XIX 1987 - The taxation of Africans: Transvaal 1902-1907*

The importance of taxation in the study of history has long been
recognized and in such topics as the constitutional crisis in Seventeenth
Century England, the American struggle for independence, and the
outbreak of revolution in France in 1789, the subject has received
considerable treatment and prominence. However, taxation remains
a rather neglected aspect of South African history 1 despite the importance
attached to the taxation of Africans by John Hobson in his Imperialism: a study;2 the warnings, criticisms and allegations of its abuse by
the London-based Aborigines' Protection Society; as well as the criticisms
voiced in South Africa by the South African Native Congress (Cape)
and the Transvaal Native Congress. The views of these Africans were
aired pointedly in Izwi Labantu of East London. The writings of Hobson,
a contemporary of Milner, have been given prominence in recent years
by Shula Marks and Stanley Trapido. Their joint article, 'Lord Milner
and the South African State' emphasizes Hobson's view that British
policy before and after the South African War "could be reduced
to the one all-important object of securing 'a full, cheap, regular,
submissive supply of Kaffir ... labour'".3 Several leading scholars
such as Donald Denoon, Martin Legassick, Colin Bundy and the various
authors of the Roots of Rural Poverty offer similar interpretations
of British imperial policy during

the early years of the twentieth century with its concern for cheap
African labour.

Any evaluation of taxation must be regarded as being far more than
a repetition of cold statistics and needs to be viewed within
the full context of prevailing ideology and politics. Amongst
the more
obvious issues that need to be examined are the rate or level
of taxation, the efficiency of its collection, wages earned,
the benefits
received by the taxpayers, the place of taxation in the context
of general policies, and, a comparison with taxation practices
in previous
and subsequent periods, as well as a comparison with the taxation
of other population groups within the same society. Bearing these
points in mind, this paper focuses on the taxation policies of
the Transvaal towards Africans with particular emphasis on the
years
1902-1907, the reconstruction era.

A major feature of British propaganda against the South African
Republic in 1899 was the denunciation of Boer "native policy" and
the intimation that were the Transvaal to come under British control,
conditions would be greatly changed to the advantage of Africans.
Prior to the outbreak of war, Transvaal Africans were taxed according
to the Volksraad Resolution 24 of 1895 which made them liable to
pay annually:

10s             for every straw hut. Each African male over 21 years, married
or unmarried was assessed as possessing one hut. Each additional
wife was assessed as an extra hut.
40s            for each male married or unmarried -- poll tax. Exceptions
were to be: those who by reason of age or chronic disease were
unable to pay, those who resided among white people as servants
(farm labourers
were included if their master was prepared to issue them with a
certificate stating that they were labourers) and, those in the
employ of Government
who drew no salary.
10s             dog tax.
2s 6d          road tax.


This
totalled a minimum of £3
2s 6d. However, certain Africans were liable to other contingent
contributions such as 2s per month
for a pass entitling them to reside in labour districts and 1s per
month for a pass for those
employed under the Gold Law. In addition, under the 1895 Contagious
Disease Law, there was a further extraordinary poll tax of 10s payable.

A major criticism of the Kruger government by Sir Godfrey Lagden,6
the Transvaal Commissioner of Native Affairs under Milner, was the
inefficient and haphazard implementation of the tax laws. A reason
explaining this was that the responsibility for the collection rested
with veldkonets.7 The majority were local farmers who relied considerably
on African labour. Hence, although the Volksraad might occasionally,
as in 1898, bemoan the limited revenue raised from African taxation,
there was never a concerted effort by the Volksraad to increase revenue
from this source.

As
prominent landowners, the veldkonets were vitally concerned with adequate
labour supplies to White landowners and utilized
taxation
as a weapon to stimulate labour. Consequently, many Africans obtained
exemption certificates by agreeing to provide a determined amount
of labour to a White landowner. In most cases, it would appear
that two
months' work was adequate. This arrangement appears to have been
a major means of legally avoiding tax payment. Also, apart from
the unwillingness
of the veldkonets, the state was reluctant to assert its authority
and enforce payment from African societies capable of challenging
the collectors. This would clearly explain the reluctance of the
Volksraad
to order a systematic collection. It was not until as late as 1898
that the Transvaal was able to subdue Mphephu's Venda in the Zoutpansberg
district.8 It would appear that the largest amount of revenue raised
from African taxation by the Kruger government was in 1898, the
equivalent of £100 000.9 Often, it was considerably less.
The obvious conclusion is that whilst taxation was nominally
very heavy for Africans, in practice
it was frequently avoided. Of approximately 180000 eligible male
adults, it would appear that no more than 35 000 paid taxes
in 1898.

