THE MOVEMENT TO CLOSER UNION IN SOUTH AFRICA (FEDERATION)
In the 2nd half of the 19th century attempts to bring together the whole of white South Africa under one regime started.
Both the Boers and the British realized the need for unity but while the Boers were after the Boers republics union only, the British were after the union of all the whites.
A MAP OF SOUTH AFRICA SHOWING THE PERFORMANCE OF DIFFERENT STATES AT FORMING A REPUBLIC
By 1854 Utreclt, Lydenburg Zoutpansburg had emerged with Transvaal to form the South African republic which despite the union remained popularly known as Transvaal Orange Free State remained alone.
The British had also united British Kafaria with natal to form the British colony of natal. So by 1854 4 political units existed in South Africa i.e. cape colony and natal under the British and Orange Free State and Transvaal under the Boers.
WHY WAS THERE A GENERAL DESIRE FOR FEDERATION
- The first person to advocate for federation was Sir Governor in 1854.
- He was later joined by lord Carnavan the British secretary for colonies in 1879.
- Federation was to cure the frequent internal friction among the whites. This was also included ending Anglo Boer clashes
- The whites’ once united one strong body would ably deal with external danger from rival European countries.
- Grey also argued that a union would produce a bigger group to supply able administrators.
- A union would lead to a stronger south Africa that could not easily be influenced by any European country be it Britain.
- There was a need to have a common racial policy regarding the Africans to ably control black labour especially their movement.
- A united and strong South Africa could threaten the Bantu and its intimidating influence would lessen the danger of a Bantu combined attack.
- There would be increased commerce since trade would be liberalized and even a bigger market would be created.
- The boundary disputes between Orange Free State and the cape convinced Carnavan that a union would cure such boundary problems.
- Lord Carnavan success in causing the Canadian federation in 1867 convinced him that he would be met with similar success once in South Africa.
- Some argued that South Africa’s new mineral wealth would be shared more equitably in a union.
- The British government also wanted to be freed from the military expenses of maintaining troops in South Africa by transferring the burden on to a united entity.
- The British initially argued that the Boer republics were too poor to provide the necessary services of a modern government.
- A bigger area would also ensure pooling of resources and provide quality services like education, health and communications.
NEW EFFORTS AT UNITING WHITE SOUTH AFRICA
- Efforts of uniting the whites of South African received a new breath of life after the second Anglo Boer war and the signing of the Vereeniging treaty.
- The first real efforts were seen when a constitution assembly the national convention was called to debate a constitution for a proposed union in 1908.
MAP OF THE SOUTH AFRICAN REPUBLIC
Why was the national convention called?
The national convention was the body managed to present debate and to pass a new union constitution.
Delegates to the convention came from the four states of the cape, natal, Transvaal and Orange Free State.
Only delegates from the cape represented both the Africans and Europeans.
Racist Rhodesia sent observers but of course their impact was reflected into the convention outcomes.
The convention took place at Durban in Natal in October 1908.
Delegates met to discuss details of the nature of the proposed union.
The convention had to sort out the inter- territory railways and custom differences.
They met to prepare the removal of economic barriers to allow for closer economic cooperation.
It was to find an acceptable formula for the union that was binding to both Boers and the British.
It was to debate the nature of franchise
It was to bar the possibility of the re-occurrence of Anglo Boer wars.
It was to discuss the issue of the national language.
The convention was to clear the political economic and social problems hindering the union.
It was to debate the nature of the political governance that suited South Africa.
The British wore worried at the increasing Boer nationalism which they wanted to halt.
It was to pave way for the final reconciliation and unity between the Boers and the British.
The Boer advances to the Germans also worried the British into meeting the Boers in Durban.
It was also to determine the nature and rights of voting among the various races of South Africa.
RESULTS FOR THE CONVENTION
- There was to be equality of the English and the Dutch languages.
- The British government was to head the new union
- A new constitution was drafted for the union.
- It led to the union of Boers and the British under one government.
- The union was to be headed by governor general.
- The governor general was to be appointed by the British.
- It proposed one parliament and consisting of two chambers i.e. the senate and house of assembly for the whites to be housed at the cape.
- It took away the right to vote or the Africans interests were greatly ignored and their misery and suffering confirmed.
- The four colonies came to be referred to as provinces of the union.
- Ten ministers were to be appointed to help the general governor.
- The franchise was limited to only adult males
- The non-whites were blocked from entering the parliament
- Provisions were made in future to include the British territories of northern and southern Rhodesia, Botswana and Basutoland.
- One Supreme Court for the union and the judiciary based in Bloemfontein of Orange Free State were established.
- The executive capital was established at Pretoria of Transvaal.
- N Botha became the first prime minister of the new union.
- It laid the foundation for the apartheid policies and the mistreatment of Africans.
- It ended the outstanding Anglo Boer wars since the two former enemies now became strong friends.