Gabriel P Louw
Research Associate, Focus Area Social Transformation, Faculty of Humanities, Potchefstroom Campus, North-West University, South Africa
Prof. Dr. GP Louw
Keywords: appraisal, black, executive, history, leaders, performance, political, profile, regime, white.
Ensovoort, volume 38 (2018), number 7:3
When does History begin?
This was a daring question that the eminent historian, JM Roberts, forced to the foreground in 1976 in his brilliant and comprehensive work: History of the World.
It is tempting to reply ‘In the beginning’, but like many obvious answers, this soon turns out to be unhelpful. As a great Swiss historian once pointed out in another connexion, history is the one subject where you cannot begin at the beginning. We can trace the chain of human descent back to the appearance of vertebrates, or even to the photosynthetic cells and other basic structures which lie at the start of life itself. We can go back further still, to almost unimaginable upheavals which formed this planet, and even to the origins of the universe. Yet this is not ‘history’.
Common sense helps here: history is the story of mankind, of what it has done, suffered or enjoyed. Even when historians write about a natural process beyond human control, such as the ups and downs of climate, or the spread of disease, they do it only because it helps us to understand why men and women have lived (and died) in some ways rather than others.
One outcome from ‘history’ reflecting the uniqueness of the human species, is not its possession of certain faculties or physical characteristics, but what it has done with it: the human species’ achievements as protraited in its remarkably intense level of activity and creativity, its cumulative capacity to create change. The human culture alone is progressive and was in the past and is presently built up by increasingly conscious choices and selection within it, as well as by accident and natural pressure, supported by the accumulation of a capital of experiences and knowledge, which humans have and have exploited.1:4
Roberts adds that1:4:
Human history began when the inheritance of genetics and the behaviour, which had until then provided the only way of dominating the environment, was first broken through by conscious choice. Of course, human beings have always only been able to make their history within limits. These limits are now vey wide indeed, but they were once so narrow that it is impossible to identify the first step which took human evolution away from the determination of nature. We have, for a long time, only a blurred story, obscure both because the evidence is fragmentary and because we cannot be sure exactly what we are looking for.
Looking to the South African ‘history’ it was and is to date a blurred story, obscure both because the evidence is fragmentary and because we cannot be sure exactly what we are looking for: an exclusive White “history” or an exclusive Black “history”, both saturated with falsities, subjectivities and emotionality, misused over the years until 1994 by the Afrikaners and from 1994 by the ANC regime in their opposing policies of political correctness.
Of a “pure”, true and honestly written South African history was there in the past and will there be in the future not one. History is and was always written by the winner and ruler: objectivity is out of the mindset in South Africa’s political schizophrenia: not the best psychiatric drug can bring about mental clearness and mindset reality. At most, we can talk about a South African political history, inundated by racial conflicts, discrimination and manifold social, psychological, economic and political wrongdoings. In the appraisal of the executive political leaders for the period 1652 to 1795, we must take note of this unavoidable factor of contamination of our history, spreading like cancer into its leaders’ thinking, planning and actions over time.
Before we go into a journey of our past, is it important to note how our official political history (commencing in 1652) compares in age with countries of the greater world and what was the human-political thinking in the middle 1600s when Commander Jan van Riebeeck arrived at the Cape of Storms, renamed the Cape of Good Hope (which seems a more and more faulty name-change), as the first White to be officially mandated to start up a refreshment post, manned initially exclusively by Whites, solely for White interests.
Is South Africa’s political history really impressive in age and a grey-headed “elder” among the world’s countries, as our history books sometimes try to propagate? Roberts1 offers us a time-clock to understand our age when he states1:5:
The roots of history lie in the prehuman past and it is hard to grasp just how long ago that was. If we think of a century on our calendar as a minute on some great clock recording the passage of time, then white Europeans began to settle in the Americas only about five minutes ago. Slightly less than fifteen minutes before that, Christianity appeared. Rather more than an hour ago a people settled in southern Mesopotamia who were soon to evolve the oldest civilization known to us. Thus it is already well beyond the furthest margin of written record. According to our clock, people began writing down the past much less than an hour ago, too. Some six or seven hours further back on our scale and much more remotely, we can discern the first recognizable human being of a modern physiological type already established in western Europe. Behind them, anything from a fortnight to three weeks earlier, appear the first traces of creatures with some manlike characteristics whose contribution to the evolution which followed is still in debate.
The South African political history, coming from the 1600s, is a suckling baby, still totally dependent on outside care to survive. But the positivity to this is that this baby has the youth on its side to be able to grow into a wonderful adult with time, if he/she receives the right parental care and guidance. Indeed, what went wrong so far in the country’s past can be rectified with ease by its people, depending on the ability, integrity and vision of the regimes they are going to allow to reign over them.
But to understand the above reference: first White to be officially mandated to start up a refreshment post, manned initially exclusively by Whites solely for White interests, and thus the bringing about and the anchoring of an extremely problematic political history for South Africa, it is important to reflect on those first Whites’ arrival in 1652 at the Cape. These establishers of an exclusive European culture at the Cape, and their political thinking, planning and actions, were strongly vested in the 1600-1700s’ rigid European negative dogma, doctrine and ideology on non-European races.
In this respect the historian and writer Niall Ferguson2 mentioned that race had been a powerful and violent preoccupation already in early times; it is not exclusive to modern times only. This predisposition brings to the foreground the question why this long-coming race inclination? He writes2:li:
An answer that suggests itself – also, as it happens, from the literature on evolutionary biology – is that racism, in the sense of a strongly articulated sense of racial differentiation, is one of those ‘memes’ characterized by Richard Dawkins as behaving in the realm of ideas the way genes behave in the natural world. The idea of biologically distinct races, ironically, has been able to reproduce itself and retain its integrity far more successfully than the races it claims to identity.
In this context Ferguson elaborates that2: li-lii:
As is well known, the first ostensibly scientific attempt to subdivide the human species into biologically distinct races was by the Swedish botanist Carolus Linnnaeus (Carl von Linné). In his Systema Naturae (1758), he identified four races: Homo sapiens americanus, Homo sapiens asiaticus, Homo sapiens after and Homo sapiens europaeus. Linnaeus, like all his many imitations, ranked the various races according to their appearance, temperament and intelligence, putting European man at the top of the evolutionaty tree, followed (in Linnaeus’s case) by American man (‘ill-tempered…obstinate, contented, free’), Asian man (‘severe, haughty, desirous’) and – invariably at the bottom – African man (‘crafty, slow, foolish’). Whereas European man was ‘ruled by customs’, Linnaeus argued that African man was ruled by ‘caprice’.
Ferguson2 writes that when the American Revolution arrived, the above “Linnaeus thinking” was immensely wide-spread in the greater European communities. All that was outstanding was whether racial differences reflected gradual divergence from common origin or the lack of such a common origin, as propagated by the polygenists. Racial theorists had with time devised more elaborate methods of categorizing race differentiation, like the skull size and its shape, etc, but the basic ranking system never changed. In his book, Hereditary Genius, published in 1869, the polymath Francois Galton devised a sixteen-point scale of racial intelligence, which scaled the Australian Aborigines at the bottom versus Ancient Athenians on top.2
This was, with the above already discriminatory cognitions, internalized into their mindsets for generations when the first Cape settlers arrived. It must be noted that during the period 1652 to 1671, when there was an immense shortage of European womenfolk, but many Black slave womenfolk available, the basic human sexual needs of the White men overcame, to a certain extent, these racial taboos, which led thereto that three out of four children born to slave mothers had White fathers. It was only after 1671 with the Godske Instruction and the Netherlands Authority’s direct intervention at the Cape on race relations and racism, that the Linnaeus dogma of White superiority won again and the “first apartheid law of South Africa was promulgated”. From there onward the South African history became a White political history: steered, driven and written by Whites. In particular, it became an Afrikaner history representing “Afrikanerdom” glorification, thinking and promotion. It is in this unfortunate context of the South African history and its executive political leaders, that their leaderships and regimes of governance will be appraised for the period 1652 to 1795.3-9
To understand the context of my above remark, read what Afrikaner historians write about this 1652 to 1795 exclusively Afrikaner-created history, with the Afrikaner as a European the single focus as the creator and saviour of Southern Africa, ignoring the non-European contribution totally. In his autobiography General JBM Hertzog, published in 1944, the well-known Afrikaner writer and Afrikaner novelist CM van den Heever, writes10:9-10:
The Dutch national group lost their ties to their motherland as a result of isolation and as one generation gave way to the next. The French Hugenots and the Germans were soon absorbed into this group, and their language disappeared and became a new one, leaving behind only a trace here and there of the original Seventeenth Centuary Dutch language (Own translation).
The new citizen did not let his ties to the motherland go on his own. He left behind the crux of the new culture as he went further into the interior as he followed a northerly path. This helped to prepare the new, wild world for the Afrikaans culture, which has its roots in farming life (Own translation).
At the beginning of the Eighteenth Centuary, clear indications of a feeling of separation from Holland became apparent, a realization that the “Afrikaner” was forming an “apartheid”. This tendency, with increasing self-determination and external pressure, would become greater. The Afrikaans type, including physique, language and outlook on life, was formed. For this Afrikaner, far from Western European cultural sources and trapped in the isolation of the loneliness of the veld, the Bible remained the only source of culture, and life was aimed at the Hereafter (Own translation).
With regard to racial relations in 1944, Van den Heever10 writes about the same degrading view of Blacks as persons and as a group of “danger”, a viewpoint that had been raised thirty-six years earlier in 1908 at the Cape Convention, by some of the most prominent Afrikaner leaders in their discussion of all the races in the to be formed Union of South Africa. Prominent were verbatim remarks then by polically famous delegates, like11:18-19: “…Perhaps at bottom I do not believe in politics for them at all as a means for the attainment of the highest ends, but certainly so far as the Natives are concerned, politics will to my mind only have an unsetting influence”; and: “I do not like the Natives at all and I wish we had no Black man in South Africa”.
In this context of strong racism, Van den Heever also writes10:9-10:
This requires that all kinds of relationships must be captured, most importantly those regarding natives. Jan van Riebeeck was still groping around in this respect, particularly with the consept of a heathen being allowed to marry a white person. Life habits, born out of land circumstances, helped to build an attitude in which the white culture’s future would be protected. By the end of the Eighteenth Centuary, the attitude of the Afrikaner towards the coloured people was alreasdy crystalised, and the Great Trek would sharpen it further. It had become clear to them that very strict handling of the dividing line between White and non-White people was necessary, if they did not want to sink into the barbarism around them (Own translation).
The historian and writer MS Geen12 writes in 1945 in his book: The Making of the Union of South Africa, in the same one-sided way on the history of the country as an exclusive White one, wherein the color Black is seemingly an unknown role-player (also carefully examine his reference hereunder)12:216:
There must also be the fullest appreciation of the contributions that all have made to the making of the Union of South Africa. Alongside the tributes we should proudly pay to the tenacity of the early Dutch settlers, to the courage of the Cape frontiersmen and to the self-sacrifice of the Voortrekkers and their descendants, there must be admiration for those of British stock who have played a notable part in the building of South Africa—administrators and soldiers on the Cape eastern frontier, missionaries, early settlers in the Albany District and in Natal, Lord Milner’s “Kindergarten”, and engineers and financiers, whose knowledge, enterprise and capital built up the great diamond and gold industries with the aid of European and Bantu labour.
The only reference by Geen12 to Blacks was the contribution of cheap labour by Bantus for Blacks (but also similar to the abusive names of natives, kaffirs and barbarians used in Geen’s book) in the diamond industries; in this context to bring at the lowest pay, fortunes to the British mine owners. His praises were exclusively for the engineers’ and financiers’ knowledge, enterprise and capital, which he saw as the persons who solely built up the great diamond and gold industries. With regard to a place in history, taking the lead and making valuable contributions to it, it seems that the Blacks, in terms of Geen’s12 report, were not contributers in the country’s history or even able to make such contributions.12
This notion of non-existence in the 1652 to 1795 period in South African history by Blacks, as reflected by Van der Heever10 and Geen12 is also present in many other South African written histories. Where references come to the surface, it is mostly in a negative context.