It
is pertinent to note that despite British criticisms of Republican "native
Policies", the major feature of their rule of the Transvaal
after 1902 was that no major changes in policies towards Africans
were effected,
and that pre-war policies were maintained but with greater determination
and efficiency.10 During this time, "native policy" was
the responsibility of the High Commissioner, Lord Milner, succeeded
in 1905 by Lord
Selborne, and the Commissioner of Native Affairs, Sir Godfrey Lagden.
Their first
batch of legislation included the tidying-up and extension of
the Master and Servants Act, the streamlining of the Pass Laws, more
effective
measures to combat alcoholism and desertion by Africans employed
on the gold mines, as well as the taxation of Africans. Very little
of
this legislative package was liable to satisfy and inspire those
Africans who had anticipated a more liberal and progressive approach
towards
Africans after a British victory over the republics.

From the outset of the British occupation of the Transvaal, British
critics of imperialism were suspicious that the Randlords might
persuade Milner and Lagden to introduce laws that would give
the mines undue
control over the recruitment and maintenance of African labour.
The Aborigines' Protection Society was very critical of Milner's
taxation
resolutions. It should be noted that the Colonial Office appears
to have had no plans or suggestions as regards improving the
status of
Africans in the Transvaal.12 All legislation pertaining to
Africans was initiated locally by Milner and Lagden, who later
informed
the Colonial Office of their decisions. These appear to have
heel accepted
with a minimum of scrutiny.

Under
British rule, every adult male African domiciled in the Transvaal was
liable to pay a consolidated tax amounting
to 40s in lieu of
taxes payable under the repeated 1895 laws. Whilst it was
the intention to
tax as many as possible, two groups were particularly targeted:
those who lived in locations under communal tenure and those
who had purchased
land, either individually or as a group. The first group
numbered, in 1904, 123 309 and were considered, especially
by the British
Administration, to have a firm obligation to provide labour
as long as fair wages
were paid.13 Indeed, the terms of reference for South African
Native Commission
included analysis of the tenure of land by Natives and the
obligations to the State which it entails ''

As these Africans occupied land, proclaimed inalienable by
the Government, that was free of rent, Milner and Lagden
believed that they were obliged to provide labour in return for
the privileges
they
enjoyed.
About 85 000 Africans were domiciled on land they owned
individually or collectively.15 The major objection against
them was that
they permitted other Africans to squat illegally on their
land. The
squatters were
able to make a living out of agriculture and avoid entering
the labour market. As the Transvaal gradually recovered
from war
and White agriculture
began to meet the colony's needs, such Africans were bitterly
opposed by most Whites but especially by landowners.

Any African with more than one wife was liable to pay a
further tax of 40s per wife. Also, the Dog Tax of 10s
remained, but
Milner intimated
that this would be repealed, as soon as it was practical,
to introduce an amending ordinance so that Africans,
like Whites,
would be able
to keep one dog free of tax. The pass fees which had
previously been paid by Africans became the responsibility
of employers,
whilst the
normal pass for travelling was issued free of charge.16
In short, male adult Africans were to pay, at a minimum,
40s
but most would
have to
pay more because of their dogs. Older males, those most
likely to be polygamists, would pay considerably more
than before.
Whites believed
that polygamy enabled Africans to avoid paid labour as
they could pay
their taxes through the efforts of their wives. Hence,
they should pay for the luxury! The extra tax on polygamists
was
designed
to force such men to produce an agricultural surplus
or to undergo periods of
labour.

In order to ascertain the full implications of Milner's
taxation laws, some comment is necessary as to who
precisely was liable
to pay the
taxes, and, who was legally exempt. A major problem
for those involved in African administration was that of
correctly ascertaining the
age of potential taxpayers because of the lack of uniformity
on the liable
age. In 1895 it was stated that Africans above 21 years
were
liable, but, in the absence of direct and reliable
proof, the collector
should estimate the age of unmarried Africans. There
was a presumption that
any married African, even if under 21 years, was liable.
However to complicate matters, the Republican Government
did not always
adhere to the age limit as laid down in 1895. The extraordinary
poll-tax
was
to be payable by those over 18 years whilst the Pass
Laws (1899) were applicable to those over 14 years
and the Town
Regulations
(1899) were
applicable to those over 12 years. In short, the Republican
Government applied four different age limits.

