HL Deb 24 April 1883 vol 278 cc1000-7

in rising to ask, Whether any further information has been received with regard to the encroachments upon Zulu territory by subjects of the Transvaal State; and what action the Government intend to take in the matter? said, it would be in the recollection of their Lordships that, prior to the outbreak of the Zulu War, a dispute existed about a large portion of the territory between the Zulus and the inhabitants of the Transvaal. That dispute was referred by consent of both parties to the arbitration of Sir Henry Bulwer, who appointed a Commission known as the Rorke's Drift Commission, which inquired into the merits of the question, and decided in favour of the Zulus; but, owing to the annexation of the Transvaal and the outbreak of the Zulu War, that decision was not carried out. After the war was over, however, a portion of the disputed territory was adjudged to the Zulus and a portion to the Transvaal. It was important to remember that, when the Transvaal State was re-constituted and again made independent in 1881, the borders were fixed and determined, and were accepted by the Representatives of the State, and were recognized in Clause 1 of the Convention. But no sooner had the Transvaal State gained independence than the encroachments commenced again, and the matter was referred to Mr. Osborn, the British Resident, for inquiry. In his Report, Mr. Osborn, who personally visited the Northern portion of Cetewayo's territory and the part of Uhamu's adjoining it, annexed a list of Boers who were permanently living South of the boundary Hue between Zululand and the Transvaal, and, therefore, within Zululand. He continued— I learnt from those with whom I conversed that they consider themselves subjects of the Transvaal Government, although, owing to their residence being outside the Transvaal, they are not called upon by that Government to pay taxes or to otherwise comply with its laws. They Said they were aware that they are living in Zululand; but as no other land has been given them as compensation for those farms which fell into Zululand on the making of the boundary line between it and the Transvaal, they have no place to go to; and some added, voluntarily, that they would vacate the ground as soon as they received suitable compensation, but not before. But those were not the only intruders in Zulu territory. Mr. Osborn stated that— He found, in addition, a large number of Boers who came and remained in Zululand during last winter with their flocks and herds for grazing purposes, and who returned to the Transvaal with their stocks after the spring had fairly set in. The Chief Cetewayo, within whose territory by far the greater number of these Boers squatted with their cattle, complained of the trespass and of the disregard of his remonstrances by the Boers. There was yet another body of intruders besides those; for Mr. Osborn continued— A considerable number of Transvaal Boers squatted with their stock in the same districts of Zululand during the winter of 1881; and, notwithstanding their removal on that occasion, inconsequence of the remonstrances of Sir Evelyn Wood and the Royal Commission, they repeated the trespass to even a greater extent during the last winter, and there is no doubt that they will continue to move into Zululand next, and every succeeding winter, unless steps are taken to prevent them. While in Zululand these Boers ignore the authority of the Zulu Chiefs, and there are no other existing means by which order and their good conduct could be insured. This extraordinary state of things was reported to Sir Henry Bulwer, and he passed on the report to Sir Hercules Robinson, pointing out the direct defiance of the terms of the Convention. Sir Hercules Robinson reported the matter to the noble Earl the Secretary of State for the Colonies, who had just at that time assumed Office. The noble Earl wrote a letter to Sir Hercules Robinson, directing him to inform the Transvaal Government that Her Majesty's Government had heard those facts with extreme regret, and to call on them to carry out the 19th section of the Convention. He wanted to know whether any answer had been received to that letter? He was afraid that if any answer had been received it must be of an unsatisfactory character, because they had already received the answer in anticipation from Sir Hercules Robinson. At the same time that Sir Hercules Robinson wrote to the noble Earl, he also addressed himself on the same day to the British Resident at Pretoria, desiring him to bring the matter before the Government at Pretoria, to point out that, as the Zulu nation had been disarmed