* Please note that the author is aware of the fact that the words Bantu, Kaffir, Native, Hottentot and Bushman are no longer suitable terms and are inappropriate (some are criminal) to use in general speaking and writing in modern-day South Africa. The terms do appear in dated documents and are so translated for the sake of historical accuracy and it is thus unavoidable not to reflect them in their original naming here. It is also pertinent used in this article to reflect on some South Africans’ extreme racism thinking, speaking and writing of sixty years and less ago. These names are part of a collection of degrading names which especial Afrikaner historians commonly used in their books and references of pre-1994 in the heydays of Apartheid. In the reflecting on the profiles of executive leaders and their regimes, these degrading names need to be reoffered here to bring racism, dehumanizing, distancing and the suppression of Blacks prominent to the fore-ground. It is important here to can make a classing in terms of the bad-versus-good-classification of executive political leaders and regimes. These negative names do not represent the author’s view-point and he distances him totally from it as commonly speaking and writing language. In his research and writings on the South African populations and political-history he uses names as Blacks, Whites, Xhosa, Zulu, Afrikaners, Coloreds, KhoiSan (Bushman), KhoiKhoi (Hottentot) and Boers, etc., as applicable descriptive names.
1.2 South African literature on executive political leaders from 1652 to 1795
South Africa lacks in-depth literature on the quality of executive political leadership as practiced by its various executive political leaders and their regimes from 1652 to 1795. It is in fact totally absent. Limited references are found on the behavioural and political practices, driven and promoted by the executive political leaders and their regimes.
Biographies on South African executive political leaders, as well as autobiographies by these leaders themselves, are very lacking in information and descriptions on the precise kind of leadership associated with them as the country’s executive political leaders. Most of this South African leadership data reflected in historical and political books, as well as autobiographies and biographies, offers postulations, opinions, viewpoints and “facts” which are mostly subjective and influenced by party- and self-conceit, intentions to promote political gains and frequently the personal glorification of sub-standard and corrupt political leaders and their governments. It is overwhelmingly used to divert attention, especially from the failure of the leaders. Even on failed and low levels of political leadership, some of these political leaders became icons, some even with worldwide status, with very little criticism lodged against them about criminality, psychological malfunction and other behavioural deviations. It is only more recently that our newspapers, sometimes near-defamatory in their reporting, describe the behaviour of our political leaders. In this context we already see some efforts to limit informative reporting in terms of the hate speech legislation.
To make an evaluation on the quality of leadership of South African executive political leaders and governments for the period 1652 to 1795, the descriptions by various political and historical writers on political leaders and governments, as well as the writings of business and management experts on business executive leaders, were consulted.13-26
The aim of this article is to evaluate and to describe the performance profiles of the executive political leaders and regimes of South Africa for the period 1652 to 1795.
The research was done by means of a literature review. This method has the aim of building a viewpoint from the available evidence as the research develops. This approach is used in modern day historical research where there is a lack of an established body of research, like the functioning of executive political leaders and their regimes of governance for the period 1652 to 1795 in South Africa. The sources included articles from 2017 to 2018, books for the period 1961 to 2018 and newspapers for the period 2016 to 2018. These sources were consulted to evaluate the functioning of executive political leaders and to put thoughts, views and opinions on the South African political leadership for the period 1652 to 1795 in perspective.27-29
The research findings are presented in narrative format.
2.1 Problem statement
The research problem is: Did the executive political leaders of South Africa during the period 1652 to 1795 make extraordinary contributions to the country and its people; and was their behaviour as leaders and as people extraordinary and impeccable?
* ”People” refers to all the South African groups – the various races, cultural groups and tribes, etc. It includes the minorities as well as the majorities – it excludes any sole grouping in terms of dominant political party, etc.
* ”Country” refers to today’s greater South Africa as represented by the Republic of South Africa, while it also refers back into the history of the Cape Settlement and the Cape Colony, etc.
2.2 Research aims
- The first aim of the research is to determine whether the South African executive political leaders and regimes of the period 1652 to 1795, during their time in office, made extraordinary contributions to the country and its people.
- The second aim of the research is to determine whether the behaviour of the South African executive political leaders of the period 1652 to 1795 as leaders and as people was extraordinary and impeccable.
In light of the above two research aims, questions must be asked and answered reflecting this argument of truth on the South African executive political leaders. In line herewith are two objectives, as well as two hypotheses and two alternative hypotheses, formulated in terms of the research aims, also to be asked, tested and answered.
2.3 Research questions of the study
The following two research questions focus the research intentions:
RQ1: Did the South African executive political leaders of the period 1652 to 1795 make extraordinary contributions to the country and its people during their time in office?
RQ2: Was the behaviour of the South African executive political leaders of the period 1652 to 1795 extraordinary and impeccable as leaders and as people?
2.4 Objectives of the study
The following two objectives guide the study:
RO1: To determine whether the South African executive political leaders of the period 1652 to 1795 during their time in office made extraordinary contributions to the country and its people.
RO2: To determine whether the behaviour of the South African executive political leaders of the period 1652 to 1795 was extraordinary and impeccable as leaders and as people.
The following two hypotheses and two alternative hypotheses are assumed:
H1: The South African executive political leaders of the period 1652 to 1795 made extraordinary contributions to the country and its people during their time in office.
H1A: The South African executive political leaders of the period 1652 to 1795 did not make extraordinary contributions to the country and its people during their time in office.
H2: To determine whether the behaviour of the South African executive political leaders of the period 1652 to 1795 was extraordinary and impeccable as leaders and as people.
H2A: The behaviour of the South African executive political leaders of the period 1652 to 1795 was not extraordinary and impeccable as leaders and as people.
3.1 The Dutch East India Company
When looking back into the history of South Africa, the Twentieth Century person thinks in terms of an established country with borders, developments, infrastructure, health and educational services, a police force and other security services to safeguard its citizens, etc., mostly missing out on how the fairest Cape looked in 1652: a barren area without buildings, shelters, land under agriculture and just possibly the occasional sighting of a KhoiSan (Bushman) or a KhoiKhoi (Hottentot). It was a total contradiction to what the modern day citizen of Cape Town is used to today. This new beginning in the foreign land was led by Jan van Riebeeck and his group of 80 volunteers on behalf of the Dutch East India Company (VOC), which began the first European ownership of the Cape. (Its legal entity name was the Generale Vereenighde Nederlantsche G’octroyeerde Oostindische Compagnie; in short referred to as the VOC). The VOC, founded in 1602 when the four Netherlands trading companies of Amsterdam, Zeeland, de Maas and the North Quarter almalgamated, fast became a prominent European chartered company. In six years it had broken the Portuguese monopoly of Eastern trade and seized the Moluccas, Java, Amboyna and a large part of Timor. Within thirteen years the VOC owned eight hundred vessels and paid excellent dividends. After that it expanded to China, Japan and Siam and it occupied Mauritius, St Helena and Ceylon and became the founder of the Dutch Empire in the island world of the Far East.4,11,12,30-32
In name the VOC was a private company, but in reality it was a national concern with the Dutch Government as the main shareholder and only Dutch subjects could hold shares, preferably in large amounts. Its titular chairman was the Stadtholder, while the States-General gave the VOC its charter. Its management, like that of the United Provinces of Netherlands, was federal in constitution with the Council of Seventeen in charge, consisting of representatives of the chambers of the four original companies. The ultimate trading operations were controlled by this Council of Seventeen [also called the HERE XVll: the 17-Members: 8: Amsterdam; 4: Zeeland; 2: de Maas (Rotterdam and Delft); 2: the North Quarter ((West Friesland) while the 17th member was elected in consultation by Zeeland, de Maas and the North Quarter]. The Council of Seventeen governing its colonial possessions, maintaining its army and taking responsibility for treaties with foreign powers. The government of the Cape of Good Hope was subordinate to the Governor-General and Council of India which controlled all the Eastern possessions of the VOC from its headquarters at Batavia.12
It was in this context that Commander Jan van Riebeeck on the 6th April 1652 (with the rank “als koopman en opperhoofd’) anchored with three small ships, the Goede Hoop, the Drommedaris and the Reiger, in Table Bay, to start up a refreshment station for the VOC. More importantly, this start up was also the introduction to South Africa its first official executive political leader. Moreover, it signaled the beginning of the country’s political history, based exclusively on White supremacy which drove all thinking, planning and action until 1994. Initially, central to this contaminating outcome, were the Netherlanders as founding fathers of South Africa, and as this political history will soon reflect, also became the only dominant and discriminative role-player until 1795 at the Cape.4,11,12,30-33
It is in this context that this article intends to evaluate and to describe whether the South African executive political leaders and regimes of the period 1652 to 1795 during their time in office made extraordinary contributions to the country and its people. The intent is also to determine whether the behaviour of the South African executive political leaders of the period 1652 to 1795 was extraordinary and impeccable.
