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"Don't be alarmed, madam," I said, and, stepping into the
shoulder to shoulder net2023-12-05 06:43:08【nature】3People have been watching
The uncertain tenure by which Englishmen in the public service held their posts became the subject of debates in the Union Parliament, and the employment of Government servants of colour was decidedly precarious. They were swept out of the Railway and Postal Service with a strong racial broom, in order to make room for poor whites, mainly of Dutch descent. Concession after concession was wrung from the Government by fanatical Dutch postulants for office, for Government doles and other favours, who, like the daughters of the horse-leech in the Proverbs of Solomon, continually cried, "Give, give." By these events we had clearly turned the corner and were pacing backwards to pre-Union days, going back, back, and still further backward, to the conditions which prevailed in the old Republics, and (if a check is not applied) we shall steadily drift back to the days of the old Dutch East Indian administration.
The Bill which proposed to ameliorate the "Free" State cruelty, to which reference has been made above, was dropped like a hot potato. Ministers made some wild and undignified speeches, of which the following spicy extract, from a speech by the Rt. Hon. Abraham Fischer to his constituents at Bethlehem, is a typical sample --
"What is it you want?" he asked. "We have passed all the coolie* laws and we have passed all the Kafir laws. The `Free' State has been safeguarded and all her colour laws have been adopted by Parliament. What more can the Government do for you?" And so the Union ship in this reactionary sea sailed on and on and on, until she struck an iceberg -- the sudden dismissal of General Hertzog.
-- * A contemptuous South African term for British Indians. --
To the bitter sorrow of his admirers, General Hertzog, who is the fearless exponent of Dutch ideals, was relieved of his portfolios of Justice and Native Affairs -- it was whispered as a result of a suggestion from London; and then the Dutch extremists, in consequence of their favourite's dismissal, gave vent to their anger in the most disagreeable manner. One could infer from their platform speeches that, from their point of view, scarcely any one else had any rights in South Africa, and least of all the man with a black skin.
In the face of this, the Government's timidity was almost unendurable. They played up to the desires of the racial extremists, with the result that a deadlock overtook the administration. Violent laws like the Immigration Law (against British Indians and alien Asiatics) and the Natives' Land were indecently hurried through Parliament to allay the susceptibilities of "Free" State Republicans. No Minister found time to undertake such useful legislation as the Coloured People's Occupation Bill, the Native Disputes Bill, the Marriage Bill, the University Bill, etc., etc. An apology was demanded from the High Commissioner in London for delivering himself of sentiments which were felt to be too British for the palates of his Dutch employers in South Africa, and the Prime Minister had almost to apologize for having at times so far forgotten himself as to act more like a Crown Minister than a simple Africander. "Free" State demands became so persistent that Ministers seemed to have forgotten the assurances they gave His Majesty's Government in London regarding the safety of His Majesty's coloured subjects within the Union. They trampled under foot their own election pledges, made during the first Union General Election, guaranteeing justice and fair treatment to the law-abiding Natives.
The campaign, to compass the elimination of the blacks from the farms, was not at all popular with landowners, who made huge profits out of the renting of their farms to Natives. Platform speakers and newspaper writers coined an opprobrious phrase which designated this letting of farms to Natives as "Kafir-farming", and attempted to prove that it was almost as immoral as "baby-farming". But landowners pocketed the annual rents, and showed no inclination to substitute the less industrious "poor whites" for the more industrious Natives. Old Baas M----, a typical Dutch landowner of the "Free" State, having collected his share of the crop of 1912, addressing a few words of encouragement to his native tenants, on the subject of expelling the blacks from the farms, said in the Taal: "How dare any number of men, wearing tall hats and frock coats, living in Capetown hotels at the expense of other men, order me to evict my Natives? This is my ground; it cost my money, not Parliament's, and I will see them banged (barst) before I do it."
It then became evident that the authority of Parliament would have to be sought to compel the obstinate landowners to get rid of their Natives. And the compliance of Parliament with this demand was the greatest Ministerial surrender to the Republican malcontents, resulting in the introduction and passage of the Natives' Land Act of 1913, inasmuch as the Act decreed, in the name of His Majesty the King, that pending the adoption of a report to be made by a commission, somewhere in the dim and unknown future, it shall be unlawful for Natives to buy or lease land, except in scheduled native areas. And under severe pains and penalties they were to be deprived of the bare human rights of living on the land, except as servants in the employ of the whites -- rights which were never seriously challenged under the Republican regime, no matter how politicians raved against the Natives.
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