to the proposed redetermination of the municipal boundaries of the Sakhisizwe Municipality as proposed above. It is the view of these organisations that the proposed redetermination of boundaries, more specifically DEM 6502 which proposes to transfer three wards of the existing Sakhisizwe municipality to the Senqu Municipality violates the spirit of the South African Constitution and legislation flowing from it.

Furthermore, the organisations mentioned above hold the view that the proposed redetermination of the boundaries of the Sakhisizwe Municipality perpetuates the legacy of segregation and apartheid, and thus takes us steps backward in the project of transforming South Africa into a unitary state that is based on equitable redistribution of resources, especially land and social cohesion as envisaged in the South African Constitution, legislation and policies.

Below we focus on the political, social, and economic implications of the proposed re-demarcation of the Sakhisizwe municipal boundaries to substantiate our claim above.

Political implications

When dealing with issues of land and boundaries in Africa, including the present day Sakhisizwe municipal area, the starting point must be the colonial dispossession, by force and fraud, of the land of the indigenous people (see – Ntsebeza 2002; 2006: Ncapayi 2013: Ntsebeza and Ncapayi 2016). It is this legacy that the South African Constitution and subsequent legislation and policies are supposed to address.

Following the defeat of Chief Sarhili in the 19th century, the ‘conquered’ land that includes the Sakhisizwe Municipality was sub-divided into two areas. The area between the Indwe River and Mzwazwa constituted Xhalanga and, on the eastern side, the area from the Mzwazwa Mountains to the Mbashe River.

Regarding Xhalanga, the Cape colonial government appointed chief Gecelo as its extended arm.[2] The other area fell under the jurisdiction of chief Ngangelizwe of abaThembu. By the 1870s, Ngangelizwe had settled amaVundle in the Xuka River, south of the Drakensberg under chief Stokwe Tyhali (Shanafelt, 1989).[3]

Following the so-called Gun War of 1881, a commission, the Thembuland Commission was established. The Commission was guided by a resolution of the House of Assembly of the Cape Colony that “the portion of the country heretofore occupied by the Chief Gecelo, from the Indwe up to the boundary of the country lately occupied by the Chief Dalasile, running parallel with and adjacent to the Southern base of the Drakensberg Range, be occupied by European farmers” (Quoted in Ntsebeza 2006: 61).

In their final report the commissioners recommended that,

(F)rom a point within view of a trigonometrical beacon about a thousand yards distant and on the opposite side of the road between Kalinyanga and Barkly; this to be the terminal point of the line on the boundaries of Xalanga and Engcobo Districts, continuing thence along the highest points of the ridge down to the Tsomo River… From the termination in the Tsomo River of the line decided on today (11 September) by the most convenient ridge to Baker’s Bottle Beacon, thence along line to the hill above Baker’s Horse Race-course, thence along the watershed of Wagonsmakers Valley (Sifonondili) to the head of the said valley, thence to Hartebeeste Kop (Iskunga), thence following the most convenient and best ridge, giving a clear and well-defined boundary to the Indwe River.[4]

An implication of the recommendations was that the upper sections of Xhalanga and Ngangelizwe’s land were combined and reserved for whites (Europeans). African landholders were pushed out of the area in favour of white farmers and in the case of the Xhalanga district that was established by the Commission, were “invited to remove south of the boundary and receive grants of land there in exchange for those they vacated” (Ntsebeza: 2006: 61). The other African landholders were removed to the Engcobo district.

The above demarcation was clearly a racial act, in line with the segregation policy of the Cape which was a British colony. Part of this policy was to introduce a dual land tenure system and administration. Africans were restricted to “Reserves” that were meant for their occupation. In these areas, Africans were not allowed to have freehold titles on land and held land under a permit to occupy (PTO) system. In terms of administration, they were under the control of chiefs of various sorts (traditional authorities).

On the other hand, in the white claimed farms, land tenure was based on private ownership of land based on freehold title deeds. As private landowners, they were directly accountable to the Cape administration.

A feature of the reserves was that they were overcrowded, and the residents were given small portions of land ranging from ¼ to 22 ha.

The above situation prevailed until the demarcations of boundaries in 2000 and the establishment of the Sakhisizwe Municipality. This municipality covers the area east of the existing Ida Dairy Farms to the east of the Xuka River and the Gubenxe village. This in many ways amounted to a return of the land that was separated in 1883 as well as a re-unification of people who lived together.

Given the above, the current proposal is a huge reversal of the gains that were made by the 2000 demarcation. Commercial farms are taken away from the Sakhisizwe Municipality and all the additional land are villages of the former Transkei bantustan.

In short, the current proposal takes us back to racialised inequalities in both access to and ownership of land. Most of the land in the Elliot part of the Sakhisizwe Municipality is still owned by whites, who make access to land by blacks extremely difficult by both refusing to sell land to blacks and where they do, price their land beyond the grasp of many blacks. On the other hand, the bulk of Africans were cramped in the former bantustans where possibilities of making a living out of land are severely limited.

Social implications

Historically, a large section of the Elliot district was part of Xhalanga. Since the introduction of land reform in post-1994 South Africa, most beneficiaries who got farms in the Elliot district come from Xhalanga. Examples include the Kiyane and Ntseke families. These families maintained their links with their relatives in Xhalanga.

The proposed re-demarcation will, considering the above, have the effect of forcing the same family to go to two towns to get services and paying taxes, reminiscent of the effect of colonial boundaries on communities.

In many ways, the racialised re-demarcation will undermine efforts to build social cohesion as envisaged in numerous policies of post-1994 South Africa.

Economic implications

The separation of Elliot from Sakhisizwe will leave the municipality with a weaker economic base. The commercial farms of Elliot are a significant tax base of the current Sakhisizwe municipality. There is hardly any tax that can be generated from land in the rural areas of the former bantustans.

The above will result in the collapse of services in the re-demarcated Sakhisizwe Municipality, leading to more hardships for the citizens than before, like the experience of Zimbabweans who fled from their country because of economic hardships.

[1] Circular 1 of 2023

[2]  Report and proceedings of the Tembuland Commission with Appendixes and Maps. Cape Town: Government Printers. Vol. 1. (G. 66-`83). UCT Library

[3]  Chief Stokwe Tyali is not the same as Chief Ndlela Stokwe of amaQwathi in Southeyville. Stokwe Tyali was the chief of amaVundle.

[4]  “Report”. Report with recommendations of the commissioners of the Thembuland Commission written on 31st July 1883. See pg. 20.

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