n Journal for Contemporary History - BJ Vorster as voltooier van JBM Hertzog se visie oor gebiedskeiding in Suid-Afrika

Volume 34, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0258-2422
  • E-ISSN: 2415-0509



In this article the link between the land policies of two South African prime ministers, General JBM Hertzog and BJ Vorster, is investigated. Vorster, who was prime minister from 1966 to 1978, completed the territorial segregation plans of Hertzog, who was prime minister from 1924 to 1939.

In effect the 1913 Natives Land Act and the 1936 Native Trust and Land Act, with which Hertzog was associated, legalised the dispossession of blacks that had occurred since the seventeenth century and gave statutory status to territorial segregation on a racial basis. Only 13% of South Africa's total geographical area was reserved for blacks, then comprising 70% of the country's population, which was hopelessly inadequate and could not provide a sound basis for black development.
Thirty years later Vorster came to power at a time when decolonisation had changed the face of Africa and the world. Vorster adhered to Hertzog's ideas of political and territorial segregation. Despite the fact that the black population had increased to 18 million and that the National Party's homeland policy aimed at creating independent black states for the different black ethnic groups, Vorster still clung to the 1936 act and pushed on with the land consolidation programme. The number of geogaphical units in the homelands was reduced from 112 to 24 and 1,8 million hectares were added to the homelands during Vorster's reign.
Through territorial segregation both Hertzog and Vorster attempted to deal with the historically uneven distribution of land in South Africa in such a way that the future of the white population would be safeguarded. For them a race-based ideology rather than economic considerations was decisive. Therefore land in the country was not redistributed on a realistic and fair basis. Territorial segregation, as implemented by Hertzog and Vorster, did not provide a morally justifiable and sustainable solution to the South African land question.

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