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President Thabo Mbeki on Thursday rejected calls for the Transkei
to become South Africa's tenth province.
He was speaking to several thousand African National Congress
supporters at a pre-election imbizo at the Great Place of Pondo
King Mpondombini Sigcawu near Lusikisiki.
Mbeki, dressed in traditional Pondo umbhaco or beaded waistcoat and
skirt, said the reason for the apartheid era creation of two
bantustans in the Eastern Cape, Ciskei and Transkei, had been to
divide its people and ensure there was no co-operation between
"And today there are other people that say we must come back to
that policy of the division of the Eastern Cape," he said.
"It makes no sense."
One could not bring about development in Transkei by cutting the
territory off from East London and Port Elizabeth, the centres in
the province that did have development.
"You cannot develop the Transkei by isolating it," he said.
The only logic he could think of behind the tenth province proposal
was that some people were hungry for power.
"There's not going to be a tenth province," he said.
The largely rural and chronically underdeveloped Transkei, once a
nominally independent "homeland" was reincorporated into South
Africa ahead of the 1994 elections.
The idea of making it a tenth province was raised and swiftly
rejected in the constitutional talks that led up to the historic
ANC Eastern Cape officials said on Thursday the idea was
resurrected at the end of last year by individuals linked to
Ex-Mineworkers of South Africa, a pressure group set up to lobby
for compensation for ex-miners with health problems such as miner's
Those individuals who were pushing the idea largely in Pondoland
were claiming that tenth province status was the solution to
Transkei's development problems.
Mbeki was presented with his umbhaco outfit earlier in a private
meeting with King Sigcawe and his wife Lombekiso.
He emerged beaming in the beaded clothing, holding a carved
iqakathi or knobkierie.
"Do I look smart?" he joked with watching journalists.
In a ceremony at the royal kraal the king presented Mbeki with a
The animal lowered its horned head and pawed the ground
suspiciously as Eastern Cape premier Makenkhesi Stofile delivered a
short speech of acceptance on Mbeki's behalf.
"It can see us, it is rejoicing, it is accepting us in this area,"
However Mbeki's bodyguard, perhaps mindful of a similar handover at
the Rahrahbe royal kraal a week ago, where a cow charged press
photographers, was not so sure of the animal's intentions.
He stood inconspicuously to one side with his pistol drawn, ready
to shoot if the animal advanced on the president.
Several thousand people, many of them also in traditional Pondo
dress, attended the imbizo, held on a green hilltop near the king's
palace and the newly completed Pondo royal chambers and community
The complex was initiated by the king's sister Stella Sigcau under
the community-based public works programme.
Eastern Pondoland is an ANC stronghold and Sigcawu, although
ostensibly politically neutral, has what his advisors call, a
"special relationship" with the ANC.
Former ANC president Oliver Tambo grew up in the area, and the ANC
was formally given the freedom of Pondoland after Nelson Mandela
was released from jail - Sapa.