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Old May 25th, 2009, 07:18 PM   #1
Joop20
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Provinces of South Africa

For a while now, I've been wondering how the post-apartheid provinces of South Africa have been created. Before 1994, there used to be the four provinces that originated from the colonization period - Cape Province and Natal (British colonies) and Orange Free State and Transvaal (Boer republics). Besides these provinces, there were ofcourse the Bantustans like Transkei and KwaZulu. The map used to look like this:



I understand that redrawing some of the provincial borders was needed for the re-integration of the Bantustans into the South African. I can also understand in order to bring democracy closer to the people, more provinces were created. What I don't understand though, is what the underlying idea was when creating the current 9 provinces. They seem to be largely set up along ethnic lines when you look at a linguistic map of South Africa:



On this map, you can also see that there are some oddities if the idea was to set up the provinces along ethnic lines. Why is the part of the Eastern Cape west of Port Elizabeth not part of the Western Cape, why are the Northern Cape and Western Cape not one province, why were the NorthWest province and KwaZulu Natal not made larger, etc etc.

Does anyone have background information on this process? I've failed to find any valuable information on it. Also, are these new provinces set in stone, or can their borders be changes by provincial or national governments? Which provinces have outspoken provincial identities, and which don't? I'm always a sucker for stereotypes, so I'd also like to hear the stereotypes that are used for the provinces!
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Old May 25th, 2009, 08:05 PM   #2
annman
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I'm not sure how the provincial lines were drawn up. As far as I know, the new government felt that given the sizes of the previous 4 provinces, service delivery and access to local government would be impeded if they were not subdivided and made smaller. However, the previous 2 smallest provinces kept their borders, namely Orange Free State and Natal.

The area around PE needed to be included in the Eastern Cape, as it's the only wealthy urban area carrying a very poor province. Natal has their name changed to reflect the Zulu heritage, hence KZN now, whilst the Free State had "Orange" dropped, as it was so named for the monarchy in the Netherlands. Gauteng's (meaning Place of Gold) boundaries are self-explanatory, as it was created as an "urban heartland" province, and needed to be small to handle the massive demands of a massive population. Limpopo was named after the river bordering Zimbabwe, whilst Mpumalanga means "Place of Rising Sun."

Other than those, not sure why the boundaries are exactly the way they are, although I do know, for the most part, boundaries of existing magisterial districts were followed, with few if any being split when the new provinces came into effect.

The one province with probably the most profound identity, which sometimes causes tremendous political and cultural strain in that of the Western Cape. They are very proud, very linguistically, racially, politically and culturally distinct. They tend to be South African internationally, but Capetonian domestically.
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Old May 25th, 2009, 09:45 PM   #3
Gulivar
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That mostly sums it up. A lot of the current borders coincide with the borders of previous bantustans. This is the meat of it, as far as provinces go:

Eastern Cape - Reorganised from the south-eastern part of the former Cape Province, added those parts of Transkei that were situated in Natal. It includes the former homelands of Ciskei and Transkei.

Free State -Coincides with the old province of Orange Free State. The province has (following the re-absorption of Qwaqwa and Thaba 'Nchu) the same area that its predecessors had in 1910 and in 1890. Incidentally, Thaba 'Nchu is now part of the Mangaung Municipality which includes Bloemfontein. In addition to Qwaqwa, there was a portion of Bophuthatswana at Thaba 'Nchu - about 50km east of Bloem.

Gauteng - Former "Pretoria-Witwatersrand-Vereeniging (PWV)" for a few months, also known as the Southern Transvaal, renamed Gauteng in '94, reorganised from the former south central Transvaal.

KwaZulu-Natal - Reorganised from the former Natal province minus local parts of Transkei (which went to the Eastern Cape, hence the enclave.) It also includes the former homeland of KwaZulu (hence addition to the name.)

