Causes of the War

Two political ideologies namely British imperialism and Afrikaner nationalism were to clash at the turn of the nineteenth century in South Africa. Britain sought the unification of whole of South Africa under the British flag. The existence of the two Boer republi cs namely the South African Republic (Transvaal) and the Orange Free State therefor was a stumbling block. The two republics on the other hand wanted to preserve their independence and to build their republics into regional forces. They were therefore not prepared to become part of a united South Africa under British authority.

Discovery of Gold

In 1886 a new phase in the contest between the two opposing ideologies was reached when gold was discovered on the Witwatersrand in the South African Republic. Thousands of prospectors and miners from all over the world were lured to the goldfields with one purpos e in mind namely to seek their fortune. The inhabitants of the South African Republic saw the newcomers (Uitlanders) as a threat to their continuing independence. In 1890 the government of the South African Republic restricted the Uitlander franchise for president ial and Volksraad elections to naturalized citizens who had been in the country for fourteen years. To satisfy Uitlander interests a second Volksraad was created, to be elected by naturalized citizens of two years standing. Though relatively few Uitanders were genuinely concerned about the franchise question, this nevertheless became a central issue between the British government and the government of the South African republic.

The policies of the Kruger government regarding the granting of concessions (monopolies) raised mining costs considerably. This was especially relevant regarding concessions governing rail transport and the manufacture of dynamite. Eventually this was to become a deep source of grievance between the Chamber of Mines and the government. Many of the mining executives realised that to enable deep -level gold production to prosper a much closer relationship between the industry and state had to be established and that this was only likely if a change of government could be realised.

A new era in the relations between the governments in Britain and the South African Republic began when they appointed Joseph Chambe rlain to the Colonial Office in 1895. He was an avowed imperialist who wanted to press ahead with federating South Africa under a Br itish flag.