Milner and Lagden's solution to this problem is most
revealing of their intention to tax as many African
males as possible.
They deliberately
chose to omit any specific reference to age and inserted "adult
male" without providing a defined age. Tax collectors,
usually officials of the Native Affairs Department,
were instructed to work
on the assumption that the liable age was 18 years.

The
Attorney General, Sir Richard Solomon, was in agreement with this,
even though he was aware that the term "adult male" implied
21 years or more. Indeed, Solomon encouraged this
by stating that taxes should te collected from all males over 18 years
until the Government
was challenged in court on the issue.19 One must
conclude that the intention was to boost revenue from African taxation
as much as possible,
whilst avoiding the critical eye of the Aborigines'
Protection Society and its supporters.

In
late 1901, Milner sent Chamberlain an important and revealing memo
randum in which he commented
on and explained
the major
laws enacted
in 1901 that were relevant to Africans. The overriding
concern appears to hare been to stimulate and regulate
the flow of
African labour
to the mines. He made vague promises about a "liberal" interpretation
of the forthcoming taxation laws, especially with regard to those unable
to pay, due to age or illness, as well as those, who by their advancement,
did not need to pay However, in countering this, Milner stated that
Africans "needed to be taxed in proportion to the services rendered
and the benefits bestowed upon Africans" by
the British Government.20 These included the reservation
P inalienable land, abandonment of the
frequent and unchecked use of lashes for trivial
offences, and the fair treatment received from
Government officials.

Lagden
was more precise. He believed that the standard of qualifications for
exemption (which was to
be granted by
the Commissioner
of Native Affairs) should be high and that this
was desirable so
that "they
may have something to aim at and benefit by acquiring".21 As a
result, few exemptions were granted. Forty-five were approved in 1901
whilst in 1905 the number of new exemptions dropped to fourteen. There
is no direct evidence concern those exempted on grounds of "age" or "infirmity".
This is surprising because with the dislocation
and destruction caused by war, and the wide spread
drought of the period, one would have thought
that consideration numbers would have applied
for exemption. However,
it is a moot point whether many were aware of
such rights.

Significantly, the exemption from tax payments
enjoyed under republican rule by Africans who
performed labour
for White
landowners and
were issued with certificates which enabled them
to gain such exemption, was removed. This became
a constant
grievance
by
White landowners
after 1902. On the other hand, those Africans
who travelled to labour
districts
to work on mines or in industry found their position
theoretically improved as employers became responsible
for the payment
of pass fees. It is very likely that such payments
were taken into account
when wage
levels were determined.

Taxation
must be weighed against income. Pre-war wages on the gold mines had
risen to 63s a
month but during
the war
were
reduced to 20s. After the war, wages were then "raised" to 30--35s
a month. Most African seeking work because
there was an unprecedented
demand for labour all over South Africa as
Donald Denoon has shown rejected such wages.
It was easy to find better-paid and more congenial
working conditions at the ports, in road and
railway construction as
well as in industry. Here rates of pay tended
to range from 60-100s per month. The failure
of the goldmines to attract adequate numbers
of workers, led the Chamber of Mines in April
1903, to increase wages
to between 45-60s a month as well as to offer
bonuses to those who re-enlisted and to introduce
productivity incentives.

Wages in agriculture were considerably lower
but workers here generally received important
fringe
benefits such
as the right
to graze cattle,
cultivate crops and gather wood for fuel.
Actual wages of 20s a month was widely regarded as
fair by White
landowners but
inadequate by
Africans because they were no longer eligible
for tax exemption as full time
agricultural labourers. Hence, the need to
earn money to meet tax
obligations and purchase desired manufactures
caused Africans to seek employment
elsewhere.

During the reconstruction era, wages in agriculture
and mining were lower than in the 1890s.
Hence, most Africans
would
find it more
difficult to meet their taxation obligations
than before, especially as administrative
efficiency was far greater than in the
past.

The
collection of African taxes was the responsibility of the Native Affairs
Department, but where
there was inadequate staff,
the responsibility
was assumed by magistrates and officials
of the Constabulary. The first collection
under
British
rule was in 1903 -- 4, and thereafter
annually. Collection was normally made
towards the end of the agricultural season
in April and May.