In light of the domino effect, starting up a chain reaction of governmental oversight in 1652, which ran unbroken for 150 years under various executive political leaders of the VOC, is it thought wise to reflect first at this stage on a chronological list of these various officials’ names and times of office.33 This gives insight into what immense processes are involved in the ruling of a country and how easily the political tides can turn against its inhabitants by the delinquent actions of hostile, delinquent rulers and authorities, as well as the resistance and counter-actions that can follow against such poor rulers and regimes. This list furthermore gives us insight as to why there is reference in this article to a White political history for the period 1652 to 1795 — of Black faces or names there are no significant signs in this list of 72! It seems that only Simon and Adriaan Willem van der Stel were Coloreds, reflecting only a 2.8% representation of non-Whites in the top leadership over a period of more or less 150 years!12,33-36
In addition, the fact that, of this enormously long list of executive political leaders, some were too briefly in office to leave an impact as rulers, provides insight as to why this article on leadership and governance (which is absolutely limited by length, time and costs) can not extract comprehensive data for the total executive political leader population for 1652-1795 (μ=30).33
In 3.2 List of Commanders and Governors for the period 1652 to 1795, the leaders’ names and their times in office, is reflected.33
3.2 List of Commanders and Governors for the period 1652 to 179533
3.2.1 Dutch Cape Colony (1652-1795)
- 1652-1662 : Jan van Riebeeck
- 1662-1666 : Zacharias Wagener
- 1666-1668 : Cornelis van Qualbergen
- 1668-1670 : Jacob van Borghorst
- 1670-1671 : Pieter Hackius
- 1672-1672 : Albert van Breugel
- 1672-1676 : IJsbrand Godske
- 1676-1678 : Johan Bax van Herenthals
- 1678-1679 : Hendrik Crudorp
184.108.40.206 Governors (The rank of Commander was changed in 1691 to Governor)12
- 1679-1699 : Simon van der Stel
- 1699-1707 : Willem Adriaan van der Stel
- 1707-1708 : Johannes Cornelis d’Ablaing
- 1708-1711 : Louis van Assenburg
- 1711-1714 : Willem Helot
- 1714-1724 : Maurits Pasques de Chavonnes
- 1724-1727 : Jan de la Fontaine
- 1727-1729 : Pieter Gijsbert Noodt
- 1729-1737 : Jan de la Fontaine
- 1737-1737 : Adriaan van Kervel
- 1737-1739 : Daniel van den Hengel
- 1739-1750 : Hendrik Swellengrebel
- 1751-1771 : Rijk Tulbagh
- 1772-1773 : Baron Pieter van Rheede van Oudtshoorn – was appointed but died en route to the Cape
- 1773-1785 : Baron Joachim van Plettenberg
- 1785-1791 : Cornelis Jacob van de Graaff
- 1791-1792 : Johann Isaac Rhenius
- 1792-1793 : Sebastiaan Cornelis Nederburgh
- 1792-1793 : Simon Hendrik Frijkenius
- 1793-1795 : Abraham Josias Sluysken
3.3 First Dutch Authorities
3.3.1 First Executive leader: Commander Jan van Riebeeck of the Cape Refreshment post (1652-1662)
220.127.116.11 Establishment of the Council of Policy
When Commander Jan van Riebeeck arrived on the 6th April 1652 at the Cape of Good Hope to found a refreshment station for the VOC, he also introduced the first administrative and juridical body to manage the affairs of Whites at a South African outpost. Indeed, he got the first Whites rooted in South Africa. The executive body of the VOC, the Council of Seventeen, already identified in the 1630s the need for a halfway station between Amsterdam and Batavia to provide fresh water and food for the crews of VOC ships. The beheading of Charles I of England by Cromwell on 30 January 1649 and the new British ruler’s hostility to the interests of the Netherlands worldwide, had made the Cape of absolute strategic importance as a location to defend the interests of the VOC and the Netherlands Government.4,11,12,30
Van Riebeeck, besides his instructions on how to get the refreshment station going, also received South Africa’s first instructions on how to rule. He was to control as Commander a Council of Policy. As Commander he took the oath of obedience to the Governor-General at Batavia (an outcome that, regarding fast and effective administration concerns, did not always work properly because control over the Cape was slowed down by the distance and a lack of fast communication). Comparing the year 1652 with the year 1795, the whole governing system at the Cape changed very lttle during its possession by the VOC.12
As officer in charge of the station, Van Riebeeck was also the chair of a temporary management board, consisting of designated officials. The first meeting of this body already took place on board the ship Drommedaris, Van Riebeeck’s quarter during the travel from the Netherlands, and for a time his abode while waiting for the construction of the first dwellings at the Cape. When there were no visiting ships in harbor the chief-officer, the secunde, the sergeant in charge of the soldiers and the bookkeeper formed a kind of executive managerial body [later called the Council of Policy (Politieke Raad)]. The secretary, whose main duty it was to keep record of the council’s meetings and its resolutions, did not have any voting rights. The executive managerial power of this start up management body was with time extended by the Administrators of the Board of Amsterdam (Council of Seventeen) to give visiting admirals of home-bound fleets of the VOC from the East the right to act as Commissioners at the station. These Commissioners’ orders had to be implemented by the Cape Commander and his management board. On the other hand, these Commissioners could not act independently without first consulting the Commander and the executive members of the temporary board. Furthermore, the admirals were obliged to report fully to the Council of Seventeen on their orders to Van Riebeeck and the situation at the Cape when they arrived back in the Netherlands.12,31
It is clear that this early Council of Policy intended to assure good administration, but left very little scope for broad political input by all the officials, incoming free burgher farmers and other free burghers. Overbearing leadership was central to management, although it seems as though Van Riebeeck’s treatment in this context of the officials and free burghers showed no signs of under par leadership in terms of administration. The limitation on the authority of Van Riebeeck as chief executive officer – and the exclusion of the incoming free burgher farmers from any say in their occupation and political rights – was reflected when Commissioner Rijckloff van Ghoens, during his visit at the Cape from the 17th March to the 19th April 1657, overrode certain of Van Riebeeck’s contracts with the incoming free burgher farmers. Although Van Ghoens gave the free burghers permission to trade live stock directly with the KhoiKhoi on the condition that all trading material had been bought from the VOC and they did not pay more than the VOC, this privilege was withdrawn by Van Riebeeck himself in May 1658. Furthermore, Van Ghoens changed the three year tax-free period from three to twelve years for incoming free burgher farmers, but he autocratically forbade them to plant tobacco and instructed them to concentrate only on the cultivation of wheat. He also scaled down their unlimited plough land to only 13.5 morgen in size. But most autocratic of all was his decision that the prices to be paid by the VOC for the free burgher farmers’ produce would be decided alone by the Council of Seventeen of Amsterdam. This autocratic price-fixing was immediately a problem because a year later, the VOC still had not publically fixed the prices, although they were already well known to Van Riebeeck on the 16th April 1657. This problem was at last solved (although temporailry) in 1659 by Van Riebeeck himself with a request to the Council of Seventeen of Amsterdam. Other autocratic behaviour experienced in Van Riebeeck’s reign by the free burghers was the restriction on many of their business rights, such as the selling of their produce only at fixed prices to the VOC, not being allowed to trade with the KhoiKhoi and that they could only sell their produce to ships after three days of their arrival at the Harbor (only up to 25 ships per annum visited then).12,31
18.104.22.168 Executive leadership practiced by Commander Jan van Riebeeck
In retrospect considering the leadership of Commander Jan van Riebeeck at the Cape, three clear impacts must be taken into account: firstly, the refreshment station was initially seen only as a temporary workplace and business enterprise outside the Netherlands borders. As such the various persons working at the station were initially treated as employees of a business (which the VOC really was) and not as members of a specific juridical entity rooted permanently with its own governing rules and governing body at the Cape. This kind of entity only started to manifest after the Council of Seventeen of Amsterdam gave permission on the 30 October 1655 (some sources indicate 1657) for the officials of the VOC to become independent entrepreneurs as free burghers, if they agreed to stay for a further ten years (some sources put it at 20 years) at the Cape in this capacity. This exercise started up with nine married men that were released from the service of the VOC. But even in these circumstances, the VOC was clearly still not in favour of colonization and saw the so called free farmers officially as mere purveyors of corn and wine to supplement the VOC’s own produce at the Cape. Accompanying this emerging judicial entity of “statehood” was the allocation of farms which were unlimited in size to cultivate wheat to the free burghers by Van Riebeeck. Although Van Ghoens later limited this property ownership to only 13.5 morgen, the right to stay and make a living at the Cape under the guardianship of the Council of Seventeen of Amsterdam and the VOC, with Van Riebeeck as their executive overseer at the Cape, confirms the possible birth of statehood via a permanent place of living at the Cape. Furthermore, these free burghers were taxed (but their land was free from land tax), as was done in most juridical entities worldwide. Van Riebeeck clearly activated the start-up process for the founding of a permanent colony at the Cape during his tenure, although he did it with some hesitation.12,31
Secondly, Jan van Riebeeck’s position as an executive (and the “government” of the Cape of Good Hope) was subordinated to the Council of Seventeen of Amsterdam, the VOC and the Governor-General and Council of India, controlling all the Eastern possessions of the VOC from its headquarters at Batavia. Also to be taken into account were the overseeing powers of management by admirals of the VOC when visiting the Cape. This broad management system of inputs by various persons in service of the VOC clearly hampered the activation of a true regime of good leadership. An identifiable regime of leadership to serve as a permanent guideline for future leaders (commanders) failed to emerge. The sole powers of the Executive Commander of the Cape and his Council of Policy, the VOC’s initial business intentions and the constant challenging social and economic circumstances to deal with everyday matters, without sufficient empowerment to execute effective solutions by Van Riebeeck himself on his own initiative and thinking, brought to the foreground a clear differentiation between a temporary leader inside a system, which was nothing other than an autocracy defined from outside by governing bodies thousands of kilometers away. A system of a permanent regime of leadership, as found in a true democracy where all the inhabitants could make decisions on consensus, was absent here. This autocratic system, although improved over time with small “rights” to the free burghers, became internalized in the Capetonians’ mindset and formed the political thinking, planning and action at the Cape by the executive leaders as appropriate and correct (and was accepted by many of its inhabitants as “normal and correct”) for centuries to come.12,31
Thirdly, on the other hand, there were also the first signs of extreme handling of punishment for transgression of the Cape “Government’s” and the refreshment station’s rules, if needed, as imposed from the Netherlands authorities on subordinates outside the motherland. Again, here is a clearly identifiable sign of autocratic management, which undoubtedly became a permanent disposition in the first settlers’ mindsets and which was also transferred into the mindsets of the later proto-Afrikaners. For instance, Van Riebeeck as commander was empowered with a high level of juridical powers, such as being able to jail the inhabitants of the Cape for transgressing the legal guidelines prescribed by the Council of Seventeen of Amsterdam, the VOC and the Governor-General and Council of India, which were all formulated on the rules of the State-General of the Netherlands. Van Riebeeck was even empowered to hand down the death penalty.12,31
He was instructed and empowered to militarily defend the Cape station against any hostile attacks, internal as well as external, without pre-permission from abroad. This independent empowerment shows the gradual rising of a unique juridical entity at the Cape, which was undoubtedly vested in the powers of an executive political leader to be able to handle certain tasks at his own discretion. Indeed, this was the beginning of a kind of a regime of leadership, although it should not necessarily be associated with good leadership.12,31
With regard to the reference to autocratic leadership executed by Van Riebeeck and instituted by the VOC, is it clear that Van Riebeeck, similar to South Africa’s present president, as well as the country’s previous presidents and prime ministers, was never democratically voted in as the first executive chief officer of the Cape (South Africa) by the population of the early Cape refreshment station. He was exclusively selected, appointed and paid by the VOC to act only on their behalf and interests. Though there seems to be a general satisfaction with Van Riebeeck’s direct behaviour as a leader to the employees of the VOC and free burghers – he, for instance, never enacted the strict legislation of the late 1600s or handed down the death penalty. He set free many persons from jail who showed good rehabilitation. It is clear that during Van Riebeeck’s time (1652 to 1662) at the Cape, there was no introduction of a regime of good leadership to the burghers or of the true reform of the Council of Policy to become a democratic law-making body from day one. Both the executive and legislative empowerments were centered in the hands of officials, with the free burghers in a nominal role. This absence of a true democracy awarded to every inhabitant of South Africa from 1652 onward, is a fact too long ignored by subjective Afrikaner political-historical writers, seemingly afraid to pinpoint a possible defective cognition, internalized through bad experiences and bad examples of delinquent leaders, or a congenital defect transferred to the Cape’s earlier European settlers by their European forefathers, and then to the later Afrikaners. What was needed, not so much to be enacted by Van Riebeeck alone, but mostly by the VOC and its associated foreign rulers of the Cape, was the enactment of a clear and definable regime of good leadership and governance that could form a system of permanence to be followed by Van Riebeeck’s successors through to today, to serve everybody, notwithstanding class, race, creed, or from Africa or Europe.12,31,40
In support of why Van Riebeeck did not immediately activate a sound governmental system, it must be mentioned that, when he landed at the Cape, he had with him precise instructions from the Council of Seventeen that were undoubtedly not so much the founding of a “governmental system” – that was a “secondary” outcome – but to adhere to his primary aim,namely the establishment of a refreshment station to supply produce for the VOC ships and to secure the Cape of Good Hope as a military stronghold against Britain, France and the Portuguese. The whole venture was treated “clinically” as a business enterprise, with a sole owner in charge, whose main intention was to oversee that his employees did their work for which they were compensated; nothing more. Moreover, it must be noted again that the station was not seen initially as a permanent settlement, and as such, it did not need a well rooted political and governmental system, as was practiced in the Netherlands or in the East Indies, already a VOC possession. “Governmental” referred at most to the maintenance of order and the Netherlands law amongst the more or less eighty soldiers who were installed to safeguard the station against internal (indigenous people) and foreign attacks. This secondary focus on a balanced “governmental system” by the VOC, is confirmed by the fact that the initial “Van Riebeeck government” setup changed very little during the VOC’s ownership up to 1795. There were, as indicated, improvements to the organization of the “political system” to exclusively benefit the VOC at the Cape, but these had little impact on the individual’s political rights.12,31
Economics, to be activated by the inhabitants, and not their practice of politics, was central in the late 1600s. But the two factors are inter-locked and it was foolish for the VOC as well as Van Riebeeck not to realize that, as the station became a settlement. Politics was going to claim its justified part, specially when the role of capitalism and private ownership and enterprise became dominant.37-40 Indeed, the table was laid by Van Riebeeck, unknowingly and possibly unwillingly, for South Africa’s tragical political history to be written, as the historian Professor Eric Walker writes12:13: “All the economic and social problems which exercise South Africa today had begun to take shape before Van Riebeeck’s eyes. For, in South Africa at least, there is nothing whereof it may be said, ’See, this is new’.’’
