The black homeland of Bophuthatswana was proclaimed independent of South Africa at midnight on Monday (5 December).
The black homeland of Bophuthatswana was proclaimed independent of South Africa at midnight on Monday (5 December). But the ceremonies in the new capital of Mmabatho were ignored by the world's diplomatic corps.
SYNOPSIS: Outside South Africa the homelands policy has been condemned as furthering apartheid rather than achieving genuine independence for black Africans. Bophuthatswana consists of seven separate areas with vast tracts of South African territory between them.
Although the new homeland has a rich agricultural potential and more than half South Africa's platinum deposits, it will still be economically dependent on the white regime. More than half its population of 2,500,000 from the Tswana tribe live and work outside the homeland - and they've been stripped automatically of their South African citizenship, although they can re-apply.
Foreign minister Pik Botha and President Nicolaas Diederichs were the senior South African officials to attend the ceremonies. Other guests included Chief Kaizer Matanzima, Prime Minister of the Transkei which became the first homeland to achieve independence last year.
Bophuthatswana's Chief Minister Lucas Mangope acknowledged that his homeland faced a 'fatal credibility gap'. He said it was a territorial credibility gap which bore the stamp 'Made in Pretoria. Buy South Africa'. The capital of Mmabatho did not exist six months ago, before the South African government started building it.
Even now there are few buildings aside from the stadium where the independence ceremonies were held. A parliament building has been built with houses for the top government ministers and a hotel complex. But life for most of the Tswana tribe goes on as before. Chief Mangope told his audience the main reason for choosing independence was that "we utterly abhor racial discrimination."