The origins of the Rhodesian Responsible Government Movement
Lee, M. Elaine
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In 1923 Southern Rhodesia, a country with a population of 33 000 Whites and approximately 1 000 000 Africans, gained Responsible Government. This was a great achievement for the white settlers, and an event of considerable significance for the future of the whole country. It was achieved in the face of opposition from the Colonial Office, the existing government of the British South Africa Company, and the South African government; for it had generally been supposed from the earliest date of white settlement that the country’s future would be linked with that of South Africa. The hostility that developed in Southern Rhodesia towards such a course was due to the rise of Afrikaner nationalism, and was encouraged by the B.S.A. Company, which was reluctant to relinquish the reins of administration before it had achieved its economic aims; the Company therefore persuaded the Colonial Office to consent to the alternative of Responsible Government, which had been first proposed by the settlers themselves, and had been incorporated in the terms of the Supplemental Charter of 1915.1 Had the demand for this form of government been delayed, it is possible that it might have been subject to the later change in Colonial Office thinking towards its colonies in terms of the Devonshire Declaration and Passfield Memorandum, in view of the small number of white settlers in the country; and such a development would in turn have made it more likely that the country would have joined the Union of South Africa.