Van Riebeeck’s immediate point of focus was the building of a fort for protection of the inhabitants and the safeguarding of the freshwater source, to make a garden for fresh produce for the VOC ships, to establish good relations with the indigenous people and the instituting of a cattle trade with them. But this initiative was not a success from the beginning.12,31,40 Geen writes12:12: “… for four or five years the little settlement hovered on the brink of ruin in its capacity as a refreshment station for the victualling of Dutch ships going to and coming from the East Indies.”
Looking back to Van Riebeeck’s impact on the later racial disharmony of South Africa, there are clear contradictions in his “governmental” style on race relations. He never put a prohibition on race miscegenation between the European burghers, the Negro and Asiatic slaves and the KhoiKhoi. [The sad reliving of the racism of Carolus Linnnaeus (Carl von Linné) and his Systema Naturae came later in 1671 under the Commander IJsbrand Godske’s ruling with his Instruction, which officially began racism and discrimination in South Africa, undisturbed until 1994].4 But at the same time he practiced and allowed racial discrimination in the most extreme form with the introduction in 1658 of non-European (note: not European) slaves to the Cape: 170 slaves came from a captured Portuguese slave ship, while another 200 came from the Guinea Coast. Most of these first batch of slaves became the property of the VOC, although some where sold to free burgher farmers (for between ₤4 and ₤8 each!!). After Van Riebeeck’s departure the custom of the import of slaves was sped up in numbers. The slaves’ womanfolk became the central role players in miscegenation, so that before the end of the 1600s most of the slave children were “half-castes”, as Geen12 degradingly named them. This not only led to the creation of South Africa’s own Creole people, today’s so called Coloreds or Brown-Afrikaners (who number more than the White-Afrikaners), but also to the “infusing” of so called “Black” blood into the South African Whites’ “pure” bloodline; so much so that 75% of today’s Afrikaners may be “contaminated” by “Black” blood.4, 12,30,31,41
Van Riebeeck’s further siding against non-Whites at the Cape, in line with his views of non-Whites to be owned as slaves by the VOC, as well as the free burghers – and to buy and sell these slaves as “human livestock” – was his contribution to punitive actions against delinquent KhoiKhoi groups. The KhoiKhoi War (1658-1660) spells the first driving out of non-Whites, the KhoiKhoi, from their traditional lands in the Liesbeeck Valley. This was undoubtedly the first commision of White-terrorism to non-Whites in South Africa and land grabbing by Whites, as guided by the British definition on modern day terrorism, which reads42:9:
1) Violence against a person;
2) Serious damage to property;
3) Designed to influence a government or an international organization or to intimidate the public or a section of the public;
4) With the aim of advancing a political, religious, racial or ideological cause.
This pinpoints again the possibility of the internalization of a delinquent cognition into the mindsets of the early Europeans at the Cape (which formed the nucleus of the proto-Afrikaners and later Afrikaners) to do with the ease of infringing of human rights of non-Whites, as the Voortrekkers later did with their illegal occupation of the Transvaal and the Free State areas with terrorist actions a century later. Indeed, the so called White frontiersmen or Border Boers showed this terrorist behaviour on a large scale in the early 1700s, in the areas inside and outside the colony’s borders.4 This seemingly “normal” behaviour of aggressiveness and delinquency which Van Riebeeck allowed to be perpetrated on the KhoiKhoi, reflects back to what Boon15:75describes as political mobocracy, and brings about the question on the determinants and drivers behind the later Afrikaner-Nationalists’ Apartheid, as well as the place and the time of the learning of Apartheid’s wrongdoings.4,12 Professor Eric Walker’s postulation,, namely that all South Africa’s economic and social problems of today can be laid before Van Riebeeck’s “office door”, is not far fetched.12:13
22.214.171.124 Van Riebeeck, the first White “honest” cheater and state capturer
When studying the literature published by Afrikaner historical writers on the Afrikaners’ assumed heredity as a “nation”, starting with Jan van Riebeeck as their progenitor, it seems to be a very troubled one from the beginning. It declares possibly the beginning of the Afrikaners’ many deviating behaviours, the most well known to be Apartheid and the racial discrimination and domination of non-Whites.12.31
Undoubtedly Van Riebeeck was the first White official, in terms of his VOC instructions, to activate discrimination and the domination of non-Whites with his treatment at the Cape of the KhoiKhoi as well as the slaves. This troubling behaviour goes much deeper than merely rasism: it also seems to be the beginning and embedding of planned corruption, “boereverneukery” or “cheating of the farmers” and state capturing in the mindset of an executive leader at the Cape.12,31
Afrikaner historians treated Van Riebeek very gently on his delinquent behaviour, undoubtedly with great respect for his position as “Father of the Afrikaner Nation”, by offering all kinds of excuses and arguments with reference to his wrongdoings, basically to activate sympathy and to nullify said wrongdoing. Arguments to minimize the seriousness of his actions are: that he was “not the only official to commit transgressions and that others in higher positions did the same”, or that he, as many of the other officials guilty of delinquent and inappropriate behavior, “were forced to resort to these types of incomes” because of their underpayment by the VOC, and thus that he and others had to rely on delinquent behavior to make a living. The violation of the principle of honesty in this early behavior is in reality not very different from the allegations now laid at the door of Jacob Zuma and his cronies (and which have already led to Zuma’s recal and even possible prosecution and jailing). To argue that the comprehensiveness and intensity of the alleged mal-behaviour of Zuma are much more serious than that of Van Riebeeck, is inapplicable. Dishonesty is dishonesty, theft is theft, corruption is corruption, and nothing else. Top leaders must be treated the same as the lowest rank of citizen.4,12,13,18,31
Van Riebeeck’s delinquent actions already began before his appointment as commander at the Cape (Zuma’s alleged delinquent behaviour also started before his appointment as president). Van Riebeeck’s actions in generating a private income outside his position as commander at the Cape, undoubtedly reflect a clear line of the continuation of behaviour which can be associated with corruption and embezzlement until the end of his stay at the Cape (it is also alleged that Zuma committed the same inappropriate acts in his presidential capacity via state-capture).4,12,13,18,31
At this stage of the research in the evaluation of South Africa’s types of political leaders and its regime of leadership, from 1652 to 1795 in this study, four prominent questions are manifested:
- If Van Riebeeck himself failed the test of honesty as the highest ranking official at the Cape, to what extent had he allowed his subordinates and cronies to commit inappropriate actions without reprimand and prosecution?
- Did a culture of crooked political leaders and under par leadership become rooted in 1652 at the Cape, which had overflows into today’s South Africa?
- Can any honest Afrikaner historian object to the postulation that the seed for today’s Nklandas, Zuptaism, corruption, nepotism, cronies and state-capture, which are rife at present in the politics of South Africa, was sown seemingly by the first executive leader in the capacity of Van Riebeeck’s personal opinion and practice of stretch values on what is morally and criminal correct and what is not correct?
- Are there really differences in the personalities and modus operandi of Jan van Riebeeck and Jacob Zuma as leaders? Are there any fundamental differences in their executive ruling and governing of subordinates and the management of the purse of a country?
But, back to the behaviour of Jan van Riebeeck as a person, separate from his executive leadership as commander.
It seems as though Van Riebeeck presented himself as an honest and hard worker in the service of the VOC, especially in the last period of his stay in Tonkin, the city which had belonged to the Chinese and where the VOC opened a business entity in 1637. After the death of the under merchant and the departure of the paramount chief of the entity, Van Riebeeck was appointed in December 1645 as acting paramount chief of the station. This appointment was renewed in July in 1647, with Van Riebeeck promoted to the rank of merchant and secunde, and in status became the second person in the Council of Policy of Tonkin. Then, after applying to be appointed permanently in the position of paramount chief at Tonkin, the red light suddenly started to flicker for Van Riebeeck when it was referred to in his application evaluation that he can not be trusted seeing that he was involved in unauthorized “particular trade” (the precise meaning of “particular” is unclear, but it seems to be corruption and self-conceit by the generating of an illegal income via trade besides his salary and in competition with the VOC). He was basically fired from his appointment as merchant in Tonkin in 1647. As punishment he also lost his salary for two months and seven days and was sent back to the Netherlands. On his way back to the Netherlands, his ship the DE Coningh van Polen, stopped for eighteen days at the undeveloped Cape, giving him an idea of the Cape and its surroundings (and this possibly caused his application five years later for the post of commander at the Cape). Back in the Netherlands his various appeals to the Council of Seventeen to nullify his sentence were unsuccessful, while no further new appointment was offered. This shows the seriousness of his delinquent behaviour. In December of 1651, four years after his sacking, he was appointed again by the VOC as commander to establish the refreshment station at the Cape. This position, it seems, offered less opportunities for temptation to practice “particular” activities or other dishonesty and was clearly of a lower rank as that of paramount chief of Tonkin.12,31
It has been confirmed that Van Riebeeck showed a love for “particular trade” by the fact that he also allocated a farm to himself and farmed as a second income to his salary as commander (as one Afrikaner historian mentioned: “because this was the only way an official could supplement his small income at the Cape because the opportunity for particular trade was totally absent”). This is a very crooked view, well in line with the ANC’s top-brass saying they are forced to theft, corruption, nepotism and self-conceit in the New South Africa, because Apartheid disqualified them from making money before 1994!). But Van Riebeeck’s self-enrichment goes deeper – he undoubtedly made a profit in competition with the free burgher farmers whose interests he had to promote at all times. (He became the judge and prosecutor for sentencing and punishment of the free burghers; a punishment, which he seemed to be free from in his farming actions). His farming endeavours surely meant further loss of direct income for the VOC. Without doubt these farming activities of VOC officials at the Cape were frowned upon, seeing that the VOC prohibited it in 1668. Regarding the size of Van Riebeek’s farm the following data is reflected from the records of 1659: 84 morgen were cultivated of which Jan Reijniers and Hendrik Boom owned respectively 11 and 10 morgen, while the VOC owned 46 morgen and Van Riebeeck himself kept 101 morgen. Commissioner Rijkloff van Ghoens, during his visit from the 17th March to the 19th April 1657 at the Cape, also seems to have awarded Van Riebeeck some land to plant fruit trees. This property was situated behind Lion’s Head, and he exchanged it for property southeast of the Windberg (Wind Mountain), calling it Bosheuvel. Here he planted 1,200 plants including grapes which he obtained from the VOC’s garden and started to produce his first wine from 1659. Van Riebeeck also imported a variety of fruit trees and other plants for his farming on Bosheuvel from the Netherlands, East and West India, Japan, Madagascar, Mauritius and St Helena, which seems to be an expensive exercise for a poor official. He had undoubtedly become a well established farmer in his ten years at the Cape, seemingly generating a sideline income which made up for his lack of opportunity to practice “particular trade’’, as he apparently did easily and without remorse at Tonkin, as well as at the Cape!12,31,40
That Van Riebeeck handled his “Cape particular activities” with great discretion without annoying or estranged the inhabitants, is clearly evident from the fact that the first petition (one of many to follow about farming conditions, including later dissatisfaction with the Van der Stels) in December 1658 by the most influential farmers of the Cape to the VOC, never accused him of self-conceit, corruption or nepotism.12,31
Looking back in retrospect to Van Riebeeck’s various forms of practicing “particular” trade, either in Tonkin, China or at the Cape, the temptation is great to not say that Van Riebeeck introduced South Africa to its first Nklanda and state capture. What prevented Van Riebeeck from not overstepping his authority and getting more active in any form of “corruption” was possibly the small population of officials and free burghers at the Cape. (In 1659 the total White population was 144). His choice of a circle of intimate friends and cronies within the more or less 144 inhabitants was undoubtedly limited, making the opportunity for serious craft small in fear of a backlash by outsiders for overstretching his powers by self-conceit and dishonesty.4,12,31
