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The Review of Black Political Economy

, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 47–62 | Cite as

Surplus people and expendable children: The structure of apartheid and the mortality crisis in South Africa

  • Thomas R. De Gregori
  • William Darity
Articles

Abstract

South Africa’s apartheid scheme is considered as a paradigm case for the creation and maltreatment of a putatively surplus population. Both active and passive policies are identified that are utilized to contain the numbers of the black population of the nation. Of particular significance is a strategy of neglect that has led to exceptionally high infant and child mortality rates in the “homelands.” In addition, the South African authorities’ efforts to destabilize neighboring regimes in Angola and Mozambique has had similarly adverse repercussions on mortality rates there.

Keywords

Infant Death Child Death Rate South African Government Black Labor White Settler 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Alan Paton,Cry, the Beloved Country, reprinted (Harmondsworth: City Penguin Books, 1958), p. 1.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    An early excellent account of the forceful removals of Africans resulting from apartheid, can be found in Cosmas Desmond,The Discarded People: An Account of African Settlement in South Africa (preface by Lord Caradon, foreword by Nadine Gordimer), (Harmondsworth, England: Penguin, 1961), 265 pp.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Colin Bundy,The Rise and Fall of the South African Peasantry, (London: Heinemann, 1979) andRelocations: The Churches’ Report on Forced Removals, (South African Council of Churches, The Southern African Bishops’ Conference, 1984), pp. 35–37.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Francis Wilson,Labour in the South African Gold Mines, (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1972), p. 141.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Fred Curtis, “Contradictions and Uneven Development in South Africa: The Constrained Allocation of African Labour Power,”Journal of Modern African Studies, Vol. 23, No. 3 (1984), p. 396. See also Fred Curtis, “Cheap American Labor Power and South African Capitalism 1948–1978,”Research In Political Economy, Vol. 7 (1984), pp. 185–235.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    For a comprehensive survey of the disciplinary devices used by colonial administrations in Africa, see Thomas R. De Gregori,Technology and the Economic Development of the Tropical African Frontier, (Cleveland, Ohio: Case Western Reserve University Press, 1969) Chapter V: pp, “Industrial Discipline and Technological Necessity.”Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Joseph Hanlon,Beggar Your Neighbors: Apartheid Power in Southern Africa, (Bloomington, Indiana: Catholic Institute for International Relations in collaboration with James Curry, Indiana University Press, 1986), p. 3. The southern African “region imports goods worth around $2,400 million from South Africa and send only $400 million in the other direction. Even after other payments are taken into account, South Africa has a balance of payments surplus with the region of at least $1,500 million a year.”Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    George Orwell, “Politics and the English Language,” in George Orwell,A Collection of Essays, (New York: Doubleday Anchor Books, 1957), p. 173.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Omar Badsha,South Africa: The Cordoned Heart, (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1986), p. xvii. The volume includes the work of twenty photographers, providing a vivid and graphic image of the reality of apartheid. Included at the back is a list of the over 300 papers prepared for the Second Carnegie Inquiry.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Laurine Platzky and Cheryl Walker,The Surplus People: Forced Removals in South Africa, (Johannesburg, South Africa: Ravan Press, Surplus People Project, 1985). The authors also note the attempt to create an African elite “with a stake in the system” as part of the process that is dispossessing the Africans of any ability to work. p. xxii.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    See, for example, Edward Roux,A History of the Black Man’s Struggle for Freedom in South Africa, (Madison, Wisconsin: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1964), p. 148.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Edna Bonacich, “The Past, Present and Future of Split Labour Market Theory,”Research in Race and Ethnic Relations, Vol. 1 (1979), pp. 44-45.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Ibid., p. 44-45. See also Thomas W. Hazlett, “Kinnock’s Crowning Cheek on Apartheid,”The Wall Street Journal, December 31, 1981, and Jim Jones, “Discontent Boils Over,”Financial Times (London) September 8, 1986.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Abdul S. Minty, “South Africa’s Military Build-Up: The Region at War,” in Phyllis Johnson and David Martin (Editors),Destructive Engagement: Southern Africa at War, (Harare: Zimbabwe Publishing House for the Southern African Research and Documentation Center, 1986), pp. 181–185.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Since blacks, beyond those necessary for the economy, are not wanted in white South Africa, housing for them is extremely scarce. One estimate for “the average number of black persons per family housing unit ranges from 12 to 24 depending on how it is calculated. The comparable figure for whites is 4 persons per housing unit.” Michael O. Sutcliffe, Department of Regional Planning, University of Natal, “The Crisis in South Africa: Material Conditions and the Reformist Response,” quoted from an unpublished manuscript, p. 7.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Paton, op. cit., p. 72.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Jean Paul Sartre,A Critique of Dialectical Reason, (London: New Left Books, 1976), p. 783. Also see William Darity, Jr., “The Managerial Class and Surplus Population,”Society, November/December 1983.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    UNICEF,The State of the World’s Children 1985, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985), p. 120. According to press accounts released by UNICEF;The State of the World’s Children 1987 has an extensive analysis and documentation of the infant death consequences of apartheid within South Africa and in neighboring countries. Blaine Harden, “Pretoria Directly Blamed for Child Deaths in Southern Africa,” ManchesterGuardian Weekly, Vol. 135, No. 25, December 21, 1986.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    World Development Report 1985, (New York: Oxford University Press for the World Bank 1985), pp. 174-175 and 218-219. Since this was written, 1984 data have become available. The absolute difference in the infant and child death rates for Uruguay and South Africa remain the same. The only difference is that in the 1984 figures, South Africa has ahigher per capita income than Uruguay. The calculations are fortotal excess mortality in relationship to income. Since it is generally acknowledged that the white population has a mortality experience comparable to economically advanced countries it is reasonable to assume that these excess deaths are principally black, coloured and Indian. The largest portion of these would be blacks simply because they are the largest segment of the population and their mortality rates are higher than the other two. However distributed, the total deaths are those of innocent victims of apartheid. 1984 data found inWorld Development Report 1986, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986), pp. 181 or 233.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Paton, p. 72.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Lloyd Timberlake,Africa in Crisis, (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: New Society Publishers, 1986), pp. 183-184.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Cedric De Beer makes the same estimate of 30-50 thousand child hunger deaths in a definitive study,The South African Disease: Apartheid Health and Health Services, (Johannesburg, South African Research Service, 1984), p. 55. He also notes the large number of black infant deaths that go “unrecorded”—which makes our earlier estimates of “excess deaths” extremely conservative.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    World Development Report, 1985, p. 221.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    SADCC (Southern African Development Coordination Conference) has commissioned careful, scholarly studies of the human and economic costs of South Africa’s regional destabilization. Their data, parts of their reports, and their analyses can be found in Hanlon, op. cit., pp. 12263-12265, and Reginald H. Green and Carol B. Thompson, “Political Economies in Conflict: SADCC, South Africa and Sanctions,” in Johnson and Martin, pp. 245–280.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    David Martin and Phyllis Johnson, “How Pretoria Coerces Its Neighbours,”Manchester Guardian Weekly, July 20, 1986.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Steve Lahr, “Infant Toll Found Highest In Africa,”The New York Times, February 1, 1987.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Paton, p. 72.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Carol B. Thompson, “SADCC’s Struggle for Economic Liberation,”Africa Report, Vol. 31, No. 4, (July/August 1986), pp. 59–63.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Paton, p. 236.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas R. De Gregori
  • William Darity

There are no affiliations available

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