Last Updated: Friday, 29 August 2014, 14:18 GMT

South Africa: Current information on Zulu attacks against the Setswana tribe, and whether these regard each other as enemies

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 1 May 1992
Citation / Document Symbol ZAF10812
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, South Africa: Current information on Zulu attacks against the Setswana tribe, and whether these regard each other as enemies, 1 May 1992, ZAF10812, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6aaeb30.html [accessed 29 August 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

 

Recent (1985 - 1992) references to an ongoing inter-ethnic or inter-tribal conflict between the Setswana or Tswana and the Zulu in South Africa could not be found among the sources currently available to the IRBDC.

The attached documents refer to conflicts which reportedly have an element of ethnicity, although it is indicated that the conflicts occur largely as a struggle for political power and control.

A September 1990 document of the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law states:

Often characterized as "Black on Black" or inter-racial violence between the Inkatha movement of Zulu Chief Mangosuthu Gatsha Buthelezi and other "ethnic" groups, the violence is, in reality, intimately linked to the complicated politics of apartheid in South Africa (University of Ottawa Faculty of Law Sept. 1990).

An oral source stated that South African townships are largely divided along ethnic lines, although they are also divided according to political affiliation (Private Consultant 6 May 1992). The source added that economic conditions have driven certain groups to invade and destroy the living quarters of other groups for financial gain and improved employment opportunities, pointing out that it would be inaccurate to state that the Setswana are enemies of the Zulu or that the Setswana would be considered a specific target for Zulu expansionist policies in South Africa (Ibid.).

One report states that in late-1990 many people had been slain in the townships surrounding Johannesburg "in fighting that frequently has had distinct tribal overtones" (Chicago Tribune 10 Sept. 1990). The same document, however, quotes Nelson Mandela as stating that the reason for the killings is "certainly not ethnic," and Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini as denying there was any declared war between ethnic groups (Ibid.). The document adds:

The African National Congress (ANC), which was founded specifically along non-racial and non-tribal lines to counter the government's emphasis on ethnicity, has stressed that Zulus and Sothos and Xhosas and Tswanas have lived peacefully together and intermarried in places like Soweto for decades (Ibid.).

Finally, the news article adds the following:

The African National Congress and Inkatha insist they are waging a political struggle. But because Inkatha is primarily a Zulu organization and because much of the congress' leadership, including Mandela, is Xhosa, the distinctions between ideological and tribal warfare have lurred (Ibid.).

A report on violence in Sebokeng in late-1990 and, more specifically, attacks on ANC members by Inkatha supporters, quotes an ANC broadcast arguing that: Far from being a tribal faction fight, the attack on supporters of the ANC was directed not against a specific tribal group but, as I say, against everyone associated with the ANC, [undefined] Zulu, a Xhosa, a Sotho, or a Tswana speaker (BBC Summary 8 Sept. 1990).

The ANC broadcast suggests political motives for attacks by "Inkatha vigilantes" and mentions that "the apartheid forces are their natural allies" (Ibid.).

One report quotes a Tswana source in Bophuthatswana on the violence in late-1990 as stating that Inkatha is basically a Zulu party and the ANC is mostly Xhosa, adding that most of the Tswanas inhabit either Botswana, to the North or the Bophuthatswana homeland (The Times 7 Sept. 1990).

References

BBC Summary of World Broadcasts. 8 September 1990. "South Africa ANC Radio Comments on Township Violence and Role of Security Force." (NEXIS)

Chicago Tribune. 10 September 1990; North Sports Final Edition. "South African Blacks Forced to Deal With Issue of Tribalism." (NEXIS)

Private Consultant and author of reports on South Africa, Ottawa. 6 May 1992. Telephone Interview.

The Times [London]. 7 September 1990. "South African `Homeland' Builds Model for Multiracial Harmony." (NEXIS)

University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law. September 1990. Natal Violence. Ottawa: University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law.

Attachments

BBC Summary of World Broadcasts. 8 September 1990. "South Africa ANC Radio Comments on Township Violence and Role of Security Force." (NEXIS)

Chicago Tribune. 10 September 1990; North Sports Final Edition. "South African Blacks Forced to Deal With Issue of Tribalism." (NEXIS) The Times [London]. 7 September 1990. "South frican `Homeland' Builds Model for Multiracial Harmony." (NEXIS)

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/. Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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