An Economic History of South Africa: Conquest, by Charles H. Feinstein

By Charles H. Feinstein

Charles Feinstein surveys years of South African monetary background from the years previous ecu settlements in 1652 via to the post-Apartheid period. Following the early part of sluggish development, he charts the transformation of the financial system as a result discovery of diamonds and gold within the 1870s, and the swift upward push of within the wartime years. eventually, emphasizing the methods during which the black inhabitants used to be disadvantaged of land, and prompted to provide hard work for white farms, mines and factories, Feinstein records the advent of apartheid after 1948, and its outcomes for fiscal functionality

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The first private banks started operations in the 1830s, typically small ‘unit’ banks without branches, owned by local merchants. In general they were well managed, but banking made only limited progress until the 1860s. The authorities slowly recognized the possibilities of systematic colonization of the Cape, and were anxious to consolidate their hold on the frontier district of Albany, a beautiful undulating pastoral area to the west of the Great Fish River – previously called in Dutch the zuurveld (sour grassland) – that was contested by Xhosa and colonists.

However, there was also another dimension to the process of dispossession, and this has not always received the attention it warrants. This second motive arises in the context of an agrarian economy characterized, as South Africa was, by a relative abundance of land and a scarcity of labour. 5 As long as free land exists elsewhere, hired labour would either be unavailable, because those needed to farm the land preferred to work as independent peasants on the free land, or it would be unprofitable, because the minimum wage at which workers were willing to enter the labour market would need to be at least as much as they could earn as independent farmers.

Its sheep had no wool, its vines were inferior to those of France and Portugal, its wheat was too expensive. Once outside a small area around Cape Town, and a narrow belt along the coast to the north and east, rainfall was sorely insufficient and unreliable. The rivers were often dry and never navigable, there were no bridges, and the lumbering ox wagons could make only slow progress along roads that were little more than trails and tracks. The Khoisan were the only potential indigenous source of labour, and neither they nor the imported slaves were numerous or industrious.

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