Mpumalanga - Reorganised from the southeastern Transvaal. It was initially known as Eastern Transvaal before changing to the current name. Its northwestern border with Limpopo is largely defined by the borders of the former bantustans of Bophuthatswana, KwaNdebele, Lebowa and Gazankulu. It includes the former homelands of KwaNdebele and KaNgwane and part of Bophuthatswana and Lebowa.

Limpopo - Reorganised from northern Transvaal. Its southwestern border with Mpumalanga is largely defined by the borders of the bantustans as Mpumalanga. It includes the former homelands of Gazankulu and Venda and part of Lebowa. Initially known as Northern Transvaal for a few months, then Northern Province up until 2002, now Limpopo.

Northern Cape - Reorganised from the northern part of the former Cape Province - but excluding its northwestern most part, which was detached to North-West so that the former western outline of Bophuthatswana is now the border between the Northern Cape and the North-West province.

North-West - Reorganised from the north-eastern most part of the former Cape Province and from the south-eastern half of Transvaal. It includes part of the former homeland of Bophuthatswana.

Western Cape - Reorganised from the southwestern part of the former Cape Province.

As for the question Joop20 asked near the end of his post, I would imagine their borders can be changed by national government probably at certain bequests of provincial government, like the issue of the Bushbuckridge area in southern Limpopo/Mpumalanga, which changed hands between the two a few years back. Generally though, I think the general outline is set in stone. Whatever parts changed hands between provinces was on a small, local level and involved land that was in dispute years back, probably around the formation of the provinces in '94, because of the homelands.

Last edited by Gulivar; May 25th, 2009 at 10:10 PM.
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Old May 25th, 2009, 10:08 PM   #4
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Now as you all probably know 10 homelands were created, four of which were granted "independence" by SA (not recognised by any other country in the world). These former homelands/bantustans ceased to exist on 27 April 1994. They have all (including the former so called independent homelands) been reincorporated into SA.

Ciskei - This was the largest un-segmented bantustan, in south eastern Cape Province (current Eastern Cape).

Transkei
- This was quite a large territory in easternmost Cape Province (Eastern Cape), with a larger main part protruding slightly into Natal and bordering Lesotho, Natal and KwaZulu, and two smaller enclaves -- one in Natal, bordering KwaZulu, and another in the Cape Province, bordering Lesotho and Orange Free State. The Great Kei River formed the eastern boundary of the Cape Province, north of which was the traditional territory of the Xhosa tribe.

QwaQwa - This was a very small territory, with no enclaves, in northeastern Orange Free State, bordering on Lesotho and Natal.

KwaZulu - The former KwaZulu homeland was relatively large but highly segmented in enclaves and exclaves all over the former Natal province, one of which completely adjoins the Mozambican border in the north. It also bordered on Transkei in the south.

KwaNdebele - This was a small contiguous territory in the central Transvaal (north-western most Mpumalanga).

KaNgwane - This one comprised three blocks of territory, rather small, in eastern Transvaal (Mpumalanga), the southern two bordering on Swaziland (and one of them also on Mozambique), and the other bordering on parts of Lebowa and Gazankulu.

Lebowa - This one was located in the central part of the northern Transvaal, with two main compactly shaped parts (in today's Limpopo), and one small uncompact enclave (in today's Mpumalanga) and small border tracts with Gazankulu. Lebowa previously comprised 11 pieces of territory. A few years ago there was a dispute over one area which was part of Lebowa (Bushbuck Ridge) and is now part of Limpopo.

Gazankulu
- One main part and one smaller enclave in north eastern Transvaal (today's Limpopo), extensively bordering on Venda and briefly Lebowa and KaNgwane.

Venda - This one was located in the northeastern of the former Transvaal (today's Limpopo), with a main part and one main enclave, not very compactly shaped. It bordered on the northern part of Gazankulu.

Bophuthatswana - This was a relatively large territory, vastly dispersed across the central to western Transvaal and into the north-eastern Cape Province (today's northwestern-most Mpumalanga and North-West). Seven main parts, three of which, smaller, in Transvaal (with the easternmost one briefly bordering KwaNdebele), and two other (one of which quite large) in the Cape Province; the sixth, very uncompact shaped unlike the others, stretching between the two provinces and extensively bordering Botswana and a seventh in the Free State at Thaba Nchu, near Bloem.