Van Riebeeck was always assumed to be an executive leader with “clean hands” at the early Cape, notwithstanding a tendency to continuously practice “particular trade”. This is a worrying phenomenon and one which laid the bad example that wrongdoing works and is a payable venture, and already jeopardizes the establishment in the 1660s of an acceptable regime of leadership. The well planned and well executed “particular actions” of the two Van der Stels, the father Simon and the son Willem Adriaan, governors from 1662 to 1707 at the Cape, will be an eye-opener for the most consciousness Nationalist Afrikaner about their proud “clean and honest” Afrikaner heritage. These early happenings also make the present day Zuma debacle around poor leaders and a regime of under par leadership, to a certain extent, explicable and understandable.12,13,18,31
3.3.2 Leaderships and regimes of the Agricultural Colony of the Cape (1662-1679)
To better understand the Van Riebeeck regime and the autocratic “governmental system” practiced at the Cape from 1652 (which gradually became an accepted way to be ruled and to rule at the Cape), as well as the beginning of racism, it is also important to note that already in the time of Van Riebeeck the differences between Whites and non-Whites at the Cape became more and more prominent. This negative situation flowed into the leadership of his followers, starting with Zacharias Wagener (Wagenaar) to Hendrik Crudorp and to be addressed by Simon van der Stel when he accepted the Cape’s leadership in 1679. This outcome required not only special abilities and skills, but also special behaviour and actions by Van Riebeeck and the later commanders/governors. Particularly troubling was the behaviour of the KhoiKhoi as non-members of the Cape refreshment station, as well as the influx of more and more slaves. These were points of focus. Both non-White groups were, similar to the Whites, without direct voting rights, but also without the official status and rights which the White officials and burghers enjoyed. Where the Whites enjoyed property rights and could present petitions to the authorities in the Netherlands about their problems, these two groups were discriminated against outright from day one: the slaves became property of the VOC and burghers, and were deprived of basic human rights, while the KhoiKhoi, living as independent persons outside the borders of the station, were used as labourers in terms of the wishes and labour practices of the Whites. Clear or defined work or burgher rights were totally absent for non-Whites, and there were no powers of speech or petition. “Apartheid” in its basic form was introduced and undoubtedly became a new inherent part of the permanent regime of the young and under par leadership at the Cape (and spread into the later South Africa).4,12,40
Two other developments which are prominent around the judicial status of the refreshment station – and its immediate regime of leadership – were respectively the extention of the empowerment of the Council of Policy and the legal change in the status of the station from a temporary enterprise (rooted in foreign soil outside the Netherlands and managed by the VOC) to a legal permanent foreign colony. This shift in the juridical status from a station to a colony is well illustrated by the fact that new migrants to the Cape had to take the Oath of Allegiance of the State-General, the Prince of Orange and the VOC. This happening is historically of enormous significance and can be seen as the first juridical founding of South Africa, a legal thread spreading into the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa of 2018. In 1691 the status of the commander was uplifted to that of governor, with much more executive political empowerment than a commander. The first person to be appointed in this capacity was Simon van der Stel, who was already appointed in 1679 as a commander. Many see this as the conferring of the unofficial status of the “first president” of the Republic of South Africa on Simon van der Stel and not on Jan van Riebeeck.12,40
With regard to the Council of Policy, this body also became more officially organized and statutorily applicable to the norms associated with a “government” when, from 1685 it consisted of the commander, the secunde, the fiscal who was a law official with duties similar to a public prosecutor, three senior merchants of the VOC (the chief salesman, the bookkeeper and the treasurer) and two military officers. The powers of the council were the executive and the legislative. It could decide on all the issues of governance and its resolutions (as proclamations or placaaten) which became Cape laws as long they were in line with the Roman-Dutch Law and the Statutes of the Council of India. A High Court was introduced, consisting of seven members of the council, together with three representatives of the free burghers nominated by the governor for a year. This body was empowered to hear cases and to do sentencing, but was subjected to the right of appeal to the Council of India. The Court’s other duties were attending to the roads, to advise on problems around the burghers, to fix the selling prices of the burghers’ produce to the VOC, etc. Another three legal bodies created in 1682 were the Court of Commissioners to try petty cases at Cape Town, in 1676 the Matrimonial Court and in 1764 the Orphan Chamber. In 1689 an independent fiscal was appointed, independent of the powers of the governor, with responsibility to only the Council of Seventeen in the Netherlands. His task was to track and find VOC officials engaged in illegal private trading. This appointment was seen by many inhabitants as one of activating corruption and nepotism without really solving the illegal trade of officials. He also activated a power play with the governor which led many times to direct conflict with the governor, while the free burghers saw him as a part of the corrupt VOC.12,40
The reason for the change of the Cape refreshment station to the Agricultural Colony of the Cape was the outbreak of war between the Netherlands and England and the possibility of an attack by England and France on the Cape. This new world political situation seriously endangered the East-Indian ocean lane of the VOC. This new strategy position of the Cape transferred it without any counter argument into a permanent juridical entity to defend the Cape. To overcome the costs of a much needed garrison of soldiers for defense, the Council of Policy believed that a settled civil population could do service as part-time soldiers in times of conflict, and minimize the cost of a large garrison at the Cape. This end result could be obtained through more migrants and a permanent colony, making the positions of the commanders/governors at the Cape comprehensive in leadership and governance responsibilities. The fact that the refreshment station overcome a multitude of obstacles in five years’ time and was successful in producing fruit, vegetables and meat, surely reflects good leadership. But in perspective, so far this leadership was already autocratic in its political power recognition and steering, and extremely racially oriented to exclusively benefit the VOC and to a great extent also only the White population. A regime of good leadership, to be in-corporated in a permanent leadership and governance set up for all the people of the Cape (and to lay the foundation for a non-racial and democratic South Africa of the future), was again absent.12,31,40
The fact of an incoming permanent, unchallengeable Whiteness at the Cape already in the mid-1600s, is well illustrated by the building of the Castle to defend the station against the French and the British. The first stones were laid on the 2nd of January 1665 by Zacharias Wagener. The stalwart Afrikaner historian, Dr GD Scholtz, describes in 1953, during the rising of DF Malan and his doctrine of the Afrikaners, the “historical Afrikaner landmark” of the building of the Castle in 1665, confirming the proto-Afrikaner’s uniqueness and supremacy as a European in Africa, as follows43:33: “In how many intimate ways the common lot of the Cape was connected to that of the White outer world is illustrated by a poem which was especially written about this occasion” (Own translation):
Soo worden voort en voort de rijcken uijt gespreit,
Soo worden al de swart en geluwen (geel) gespreijt,
Soo dat men uijtter aerd eene steene wal opbrechten,
Daer ’t donderend metael seer wijnigh van ophechten,
Voor Hottentoosen waren ‘t altijts eerde wallen,
Nu komt men hier met steen voor anderen ook brallen,
Dus maekt men dan een schrick soowel d’European,
Als voor den Aes, Amer! En wilden Africaen.
126.96.36.199 The Godske instruction of 1671
The role of LJsbrand Godske (1672-1676) in bringing down the curse of racism, and the dividing of the people of South Africa into peoples (Black and White), needs to be highlighted. It is clear that there is very little difference between him and the later DF Malan and his Apartheid.4
The Dutch settlement of Van Riebeeck was marked by intimate social association and miscegenation between the different races, including the slaves (Indian-Malaysians and Blacks from Madagascar). In 1658 slaves started to arrive from Malaysia and other places, and indigenous people such as the KhoiKhoi and sometimes the KhoiSan entered slavery as well. The system of free burghers at the Cape in 1657 changed the society and workforce from strictly controlled VOC officials and employees and the practice of conservative European lifestyles, to that of private entrepreneurs, characterized by a much less rigid behavioural code from the VOC’s moral restrictions, such as the prohibitions on social association and intermixing with other races. The shortage of female citizens stimulated social interaction and miscegenation between White free burghers and other racial groups. Racial mingling progressed so fast that 75% of all the children born to slave women between 1650 and 1670, had White fathers.4,6,9,10,30
The narrow minded Calvinistic autocratic local ruler of the Cape, the VOC, quickly restricted this social interaction and miscegenation between White free burghers and other racial groups. An official instruction in 1671 from the commissioner (who also acted as commander from 1672-1676) Isbrand Godske, prohibited sexual intercourse between Whites and slaves, while the Council of Policy also forbade extramarital sexual intercourse between White men and young slave women in 1678. This was followed by a prohibition on marriages and extramarital sexual relations between Whites and freed slaves in 1685. The focus of racial discrimination was initially on foreign peoples (slaves of Indian-Malaysian origin and Blacks from Madagascar) and other indigenous people like the KhoiKhoi. It seems as though indigenous Blacks, like the Xhosas, were not initially included in the South African racial discrimination that started in 1671. Indigenous Black assimilation only started around 1730 with the first contact between the proto-Afrikaners and the Xhosas on the borders of the Cape Colony.4,6,9,10,30
Louw writes that4:62:
The racial discrimination described above, exclusively based on skin colour and officially recorded in 1671 with the Godske instruction, can be regarded as the first apartheid law of South Africa. Godske was the first White proponent of organized racial discrimination, eventually against all people of colour. However, this discrimination seemed to adhere to a view where ethnicity is seen in terms of class, meaning that the poor, and therefore to a certain extent the underdeveloped non-Whites at the Cape, were regarded as having a lower socio-economical standing and as “untouchables.” The slaves especially were stripped of their human rights and dignity and their financial and personal independence. They were impoverished. Also, the initial problems with the behaviour of the first slaves in 1658 and the Hottentots in terms of work and social habits and aggressiveness already manifested from 1652. This contributed further to levels of social differentiation and discrimination between certain sectors of the White community and other racial groups in general (specifically guided and practiced officially by the Cape authority). It is in this context that the VOC implemented a strict policy of separation between Whites and the other races such as the slaves, Hottentots and Blacks from 1671. Later the Xhosas, with whom the Whites started to make contact in 1730, were included. This was extended to all Blacks and to all other races in South Africa from the 1850s onwards, especially in the republics of the Transvaal and the Free State. The year 1671 can therefore be considered the beginning of socio-controlled racial manipulation and engineering in South Africa, specifically with the aim of Whites limiting and managing the personal and group rights of all other racial groups in some way.
Racial discrimination, based on skin colour, was thus legally established in South Africa in 1671 by the VOC. It was managed from the Netherlands, and not initially by the White incumbents. Notwithstanding this early legal discrimination, illegal clandestine relationships and illegitimate relations between the different races still continued in South Africa, right up to 1994, when the Immorality Act, which legally prohibited sexual relations and miscegenation between Whites and non-Whites, was struck off the law books.
