About this site

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Independent States

The envisaged third stage of the Homelands* policy was to grant 'full independence' to the ethnic regions that the government had selected in 1959. The Transkei became the first homeland to receive its independence in 1976, followed by Bophuthatswana in the western Transvaal, the Ciskei in the eastern Cape, and Venda in the northern Transvaal. This also led to the ridiculous situation that many African people lost their South African citizenship. Two of the homelands, KwaZulu and Lebowa (in the Transvaal) had self-government but their leaders, Mangosuthu Buthelezi and Cedric Phatudi refused to claim what they considered bogus 'independence'. In fact none of the independent homelands received any international recognition at all – they were seen as an integral part of the unacceptable apartheid regime. There were however advantages for these 'independent' regions, including a good deal of investment by Pretoria. Some of the leaders, however, misused their power and became notorious for corruption. Most of the homelands became rural slums, dependent on the South African government's handouts. Clumsy bureaucracies were set up at huge expense and in Transkei, Ciskei and Venda military rulers governed autocratically. In the run-up to the 1994 election the ANC* reincorporated all the homelands and they became part of the nine new provinces in the democratic South Africa.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.