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The British Era
(page 5)
Imperial Capital
The powerful middle class aspired to political control and had for many years campaigned for self-government. In 1840 a Municipality was created, with councillors elected on a non-racial but qualified franchise. The qualifications rested upon income and property ownership.

In keeping with British policy of self-government in the dominions, 'Representative Government' was established at the Cape in 1853, hastened by the display of local political opinion over the arrival of the Neptune the previous year. This created a 'Legislative Council' of MPs empowered to pass laws for the Colony, although administration remained under British control.

Finally in 1872 fully fledged 'Responsible Government' was established, with an upper house and administrative control. The franchise remained qualified, but non-racial. Cape Town had become a colonial capital. The impressive Parliament buildings set in the old VOC Company Gardens were completed in 1885, and are today the South African parliament.

A more conservative era took hold with self-government. Afrikaners were in the majority of whites, particularly in the country districts. The terms of the franchise meant that only the landed classes could vote - and this excluded most non-European people. Furthermore, only property owners worth more than £1000 could sit in the upper chamber.

Inevitably the assembly was partial to commercial interests, rather than those of the poor. Policies were geared to appeal to retailers and professionals, who made up the majority of voters. New laws such as the 'Master and Servants Act' of 1856 did much to turn the clock back on worker's rights.
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Heritage Sections
· Culture ·
· Environment ·
History · Society
Personalities · Areas

In this period of Cape History:



Reform Movement

Afrikaner Reaction

A City Develops

Imperial Capital

The Rise of Prejudice

Boom Years

The End of British Rule


Bibliography & Contacts


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