I: Glimpses from South Africa today

The demanding road to a fairer distribution of South Africa’s resources.


South Africa is at the top of the world index that ranks the difference between rich and poor within a country. There are many historic reasons for this.

In 1913 came the law that gave the Europeans the right to 91% of the country’s area. In 1936 this law was adjusted so that the black population got the right to 13% of the area.

During the Apartheid time (1945-94) 10 Bantustans or «Homelands» where established in South Africa. Some also called them «black spots». See the map below, taken from Tore Linne Eriksen’s newly published, and good, book about South Africa’s history.

Several of these 10 Bantustans were not geographically connected. In IMPANDE we work in Transkei, the largest of the Bantustans.


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Today there are approx. 12 million people living within the traditional Bantustans. They are governed by approximately 800 chieftains who receive their wages from the Government. These chieftains prefer to be called “traditional leaders.” Within the area where IMPANDE works, the Ugu District, there are around 80 traditional leaders. These chieftains govern according to the “big father protects you” – principle. Under them are the inDunas. The inDunas know the people within their geographical area very well, and they deal with disputes related to property and family, among other things. The final say in disputes related to distribution of land usually lies with the chieftain.

The lands within the ten Bantustans were state property, with rights of use / common-law for several co-operative units. However, there are many unclear roles and legal problems related to the management and use of the Bantustan areas. Moreover, it is not clear which role kings, chieftains and members of local governments shall have in the future South Africa.

V Inkosi Xolo is a well educated, modern traditional leader, the first among the other 80 chieftains in the UGU district. He will probably come to Norway around 17th May 2017. More information about arrangements in connection with this visit will come consecutively in IMPANDE’S Newsletter.

From 1994 till today

Soon after the ANC took over the government in 1994 the process started which should lead to the reallocation of land. This implied that the black population were able to forward claims to get back land they meant their forefathers had lived on. ANC’s political promise during the election campaign was the 30% of the traditional «white» areas should change ownership. This process started very promising, but after a while got stuck in the legal system. At the moment 20 000 claims that were put forth before 1998 are awaiting their conclusion.


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Another way of reallocating power and authority has been to fix a quota on people employed in government jobs. The principle is that the employees in the government system shall mirror the size of the various ethnic groups in the country. This has been carried through with many side effects. Quite a number of people have thus obtained jobs that they have had very limited skills to fill.

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Laws have also been passed concerning the distribution of stock and important jobs in various private companies. Some have become wealthier in this way, but the estimate is still that only 3-4% of the capital in the South African stock exchanges is in black hands.

The division between governmental, public, personal and political interests are unclear in South Africa. This means for instance that ¾ of the employees within the government have private-economical interests on the side. This makes for many grey zone and impartiality problems. Naturally, this leads to temptations towards corruption in the form of securing public bids through family-owned companies. To secure advantages for oneself and one’s family while it is possible is a strong cultural norm in South Africa. As a well known ANC politician, Smuts Ngonyani said: «I didn’t become a freedom fighter to end up poor.» (The Economist 1.June 2010)

Another central issue has been related to the employment of party bigwigs in the top management of many of South Africa’s 700 public enterprises. This phenomenon has been widely criticized and has given many points to the country’s humorists. One of them passed the following question to president Zuma:

«Can’t you, at the same level, use your loyal politicians as key players in our national football team, called Bafana, Bafana. When you think that party loyalty and friendship are more important criteria than competence, the team based on your way of selection will most likely become a success and climb quickly up on FIFA’s ranking list»

These small glimpses of issues and processes show that one has come only a short way on the road to a righteous society in South Africa. The road is very demanding and the lack of good political tools and not least the will to carry them out, are obvious.

Disse små glimt av problemstillinger og prosesser viser at man har kommet kort på veien til et rettferdigere samfunn i Sør-Afrika. Veien er svært krevende og mangel på gode politiske verktøy og ikke minst vilje til gjennomføre dem er åpenbar!

III. Efficient aid

Aid outside the classroom

It is obvious that children need security, good care and stimulation. Without these, the ability to learn and life itself is lost before it has begun.

Therefore it is very encouraging to read what the former senior adviser in Norad, Ragnhild Dybdahl wrote in the Norad blog on the 8th of August. She points out that the educational priorities in Norwegian development politics have had a tendency to view Education in a too narrow perspective. The main focus has been on tuition and its environment, while other factors that are important for a child’s ability to learn, like security and good care, have had little emphasis.

Confirmation of IMPANDE’S commitment

In the debate organised by «SOS-children’s villages» about Aid and children without proper care during the Arendal Week recently, Kristin Clemet pointed out that we talk far too little about making children ready for school. In this context she didn’t refer to making them familiar with books, teach them to write their name, or buy a schoolbag and pencil case. It is about making sure that they have had stable care and have a secure everyday that make it possible for them to develop and get ready for the school day, both emotionally and cognitively.

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To be able to reach the UN’s goals for sustainability #4: “Secure including, just and good education and make lifelong learning possible for all,”  it is necessary to see Education in a much wider perspective. We must look outside the classroom and see the children’s ability to learn and develop in connection with their life situation. By supporting families in crisis, prevent that children are left without care and offer good alternative care, we give children all over the world the secure framework around their lives that make it possible for them to profit from schooling and learning. («Bistandsaktuelt» August 24, 2016)

IMPANDE maintains focus – both on the framework and content – in the life situation of children and young people. Our work has succeeded to the degree that we now have strong supporters and sponsors. 97% of the means we collect go towards making a difference through care, stimulation and education.

Rolf Olsen