‘Transkei won’t be 10th province’

President Thabo Mbeki on Thursday rejected calls for the Transkei to become South Africa’s 10th province.

He was speaking to several thousand African National Congress supporters at a pre-election imbizo at the Great Place of Pondo King Mpondombini Sigcawu near Lusikisiki.

Mbeki, dressed in traditional Pondo umbhaco or beaded waistcoat and skirt, said the reason for the apartheid-era creation of two bantustans in the Eastern Cape, Ciskei and Transkei, had been to divide its people and ensure there was no cooperation between them.

“And today there are other people that say we must come back to that policy of the division of the Eastern Cape,” he said.

“It makes no sense.”


One cannot bring about development in Transkei by cutting the territory off from East London and Port Elizabeth, the centres in the province that do have development.

“You cannot develop the Transkei by isolating it,” he said.

The only logic he could think of behind the 10th-province proposal is that some people are hungry for power.

“There’s not going to be a 10th province,” he said.

The largely rural and chronically underdeveloped Transkei, once a nominally independent “homeland”, was reincorporated into South Africa ahead of the 1994 elections.

The idea of making it a 10th province was raised and swiftly rejected in the constitutional talks that led up to the historic poll.

ANC Eastern Cape officials said on Thursday the idea was resurrected at the end of last year by individuals linked to Ex-Mineworkers of South Africa, a pressure group set up to lobby for compensation for ex-miners with health problems such as miner’s phthisis.

Those individuals who are pushing the idea largely in Pondoland claim that 10th-province status is the solution to Transkei’s development problems.

Mbeki was presented with his umbhaco outfit earlier in a private meeting with King Sigcawe and his wife Lombekiso.

He emerged beaming in the beaded clothing, holding a carved iqakathi or knobkierie.

“Do I look smart?” he joked with watching journalists.

In a ceremony at the royal kraal the king presented Mbeki with a black ox.

The animal lowered its horned head and pawed the ground suspiciously as Eastern Cape Premier Makhenkesi Stofile delivered a short speech of acceptance on Mbeki’s behalf.

“It can see us, it is rejoicing, it is accepting us in this area,” he said.

However, Mbeki’s bodyguard, perhaps mindful of a similar handover at the Rahrahbe royal kraal a week ago, where a cow charged press photographers, was not so sure of the animal’s intentions.

He stood inconspicuously to one side with his pistol drawn, ready to shoot if the animal advanced on the president.

Several thousand people, many of them also in traditional Pondo dress, attended the imbizo, held on a green hilltop near the king’s palace and the newly completed Pondo royal chambers and community hall.

The complex was initiated by the king’s sister, Stella Sigcau, under the community-based public works programme.

Eastern Pondoland is an ANC stronghold and Sigcawu, although ostensibly politically neutral, has what his advisers call a “special relationship” with the ANC.

Former ANC president Oliver Tambo grew up in the area, and the ANC was formally given the freedom of Pondoland after Nelson Mandela was released from jail. — Sapa

  • Special Report: Elections 2004

  • Subscribe to the M&G

    These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

    The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

    Related stories

    Walter Sisulu University is playing catch-up with online learning

    Some affluent institutions have already finished the first semester online, but historically disadvantaged universities like Walter Sisulu University are having to start from scratch

    Schools to close for a month due to Covid infection surge — Ramaphosa

    The academic year will extend into 2021 in a ‘deliberately cautious approach’ as president confirms South Africa has world’s fifth-highest Covid-19 infection tally

    The art of the virtual experience

    The live magic may be gone, but the National Arts Festival showcases some exhilarating work

    A reimagined school is embedded in its community

    The coronavirus pandemic is pushing us to respond to issues that were around before Covid-19, including at schools in poor areas

    It’s just not cricket

    Near Makhanda in the Eastern Cape in the village of Salem is a cricket pitch that is said to be the oldest in the country. Watered by blood and trauma, rolled with frontier nostalgia and contemporary paranoia, how does it play?

    Police respond to rural water protests with bullets

    The coronavirus has hit the Eastern Cape hard, but many rural areas in the province still have no clean water for hand washing, forcing residents to break lockdown regulations to protest
    Advertising

    Ingonyama Trust Board moves to retrench staff

    More than 50 workers at the Ingonyama Trust Board have been issued section 189 notices

    Tito needs the IMF, South Africa doesn’t

    The IMF loan is given with false motivation — to provide political cover for entrenched neoliberalism and deep cuts in the public service

    No proof of Covid-19 reinfection, yet

    Some people report testing positive for Covid-19 after initially having the disease and then testing negative. Scientists are still trying to understand if this means that reinfection is possible
    Advertising

    press releases

    Loading latest Press Releases…

    The best local and international journalism

    handpicked and in your inbox every weekday