The meticulous records maintained for
each and every district of the Transvaal
illustrate
the
importance
placed on tax
collection. The practice
developed whereby a running total was
produced indicating how much
tax had been collected for each year,
and, how much of the outstanding tax
in arrears,
had been
collected.
In
this way,
it was possible
to calculate "amounts outstanding".
Shortfalls could always be explained.
A widespread reason was the absence of
men away at work,
whilst the demands of the 1904 census,
staff retrenchment, lack of transport,
and the practice of making chiefs and
headmen responsible
for bringing their men to the collector,
all led to short-term falls in the amount
collected. In 1898, as noted above, approximately
35
000 of 180 000 eligible males paid taxes.
In 1903-4, the number rose to 130 000,
whilst in 1904-5, it increased to 170
000, a level maintained
until Union in 1910.

In
a memorandum submitted to the Colonial Office by the Aborigines' Protection
Society, soon
after the
British
occupation of
the Transvaal, the issue of African
taxation was raised. The Society
recognized
the right and the necessity of the
British Administration to tax Africans
as long as the level was "reasonable" -- being
interpreted as being sufficient to
cover the administrative costs of caring
for
the African population.25 A comparison
will African taxation rates in other
British colonies in South Africa (1904)
reveals that the Transvaal
imposed a far higher rate than the
other colonies.

Cape Hut Tax 10s Natal Hut Tax 14s
Orange River Colony poll Tax 20s Southern
Rhodesia Hut Tax 10s
Basutoland Hut Tax 20s Bechunaland
Hut Tax 10s26

Africans in the Transvaal were liable to at least twice as much tax
as the second highest colony, Orange River Colony, (also under Milner's
diner control), and Basutoland, (where Lagden had been the Resident
Commissioner until 1901). Milner's immediate objective in the Transvaal
was to get goldmines back to pre-war production levels so that the
entire Transvaal economy would experience the benefits. A major problem
that the mines to face in the pre-war years was the shortage of unskilled
African labour Hence, by levying a tax twice as high as anywhere
else in South Africa, and efficient collection, he and Lagden believed
that increasing numbers Africans would be forced to obtain paid employment.
It should be noted that Lagden was a particularly close friend of
H. Eckstein of Rand Mines Limited,
and was well aware of their needs.27 To Milner, the success of British
rule in the Transvaal ultimately depended on the supply of African
labour to the goldmines. Taxation was to be one of the means of stimulating
the supply.

It
is pertinent to point out that at this time, there was no direct tax
on Whites anywhere in South Africa. This was to come in 1913
with the introduction of income tax. Revenue from Whites was
mainly derived
from customs dues and stamp duties. These also applied to Africans,
but, as they were more self-reliant, and generally less commercialized,
they were not as affected by such dues as Whites. Nevertheless, in
what was probably an extremely conservative estimate of African contributions
to customs dues, the South African Native Affairs Commission estimated
that in 1904, Transvaal Africans contributed over £100 000 of
the £465 000 collected from Africans over the whole of South
Africa.

In
his classic work Imperialism: a study, John Hobson made several comments
on British rule in the Transvaal. He argued that the demands
of the vast mining industry which was likely to grow to gigantic
proportions, could not await the influence of natural forces to
transform increasing
numbers of peasants into industrial workers. He believed that the
Randlords wanted an unnatural accession to the labour market, hence,
their frantic
efforts to scour the continents of Africa and Asia to bring in
masses of Indians or Chinese, and their determination to "substitute
for natural economic pressure various veiled modes of political or
private compulsion". Indeed, to Hobson, Government regulations
and taxes were being "prostituted" for purposes of commercial
profit. He alleged that "laws were passed, taxes levied, the machinery
of public administration utilized in order to secure a large, cheap,
regular, efficient and submissive supply of labourers for companies
or private persons ... for their personal gain".

Hobson
saw nothing wrong with the imposition of taxes to assist in defraying
Government expenses as long as care was taken in
their assessment and collection. It was important, he noted,
to realize
the small size
of the market and the restricted use of money in such societies.
However, Hobson argued that taxes on Africans were frequently
applied so as
to dispossess Africans of their land, force them to work for
wages and drive them into insurrection which would ultimately
lead to
their
complete domination by White capitalist society. The chief aim
of African taxation in the Transvaal was not merely to provide
revenue,
but to
compel Africans to offer their labour to the gold mines. He believed
the Randlords to be agreed "as to
their right and their need to compel Africans to undergo the
dignity of labour".30 He was convinced that with the great
desire of Milner to get the mines back to full production as
soon as possible, and to
bring about further development and expansion, the State would
acquiesce to Randlord demands and restrict land available to
Africans, break
up traditional society and apply excessive taxes designed to
coerce Africans into paid employment.
To appreciate fully the financial contribution of Africans to
Transvaal revenue during the reconstruction period, it is essential
to note
the following statistics:

Revenue

Year Taxes Passes Customs dues Total £
1903-4 277139 207316 100 000* 584455
1904-5 407680 219918 100000 727598
1905-6 372632 234856 100000 707488
1906-7 310 636 236 506 100 000 647 142

* estimated by South African Native Affairs Commission, 1905.



