A new approach to the Zulu land tenure system: an historical anthropological explanation of the development of an informal settlement

Fourie, Clarissa Dorothy (1993) A new approach to the Zulu land tenure system: an historical anthropological explanation of the development of an informal settlement. PhD thesis, Rhodes University.

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Mgaga, an informal settlement in KwaZulu, south of Durban, on Cele-Zulu polity land, had an indigenous, albeit urban, system of Zulu land tenure in 1980. Mgaga's transformation, from an area with scattered homesteads in 1959 to an informal settlement, was linked to local and external factors. The external factors were, regional industrialisation, urbanisation and apartheid policies which involved, the division of South Africa into ethnically based 'homelands'; controlled Black access to 'White' cities; an urban management system for 'homeland' townships, like Umlazi township which abutted Mgaga. Umlazi's development and urban management system involved, the resettlement of members of the polity; the removal of their office bearers from their posts; and the phased building of the township; which caused cumulative effects in Mgaga. I link these external factors to the behaviour of Mgaga's residents, who transformed the area's land tenure system, by using Comaroff's dialectical model (1982), where the internal dialectic interacts with external factors to shape behaviour at the local level. I analyze the Zulu ethnography to show that the internal dialectic in Zulu social organisation, and in Mgaga, is centred around fission and integration; and that the integrating hierarchy associated with Zulu social organisation and the Zulu land tenure system is composed of groups with opposed interests in the same land. Within this hierarchy entrepreneurship and coalition formation influence the transfer of land rights. Also, rather than rules determining the transfer of land in the land tenure system, processes associated with the interaction of external factors with the internal dialectic, within terms of the cultural repertoire associated with the system, shape local behaviour; and the system's rules are manipulated within this cultural repertoire by individuals striving for gain. This results in different manifestations of the internal dialectic in the Zulu land tenure system, i.e. a range of variations in the Zulu land tenure system, including different local level kinship groups; a variety of terminology and rights held by office bearers; and communal and individualised land rights. The external factor of urbanisation interacted with the internal dialectic in Mgaga, manifested in terms of an ongoing izigodi (wards) dispute -including its boundaries, to shape residents' behaviour, so that some introduced an informal settlement and others resisted its geographical spread. This informal settlement development, where eventually purely residential land rights were transferred for cash to strangers by strangers, with no role for polity officials, was an urban variation of the Zulu land tenure system, because of the continued existence of the internal dialectic in Zulu social organisation in the local system, with the integration side being expressed by the community overrights. Characteristics found in Mgaga, such as kinship diminution; the individualisation and sale of land rights; and the ongoing influence of polities; are found elsewhere in Africa where informal settlements have developed on indigenous land tenure systems. Therefore the transformation of Mgaga's land tenure system to urban forms is not an isolated phenomenon, and my dialectical\transactional approach may have an applicability beyond the context of the Zulu land tenure system.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Mgaga, KwaZulu, South Africa, Indigenous land tenure, Informal settlement, Regional industrialisation, Urbanisation, Apartheid, Polity, Residents, Land tenure system, Social organisation, Land rights
Subjects:H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labour > HD101 Land use
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Humanities > Anthropology
ID Code:3597
Deposited By: Philip Clarke
Deposited On:08 Oct 2012 16:42
Last Modified:08 Oct 2012 16:42
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