The origins of a coercive labour system in South Africa, 1890-1933

Show simple item record Lacey, Marian 2011-02-14T09:43:59Z 2011-02-14T09:43:59Z 1982-03
dc.description African Studies Seminar series. Paper presented March 1982 en_US
dc.description.abstract This paper provides a re-interpretation of a crucial period in South African history, during which the main struts of the Apartheid State were laid. There were four major issues facing successive governments in the first two decades after Union in 1910- The first was how to inhibit further the growth of an independent African peasantry so as to force all Africans to become migrant workers dependent on the wage sector for their survival. The second, linked to the first, was where to settle African share-croppers, half-share farmers and cash tenants said to be squatting illegally on white-owned farms. These issues underlay the debate between the two main capitalist sectors, mines and farms. For the State, the insistent theme of successive policies was how to share labour evenly between these two sectors, the aim being to enserf an adequate number of independent peasants to the farmers while ensuring that enough Africans still had a subsistence base so that a good supply could be kept oscillating between the reserves and the mine compounds.3 The third issue was the mass influx of Africans to the towns, which created a new and urgent problem for the State, one which reached crisis point in the early 1920s. The labour shortage in the primary sectors (mines and farms) was aggravated by the entry of secondary industry as a strong competitor for labour, especially after the boost to local industries provided by the Great War. On the labour front, it was an unquiet, convulsive epoch. Strikes, countrywide uprisings and passive resistance campaigns culminated in a strike by 42,000 Africans in early 1920 and the Rand Revolt of 1922 which forced the State into drastic action. en_US
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.relation.ispartofseries African Studies Institute;ISS 236
dc.subject Labor policy. South Africa. History en_US
dc.title The origins of a coercive labour system in South Africa, 1890-1933 en_US
dc.type Working Paper en_US

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