It is revealing to compare the above with figures for the tax
levied on gold mine profits.

Year Total £
1903-4 343 014
1904-5 415 628
1905-6 455 573
1906-7 584 682

Expenditure

Year Native Affairs Department £ African education £
1903-4 104 468 5 000
1904-5 88 832 7 000
1905-6 100 832 8 000
1906-7 105 497 10 00031

It should be noted that for these years, the Transvaal enjoyed
surplus revenue over expenditure of approximately £2,4
million. Despite the financial
position, there was no generosity towards Africans, nor,
for that matter, their guardians, the Native Affairs
Department. Even before
the 1904
cutbacks which were caused by the recession, the Native
Affairs Department consisted of a White staff of 5 Native
Commissioners
and 20 sub-commissioners,
assisted by approximately 200 Africans. This was in contrast
with the 8 Native Commissioners, 12 sub-commissioners
and 100
veldkonets
in
Republican times. The African population of the Transvaal
in 1904 numbered just under one million. No wonder that
Lagden complained to the Lieutenant-Governor,
Sir Arthur Lawley, of the tendency of the Transvaal Government
to put the Native Affairs Department "at the bottom of the class".

Expenditure
on African education during this period was sparse. In 1903-4, the
paltry sum of £5 000 was utilized to subsidize White
missionary efforts. Although this was to double over the next few years,
Government expenditure and involvement remained modest in contrast
to expense and involvement in White education where £377 883
was spent in 1903--4, and £390331 in 1906-7,33 Whilst the
Secretary for Native Education was to announce that there was "an
ever-increasing demand (for education) manifest amongst natives throughout
the colony",34 he also went on record as saying that, "if
a larger sum (than £10 000) were placed on the estimates, the
Department would find it hard to utilize it".
There was little action to match he professed good
intentions.

In
1906, the Transvaal Native Congress sent a petition to the House of
Commons protesting about the treatment
of Africans
in the Transvaal,
as well as voicing fears for their future in a self-governing
Transvaal. Prominent amongst their grievances was
taxation. The petitioners
claimed that the purpose of the £2 tax was to force Africans to seek
paid employment. They also claimed that Africans were paying for the
war fought by Britain and the Boers. They pointed out that if Transvaal
Africans had to pay their "fair burden of the expenditure",
were Africans in other colonies, who paid considerably
less, paying their full share?

Linked closely with taxation was the issue of compensation
to Africans who had experienced direct losses as
a result of wartime
activities.
Of 16 000 claims assessed at £667 000, just
over 10 000 were met and received £87 517.
For each pound assessed, 3s 5d was paid.37 Nearly
6 000 claims wereunsettled.
It should be noted that one
member of the Native Affairs Department
believed
that only one in four Africans eligible for compensation actually
claimed, because of a lack of documentary proof.38 To the Congress,
this was
a "grave grievance" when so many Africans had stood by
Britain when her "supremacy" was at stake. This was in
great contrast to the generous treatment received by Britain's former
enemies.

Izwi
Labantu
, edited by Walter Rubasana and A.K. Soga, was very critical
of Transvaal taxation policies and argued that the
Transvaal Government
administered the colony on behalf of the Randlords. It blamed The
Star, with its pleas for higher taxation, for policies recommended
by the
South African Native Affairs Commission and implemented by Lagden.
In an editorial, entitled "The Doctrine of Force", Izwi argued
that the mines relied on "forced labour" recruited through
heavy taxation and military coercion. The aggressive editorial concluded
with a strong warning to the Transvaal Government and the Randlords.
They were reminded, "Native sentiment is stronger than plutocratic
gold and the instinct of self-preservation is not the monopoly of the
plutocrats".