As already reflected in the early learning and internalization of “bad” behaviour into the mindsets of the proto-Afrikaners and later the Afrikaners, the majority of the early Cape Whites were not only introduced to statutory racial discrimination and domination by the authorities from 1652 onwards, but also became acclimatized to racial discrimination due to the formal human and political wrongdoings of the authorities towards other races. On this impact and its outcome, Louw writes 4:63:
Formal discrimination became internalized in the thinking of the proto-Afrikaners as “normal and correct” and this was strengthened by the many benefits that the system brought them. The immediate result was that they started to practice discrimination themselves on a continuous and extreme basis.4,17,18
Besides Godske’s negative impact on racism, Van Riebeeck’s seven immediate successors’ impacts on the Cape’s executive leadership with regard to good governance and the establishment of a regime of democracy, were minimal (their sojourns in the post of commander were on average two years in duration).33
These commanders were33:
- 1662-1666 : Zacharias Wagener (Wagenaar)
- 1666-1668 : Cornelis van Qualbergen
- 1668-1670 : Jacob van Borghorst
- 1670-1671 : Pieter Hackius
- 1672-1672 : Albert van Breugel
- 1672-1676 : IJsbrand Godske
- 1676-1678 : Johan Bax van Herenthals
- 1678-1679 : Hendrik Crudorp
3.3.3 Simon van der Stel (1679-1699)
After the fast succession of various commanders, and their failing to build constructively on Van Riebeeck’s leadership’s initiative and the creation of a much needed regime of leadership, Simon van der Stel was appointed on the 12th of October 1679 as commander. Van der Stel fast became one of the most prominent executive leaders of the Cape Colony during the Dutch reign. His more liberal policies initially towards the White inhabitants were extraordinary, bringing about an improvement of their financial circumstances and some political benefits for the White free burghers. He also activated some “self-management” for the new countryside of the Stellenbosch region by the establishment in 1682 of a Court of Heemraden, consisting of four members. Although this body’s duties and powers were initially vague, it seems as though it was meant to solve small differences and conflicts between the burghers of Stellenbosch. With time it was allocated more managerial empowerment until it was replaced by the Court of Magistrates and Heemraden to manage the countryside more effectively. During his appointment of 20 years (1679-1699) colonization was speeded up, as well as the enlargement of the colony’s borders into the countryside. Notable for his time in power was that the price of wheat rose and the labour problem was to a great extent solved by the import of more slaves (a decision which worsened the already existing division between Whites and non-Whites in terms of justified human, social and economic rights, further sinking the hopes for a balanced interracial and non-racial regime of good leadership for the new colony). Although there was still not a full democratic government, selected by the burghers for the Cape Colony, and there was serious discrimination against non-Whites, making a regime of good leadership null and void, Van der Stel’s overall behaviour and outputs as chief executive for the VOC, is described as a that of a dynamic leader inside the VOC’s autocratic ruling of the Cape Colony. But the basis for this praise is the profits and “goodness” which he brought about for the VOC, and not necessarily to the free burghers or the non-Whites. These appraisals by the VOC are well reflected by the fact that he was promoted by the Council of Policy in 1691 to the rank of governor and was in 1692 also awarded the high rank of Extraordinary Counsel to the Council of India (Extraordinaris Raad van Indië).12,40
During the visit of Commissioner Hendrik Adriaan van Rheede in 1685, an official only answerable to the Council of Seventeen and whose instruction was to rehabilitate the ailing VOC, he, to a great extent, agreed with Van der Stel’s actions and ruling. Certain improvements of the “government” of the colony were introduced by Van Rheede: the enlargement of the Council of Policy to eight officials; two additional seats for free burghers selected for one year were created on the High Court of Justice; a permanent landdrost was pointed at Stellenbosch to watch over the VOC interests and to act as chairman of the Court of Heemraden. The form of local government inaugurated by Van der Stel seems to have been a great success and remained part of the Cape Government for a century and a half.12,40
Van Rheede brought about improvements for the nearly 300 slaves at the Cape. The punishment of slaves was restricted to be authorised by the government; half-breed slaves could obtain their freedom on reaching the age of twenty-five for men and twenty-one for women; negroes born in the Cape could also ask for freedom on attaining the age of forty years of age and the payment of nearly ₤9 on the condition of good character, having a knowledge of Dutch and professing Christanity. In addition, marriages between Whites and Blacks were forbidden, but it was allowed for a White to marry a half-caste. In addition, slave children, many of mixed breed, were to be taught reading and writing in terms of Christian education. Van Rheede’s request that officials be allowed to farm was refused, although Van der Stel himself was allowed to keep his farm, Constantia. During Van der Stel’s time the first batch of Protestant Huguenots (1688-1689) arrived and were placed at Drakenstein, Frans Hoek and Paarl. The French people fast became a “problem” for Van der Stel, primarily because of their open resistance against his autocratic government.12,40
It is clear that although there seemed to be an improvement in “government” processes during Van der Stel’s reign, a democratic foundation was still, as with Van Riebeeck’s reign, absent. Although the slaves’ situation improved, these unfortunate people were still slaves without real human rights and dignity, and in general they were still commodities to be sold like livestock.12
The finance and economics of the Cape Colony did not always fare well under Van der Stel, as a result of poor prices for produce, many trading restrictions and the presence of corruption and nepotism. The illicit and lucrative cattle trade with the KhoiKhoi by the free burgher farmers fast established the Trekboers (Travelling Boers) and their trekking beyond the colonial frontier (named the frontiersmen). People its seem can not always be controlled by the law and traditional conventions. Prominent were their racism and their love for the cheap slaves’ labour to help run their farms. Many of these Boers and their descendants eventually became the Voortrekkers, who numbering between 10, 000 and 14, 000, later made the Great Trek away from the British rule.12
It seems that Simon van der Stel from the start as governor played the prominent role of a good man of integrity who cared intensely for the VOC and the inhabitants of the Cape Colony. General historical reviews by Afrikaner writers of van der Stel referred to him as a man of great importance in South Africa’s history, in that he stands symbolicly head and shoulders above all of his predecessors, that he was very able and competent, hard-working and very trustworthy. But was he really that trustworthy and good in terms of integrity? Literature by some Afrikaner historians, similar to much other emotion laden research on the Afrikaners in general, finds that they contradicted themselves many times on these “good”, “honest” and “trustworthy” characteristics. Critically analyzing data shows that the basis to his character’s malfunction seems to be anchored in corruption, state-capture, nepotism and outright dishonesty, no matter how much historians try to mask it behind his so called good administration capacities.12,40
What was the root of Simon van der Stel’s crookedness? Simply put: the liking and love of and the desire for immense earthly material belongings. The ownership of immense (and beautiful) material belongings seems to have totally possessed his mind at the end, overshadowing his so-called sound cognitive thinking, alleged wisdom and integrity as an executive leader. This contamination also spread to be a bad example of excellence, and, similar to Van Riebeeck’s self-conceit in 1652 to 1662, a failing to cement a foundation for the establishment of a regime of good leadership between the years 1679 and 1699.12,40
This process of Simon van der Stel’s possession by self-conceit and a down-spiraling into corruption began in 1685 with three clear events. In 1685, Commissioner HA Rheede, as compensation for Van der Stel’s service of excellence to the VOC (an action of giving against the guidelines of the VOC which was already forbidden in 1668), presented him with a large farm, called Constantia. In 1691 his rank was promoted from commander to governor and in 1692 he was elevated to the high rank of Extraordinary Counsel of India. These glorified actions from the side of the VOC made him very important, basically untouchable by the inhabitants at the Cape. It set him more and more on a road where he could willingly ignore the opinions of the inhabitants and do just what he pleased, right or wrong. But more seriously, it seems as though this position of “high-standing in the VOC regime” psychologically triggered a dormant disposition in Simon van der Stel’s mindset, activating dishonesty and grandiose thinking and behaviour.12,40
Although South African historians constantly tried over the years to argue that his farming activities did not interfere with his task as governor, or that his farming activities did not handicap the farming activities and profits of the farmers, it shows that Van der Stel lost more and more interest in the Cape Colony’s administration and that he spent increasing time on Constantia. To say further that his farming did not interfere with that of the farmers because they “still had a market for their produce”, is historically misleading: he competed with his great harvests directly with the farmers at the markets, influencing prices in terms of supply and counter-supply in times of over-supply. To further argue historically that Simon van der Stel’s only mishap was that he was a bad example of leadership for his son Willem, who followed him as governor, is absurd and untrue. Of course he was a bad example, not only for Willem, but for all the inhabitants of the colony.12,40
Van der Stel, a strong Netherlands-Nationalist, also reflects ethnic discrimination in addition to racial discrimination. The focus of his discrimination was the French Huguenots who arrived between 1688 and 1700 at the Cape, a group he clearly was not fond of and openly distrusted as citizens, disliking their language and culture. This delinquent ethnic action of his is well illustrated by refusing them the founding of their own church congregation and council at Drakenstein and issuing a strict warning to them to behave at the Cape. The denationalization of the Huguenots and the phasing out of French as a church and school language, are strongly associated with Simon van der Stel. An appeal to the Council of Seventeen in 1690 by the Huguenots to found their own church at Drakenstein, was successful, although certain pre-requirements were put forth by the Council of Seventeen. This outcome for the first time turned the situation against Van der Stel’s completely autocratic behaviour to many of the Cape inhabitants, and slowly started to set the stage for his departure as governor and the end of his corrupt leadership. This was denied by Nationalist-Afrikaner historians for many years. His resignation as governor in 1699 was by free will, but the odds were against him and it was possibly a well timed decision before the tide could turn against him, even by his cronies and cadres in the VOC.12,40
Van der Stel Senior’s corruption and nepotism lived forth, not only in a failed regime of under par leadership left behind, but in his ability to activate the selection process of his son Willem as his successor as governor, who unfortunately was even more corrupt than he was. The evil of men live after them – in Simon van der Stel’s case, William Shakespeare was so very correct!12,40
The racial intentions reflected by Van der Stel, especially those against the KhoiKhoi, which rest on outright distrust, also caused the further deteriation between Black and White and social isolation. It undermined any hope for the establishment of a regime of leadership where racial inferiority, separation, discrimination and domination are absent and where all the segments of the population are happy with the leadership and accept it.12,40
It is clear that Simon van der Stel’s corruption, nepotism and self-enrichment were well masked. This vicious circle of good masking can be seen in the fact that his networking of intimate friends, cronies and officials was possibly much greater and better organized than that of Van Riebeeck. In addition, the Cape’s population was much larger in the 1680s (in 1688 it was 573 persons), with more widespread interests of their own and less involvement with the executive leader of the VOC as in the time of Van Riebeek. Van der Stel’s self-enrichment, which can seldom be dismantled from corruption and nepotism, no matter how well it was covered up, seems to be reflected in line with the present day alleged schemes of self-enrichment and criminal cover ups of Zuma.13,16,18,40
3.3.4 Willem Adriaan van der Stel, the capable Zuptoid (1699-1707)
Simon van der Stel was followed in 1699 as governor by his son Willem. Willem is praised in that during his appointment, he brought about significant change and improvement to the farming sector, extened the borders of the colony and offered farms to the growing migrants. But regarding his direct and openly benefitting the officials of the Cape Colony’s Administration (who called themselves the “wedlock children” of the VOC and the colonists the “illegitimate children” of the VOC) – would today be described as nepotism and cronies-capturing – criminal behaviour. The colonists were increasingly wronged by him on various levels: his constant and growing self-enrichment, today better know as corruption, fraud and state-capture. He fast demonstrated under par leadership characteristics, blocking any hope of improving on Simon van der Stel’s and Jan van Riebeeck’s input to obtain some level or kind of a regime of good leadership and good governance. This unsatisfactory executive leadership reflected by Willem van der Stel goes much deeper and is evidence of an in-depth lack of integrity of character, the shameless promotion of corruption, nepotism, theft and mal-government by Whites at the Cape.12,40
Geen describes his few “good” and many “bad” qualities as an executive political leader, as follows12:18:
Willem Adriaan van der Stel, whose governship was to prove the stormiest in the rule of the Dutch East India Campany at the Cape, owed his appointment in the first instance to the directors’ approval of the work his father had done in the colony. He had been born in Batavia and, after many years in the service of the Company in its eastern possessions, had been made a magistrate at Amsterdam. He was a man of some ability and enterprise, who in the few years he was at the Cape settled the Land of Waveren, sent an expedition to Natal in search of timber, imported better breeds of sheep and tried, though without success, to start a silk industry. But the good that he did has been overshadowed naturally enough by his quarrel with the colonists, which came to a head in 1706 and was due in no small measure to certain defects of character that van der Stel had developed in the Company’s service in the East, where corruption was rife.; and
In view of the stir that the agitation against the governor created in the little colony, it is as well to consider the causes of the dispute, which show that corruption was as prevalent at the Cape as elsewhere in the Company’s empire, though naturally on a smaller scale.
