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Rural poverty : subsistence or dependency.

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The Republic of Transkei, the first of the "Independent" National States has financed a number of research projects which have attempted to establish a data base on which a Five Year Development Plan can be grounded. A important element of this plan has been the suggestion of the creation of a hierarchy of Service Centres in the rural areas of Transkei. From these, it is envisaged that essential services could be distributed to the rural poor. In addition, these Centres are expected assist with the co-ordination of other projects based in the rural areas, and, further, to contain some inherent growth potential which could stimulate development. It was intended that this thesis should provide a critical analysis development planning in for the rural areas of Transkei. Particular attention has been paid to the existing conditions and structures in the rural areas, and the manner in which these might influence the success or otherwise of a Service Centre Approach. In addition, the relationship between rural households in Transkei, and the South African economy has also been examined. Chapter One of this thesis introduces the importance of development studies in Southern Africa. It goes on to examine the important theoretical approaches to Third World economies, notably, the Dualistic and the Dependency paradigms. The Althussarian concept of an articulation of two or more modes of production is discussed in this section. Thereafter, the Southern African development experiance is reviewed, taking into account the Liberal and Radical interpretations, and placing these within the paradigms discussed earlier. The chapter concludes by situating Transkei within the broader Southern African political economy. Chapter Two discusses the Rural Service Centre concept, and the emphasis which has been placed on it in Transkeian planning. The chapter raises a number a crucial questions regarding this concept and posits that a deeper understanding of the conditions in the rural areas might assist in providing the answers for some of these questions. To this end a household survey was conducted in the Umzimkulu District of Transkei, and the chapter concludes with a description of methodology, and of the areas which were selected for survey. Chapters Three to Five present the findings of the survey, and represent the empirical core of the thesis. Chapter Three describes the demographic characteristics of the sampled population. Chapter Four deals at length with the income generating ability of the rural households, taking into account subistence agriculture, local formal and informal employment, welfare payments and remittances. In addition, a wealth index has been created, and the distribution of wealth examined. Chapter Five briefly introduces the Basic Needs Approach to development, and the remainder of the chapter concerns itself with the fulfilment of essential needs in the Umzimkulu District. Finally, chapter Six draws together the dependnecy theory discussed in chapter One, the data presented in chapters Three to Five, and the politio-economic structure of Transkei. The chapter argues that although the Service Centre Approach may appear to be a suitable strategy for development in purely spatial terms, in fiscal terms the approach contains a crucial flaw. Such an approach requires a redistribution of resources from the urban wealthy to the rural poor. In view of Transkei's dependent status viv-a-vis South Africa, and in view of the nature of the Transkeian bureaucracy , it is argued that such a transfer seems unlikely. However, in order to move away from the overall pessimistic tone of the conclusion, it is suggested the Last Word that, ultimately, it appears that the position of the rural poor will only recieve attention once this group becomes important to politicians in Umtata and Pretoria. Consequently, local development projects should seek ways in which they will be noticed by the government.


Thesis (M.Dev.Studies)-University of Natal, Durban, 1984.


Transkei--Economic conditions., Theses--Development studies., Rural poor--Transkei.