Treaty Of Vereeniging Impacts and Effects
The treaty of Vereeniging actually conveyed to an end the Anglo-Boer war of 1899 – 1900 and it has been contended that the terms of the treaty of Vereeniging were the most liberal ever. By the terms of the treaty, The Boers were guaranteed possible self government when practicable. English and Taal (Afrikaaan) languages were to be equal status as the official language of South Africa; but they had to accept the British crown King Eward VII as their head of state or sovereign.
To atone for the destruction suffered by the Boers, especially when their property and farmlands were destroyed, the British accompanied the treaty with reconstruction programs in which the sum of E3,000,000 and E35 million were made as compensation to Boer farmer and loan for development purpose respectively.
Though the terms of the treaty of Vereeniging and the reconstruction program that followed were the most generous in history, this was only for the Boer. Nothing was offered or put forward for the blacks whereas the Afrikaan and English languages were recognized as official language of South Africa, neither the Bantu nor the Khoi (indigenous language) was given official recognition as official language for communications.
As if that was not enough while compensation was made only for the Boer and non to the blacks, the reconstruction programs put in place were only in the interest of the Boers. Above all, there was no enfranchisement of the Africans, example, the right to vote and be voted for were denied the blacks (Africans).
Thus the signing of the terms of the treaty of Vereeniging, all the hitherto independent Boers republic of Orange Free State, Transvaal, Natal as well as The British dominated cape became united under the British hegemony. They were all united in the union of South Africa with the act in May 1910 while the terms of the treaty of Vereeniging were all entrenched into the act which became the constitution of the union. With this, the British washed her hands off South Africa and the South African act (constitution) became the law of the land.
The decision, especially to exclude Africans in the political process cause uproar, not only among the blacks but also among the whites liberals in the Cape and gave an impetus to nationalistic activities. Protest were made against non enfranchisement of blacks on the ground that as British citizens, everyone had full and equal rights. The protests were ignored while British in an attempt to exonerate herself of any blame regarding the denial of the blacks rights to political participation, respectfully and earnestly begged white South African to sooner or later modify the provision of the constitution, but this was to no avail.
It could be seen that the deprivation which the black South Africans suffered in the hands of the Boers technically had it roots in the provisions of the Act Of The Union of 1910. The British tactically wanted to absolve herself of any blame by pleading for the modification or amendments of the provisions especially the denial of political participation of the blacks.
It should be noted that Britain in all sense should be held responsible for the fate that befell the indigenous people of South Africa since she negotiated the terms of the treaty of Vereeniging including other provisions of the act which were entrenched into the Union constitution in 1910. She dictated the pace and the blacks had, since the arrival of the British administration in the cape. The blacks always looked upon them as protector and an apostle of hope.
But in this regard,especially since 1867 when diamonds was discovered, the British was no longer interested in the blacks cause. Rather they now realize that South Africa’s culture depend on the Boer and Briton sinking their differences and building one South African community where the blacks would have no opportunity. Consequently, Britons were views by Africans as traitors and betrayal. To Africans therefore, the Act of Union of South Africa (1910) became an act of ultimate betrayal by the British government.
As earlier indicated, with the signing of the Act of Union of South Africa, British washed her hands off South Africa and white South Africa assumed the mantle of leadership of South Africa. Consequently, Botha emerged as prime minister while Smutes became his deputy. Though the constitution of 1910 united South Africa under a single government, it did not however make her in all respect a sovereign independent state until 1931.
Above all, with the case with reference to external affairs for South Africa was bounced by the decisions of the British crown, acting on the advice of the British minister of State on questions of war and peace. In order words, South Africa only enjoyed internal sovereignty until 1931 since she had to seek the approval of the British Crown, her head of state before she could act on issues relating to external affairs, declaration of wars and making peace.