Workers for the De Beers company

ZIMSEC O Level History Notes: South Africa 1867 – 1910: Mining Monopoly and its Effects

  • The Wernher-Beit provided the capital to purchase all necessary claims
  • Its agent locally was Cecil John Rhodes who had been attracted by the adventures of mining in Africa
  • The capital was used to fund Rhode’s company called the De Beers which was formed in 1880 and this led to the monopolization of the Kimberly diamond mines

Effects of Consolidation/Monopolization of Diamond Mining

  • Many workers lost their jobs due to the monopolization of mining
  • It led to poor working conditions as workers were forced to sign 3-6 months contracts
  • Workers were not allowed to leave the compounds and were supposed to work, eat and sleep in mines
  • Working hours became very long
  • Male workers slept in male dormitories with no contact with families and friends
  • The compounds were characterized by poor living conditions such as poor accommodation and sanitation and workers lived in tents
  • Urban population began to rise as many Africans migrated in search of employment in mines
  • Kimberly grew to be a large town
  • The agricultural system was expanded to feed the population which was growing
  • More land was obtained and sharecropping became popular which was a system by which a tenant farmer payed rent with his produce
  • An open ready market was available to sell the farm produce
  • Competition for fertile lands led to violence ad conflict
  • Rhodes became the MP for Griqualand and influenced politics in that area
  • He built a railway line linking Kimberly and Cape Town
  • The Riches he gained from Kimberly were used in the colonization of Zimbabwe
  • Africans were then forced by settlers to pay taxes and this led them to seek employment in mines
  • Pass laws enacted by the settlers forced Africans to agree to take low wages
  • Diamonds increased the revenue of the government and encouraged trade
  • Diamond monopoly led to the start of the industrial revolution in South Africa
  • Railways, roads and other communication systems were improved for the industrialization to take effect

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