1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Cape Province

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Cape Province (see under Cape Colony, 5.225), the largest of the provinces of the Union of South Africa. At the 1911 census the inhabitants numbered 2,564,965, of whom 582,377 were whites and 1,982,588 coloured, an increase since 1904 of 8.33% in the coloured pop. but of only 0.45% in the white.

Among whites, females exceeded males by 43,623; among the coloured people by 63,782. In 1918 a census of whites only was taken. They then numbered 618,825, an increase of 6.41 % over 1911, affording an example of the abnormal fluctuation to which the white pop. of S. Africa is subject. Of the 1911 pop. 96.47% of the white and 44.20% of the coloured inhabitants returned themselves as Christians. The coloured inhabitants were divided into Bantu 1,519,939, Asiatic 7,690, and “mixed” and other coloured 454,959. This last category included a few thousand Hottentots and Bushmen, but the majority were the mixed white and black “Cape Boy” class commonly called “coloured” in distinction from “natives.” In 1911 of the whole coloured pop. 24,000 were engaged in professions or commerce and 93,000 in industries. Many districts of the province are arid or semi-arid, and over most of its area there are not more than seven persons per sq. mile. The pop. is mainly found in the fertile S. and S.E. coast regions, and of the Bantu in 1911 no fewer than 871,062 lived in the Transkeian territories, where there were 54 persons to the sq. mile. These Bantu are still heathen and nearly all are agriculturists. There were in 1911 only five towns with over 12,000 inhabitants, namely Cape Town (161,759), Kimberley (44,433), Port Elizabeth (37,063), East London (24,606) and Grahamstown (13,830).

Administration. — The affairs of the province are in the hands of a provincial council, elected for three years and not subject to dissolution save by effluxion of time. The qualifications for electors and members of the council are the same as for the members elected by the province to the House of Assembly (save that a provincial councillor must live in the province in which his constituency is situated). Under this provision in the Cape province natives and other non-white races possess the provincial franchise. At the 1917 registration there were 150,000 white and 30,000 coloured electors. The number of constituencies are also the same as for Parliament.[1] The provincial council has powers of legislation on subjects specifically assigned to it by the Act of Union and on subjects delegated to it by the Union Parliament. These powers include direct taxation within the province in order to raise revenue for provincial purposes and the control of municipalities and other local bodies, and of “elementary education” — which embraces all education other than university. Its enactments are called ordinances, and no ordinance is valid so far as it may be repugnant to an act of the Union Parliament. In short, though a legislative body, the provincial council exercises no authority which Parliament cannot revoke. There is no separate judiciary, or police force, or civil service, nor any separate departments of general government. Moreover, harbours and railways are under the control of the Union Parliament.

The provincial council is presided over by a chairman, elected from its members; and the council also chooses an executive committee of four, who need not be members of the council. The chief executive officer is styled administrator and is chosen by the Union ministry; the administrator is appointed for five years and is irremovable. A provincial auditor is also appointed by the Union ministry and is removable only for reasons which must be submitted to the Union Parliament. The Union ministry likewise appoints an attorney-general as legal adviser.

Revenue. — Under provisions of the Financial Relations Acts of 1913 and 1917 the Union Government pays to the provinces an annual subsidy amounting to one-half of the estimated normal provincial expenditure for the year. This financial dependence of the provinces on the Union Government emphasizes their subordinate position and is a guarantee against any tendency in the provinces to go beyond the scope of local affairs. The subsidies paid to the Cape provincial council varied from £862,000 in 1913–4 to £999,000 in 1917–8; the revenue raised by the province was £405,000 and £426,000 respectively in the years named, but had been as low as £316,000 in 1914–5. Transfer duties and licences (trade, liquor, motor, etc.) were the chief sources of revenue. The chief item of expenditure is on education; thus in 1913–4, out of a total expenditure by the provincial council of £1,142,000, the sum of £853,000 was spent on education. In 1917–8 the figures were: — total expenditure £1,477,000; on education £1,150,000. In 1920–1 the cost of education had risen to £2,163,000, the number of children on the school rolls being 284,000, an increase of about 50,000 since 1913. In primary schools education is free.

History. — Politically the Cape province has had no separate history since the establishment of the Union in 1910. Parties in South Africa are not divided on provincial lines; it may, however, be recorded that the majority of the Cape members of Parliament have favoured the maintenance of the British connexion and the fusion of Dutch and British interests. In the rebellion of 1914 De Wet in his effort to reach German S.W. Africa entered the province and was captured at a place 110 m. W. of Mafeking. In domestic concerns the province showed a progressive attitude, notably in its care for education. Bilingual requirements gave rise to no great difficulty, the provincial council having passed an ordinance in 1921 providing that the medium of instruction up to standard IV. should be the “home language” of the child. Provincial spirit remained keen, but the white inhabitants of the eastern district, who are largely (if not mainly) of British descent, look to the Transvaal and Free State for trade, while with the people of the western part of the province (who, Cape Town apart, are predominantly of Dutch origin) they have practically no commercial intercourse.

Sir N. F. de Waal, who had been colonial secretary in the last ministry of Cape Colony, was the first administrator, and he guided the province through the period of change caused by the establishment of the Union. He served for two successive periods and was reappointed for a third time in 1920. There was no introduction of party politics in the provincial council (as happened in the Transvaal province).

The period 1910–20 witnessed considerable industrial and agricultural development and a significant growth of Ethiopianism and trade unionism among the native and coloured people. These were not features peculiar to the Cape province, though, as the Cape contained a larger proportion of educated natives and there was no colour bar to the exercise of the franchise, the province was the chief centre of native agitation for social and industrial rights. An indication of the activity of the Anglican Church was the creation of two new dioceses, George (1911), and Kimberley and Kuruman (1912).

An event which caused a deep impression on the public mind was the epidemic of influenza in the autumn of 1918. It was estimated that a quarter of the inhabitants suffered and for three or four weeks business in the cities was dislocated, so numerous were the victims.

((F. R. C.))

  1. The particulars here given of provincial administration are the same in all four provinces (the Cape, Natal, Orange Free State and Transvaal) save that the minimum number of members of a provincial council is 25, whereas Natal and the Free State return fewer members to Parliament.