Sunday, May 27, 2012

Migrant Labour and the process of Primitive Accumulation in Southern Africa.

The so called Primitive Accumulation
Primitive accumulation paved way for the efficacy of the capitalist system this process led to the displacement of the local inhabitants off their means of production in the bid to create a working class that would rely on the sale of their labour for subsistence. According to Marx (668:1977) the so called primitive accumulation is nothing else than a prehistoric process of divorcing the producer from the means of production he elaborates that it is primitive because it forms the prehistoric stage of capital and of mode of production corresponding with it.
The capital system has two fundamental elements according to Marx (668;1977) the commodity possessors which must come in contact which the owners of money, means for production, means of subsistence with the objectivity of increasing the sum of values they posses. Marx (668:1977) elaborates that capitalist system presupposes the complete separation of the labourers from all property in the means by which they can realise their labour. This form of displacement off the means of production of the natives is called primitive accumulation Marx (668:1977) elaborates that the economic structure of the capitalistic society grew out of the economic structure of the feudal system. In the feudal system the landlord owned the means of production the land and the serfs provided labour in the feudal system.
Marx (668:1977) concluded that primitive accumulation resulted in the prehistoric movement which changed the produces into wage workers was the efficacy of the transformation of the feudal system into capitalist system. Furthermore Marx (667:1977) accumulation of capital presupposes surplus value; surplus value presupposes capitalist production, capitalistic production presupposes the pre-existence of masses capital of labour power in the hands of producers of commodities. The capitalist system to emerge according to Marx (668;1977) the process of primitive accumulation took away from the labourer the possession of means of production; a process that transforms on the one hand, the social means of subsistence and of production into capital on the other, the immediate producers in wage labourers.
Proletarianization process due to the primitive accumulation was the emergence of a working class that would rely on sell of labour for their subsistence. According to Marx (669; 1977) great masses of men are suddenly and forcibly torn from the means of subsistence and hurled as free and unattached proletarians on the labour market. Primitive accumulation was a process to pave way for the capitalistic system that highly depends on the peasant’s workforce. The use of force and violence were the mechanisms to force the process of primitive accumulation by the colonial authorities.
Labour Supplies in Historical Perspective; study of Proletarianization of African Peasantry Rhodesia
Arrighi attempts to refute the oft-cited economic models that of Lewis and Barber. Lewis model of economic development with ‘unlimited’ supplies of labour has far more limited application to the Rhodesian experience of capitalist development. Barber assumed ‘unlimited supplies of labour were to a large extent the result of a process of primary accumulation in which politics rather than market mechanism predominated and through which the gap between labour productivities in the peasant and capitalist sectors widened. Lewis proposed a two sector model of labour reallocation from a low productivity ‘subsistence sector’ to a high productivity ‘capitalist sector’. Lewis point out that since productivity in the capitalist sectors is postulated to be sufficiently high to make the stipulated payment of wage consistent with the rate of profit that employers expect in order to undertake production.
Lewis postulates that surplus is reinvested in way that increases the demand of labour, the process continues until surplus of labour in the subsistence sector disappears he further postulates that wages may rise before the process is completed slowing down the capitalist accumulation . Barber according to Arrighi (181;1973) distinguishes Lewis stages of development of African wage development that expansion of capitalist sector is rapid enough to reduce the absolute population in the subsistence sector Baber argued that the indigenous African economy is organized so to be self –sufficient. In the other point Arrighi cites Lewis (181;1973) argues that technological progress in the subsistence sector led to surplus of labour while Baber argues that the introduction of the money economy that was of unfair practices increasing the real incomes was not necessary.
Arrighi (183;1973) elaborates either Barber or Lewis interpretation of the development of the African labour wages and relationship between development and underdevelopment of capitalism respectively is of relevance to Rhodesia experience. Baber’s assumption of quasi employment lasted through the 1950s is uncertain the Rhodesian capitalist economy was different market mechanisms were discarded in the determination of wages and the real wage. The fundamental political mechanisms of legislation and violence were the driving force in development of African labour because Africans were investing and innovating in response to market opportunities. Arrighi (194;1973) postulates that taxation was the first resolution to reduce the discretionary nature of African participation in the money economy. Land appropriation also forced Africans to pay rent and be committed to the supply of labour.
The creation of African dependence on exchange with the capitalist sector and introduction of the cash payments increased the African participation in the money economy. Baber’s analysis according to Arrighi (214;1973) failed to interpret the development of the African wage labour force in Rhodesia with the failure to account that market forces, did not in the beginning favour capitalist development. Rhodesian capitalist system according to Arrighi (214; 1973) undergoes the process of primary accumulation which Lewis mentions as the major force for reallocation of the noncapitalist sector to the capitalist were political mechanisms. However according to Arrighi (220; 1973) Lewis analysis is limited to a period of twenty years the mid 1920s and the mid 1940s in Rhodesia experience of the creation of the capitalistic system.
Black Gold: Mozambican Miner, Proletarian and Peasant
The service economy of Mozambique consisted of transport networks and a large pool of labour reserve. The shortage of labour in South Africa and other Southern African countries made them to engage in agreements of importing labour from Mozambique. Mozambique migrant labour was used as labour reserve by South African mine and agricultural industries as Mozambique was the earliest and leading supply of cheap labour to South Africa because their government was guaranteed an income from the sale of labour First (1983;17). Importation of Mozambique labour by South Africa was on the merit that it was less costly than the South African workers according to First (1983;14) he elaborates that Portugal as the colonial power derived the major source of her income from invisible earnings, and speculated on the sale of labour power of its African workforce. There were many agreement and convections which were used to govern fixed labour quotas and guaranteed routing through Mozambican and railways of fixed percentage.

