HL Deb 09 July 1888 vol 328 cc684-6

asked the noble Lord the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he could communicate to the House any information with regard to the situation of affairs in Zululand?


Perhaps the best reply I can give to the noble Earl's request is conveyed in a telegram I received last night from Sir Arthur Havelock, dated the 8th of July:— In consequence of defeat of Usibepu and withdrawal of police magistracy at Ivuna 23rd June disturbance has become serious. Natives of coast district to the north of Zulu Native Reserve, through fear of Dinuzulu, have taken part in rebellion. Attack upon magistrates of districts threatened. British troops and native contingent gave assistance to-day. Am confident forces now in Zululand are sufficient for restoration of good order, unless any unexpected complications arise. Dilatoriness in adopting necessary measures mainly caused by delay in collecting native contingent. Military authorities will not move without native contingent. It is believed that affair at Hlopekulu will have produced good effect. Government of New Republic maintain friendly action and professions. I have reason to believe there are a few freebooters with Dinuzulu. Local newspaper reports much exaggerated. Will telegraph at once any important changes in the situation of affairs. My Lords, it is impossible to deny that, though the situation is not dangerous, it is still serious, and perhaps your Lordships will allow me to state in a very few words the position of affairs in Zululand as far as I can make it out. Dinuzulu, the son of the late King Cetywayo, and his uncle, Undabuko, are both together at a place called Ceza, on the North-West frontier of Zululand. What is the exact force they have with them it is difficult to make out, but Sir Arthur Havelock thinks we may number them at about 4,000. The Imperial Force is as follows:—A regular force of 300 Cavalry, 120 mounted Infantry, 440 Infantry, two light guns and two gatlings. Then there are reinforce- ments, which have probably arrived by this time, of 677 Royal Scots and 21 artillerymen. There are of Zulu Carabineers 25 mounted and 135 foot, besides 250 Basutos and some Native levies. I have no exact information as to where the main body of Imperial troops is at present, but it has been found necessary on the way up to Ceza to disperse some insurgent levies under one of the Chiefs called Tshingana. The following telegram gives the shortest account of the matter. It is as follows:— Tshingana having collected insurgent bands at Hlopekulu, near White Umvalosi River, has been raiding and plundering loyal Natives, it became necessary to dislodge him before advance to Ceza. 2nd July, police with native and Basuto levies, with support of troops, advanced to Hlopekulu, found Usutus in strong position, from which they at once opened fire. Usutus dispersed with heavy loss after six hours' fighting. About 1,000 cattle captured. Casualties on our side:—Killed—Lieutenant Briscoe, 1st Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers; Trent, leader of native levy; and three police and Basutos. Wounded—Eight Basutos. Losses among native levies not yet ascertained; Tshingana supposed to be escaped. My Lords, our duty is a very plain one; it is to advance and to put down Dinuzulu and Undabuko, and to prevent any further resistance to British Authority. When this has been successfully accomplished, I think that it will be easy for us to treat the other Chiefs who have risen against us with leniency. It is not difficult to understand why some of these Chiefs who gladly accepted the Sovereignty declared in May of last year have now risen against us. There have been all kinds of rumours spread through Zululand of the decline of the British power, and of our intention to retire. There has also been a feeling of distrust and doubt as to the finality of the arrangements made by the British Government and the continued maintenance of the Sovereignty. Every endeavour has been made to remove that distrust, and I think I may say that success has attended those endeavours. But now, unfortunately, they have heard of the failure in April last of the police to seize four men in Undabuko's kraal, from which they had to retire, and also of the far more serious failure in June last, when the police and troops intended to execute warrants against Dinuzulu and Undabuko, but were resisted in force and obliged to retire. No doubt, the rumours of these two events have been much exaggerated, and the retirement of the troops has been treated as if the British Army had been defeated. In these circumstances a distrust has undoubtedly been revived against the British Government among the Natives. Looking at what has passed in Zululand for many years, I cannot altogether wonder that the Natives feel this distrust as to the maintenance of our Sovereignty in Zululand, and are, therefore, afraid that if Dinuzulu again secures power they will be treated harshly. This shows the necessity for speedy and decisive action against Dinuzulu and Undabuko. I am satisfied that Sir Arthur Havelock and General Smythe will take every necessary step, and that they feel the importance of carrying out our plans. I should like to add one other observation. I have seen it stated that the Boers—the Leaders of the South African Republic and the New Republic—are supporting Dinuzulu and Undabuko. Sir Arthur Havelock has pointed out that he does not believe that the Leaders of the New Republic have taken this step, though there may be some individual Boers who are with the Chiefs. I am quite satisfied, and I am glad to make public my belief, that the Leaders, both of the South African Republic and the New Republic, have lent no countenance to Dinuzulu's action, but, on the contrary, have endeavoured as far as possible to support us.