Valuable timber is obtained from the forests. Stinkwood is largely employed in the making of wagons, and is also used for making furniture. Black ironwood is likewise used in building wagons, while sneeze wood is largely utilized for supports for piers and other marine structures, being impervious to the attacks of the Teredo navalis. More important is the cultivation of the black wattle (Acacia mollissima), which began in 1886, the bark being exported for tanning purposes, the wood also commanding a ready sale. This wattle thrives well in most localities. but especially in the highlands of central Natal. In 1905 the production of wattle bark was 13,620 tons, and the area planted with the tree over 60,000 acres. loes and ramie are cultivated to some extent for their fibre.
The government maintains experimental farms and forestry plantations and a veterinary department to cope with lung sickness, rinderpest, East Coast fever and such like diseases. It also conducts campaigns against locusts and other pests and helps irrigation settlements. By means of an Agricultural Bank it affords assistance to farmers.
Mining.—There are several highly mineralized areas in the country. The existence of coal in the north-east districts on or near the surface of the ground was reported as early as 1839, but it was not until 1880 that steps were taken to examine the coalfields. This was done by F. W. North, who reported in 1881 that in the Klip river (Dundee) district there was an area of 1350 sq. m. that might be depended upon for the supply of coal, which is of all characters from lignite to anthracite. In 1889 the extension of the railway from Ladysmith through the coal area first made coal mining profitable. In 1896 the total output of coal was 216,106 tons (valued at £108,053 at the pit's mouth), in 1908 it had increased to 1,669,774 tons (valued at the pit's mouth at £737,169). There is a considerable trade in bunker and export coal at Durban, the coal bunkered having increased from 118,740 tons in 1900 to 710,777 in 1908. In the last-named year 446,915 tons of coal were exported. Besides the mines in the Newcastle and Dundee district there are extensive coal-fields at Hlobane in the Vryheid district and in Zululand (q.v.) Iron ore is widely distributed and is found in the neighbourhood of all the coal-fields. There are extensive copper and gold yielding areas, and in some districts these metals are mined. On the lower Umzimkulu, near Port Shepstone, marble is found in great quantities.
Commerce.—The chief exports, not all products of the province, are coal, wool, mohair, hides and skins, wattle bark, tea, sugar, fruits and jams. The import trade is of a most varied character, and a large proportion of the goods brought into the country are in transit to the Transvaal and Orange Free State, Natal affording, next to Delagoa Bay, the shortest route to the Rand. Textiles, largely cotton goods, hardware, mining and agricultural machinery, tobacco and foodstuffs form the bulk of the imports. In 1896 the value of exports was £1,785,000; in 1908 the value was £9,622,000. In 1896 the imports were valued at £5,437,000, in 1908 at £8,330,000 (a decrease of £2,300,000 compared with 1905). The bulk of these exports are to the Transvaal and neighbouring countries, and previously figure as imports, other exports, largely wool and hides, are first imported from the Transvaal. Over three-fifths of the imports are from Great Britain, and about one-seventh of the exports go to Great Britain. The shipping, which in 1874 was 126,000 tons, was in 1884 1,013,000; in 1894, 1,463,000; in 1904 4,263,000; and in 1908, 5,028,000. Over six-sevenths of the shipping is British.
Government and Constitution.—Natal was from 1893 to 1910 a self-governing colony. It is now represented in the Union Parliament by eight senators and seventeen members of the House of Assembly. The qualifications for electors and members of the Assembly are the same, namely men of full age owning houses or land worth £50, or who rent such property of the yearly value of £10; or who, having lived three years in the province, have incomes of not less than £96 a year.
Coloured persons are not, by name, excluded from the franchise, but no persons “subject to special laws and tribunals,” in which category all natives are included, are entitled to vote. Another law, directed against Indians, excludes from the franchise, natives, or descendants of natives in the male line, of countries not possessing elective representative institutions. Exemption from the scope of these provisions may be granted by the governor-general and under such exemption a few Kaffirs are on the roll of electors.
At the head of the provincial government is an administrator, appointed by the Union Ministry, who holds office for five years. He is assisted by an executive committee of four members elected by the provincial council. This council to which is entrusted the management of affairs purely provincial consists of 25 members, elected by the parliamentary voters and each representing a separate constituency. The council sits for a statutory period of three years. For local government purposes the province is divided into counties or magisterial divisions; Zululand being under special jurisdiction. The chief towns—Durban, Maritzburg, Ladysmith, Newcastle and Dundee—are governed by municipal corporations and minor towns by local boards.