Last edited by Gulivar; May 25th, 2009 at 10:14 PM.
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Old May 25th, 2009, 10:14 PM   #5
Gulivar
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On a side note, by observation, it seems the provinces are set up (with the possible exclusion of Gauteng) to be "nations", not unlike how you get Scotland, Wales, England etc., in the UK. Perhaps it was to build up a sense of regional nationalism... or for different groups to have a good excuse to break away from SA.
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Old May 25th, 2009, 10:31 PM   #6
Joop20
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Those former Homelands are definately absurd! I find it fascinating to read about them though... All the crazy guys being in 'power' in the Homelands, having their own police and army, yet only being recognized by South Africa as indepedent coutries in the case of Bop, Venda, Ciskei and Transkei. Transkei actually refused to have any relations with South Africa in 1978, so it was refusing to do business with the only country that recognized it as an independent country! I guess they are symptomatic of that time...

Anyway, back to the provinces. Some of your explanations make sense, some don't. When I look at Gauteng for example, it doesn't include some of the townships northwest of Gauteng, while I would assume that they'd have been included in Gaugeng because of their population and proximity to Pretoria. The borders of Limpopo and Mpumalanga seem somewhat random to me in general. Why weren't the largely Tswana speaking districts of the Northern Cape included in the North West Province? And why was Northern Cape province created in the first place? For may areas in this province, Cape Town is closer than Kimberley. They also have a similar history and demographics. Of all provinces, I find the creation of the Northern Cape the hardest to explain.

And what happened with that East Cape exclave in Kwazulu Natal? On more recent maps, it seems to have become part of Kwazulu Natal. The border between Limpopo and Mpumalanga also seems to have been changed recently.
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Old May 25th, 2009, 10:34 PM   #7
Joop20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gulivar View Post
On a side note, by observation, it seems the provinces are set up (with the possible exclusion of Gauteng) to be "nations", not unlike how you get Scotland, Wales, England etc., in the UK. Perhaps it was to build up a sense of regional nationalism... or for different groups to have a good excuse to break away from SA.
THis is what I have also noticed - the provinces often coincide with one major ethnic group. Having never been in South Africa, I have no idea there is any 'nationalism' under the different black ethnic groups though, or what kind of role it plays in South African society whether you're a Zulu, Xhosa or Sotho.
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Old May 25th, 2009, 10:54 PM   #8
Gulivar
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The homelands were definitely an absurd creation, we can all agree on that and they've done a lot of damage that will take generations to repair.

The border between Limpopo and Mpumalanga has changed recently as I've stated before. Again, realise that a lot of these borders also coincide with geographical features like rivers, mountains, escarpment etc., so their borders might look random on say, a political map, but not on a physical map.

I don't know why the largely Tswana speaking districts of the Northern Cape were not included in North-West. I am also slightly perplexed as to the purpose of the creation of the Northern Cape, however as annman stated, one of the reasons provinces were partitioned and reduced in size was because of service delivery and local-level governance issues.

Why the Eastern Cape exclave (which is basically part of Transkei) isn't on newer maps is beyond me. I've not heard of its incorporation into KZN.

I can't really comment on the last bit in any informative way, sorry.
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Old May 26th, 2009, 11:52 AM   #9
clive3300
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gulivar View Post
The homelands were definitely an absurd creation, we can all agree on that and they've done a lot of damage that will take generations to repair.
Wasnt the "ingenious" plan to make the entire black population of south africa disappear? So any black person would be a citizen of their particular homeland, then have to get explicit permission to work in (entirely) non-black south africa as a foreigner?

If these idiots had spent all the time, trouble and money on something constructive rather than that lunacy, we'd be so much more developed, wealthier and not to mention happier
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Old May 26th, 2009, 05:41 PM   #10
Gulivar
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Exactly.
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