Bantustans: A Zionist Dream

Article/book #: 113768
Title: Bantustans: A Zionist Dream
Published in: Democratic Palestine
Date of issue: 1984
People/entities mentioned in this item: Place(s) mentioned in this item:


Israeli involvement in South Africa’s Bantustans deserves special note. It is an extension of the Zionist state’s alliance with the apartheid regime in Pretoria, which enacted the “independence” of Transkei, Ciskei, Bophuthatswana and Venda to finalize the disenfranchisement of South Africa’s Black majority. Pretoria’s final solution bears strong resemblance to Zionist plans for banishing the Palestinians – population transfer, expulsion, “autonomy” and “civil administration.” Whether Pretoria or Tel Aviv style, the thrust is to control the land and resources, while reducing the inhabitants to a powerless, cheap labor reserve. In Ciskei, for example, half of the citizens are migrant workers in South Africa on temporary permits, while many others commute there for work on a daily basis.

“Israel,” whose own economy relies heavily on labor from the 1967 occupied territories, has found new “virgin soil” for high-profit investment. The residents of the Bantustans are doubly vulnerable: Expelled from their country to tribal “homelands” where land, resources and job opportunities are extremely scarce, they are also subject to the control of reactionary chieftains, whom Pretoria turned into “presidents” of the artificially-created “republics.” These tribal chiefs, who have collaborated with Pretoria against their own people, have no qualms about cooperation with Palestine’s usurpers. They play the role which the Zionists had hoped to assign to the village leagues in the West Bank and to Saad Haddad’s militias in South Lebanon. Bophuthatswana’s Manpower Minister, Rowan Cronje, was a minister in Ian Smith’s minority regime in Rhodesia. Ciskei’s rulers have a special reputation for ruthlessness, and have transformed a sports stadium into a concentration camp for opponents of apartheid. Needless to say, trade unions are suppressed when not outright banned.

Along with firms from Taiwan, “Israel” was first to respond to Pretoria’s drive to gain foreign investment in order to give the Bantustans a measure of credibility. In late 1982, the Ciskei Trade Mission opened in Tel Aviv, flying its own flag and staffed by two Israelis, Yosef Schneider and Nat Rosenwasser, who are employed by the Ciskei Foreign Ministry. Bophuthatswana also has a representative in “Israel,” Shabtai Kalmonowitz, who claims diplomatic statis.

The Israeli government disclaims any official relations with the Bantustans, which are recognized only by South Africa and its satellites, yet relations flourish in the name of business. As of March 1983, three Israeli companies had concessions in the Bantustans for a total involvement of 1.36 million pounds. Later in the year, two Israeli firms signed a deal to establish the first Israeli-owned factory in Ciskei, while another landed a construction contract in Bophuthatswana.

Knowing the structure of the Zionist state, this “private” business is not divorced from the Israeli military and political hierarchy. On the contrary, there are concrete indications that relations are actually state-to-state:

-In 1983, and quite officially, “Israel” was visited by the rulers of both Bophuthatswana and Ciskei, as well as by Venda’s entire chamber of commerce. This was the seventh visit for Ciskei’s Sebe, who was received at the Israeli Ministry of Tourism and Tel Aviv’s Trade Fair Center, which is partially owned by the municipality. On this supposedly private visit, Sebe secured a contract with the Israeli government to supply and train his armed forces. Initially, six planes – at least one a military helicopter – were sold to Ciskei, and 18 Ciskei residents arrived in “Israel” for pilot training.

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