There is evidence
to suggest that questionable methods were regularly employed to extract
taxes. General Tobias Smuts brought a former Boer
general one such example to light. He complained to the Attorney General
that members of the South African Constabulary, who were collecting
taxes, had arrested several African youths under the age of sixteen
years who were working on his farm, because they had not paid taxes.
Smuts's concern was that he might lose valuable labour rather than
the legality of the arrests.
Solomon reacted by issuing instructions that a little more care should
be taken, but that all males over eighteen years should be taxed, even
thought knew that the courts would interpret "adult male" as
twenty-one years," There were at least three incidents
in which cattle were seized from old women when they were unable to
produce tax certificates for their
late husbands. On each occasion, Lawley had to issue warnings that
such behaviour should cease. No other action was taken.42 Finally;
Lagden was adamant that the coloured Buys family from the Cape, then
resident in the Transvaal, should pay taxes, even though they were
not liable. Despite the fact till Solomon had reprimanded Lagden, and
ordered him to cease taxing them,
Lagden
was reluctant to do this, because, as he noted on Solomon's note, "how injudicious it would be to let them get out of control".

To
Lagden, taxation was a very useful coercive measure. There is considerable
evidence to suggest that many Africans experienced
genuine difficulties
in meeting their tax obligations. It should be noted that much of
the Transvaal, especially the lower, outlying areas, experienced
widespread
drought, and consequently, obtained vastly reduced crop yields. Whilst
300 had been prosecuted in 1903^- for not paying taxes, the 1904--5
figure rose to 1 500.44 This led Solomon, acting as Lieutenant-Governor,
to tackle Lagden on the issue because, despite what Milner had told
Chamberlain in 1901 about the reduction in tax rates, he was convinced
that Africans found British-levied taxes heavier and more onerous
than those of the Republic.45 In this, he was supported by a senior
Native
Commissioner, C.A. Wheelwright. He believed that the tax on polygamists,
as implemented after 1902, was extremely harsh and resulted in many
older women being abandoned by their husbands who could then avoid
payment of the tax on additional wives.46 No doubt most Whites continued
to regard this tax favourably as it was detrimental to polygamists.

Towards
the end of Crown Colony rule, there were two changes in taxation. The
first was a reduction to £1 for the poll tax for bona fide
agricultural workers who provided three months labour for a White
landowner.47 This was the result of a general campaign by White landowners,
who,
as noted, had been able to secure labour by exempting their labourers
from taxation during Republican times. Such a move was favoured
by Lagden and had been recommended by the South African Native Affairs
Commission. The reason for this was to enable commercial farmers
to
attract increased amounts of labour.

The
move was strongly, but unsuccessfully, opposed by W. Windham, Secretary
of Native Affairs. He argued against Government interference
in the
labour market and objected to the estimated loss of £50
000 in state revenue.48 Those Africans who were permanent residents
in municipal
locations, and who paid local taxes, were also exempted from
paying the full amount.

However, in both categories, it should be noted that the underlying
motive
was not really to alleviate African hardship but to assist
White employers in attracting increased amounts of labour at
lower
wage levels. It
should be realized that very few White landowners could afford
to pay wages likely to attract sufficient labour to meet their
needs,
hence,
the prevalence of sharecropping.

The second reduction was that the tax on polygamists was dropped
in 1906. This was largely due to Selborne and his desire
to placate Africans
before the granting of responsible government in 1907.49
He was well aware that some officials in the Colonial Office,
as well
as members
of the West Ridgeway Commission, felt that the welfare of
Transvaal
Africans had been neglected by the Milner administration.

When
Union was established, it was decided that although there would be
a common Native Affairs Department, African
taxation
would remain,
as it existed in the different provinces, despite the great
discrepancies in applicable rates. A uniform system came
into existence in
1925 with the Native Taxation and Development Act. By this
Act, all
Africans within the Union paid a uniform poll tax of £1 per annum, whilst
those living in designated reserves paid an additional 10s.51 Whilst
this Act may be criticised as regards its application to the Union
as a whole, it certainly brought consider able relief to Africans in
the Transvaal. A further aspect that benefited the Africans was that
one-fifth of the collected tax was to be automatically allocated to
African education. Prior to 1925, the Transvaal contribution to taxation
had averaged around £400 000, but in 1925, it was estimated that
only £281 300 would be collected.

Whilst
this study has been brief, it would appear that there is considerable
evidence to support Hobson's allegations
that taxation
was being "prostituted" to
serve the interests of the Randlords. The high rate of
taxation, the efficiency of collection, the total revenue
accrued, the paucity of
expenditure on African society, the reluctance to grant
exemptions, and the use of questionable methods of collection,
provide sufficient
evidence to suggest that for the period of reconstruction,
taxation was a deliberate and calculated means of exploiting
and oppressing
the African population of the Transvaal.

Source:

XIX 1987

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