Resolutions of the South African Native Convention, March 24-26, 1909

The South African Native Convention composed of delegates from the Cape Colony, Natal, Transvaal, Orange River Colony, and Bechuanaland, assembled at Bloemfontein on the 24th, 25th, and 26th March, 1909 to discuss those clauses of the Draft Act of the South African National Convention relating to Natives and Coloured people, and the reports of delegates submitted by their various congresses and associations, has after careful consideration of Act, arrived at the following decisions, to wit:

1. This Convention recognises the principle of Union amongst all His Majesty's subjects in the South African colonies to be essential, necessary, and inevitable, the ultimate object of which seeks to promote the future progress and welfare of all.

2. The Imperial Government, of which we are now all loyal citizens interested in, and sharing alike its responsibilities, is bound by both fundamental and specific obligations towards the natives and coloured races of South Africa to extend to them the same measure of equitable justice and consideration as is extended to those of European descent under the law. It has been well said that the King and the Empire owe good and just government to every class of their subjects, but no such good or just government is possible, where one class is left at the mercy of another class by being absolutely deprived of the right of equal representation, which is a fundamental obligation.

3. This Convention places on record its strong and emphatic protest against the admission of a "colour bar" in the Union Constitution as being a real vital basic wrong and injustice, and respectfully pleads that a clause be inserted in the "Charter" providing that all persons within the Union shall be entitled to full and equal rights and privileges subject only to the conditions and limitations established by law and applicable alike to all citizens without distinction of class, colour or creed. The franchise has been enjoyed for more than 50 years by the native and coloured races of the Cape Colony, but is not extended to the native and coloured races of Orange River Colony, the Transvaal and the Colony of Natal, and this Convention seri­ously deprecates the absence, in the said Draft Act, of the principle of equal rights for all the races in the South African Colonies; a principle which was sustained by the leading statesmen of the Country and which was also the constant motto of the late Cecil John Rhodes (to whom an united South Africa was also an ideal), viz:— "Equal rights for all civilized men from the Cape to the Zambezi".

6. With regard to clauses 25 and 44 and their sub-sections (d) and (c) the Convention desires the deletion of the words "of European descent".

7. That with regard to clause 35, subsection (1), this Convention desires the amendment of the clause by the omission of all the words following after the words—"race or colour only," leaving sub-section (2) as it stands. The clause would therefore read as follows, viz: —"Parliament may by law prescribe the qualifications which shall be necessary to entitle persons to vote at election of members of the House of Assembly, but no such law shall disqualify any person in the province of the Cape of Good Hope, who under the laws existing in the Colony of the Cape of Good Hope at the establishment of the Union, is or may become capable of being registered as a voter, from being so registered by reason of his race or colour only".

8. With regard to clause 33 the Convention desires that after the word "European male adults"—wherever those words occur in the clause and sub-sections — the words "and native and coloured voters" should be added, making the sentence "European male adults" read "European male adults and native and coloured voters".

9. With regard to clause 153 the Convention desires that the words "thirty-five and" in line 7 of the clause should be deleted and substitute the word "section"for "sections" in the same line, and add after the words "of both Houses" in line 11 of the same clause the following words: — "Provided still further that clause 35 remains unalterable".

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