Willem van der Stel is frequently praised in the South African history books as the person who activated successful stock breeding and farming as an industry, who influenced the colony’s economy positively and began the enlargment of the borders of the Cape Colony to include regions like Tulbagh. But within this capturing of improvement, Willem was, as his corrupt father Simon before him, also fast gobbled up by his psychological disposition of large scale corruption, nepotism, autocracic ruling, and the cover-up of his tracks of criminality, self-enrichment and outright fraud. It seems that he fast built up an intimate group of even more corrupt officials and burghers than himself to effectively promote his interests and safeguard his back for backlashes from the inhabitants as well as the VOC, that could topple him. In reality, Jan van Riebeeck and Simon van der Stel were dwarfs in comparison to the wrongdoing of the giant of crooked activity, Willem van der Stel.12,40
As in most crimes, criminality cannot be maintained indefinitely and the culprit is brought to order in the end and called to be accountable (although accountability is sometimes super-physical and time consuming, as is demonstrated by the ten years of going scot-free of Jacob Zuma). In Willem van der Stel’s case accountability was fast brought to reality. (Is it from Willem’s case that Julius Malema of the EFF coined his striking phrase: It is time to pay back). Only eight years into his reign (1699-1707), Van der Stel was successfully stopped in his tracks from serious further wrongdoing.12,40
Soon after his appointment, Willem van der Stel started to do mega-farming, notwithstanding that the Council of Seventeen had in 1688 forbidden it, as well as decreeing in 1699 that officials could not own farms and farm on a great scale. (It seems that he had successfully hidden his farm and farming activities from the eyes of the VOC for years). But nepotism and corruption, in the case of Van der Stel, already ran deep by the illegal donation of a farm of 400 morgen in Hottentots-Holland to him by Commissioner Wouter Valkenier. To keep other officials happy, possibly also Willem’s intimate friends, various other officials received farms. Secunde Sameul Elsevier, the bailiff Johan Blesius and the reverend Petrus Kalden, all received large farms, while officials of lesser status, like the magistrates Starrenburg, De Wet en Ten Damme, received sixty morgen. These officials received in total more than half so much as all the colonists put together. This subdivision of property, allocated to cronies in his office, was well-planned to divert the attention from Willem as a transgressor of the 1688 and 1699 prohibitions. A direct outcome was that Willem as well as others stayed away from their offices for long periods, as did his co-farming officials.12,40
In 1703 Van der Stel continued his nepotism, corruption and stealing from the VOC by the donation of 117 morgen to his crony, Jan Hartog, and then bought it back as his property to enlarge his original farm. He fast developed the farm, today knows as Vergelegen, by building a beautiful homestead and extensive outbuildings, while the farm was intensively cultivated. In a short time he cultivated 61.5 morgen under grapes, counting more than 500,000 stocks with the potential to deliver six hundred leaguer of wine per annum. These 500,000 stocks represented a quarter of the total stocks of the colony. His wheat harvest represented 1,100 muids (bags) of the total 4,331 muids harvested in 1705 to 1706 at the Cape. He also began to intensively farm with livestock, which included hundreds of cattle and thousands of sheep, especially in the present day Caledon, where no other farmer was allowed to farm.12,40
To farm his land and carry out other labour he bought more than 200 slaves, a workforce allegedly supported by more than 100 VOC slaves and more or less sixty White menial servants paid by the VOC. Furthermore, he obtained building material from the VOC stores seemingly without paying for it. He also forced the colonists to transport these materials to his farm without any compensation. The farming of Willem and his officials soon started to endanger the farming incomes of the colonist farmers. These farming officials also started to manipulate the markets, creating monopolies and assured sole benefits to them in the selling and pricing of their produce. Van der Stel Junior even began to manipulate the awarding of the wine leases in 1705, by awarding them to a listed criminal friend of his, a man named Phijffer. The farmers objected fiercely and prepared a petition to be sent to the Council of Seventeen in the Netherlands, describing the corruption of Van der Stel and his cronies, reporting about the bribes they had to pay to him for normal services as well as other wrongdoings. (This was the second petition: in 1705 a petition was sent to the Higher Government in India, but all that happened was that the body asked on 1706 that Van der Stel must answer to the allegations).
In blocking any effort to unmask him, Willem van der Stel showed his corrupt mindset.12,40 First he activated a petition himself which portrayed him as an honest, hard-working and religious man, as well as a good executive leader working exclusively for the benefits of the colonists. To obtain signatures for his petition he invited and treated all Capetonians to the Castle. Here he dropped his discrimination inclination to a certain extent by inviting the lower social and worker classes, such as labourers, slaves, and traders such as fishermen! Moreover, he sent the magistrate Starrenburg into the country to obtain further signatures to favour him, but with very little success. In the end he obtained 240 signatures to back up his case, seemingly from lower class farmers, slaves and even exiles, while the chances were also good that some signatures were forgeries.40
Secondly, Willem van der Stel did the same flip-flop as is done by most autocrats and crooks when time starts to run out for them. Van der Merwe40 compiled the following on his autocratic behaviour40:81-82:
He arrested the leader of the petitioners, Adam Tas, and from his documents Van der Stel became aware of the full contents of the second petition, especially the accusations against him, as well as the names of the inner circle of the petitioners;
He arrested some of the 63 petitioners on charges of sedition and rebellion and decided to send five to Amsterdam to defend themselves there on these charges, which Van der Stel believed the HERE XVII would hold against them;
Then he appointed a commission from the Council of Justice to prosecute the leaders of the movement against him. His intention was to persuade through these kind of threats to stop further actions against him. To cover up his wrongdoing and to steer an outcome in his favour, he appointed all the officials accused in the petition to serve on the commission while a colonist loyal to him was to represent the colonists;
The magistrate Starrenburg was appointed as prosecutor, and not as required the fiscal whose work it was to act as public prosecutor;
Van der Stel hid his direct involvement in the proceedings well by not taking a seat on the bench. Indeed, he was still manipulating the proceedings and the outcome of the prosecution by sitting in a room next to the court and where he was constantly consulting Starrenburg;
The hearings of the accused were separated and they were brought one by one before the bank. First they were asked to change their minds in favour of Van der Stel. If they failed to offer a testimony in favour of Van der Stel, they were taken back to the cells. If a prisoner after a certain time still refused to recall his views on the governor, he was threatened with being locked up in the “Donker Gat” (Dark Hole) in the Castle, an underground space without any light or fresh air which was well known for its fast and devastating effect on the health. Threats were further used such as the withholding of food (only water and bread), to use the pain rack or to be banned to Mauritius. (Indeed, some accused were held for weeks in unhealthy cells before confessing, three were sent to the “Donker Gat”, while two of the accused were already on a ship to Mauritius before confessing);
Van der Stel rewote these confessions of the accused and styled them to favour his honesty, before the HERE XVII saw them, and sent them to the Netherlands with his own defence as well as a declaration on the delinquent behaviour of the accused.
188.8.131.52 Pay-up time, Mister Willem van der Stel!
But the writing was on the wall for Willem Adriaan van der Stel. Unbeknownst to him was the second petition of the colonists, sent in secret with one of the ships of the same fleet to the Netherlands. It was one of the ships that carried Van der Stel’s own petition and other evidence against the colonists, as well as the five leaders of the “rebellion”.12,40
So assured of the cover-up of his “good case” was Van der Stel, that he merely continued his prosecution of “delinquent” colonists, under the guidance of magistrate Starrenburg. But public resistance became strong, with many colonists ignoring requests of assistance for food delivery or to appear before the court.12,40
At Amsterdam in the Netherlands things went badly wrong for Van der Stel, and a situation manifested that he did not expect and for which he was totally unprepared. But this was not a sudden insight in the mindsets of the directors of the Council of Seventeen of Amsterdam – indeed they were well informed by various other petitions bemoaning the growing criminality in the mindset and actions of Willem van der Stel and his cronies. All that they were waiting for was the return fleet from the East to bring documentation with more clear information. The Council of Seventeen stepped in fast and offered judgment in favour of the colonists. The end result was that Governor Willem van der Stel, Secunde Samuel Elsevier, Reverend Petrus Kalden and Magistrate Starrenburg were fired and recalled to the Netherlands, while the banned colonists were brought back to the Cape at the cost of the VOC. In addition, all colonists in prison at the Cape were set free and all the charges against the colonists laid by Willem Van der Stel and his official cronies, were recalled. The material possessions of Willem Van der Stel, which he obtained by crooked means, were confiscated from him – his farm was divided into four sections and it, with its buildings, sold publically. Van der Stel’s monopolies of the wine and meat trade were nullified.12,40
Willem Van der Stel failed outright, not only as executive leader in 1707, but he was one of the greatest failures as a leader so far in the South African history. But this failure goes deeper: it completely devastated any remnants left by Jan van Riebeeck and Simon van der Stel of a kind of a regime of leadership and an example of governance to guide future leaders in the then South African history still to be made. If there was until that time some kind of a regime of leadership, even at the lowest levels, it was totally erased from the mindsets of the upcoming politicians of the 1700s, officials of status as well as that of most of its colonists at the Cape.12,40
3.3.5 Period 1707 to 1795 under the VOC
Subsequent to the departure of Willem van der Stel, basically nothing changed in the way of ruling at the Cape Colony. The population was growing, although at a slow pace. In 1700 the number was 458 adult colonists, while a decade later there were 656. Indeed, from 1707 the VOC, guided by the Council of Seventeen, reverted to their original policy of not supporting immigration, which led thereto that in the 18th Century immigration became a small stream. Stock farming also started to accelerate, forcing the necessity for more land. A nomadic kind of stock farming began, away from the Cape, in the countryside. Indeed the area bought in the 1800s under VOC control was large in relation to its small population of colonists.9,44 This land expanded into the interior, and was assisted by the VOC. The Border and Travelling Boers (White frontiersmen) were left free to indulge in cattle trade, provided they did not impinge on the VOC’s rights. Geen writes12:21:
Thus was the dispersal of the colonists into the interior of Southern Africa begun. In the years after 1707 it was neither the citizens of the presentable little city of Cape Town nor the agricultural farmers of the surrounding districts that were to play the foremost part in the history of the colony, but the pastoral farmers on the ever-changing frontier.
The eighteen governors that followed after Willem van der Stel showed no controversial behaviour. Basically the style of government, enforced by the VOC, and the lack of true democracy since 1652, prevailed. Only five governors stayed six years and longer and need reference in terms of the establishment of a bad versus good model of leadership and governance. The eighteen governors for the period 1707 to 1795 were33:
- 1707-1708 : Johannes Cornelis d’Ablaing
- 1708-1711 : Louis van Assenburg
- 1711-1714 : Willem Helot
- 1714-1724 : Maurits Pasques de Chavonnes \
- 1724-1727 : Jan de la Fontaine
- 1727-1729 : Pieter Gijsbert Noodt
- 1729-1737 : Jan de la Fontaine
- 1737-1737 : Adriaan van Kervel
- 1737-1739 : Daniel van den Hengel
- 1739-1750 : Hendrik Swellengrebel
- 1751-1771 : Rijk Tulbagh
- 1772-1773 : Baron Pieter van Rheede van Oudtshoorn – was appointed but died en route to the Cape
- 1773-1785 : Baron Joachim van Plettenberg
- 1785-1791 : Cornelis Jacob van de Graaff
- 1791-1792 : Johann Isaac Rhenius
- 1792-1793 : Sebastiaan Cornelis Nederburgh
- 1792-1793 : Simon Hendrik Frijkenius
- 1793-1795 : Abraham Josias Sluysken
184.108.40.206 Maurits Pasques de Chavonnes (1714-1724)
De Chavonnes, a person described as “a man of some ability”, tried to overcome the old economic problems of the colony, namely its unprofitability, by raising the production of farms to yield more produce at lower running costs. In 1717 the Council of Policy thought it could address this problem by the import of more slaves, because they saw White labourers coming from Europe as “lazy and incompetent and as being more expensive than slave labour”.12:22 The fact is that Black slave labour was cheap and easy to manipulate and subordinate, whereas White labourers would not allow this kind of treatment.