and prevented from organizing any military system, the Transvaal Government was under special obligation to restrain their subjects from making encroachments, and to ask what steps they proposed to take. They returned a very short answer. Mr. Bok, the State Secretary, replied that— The Government did not intend to take any steps in the matter, considering that the information obtained by them did not agree with the information supplied by Sir Henry Bulwer and Sir Hercules Robinson. There the matter stood at present. The first thing to which he would call their Lordships' attention was that that answer was in express contradiction and open defiance of the terms of the Convention, which stated that the British Resident in Pretoria was to report on any case of encroachment by the Boers, and in the event of any question arising as to the reality of their encroaching on Zulu territory the decision of the Suzerain was to be final. Now, there was no doubt whatever as to the reality of the encroachments; and what Mr. Bok said was that his Government declined to do anything whatever, because its information did not agree with the information in the possession of Her Majesty's Government. What he wanted to know was, what Her Majesty's Government intended to do? Since the answer was given the question had become more complicated, because a month later Cetewayo was restored to his dominions, taking with him a Resident; so that, at the present moment, the Zulu territory was divided into three sections—the reserve territory, Cetewayo's territory, and that of another Chief, in two of which there was a British Resident. He understood that Her Majesty's Government undertook that, provided those Chiefs did not encroach on the territory of others, they should themselves be protected inside their own Frontier. He hoped, therefore, that the Government would be very firm, both in their language and in their action, in this matter, because it was impossible that such encroachments could be allowed. The same objection could not be urged against action in this case as was urged a few days ago in regard to Bechuanaland, because Zululand adjoined our own territories, and there was no doubt that the Zulus would gladly assist in organizing a Border Force necessary to maintain the integrity of the Borders. He had heard a great deal about the inexpediency of doing anything that would produce a Black and White war; but it would be contrary to our traditions and policy if we did not, under the circumstances, assist the Zulus, either directly or indirectly, to preserve the integrity of their territory. It did not follow that an expedition, or anything of the kind, was necessary; and he believed that if representations were firmly made by the Government they would be respected by the authorities of the Transvaal. So far as he knew, there had been no instance in which the Boers had attempted to invade territory which they distinctly understood was guaranteed by England. There was one measure which he hoped the Government would take— withdraw the British Resident from Pretoria, for all must admit that that portion of the Convention had proved a total and complete failure. So far as the Black Tribes were concerned, he had been powerless, under the Convention, to protect them, notwithstanding that it was expressly laid down that in cases of dispute the decision of the Suzerain was to be final, while, at the same time, the Resident was a special object of aversion to the Boers. He was one of those who agreed that it would have been impossible to permanently maintain our rule in the Transvaal, the annexation of which he regarded as most unfortunate. If they allowed the tribes living within the boundary under our protection to be oppressed and trampled upon, it would be looked upon as a sign of extreme weakness. It was a question which would not allow of delay. If the noble Earl had received a satisfactory answer, he (the Earl of Camperdown) would be very glad indeed; but he was afraid, judging from what was known, that when the Boers had once made up their minds they were not likely to change. He believed that at the present time there was a Representative of the Transvaal Government in this country, or, at all events, a person able to speak on their behalf. He (the Earl of Camperdown) hoped that language would be used to him as firm as that of Mr. Bok to Sir Hercules Robinson, and that he would be given to understand that this country could not allow any encroachment upon the adjoining lands. He had simply to ask whether any answer had been received to the last communication of the noble Earl, and what steps he proposed to take.


