oa Historia - Die debat rondom die politiek-grondwetlike posisie van die gekleurdes in die Oranjerivierkolonie, 1900-1910

Volume 32, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0018-229X



The debate on the political and constitutional position of the non-whites in the Orange River Colony, 1900-1910 The debate on the non-whites' political and constitutional position after the Anglo- Boer War was important because race relations attracted so much attention in an outside the Orange River Colony. It served as a precursor for the development of the non-white question. The non-white franchise question was the main issue in white and non-white political circles. The question made its first appearance in the Memorandum of Sir Joseph Chamberlain (Minister for the Colonies) in January 1900. This memorandum extended the franchise to all British subjects in the Colony, thus not only to English and Afrikaans-speaking subjects, but also to those non-whites who had western standards of civilization and lived accordingly. The proclamation whereby the Orange River Colony was annexed, did not take the place of the old republican law which barred the non-whites from civic rights. This included voting rights on municipal level. Besides this, Article 8 of the Vereeniging Peace Treaty (1902), stipulated that the non-white franchise question was to be considered only after the granting of self-government to the Orange River Colony in 1907. The eventual outcome was that the ruling Orangia Unie Party (an Afrikaner Party) decidedly refused to grant the vote to non-whites. The majority of municipal councils also refused such rights. The constitution for self-government (1907) made provision for voting rights for whites only. The constitution revealed the dependence of the British government on the Vereeniging Peace Treaty and the support of the Afrikaans-speaking inhabitants for the success of the colony's administration. The white politicians of the Colony, including the press, declined non-white suffrage on the grounds that the non-whites were politically and educationally not yet ready for civic responsibilities. There was also the danger of being politically overpowered by the Blacks who were in the majority. The non-white political organisations in the Colony which included at least four black organisations and one Coloured organisation, objected fervently when their petitions to the colonial and the British government in London were turned down. They intended to continue their struggle for political rights after unification in 1910.

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