The Mozambique’s role as a supplier of labour was issued as formal statutes in 1897 this was in the realisation that Portugal mercantile capital can be attained through the trade of gold, then ivory and later slaves were able to fuel the process of primitive accumulation which would consolidate a Portuguese capitalist formation and a Portuguese’s metropolitan bourgeoisie (First 1983;13).Native Africans were subjected to ruthless legislation and deprivation of the main source of survival the land to force them to sale their labour to survive in the money economy created by the Portuguese. According to First (1983;13) the Portuguese government leased out great tracts of the country of the country to private foreign capital that had economic exploitation rights as well as political control. The introduction of the WENELA recruiting agency to have monopoly over labour in Mozambique was meant to exploit the labour reserves for the benefit gold mines in Transvaal, Natal and Diamond fields of the Western Cape. First (1983:19) elaborates that the role of WENELA was not only to recruit labour but to recruit and employ it at any cost.

WENELA recruitment agency and the Portuguese government introduced the system of indentured labour that would bring down the labour overhead costs to the thriving mining and agriculture industry. According to First (1983;19) minimum contacts period of twelve months meant that the migrant worker could not determine his time of departure nor the period of his absence, uncertainly in the working environment meant exploitation was easy. The use of deferred payment was the principal source of revenue to the state according to First (1983;25) the system of deferred payment had the advantage for the state in that the required the worker to spend a large portion of his wages in the Mozambican economy thus constituting a demand for commodities produced or circulating in the economy.

The Mozambican colonial economy derived revenue from the sale of labour which was exported to Southern African states. The process of primitive accumulation in Mozambique was different from other Southern African states as it did not focus on the productive investment of labour but merely on the exportation of labour for its capital accumulation.

Arrighi G (1969) Labour Supplies in Historical Perspective; the proletarization of the peseantry in Southern Rhodesia in Arrighi,G and Saul,J Essays on the Political Economy Of Africa. Monthy Review, New York

Frist,R (1983) Black Gold;Mozambican Miner, Proletarian and Peasant, Harvester Press, Sussex Part 1; The export of Labour.pp12-46

Marx,K (1977) Capital, Volume 1 Part viii ‘The so called Primitive Accumulation” Lawrence &Wishart, London pp667-8