HC Deb 23 February 1891 vol 350 cc1351-3
MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies whether Lobengula, having declared that the published terms of the alleged concession made by him to certain persons, who on the plea of this concession obtained a charter from Her Majesty's Government, are not "his words," has persistently refused to recognise the concession by taking over the 1,000 Martini-Henry rifles which were to be given to him by the concessionaires, and whether these rifles are still in the possession of the agent of the Chartered Company in the camp of the company at Bulawoyo; whether the money paid monthly by the company to Lobengula remains intact, ready to be repaid to the company; whether, in view of Lobengula's complaint that the concession, in respect to which a charter was granted to certain persons by Her Majesty's Government, does not represent what he was under the impression that he had conceded, any steps are being taken to prevent injustice being done to this African Chief; whether he is aware that promises of a specific amount of land in Mashonaland were held out by the agents of the Chartered Company to induce persons to take service in the expedition of the company to that country, although the concession granted by Lobengula, according to the company itself, gave to the concessionaires no rights over the land in Mashonaland; and whether the officers of Her Majesty in Bechuanaland, who were employed in recruiting for the company, were aware of these promises being held out, although by the concession they could not be performed?


I have been requested, by my right hon. Friend to answer this question. As regards the first paragraph of the question, Lobengula has made no such declaration. He said—"That I have given my whole country to Rhodes, it is not my words." It is not claimed that he has given his whole country. Her Majesty's Government believe, but do not know as a fact, that the rifles have not yet been accepted by Lobengula. He has not, however, thereby refused to recognise the concession. As regards the second paragraph, on July 30 it was stated that Lobengula had not then used any of this money. There was nothing said about repaying it to the company. In answer to the third paragraph, Lobengula does not appear to have made that complaint, but Her Majesty's Government will take all possible steps to prevent injury being done to him or any other South African Chief. With regard to the fourth paragraph, any promises of land by the company have been made expressly contingent upon the company acquiring a title to make laud grants. In answer to the last paragraph, Her Majesty's Government believe that such promises were made to the "pioneers," but not to the police whom Her Majesty's officers assisted to recruit.

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