This paper examines whether discovery of gold mines in the PWV areas have an adverse effect on both economic along with industrial development as well as the present unemployment rate in Eastern Cape. To unearth this, the paper pays a particular interest in the discovery of Gold mines in South Africa.
The paper concludes that whereas it remains a self-evident truth articulate that the success of modern economy of South Africa was underpinned by the growth of the both gold-mining and diamond-mining sectors, the economic industrialization could not have been accomplished without iron ore and coal (Smith, 2013).
History of origin of Gold Mines in South Africa
The initial discovery of gold in South Africa took place in 1884. Jan Gerrit Bantjes made the initial recorded discovery of gold on Witwatersrand in June 1884. This took place on the farm of Vogelstrusfontein. Struben brothers later followed thereafter in September who discovered the Confidence Reef on the Wilgespruit close to the present-day Roodepoort.
Nevertheless, such were solely minor reefs, and currently it is generally agreed that credit for discovering the major gold reef should be attached to George Harrison. His discoveries on the farm Langlaagte took place in July 1886. This was either via accident or systematic prospecting prior to the opening of open cast workings along the full length of major reef in the current district of Johannesburg.
The role of the British Government in the payment of land tax in British Pounds
The governments of Boer and the British imposed taxes on their ‘subjects’. The British government made new laws demanding the payment of taxes in cash and not in cattle. The Africans were forced to pay a hut tax of R1 daily per hut. A man had to take about 3 months on mines to earn the above tax. Men went to on the gold mines to pay for the hut tax.
The role of gold mines in the development of ports and industries in the Eastern Cape
Gold mines led to the development of ports along with industries in Eastern Cape Town. Transport improved as more and more factory-made products were being shipped from England to meet the increasing demands of the mines alongside the communities that were then developing around them.
This is because, goods had to be transported by the slow ox-wagon all the way to the Randy from the coast making the equipment required for mines to much longer to arrive. As the ports had been established, railways were established to join ports to mining with increasing number of lines going to Witwatersrand right to the gold mines.
The impact of the gold mines on the unemployment rate and food security in the Eastern Cape.
The gold mines led to early attempts at recruiting thereby reducing the unemployment rate. This is because the mines required large supply of labor making the mine owners to make sure they recruited adequate number of men to spend sufficient time working on the mines per year. The unemployment rate reduced as a result of increased competition for labor between the poorer and richer mines. The richer mines could attract workers by offering higher salaries (Wilson, 2011).
The existence of poorer mines relied on the reduction of working costs by keeping wages at the possible low levels. The tension was solved by mine owners by flooding the market with recruited employees thereby bringing down unemployment rate. The recruited workers were encouraged to go and work on mines through special agents or touts. Such touts got payment by recruiting agencies on the basis of every worker recruited. Accordingly, mine owners established a condition whereby the workers exceeded the available jobs thereby compelling workers to accept lower wages (Wilson, 2011).
The food security in the Eastern Cape was adversely affected by the golds mines. This is because there was a destruction on the land was taken away by British and Boer governments. In this manners farmers could not practice agriculture easily as before. Moreover, the introduction of land taxes, poll tax and labor tax all meant that African working at lower wages in gold mines had very few cash left after paying taxes (Wilson, 2011).
Africans were also forced to become migrant laborers by taking the advantage of internal skirmishes within African kingdoms thereby defeating the Kingdoms making the British and Boer governments’ taxes and land control measures imposed leaving people with less options for surviving but to seek work in towns (Hamann & Tuinder, 2012).
To sum up, the discovery of gold in 1886 on the Witwatersrand was a marked turning point in the history of South Africa. It changed South Africa to largest gold-producer worldwide from agricultural society. Trade between rest of the globe and South Africa increased since for major trading economies like the US and Europe, gold remained of great value because their respective currencies were gold-backed.
Hamann, M., & Tuinder, V. (2012). Introducing the Eastern Cape: a quick guide to its history, diversity and future challenges. A report for the Stockholm Resilience Center: Research for Governance of Social-Ecological Systems.
Smith, I. R. (2013). The Origins of the South African War, 1899-1902. Longman Publishing Group.
Wilson, F. (2011). Labour in the South African gold mines 1911-1969 (Vol. 6). Cambridge University Press.