Revenue and Expenditure.—Revenue is derived chiefly from customs and excise, railways, land sales, posts and telegraphs and a capitation tax. The expenditure is largely on reproductive works (railways, harbours, post office, &c.), on the judiciary and police, education and military defence. The majority of these services are, since 1910, managed by the Union Government, but the provincial council has power to levy direct taxation, and (with the consent of the Union Government) to raise loans for purely provincial purposes. Its revenues and powers are those pertaining to local government. Some particulars follow as to the financial position of Natal previous to the establishment of the Union.
In 1846, the first year of Natal's separate existence, the revenue was £3073 and the expenditure £6905. In 1852 the revenue was £27,158 and the expenditure £24,296, and in 1862 the corresponding figures were £98,799 and £85,928. In 1872 revenue had risen to £180,499 and expenditure to £132,978. Ten years later the figures were, revenue £657,738, expenditure £659,031. The rise of Johannesburg and the opening up of the Dundee coal-fields, as well as the development of agriculture, now caused a rapid increase on both sides of the account. In 1888 the revenue for the first time exceeded a million, the figures for that year being, revenue £1,130,614, expenditure £781,326; in 1898–1899 the figures were £2,081,349 and £1,914,725. The Ang1o-Boer War (1899–1902) caused both revenue and expenditure to rise abnormally, while the depression in trade which followed the war adversely affected the exchequer. In 1903–1904 there was a slight credit balance, the figures being, revenue £4,160,145, expenditure £4,071,439. For the next four years there were deficits, but in 1908–1909 a surplus was realized, the revenue being £3,569,275 and the expenditure £3,530,576. For 1909–1910, the last year of Natal's existence as a colony, the revenue, £4,035,000, again exceeded the expenditure. The public debt, £2,101,500 in 1882, had risen at the close of the Boer War in 1902 to £12,519,000, and was in June 1909, £2I,420,000.
Defence:—A small garrison of imperial troops is quartered at Maritzburg. The provincial force consists of a militia, fully equipped and armed with modern weapons. It is divided into mounted riflemen, about 1900 strong, four field batteries of 340 men and two infantry battalions, each of over 800 men. There is also an armed and mounted police force of 870 Europeans. Military training is compulsory on all lads over ten attending government schools. The boys are organized in cadet corps. A senior cadet corps is formed of youths between sixteen and twenty. There are also many rifle associations, the members of which are liable to be called out for defence. Durban harbour is defended by batteries with heavy modern guns. The batteries are manned by the naval corps (150 strong) of the Natal militia. Natal makes an annual contribution of £35,000 towards the upkeep of the British navy.
Law and Justice.—The South Africa Act 1909 established a Supreme Court of South Africa, the former supreme court of Natal becoming a provincial division of the new supreme court. The Roman-Dutch law, as accepted and administered by the courts of Cape Colony up to 1845 (the date of the separation of Natal from the Cape), is the law of the land, save as modified by ordinances and laws enacted by the local legislature, mostly founded upon imperial statute law. The law of evidence is the same as that of the courts of England. Natives, however, are not justiceable under the Roman-Dutch law, but by virtue of letters patent passed in 1848 they are judged by native laws and customs, except so far as these may be repugnant to natural equity. The native laws were first codified in 1878, in 1887 a board was appointed for their revision, and the new code came into operation in 1901. Provision is made whereby a native can obtain relief from the operation of native law and be subject to the colonial law (Law No. 28 of 1865). Special laws have been passed for the benefit of the coolie immigrants. The administration of justice is conducted by magistrates' courts, circuit courts and the provincial division of the supreme court. The magistrates have both civil and criminal jurisdiction in minor cases. Appeals can be made from the magistrates' decisions to the provincial or circuit court. The provincial court, consisting of a judge president and three puisne judges, sits in Pietermaritzburg and has jurisdiction over all causes whether affecting natives or Europeans. The judges also hold circuit courts at Durban and other places. Appeals from the circuit courts can be made to the provincial courts and from the provincial court appeals lie to the appellate division of the Supreme Court of South Africa, sitting at Bloemfontein. Criminal cases are tried before a single judge and a jury of nine—of whom not fewer than seven determine the verdict. There is a vice-admiralty court, of which the judge-president is judge and
- Act No. 2 (of the Natal Legislature) of 1883.
- Act No. 8 of 1896. The Indians whose names were “rightly contained” in the voters' rolls at the date of the act retain the franchise.