said that the Question his noble Friend had put upon the Paper was— Whether any further information has been received with regard to the encroachments upon Zulu territory by subjects of the Transvaal State; and what action the Government intend to take in the matter? As to all the earlier parts of those transactions he had nothing to add to the information which was already in the hands of their Lordships, and which was contained in the last batch of Papers laid on the Table referring to South Africa. It was perfectly true that the answer of the Secretary of the Transvaal Government to the representations which were made in the course of the winter was by no means of a conciliatory character. With regard to the despatch he (the Earl of Derby) had written on January 17, 1883, he had not yet received an answer directly addressed to the question raised in that despatch; but he had received what was practically an answer to it, as he had received from the Transvaal Government a communication upon the same subject; and he was happy to say it was of a much more satisfactory character than he was led to expect from the tone of the earlier Correspondence. That despatch would be laid upon the Table in a short time. It was from Mr. Bok, the Secretary to the Transvaal Government, and was addressed to the British Resident. That despatch acknowledged the receipt of the letter of remonstrance of January 9, 1883, and stated that the communication had been considered, as also the Correspondence enclosed between the Governor of Natal and the High Commissioner; and, so far as the facts were concerned, they were under investigation, and if, after a personal examination, they should be found to be accurate, the Government would forbid all persons crossing the Border in an unlawful manner. He (the Earl of Derby) thought they could not have a more full and satisfactory assurance than that. With regard to one class of the persons referred to—those who, without any right or claim to land, had trespassed across the Border into Zululand—it was promised, in general terms, that they should be prevented in future; and it was evident that that language held by the Transvaal Government was very widely different from that held by them some weeks before. He thought he was entitled to say that the Government of the Transvaal intended to act upon the promise. With regard to the other class of Boer settlers whose presence in Zululand was compained of, the matter was not quite so simple. They were persons who had settled in the Zulu territory at the time when the boundary was not clearly laid down; and the question arose—it being not denied that they had a right to compensation if removed—the question arose at whose expense the compensation was to be paid? Mr. Bok, in his letter, said it was a question between the British Government and the Zulu Government, which had recovered possession of the territory, and he denied the liability of the Transvaal Government. He had only received this despatch within the last day or two, and had not been able to look into that question of compensation. But his noble Friend would be ready to admit that there was nothing in the tone of that communication of an unconciliatory or unsatisfactory character, because the Transvaal Government fully admitted that it was their duty to prohibit a certain class of persons from crossing the Border, and had announced their intention of doing so. With regard to the other class of trespassers, the question resolved itself into that of who were to pay the expenses of those persons who might be removed from the territory. There was nothing in that difference between the two Governments which was of an irreconcilable nature. As regarded the more general question which his noble Friend had just touched upon, but had hardly discussed, he would say that there was not an official Representative of the Transvaal Government here, but that there was a Member of that Government at the present time in England. He would be here for some time to come; and, though not formally accredited from his Government, he would, no doubt, be able to express their views, and professed to be fully acquainted with their ideas on this question. Her Majesty's Government had taken advantage of that gentleman's presence to obtain from him a very full and frank statement of what the Transvaal Government desired, and what they were prepared to do. He might also state that within a short time Sir Hercules Robinson, the very able Governor of the Cape Colony, would be in England. He had had a large experience in those matters, and would be able to go into the whole of them. He (the Earl of Derby) had no hesitation in saying that the present relations between Her Majesty's Government and that of the Transvaal were not of a satisfactory character; and he would be glad if he could see his way to place them upon a better footing. With regard to the withdrawal of Her Majesty's Representative from Pretoria, he did not think that that was necessarily connected with the maintenance of our present relations with the Transvaal; because, if no Convention were in existence, we should probably still require some Agent there. And the revision of the Convention did not necessarily imply the doing away with that Agent. If there should be a revision of the Convention, it would be a very fair question whether an Agent should he employed there, and on what footing he should be placed. But he would not go into that question now. With regard to the encroachment of the Boors on Zulu Tribes, ho might state that those tribes were a warlike race, and he believed that they were not unarmed; and, considering the difficulties which the Transvaal Government had on their hands in other directions, he did not think it was likely that they would encourage their people to trespass upon the territory of the Zulus. So far as the relations of Her Majesty's Government with the Transvaal Government were concerned, he was able to say that they were willing to consider the question of a modification of the Convention; but until it was known more fully what the wishes of the other party were, it was impossible for the Government to come to any more definite conclusion.


said, he was glad to hear that the answer which had been received from the Boer Government was of a more satisfactory character; and, as regarded the migratory portion of the intruders, there was some probability that arrangements might be made. But another question had been suggested. The Transvaal Government had raised the question as to by whom the compensation should be paid. He could not understand how there could be any question as to the authority which ought to pay. In the first place, the encroachment was originally the encroachment of the Boers upon the Zulus; and in the next place, after the Zulu War, the boundaries were expressly fixed by the Boers, who, by the Convention, were to provide lands for those persons who were to be removed in lieu of those very-lands now in question.


was understood to say that he had only mentioned the fact that the Transvaal Government had raised the question, without stating that Her Majesty's Government had admitted that there was a doubt on the matter.