This Unit is about the union of Transvaal and Orange Free State with the Cape boers.




The act of union was the constitution under which the four colonies of Orange Free State and Transvaal under the Boers and cape colony and natal under the British came together to form the Union of South Africa.

It was formed and started operating on the 31st May 1910 with Louis Botha and Smuts as the leaders.



  • The Boers nationalism and foresight enabled them to realize that divisions and isolation would destroy their political and economic achievements.
  • The union was a federation of the Boers and the British settlers in South Africa.
  • It was signed by representatives of both Boers and British
  • It was to end the long term hostility between the Boers and the British
  • The British aimed at destroying Boer independence by putting the Boers under their firm control.
  • The British feared Boer alliance with the Germans and Portuguese if they were to be left alone.
  • The treaty of Vereeniging of 1902 after the second Anglo Boer war paved way for the union.
  • It was to avoid unnecessary competition between the British and Boers for better political and economic exploitation on South Africa.
  • The attainment of Boer independence by 1908 assured the Boers equality in the new union.
  • There was fear that the Africans who were gaining nationalism at a faster speed would unite and throw the whites out of South Africa.
  • The need to lower administrative costs in the white areas by creating one administration.
  • There was the need for the Boers and the British who had fought at least on 3 bitter occasions to reconcile and forget the past.
  • The formation of the customs unions by 1903 led to closer cooperation between Boers and British which led to the political union.
  • The contribution made by personalities like Sir George Grey, lord Carvavan and Selbourne.
  • The disappearance of the hardcore leader like Kruger, Jobert made Anglo Boer cooperation easier.
  • The 1902 Vereeniging treaty created a favorable ground for the union.
  • The 1908 national convention had made it clear that a union had to be formed.
  • There was need to adopt a common racial policy towards the Africans and ably contain their labour now that industries needed many African laborers.
  • It was to avoid competition especially in the field of trade and commerce between the British and the Boer.


  • The Afrikaners detested the federal arrangement of the British and the British also opposed the unitary form of government desired by the Boers.
  • There was conflict over the official and national language to be used until both English and Dutch were adopted as equal languages.
  • The Boers and the British were also fighting over the location of the capital city.
  • The 2 parties had failed to resolve the nature of franchise and harmonize their racial policies in respect to the Africans.
  • The commercial competition between the two could not enable peaceful union to occur.
  • The British had wanted to have an over whelming impact on the draft constitution.
  • Both hatred to shoulder the financial burden of maintain a bigger administrative structure inform of a union.
  • Then there was fear from the Boers the being dominated by the British areas of Cape and Natal.
  • The Boers were a proud people who believed that their race was pure and so hatred any union with the liberal British.
  • Presence of hardline Boer leaders like Kruger and Jourbert
  • The British leaders like Carnavan who championed earlier union attempts were arrogant not gentle like Selbourne.
  • The British had called delegates to debate a union in London making the union appear to be only a British affair.
  • The 1852 and 1854 Sand river and Bloemfontein conventions that granted the Boers their independence after British annexation made the Boers stubborn.
  • The long held hatred of the Boers towards the British could not allow for their quick acceptance of the union.
  • The wars between the Africans especially Moshesh and the Boers diverted the attention of the Boers away from federation.
  • The Kaete award which stole the Boers diamond fields had poisoned Anglo Boer relationship.
  • The strength and power of Moshesh who was at Grey’s time considered as an equal with the Europeans slowed the union plans.
  • Besides Agarey had been too quick and went on with the federation even before clearance from London leading to the unpopularity of his project.
  • The Jameson’s raid further convinced the Boers that the British had only one wish viz to overshadow them.


  • The union was to be headed by the governor-general as a queens representative and was to be appointed by the British.
  • The governor was to be assisted by the 10 ministers.
  • The union parliament was to be e. supreme authority over Transvaal, O.F.S, natal and cape colony
  • The union parliament was to have two houses i.e. the house of assembly.
  • The members of the senate were to serve for 10 years which the assembly members for 5 years.
  • Voting for the franchise was limited to only adult male Europeans and non-Europeans were excluded from the parliament.
  • A white missionary was, however, to be nominated to represent the interests of the Africans.
  • Very rich or wealthy Africans were allowed a very limited degree of political freedom only in the cape and natal.
  • The British were given some responsibilities over Basuto land, Rhodesia and Bachuana land.
  • The stopped being called so instead they were to be called provinces of the union.
  • Each province was to have a council for health and education.
  • Each province was to be governed by an administration appointed by the union government.
  • The parliamentary headquarters were established at cape town.
  • Pretoria became the executive capital.
  • Orange river colony was renamed orange free state and its capital Bloemfontein became the judicial capital.
  • English and the dutch were to be official languages.
  • It was agreed that there should be complete equality between the English and the dutch races.


  • South Africa was completely given to the whites who dominated it almost throughout the 20th
  • The much-awaited union of all the whites in South Africa was established.
  • The Boers who had all along struggled for astronomy finally achieved it since they gained more in the union.
  • The union, however, placed a British citizen as the governor-general implying that the British were still in control.
  • The Boers citizens were given liberty and exercise all they valued.
  • The Europeans economic control in South Africa was confirmed.
  • The irritating long-standing Boer British conflict came to an end as these two agreed to live in peace.
  • The Africans were left enslaved to Europeans in South Africa.
  • The union left the most critical problems unsolved i.e. Africans were made foreigners in their own land
  • It solved the problem of land ownership as Africans almost completely lost out
  • It prepared the ground for the practice of apartheid since Africans were not allowed to participate freely in union politics.
  • It boosted the economy of South Africa by creating a 6 million people market.
  • It created rural-urban migration since the Africans flocked the towns to solve the land problem back in their reserves.
  • It created insecurity since the poor Africans became raw material for thuggery and hooliganism.


  • The British failed to control the rising trend of Boer nationalism and actually the Boers were later to kick out the British and dominate the administration alone.
  • The Boer dream on one government of unity was not realized as they later fell apart and formed rival parties.
  • It aroused African consciousness who later formed ANC and started on a campaign which later overthrew the union act.
  • The British were given nominal control of the republic but the real ruler was a Boer premier.
  • The issue of African voting rights was referred since they continued doing so in the cape and natal though with limitations.


  • It promoted the position on the whites in South Africa at the expense of the Africans.
  • Africans were relegated to an inferior position in relation to the whites.
  • The union constitution promoted racist policies in its acts.
  • 1911 the mines and workers’ act restricted the Africans to slowly labor.
  • The land act led to the formation of very poor reserves for the Africans.
  • Africans were not allowed to reside outside their reserves except when working for whites.
  • It resulted into the creation of the apartheid policy with all its bitter consequences.
  • The whites gained the rich or fertile land that formerly belonged to Africans
  • The Africans lost British protection over their human and civil rights.
  • The Africans totally lost any hope of acquiring independence in the near future.
  • The British and the Boers dominated the social, political; and economic aspect of south Africa
  • The economic cooperation and progress among the four white territories were strengthened.
  • The economy of South Africa was boosted by the new market of 6 million people and the abolition of restrictions across the four provinces.
  • It led to increase to African nationalism for example 1912 Pexlguka Isaka, a Zulu elite led the Africans to form ANC.
  • It led to the growth of shanty towns and slums that Africans were forced to live in.
  • It led to the enactment of other racist policies, for example, the group areas act.
  • African became poor underdeveloped and backward leading to poor standards of living.
  • South African resources especially the minerals were fully exploited.
  • The union became a burden for the neighbors since the whites later raided their neighbors for political reasons.


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