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Who controls the land and minerals in the former Bantustans of South Africa - chiefs, the state or landholders? Disputes are taking place around the ownership of resources, decisions about their exploitation and who should benefit. With respect to all of these issues, the courts have become increasingly important. The contributors to Land, Law and Chiefs in Rural South Africa capture some of these intense contestations over land, law and political authority, focussing on threats to the rights of ordinary people. History and customary law feature strongly in most disputes and succession to chieftaincy is also frequently disputed. Judges have to make decisions in a context where rival claimants to property or office assert their own versions of history and custom. The South African constitution recognises customary law and the courts are attempting to incorporate and develop this branch of jurisprudence as 'living customary law'. Lawyers, community leaders and academics are called on to assist in researching cases around restitution, land rights and customary law. The chapters in this collection discuss legal cases and policy directions that have evolved since 1994. Some chapters analyse the increasing power of chiefs in the South African rural areas, while others suggest that the courts are giving support to popular rights over land and supporting local democratic processes. Contributors record significant pushback from groups that reject traditional authority. These political tensions are a central theme of the collection and thus serve as vital case studies in furthering our understanding of rights and restitution in South Africa.
This chapter arises out of the collective effort of the Mining and Rural Transformation in Southern Africa (MARTISA) research project at the Society, Work and Politics Institute (SWOP), University of the Witwatersrand. My own involvement in researching Bapo history results from long-term academic engagement on the platinum belt. This has included work on legal cases that were brought to support community rights to land and resources, as well as for the Marikana Commission of Inquiry, particularly in relation to the Bapo case itself.
The land near Rustenburg on which the Marikana platinum mine is situated is that of the Bapo-ba-Mogale traditional community. Mining started on this land in the 1970s, yet the community has seen very little benefit. Conflicts between different branches of the chieftaincy have made it difficult for the larger community to become beneficiaries. The state and its officials have acted in such a way as to siphon off the income from the mines rather than return it to the community. This chapter explores the complex and shifting relationship between Lonmin, the mining corporation, the Bapo chiefs and the provincial government since mining began in this area. A particular focus is the multiple crises in legitimate community authority and representation, which have been affected by the interests of Lonmin and the government's interventions. This in turn raises larger questions about contested histories around traditional authorities when they become vehicles for the management of major resources. New legislative frameworks also underpin the experience of traditional councils, communities and ‘empowerment’. These are issues of growing concern as they are increasingly replicated across the rural areas of South Africa.
The bulk of this chapter focuses on the long and troubled relationship between chiefs, mines and government. In particular it details the enormous financial losses, of over R600 million, suffered by the Bapo community. In 2012, Lonmin's corporate image was shattered by the Marikana massacre. In the commission of inquiry that followed, Lonmin's failure to meet its social obligations to the surrounding area – a condition of its licence to mine – was laid bare. The spotlight also fell on the dubious role played by Cyril Ramaphosa, a non-executive director on the board of Lonmin, and CEO of its main black economic empowerment (BEE) partner, Shanduka.
This chapter preliminarily interrogates the potential relevance of Marxian analysis and methodology for the study of what would appear as ‘marginal’ categories in the study of political economy, namely those that are either often (mis)represented as remnants of a precapitalist or a non-capitalist past, or inaccurately theorised in residual or exclusionary terms vis-a-vis the main working logics of global capitalism. The chapter gathers the reflections of three scholars of, respectively, South African tribal chieftaincy, prison and forced labour, and refugees and border studies, on the possibility to deploy Marxian methods and categories to capture the features of three main figures: the tribal chief, the prisoner and the refugee. Crucially, in the process of thinking about these figures, which takes the narrative form of a collective interview, we learn both what Marxian political economy can offer as well as what are its main methodological shortcomings.
Introduction by Alessandra Mezzadri
As explained in the general introduction, the contributions included in this volume explore the potential of bringing Marx in the Field through three different lenses. The first lens implies analysing some key categories and tropes in Marxian analysis that are crucial for the study of our global present (e.g. Jan, Hanieh). The second lens entails, instead, exploring how Marxian main categories and concepts may appear concretely in the field, in ways that may seem fairly distinct – yet analytically and logically compatible – with those historically sketched by Marx in his work (e.g. Bernstein, Selwyn). Indeed, learning from Jairus Banaji (2010), when researching and ‘doing’ political economy, we should always distinguish logics from history. Finally, the third lens involves an engagement with actual methods of enquiry – either those deployed by Marx to study, for instance, accumulation and/or exploitation (e.g. Toffanin, Stevano), or those one could deploy today to produce an analysis consistent with Marx's method (Mtero et al., Harriss-White). In effect, as we have seen towards the end of this volume, all contributions adopt at least two out of these three lenses to explore the usefulness of Marx for historical and contemporary field research. Many, then, also analyse how Marxian analysis could/should be ‘contaminated’ with insights from other theoretical traditions (e.g. Mezzadri, Lombardozzi).
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