The plea in 1717 of Captain Dominique de Chavonnes (brother of the governor and the commander of the Cape garrison) against slave labour and the wisdom around it, was totally ignored by the already racial predisposition of White farmers on cheap Black slave labour and the dehumanizing that the slave population already underwent at the Cape. The Biblical “baas-kneg” was central here, with the Blacks as acceptable subordinates, already stripped of their human dignity, while the White labourer seems not to be part of the lower social hierarchy whereto to slaves had belonged since the social stratification of races introduced by Godske in 1671. The rigidity of the Whites’ mindsets already captured by racism led thereto that they missed out on Dominique de Chavonnes’ wisdom when he said12:22:
“…white artisans were better workers than coloured slaves” and pointed out that “because they earned more they also spent more”. This would create a larger home market, making the colony more defensible and that the absence of slaves would encourage the development of habits of industry and lead to smaller farms that could be worked properly.
The end outcome was the importation of more slaves to the Cape for the exclusive benefits of the Whites and more perpetration of inhumanity on non-Whites. It is important to note that the slave laws had with time become more barbarous and punishments consequently more severe, making the “management” of slave labour and their behaviour much better and easier than that of free White labourers.12
The above quotation was specifically placed here with the focus on the later, further misuse of cheap Black labour and work reservation to exclusively benefit Whites during Apartheid. The further remark of Baron Gustaf Willem van Imhoff, who stayed (during the appointment of Governor Hendrik Swellengrebel: 1739-1750) for some time in 1743 at the Cape, must be read in the same context of the rooting of Apartheid’s later benefits for Whites, coming from this earlier time. Van Imhoff also reported, as Dominique de Chavonnes had done more than twenty-five years back, on the evils of slavery, by identifying an interesting cognition, already then seemingly in existence, to be reflected later by many of the forthcoming Afrikaner- Nationalists, in their use and misuse of cheap non-White labour inside the “baas-kneg” setup, which was strictly practiced until 1994. Van Imhoff’s view of the White farmer of the 1740s of the Cape was far from flattering when he said12:25:
I believe it would have been for the better, had we, when the colony was founded, commenced with Europeans and brought them hither in such numbers that hunger and want would have forced them to work….But having imported slaves every common or ordinary European becomes a gentleman and prefers to be served than to serve…We have in addition the fact that the majority of the farmers in this colony are not farmers in the real sense of the world, but owners of plantations, and that many of them consider it a shame to work with their own hands.
In 1662, Commander Zaharias Wagener also referred to some of the free burgher farmers who ceased to farm in a much more derogatory tone to that of Van Imhoff’s remark nearly a century later, when he said10:7-8:
“versopene, luije, lompe vlegels”, that despite all threats and measures of duress went to live at the Fort, where they ran boarding houses, in order to try and exploit sailors and visitors, and proceeded to sit idly on their porches, endlessly drinking and being idle, which allows for the Devil’s work”. (Own translation)
It seems as though the choices of the VOC of their “settlers” to the Cape were not always the best to form a nation in the end. The fact that the VOC’s executive leaders at the Cape also failed the tests of “goodness” in many cases, strengthen this view. It is thus important to briefly look further into the profiles of some of the governors after de Chavonnes (1714-1724).
220.127.116.11 Hendrik Swellengrebel (1739-1750)
During Swellengrebel’s appointment, the Khoi-Khoi, KhoiSan and Xhosa problems were prominent. These problems were especially prevalent between 1737 and 1739, and serious racial disharmony and bloodshed ensued. In this period the KhoiSan, and less often the KhoiKhoi who were over time driven out from their original living areas around the Cape, started in reprisal to raid the White frontiersmen’s farms.8,9,12,,22,40
The KhoiKhoi were eventually no longer a problem, and seemed to submit to their subordinate position under the Whites. The bulk of the KhoiKhoi stayed within the the borders of the colony, becoming part of the farming environment as labourers, where they were absorbed into the growing Colored group. Some smaller groups withdrew from the incoming White frontiersmen, forming communities on their own, such as Adam Kok’s group, who moved from Piketberg to Kamiesberg, allowing his group to absorb half-breed KhoiKhoi to form the Griqua tribe.8,9,12,22,40
It seems to be the KhoiSan who refused to be part of this subordinate plan of the VOC Government. The White frontiersmen illegally occupied their traditional hunting areas and so they started an organized resistance in the form of attacks, in an effort to drive the Whites out. They where initially in some cases very successful, but their primitive weaponry in the form of bows and poisoned arrows and their restriction of moving by foot, made them easy targets for the White frontiersmen, moving fast on horses in large groups with guns. Most of the onslaughts by the KhoiSan, starting from 1715, were a kind of guerilla attack, spreading out over the vast borderline of the colony. The counter measures of the Boer frontiersmen were to organize commandos to subdue the KhoiSan. These punitive actions of the Boers were mostly extremely uncontrolled. In many of these KhoiSan hunting parties the VOC Government gave formal permission to the White frontiersmen to undertake these killings, leading thereto that hundreds of Bushmen were “terminated” in punishment actions which had been authorized.8,9,12,22,40
These uncontrolled killings of especially the KhoiSan were also prevalent during the time in office of Ryk Tulbagh (1751-1771), Swellengrebel’s successor, and that of Baron Joachim van Plettenberg (1773-1785), and continued until the end of VOC rule at the Cape. It also spread out against the Xhosas, whose land the White frontiersmen also illegally penetrated and occupied (although many Afrikaner historians ignore this reality in their books).8,9,12,22,40
The period from the early- to late 1700s was characterized by Whites and non-Whites coming face-to-face about illegal land occupation due to the failure of the VOC government at the Cape to handle the White frontiersmen’s increasingly delinquent behaviour to indigenous South Africans and their unrelenting illegal grabbing of the KhoiSan and Xhosas’ land. This set the stage for immense conflict, bloodshed and the creation of permanent hatred between Whites and Blacks. The fact that land grabbing by the Whites was the main reason for all these conflicts, leading to attacks and counter attacks and mass bloodshed, was ignored outright by the VOC. There was no effective border policy and strict ruling of their White subjects, whose ancestors they had brought to South Africa to settle initially only around Cape Town. IJsbrand Godske theoretically started up successful “apartheid” in South Africa in 1671, but the racism and racial disharmony which has been the country’s main problem up until today, was created directly by the White governors of the VOC, especially starting with Swellengrebel, and continuing undisturbed until the end of VOC rule with Sluysken as executive political leader in 1795. It is important to provide some insight into these early happenings, specifically the prominent roles of the White, KhoiSan and Xhosa frontiersmen in this later political mess.8,9,12,22,40
18.104.22.168.1 White frontiersmen
We have already noted Geen’s12 reference to the disorderly and law-evading actions of the travelling and border Boers, or so-called White frontiersmen, who became in their own right sheriffs, cowboys, outlaws and crooks in a completely unorganized border area. Geen writes12:23-24:
In fact, since that it had appeared as though the central government was leaving the defence of the borders to the frontiersmen, so that in time they came to look upon themselves not only as their own defence but as a law unto themselves. In this same year (1739) one Etienne Barbier, a runaway soldier, who had attempted to raise a revolt among dissatisfied burghers at the Paarl, was captured and executed and thereafter yet another ineffective edict was published against intercourse with the native tribes.
These White frontiersmen’s delinquent behaviour was not only mostly ignored by the Cape Authority, but indeed assisted with their tacit allowing of the White frontiersmen to enlarge the colony’s area constantly by their shifting of the one official border to the following border; deeper and deeper inland, and the taking over of non-Whites’ traditional land and thus the creation of a more disorderly government. What is most important, is that these Boers and their children, who were frequently not law abididng, with strong views on race differentiation and the belief of the baas-kneg-system, which characterized the later Grand Apartheid of the National Party (NP), formed the greatest bulk of the early 1800s Voortrekkers. They undoubtedly transferred complex negative cognitions, customs, traditions, beliefs and views into the later two Boer-republics.4,12,22
Their reasons to “trek” were undoubtedly the easily availability of farms, but also the “free roaming” of an uncontrolled lifestyle, away from the Cape Authority which the White frontiersmen saw more and more as useless and uneconomic, and more of a burden than a support in their daily life.9,12,22,31
The abundance of soil and favourable conditions of the interior for stock farming, as well as little resistance from the KhoiKhoi and KhoiSan, contributed fast to a self-sufficient lifestyle. This isolation, although mostly free from the nuisance of the VOC Government, claimed a price. Within two generations, negative outcomes followed as a result of their cultural isolation and lack of good law and order, seriously affecting their traditional “Cape and European culture”. Their pastoral and nomadic way of living, where cattle bartering with the KhoiKhoi, hunting of an overabundance of game and management of the grazing of their stock were their day-to-day existence, and were undoubtedly both attractions and benefits. But their isolation, lack of educational facilities, lack of cultural and life-enriching influences and lack of sound policing of their behaviour, brought about a down-scale in their European standards of living – a serious shortcoming which was carried with them as they moved further north, west and east as the first frontiersmen. Their culturally deprived children and grandchildren carried this “cultural poverty” with them as they moved beyond the Vaal River and further north.9,12,31
Geen writes about this frontier culture of theirs as follows12:29:
…but the isolation and difficulties of frontier life also made them limited in their outlook, impatient with all forms of control and so intensely individualistic that it became difficult to unite them in effective co-operation. They lost most of their civilization on the way to the Promised Land. Some could write, still more could sign their names, many read the Bible, especially the Old Testament, into which they read a justification of themselves, their beliefs and all their works, but for the rest, learning and the affairs of the great world were closed books to them.
These frontiersmen, spreading out to the north to form with other proto-Afrikaners the Transvaal and Free State Republics, were seen in the pre-1836 period as part of a group of people, who the post-1836 British Government at the Cape had viewed as people from a backwards colony (to use the historian CW Kiewiet’s words)12. These were the people who the British were forced to make “acceptable and fitable” into the new British Empire. To fulfill this British “uplifting” ideal, it cost, in less than a half century, from the British Empire two Boer wars, millions of British pounds and the loss of thousand of lives. This leaves a great doubt as to whether the comprehensive neglect by the long rule of the VOC of the proto-Afrikaners, namely the frontiersmen and Voortrekkers, was not transferred into the mindsets of their descendants, the Transvaal and Free State burghers, and after 1910 into the Afrikaners of the Union, and whether this was ever erased.4,12
22.214.171.124.2 The official termination of the KhoiSan frontiersmen
The KhoiSan did not cultivate land or own any livestock, but lived from nature’s produce such as game and edible plants. Although the KhoiSan were hunters and not farmers, land and territory was very important to them. Certain areas of South Africa, notwithstanding a lack of inhabitants or a population, were claimed over many years by the KhoiSan as their exclusive hunting grounds and property, from which they had even driven out the incoming Blacks. These traditions and customs of the KhoiSan were principles that were not well respected by many of the unruly White frontiersmen, who started to occupy the best grazing land of the KhoiSan. For the KhoiSan this “White barbarism” of continuous land-grabbing was a serious threat to their future existence and a reason for justified war. They organized four “wars”, more like guerilla onslaughts, in 1715, 1731, 1738 and 1754 against the White frontiersmen and successfully drove them from their newly occupied farms. It was especially in times of drought that the KhoiSan started to intensively attack and to rob the White farmers.9,15
In their attacks aimed at driving the White frontiersmen southwards back out of their traditional territory, the Khoisan resorted to much cruelty – methods similar to those which are seen today in much terrorism and guerilla fighting.
Van der Walt writes about these cruelties, which meted out as much pain as possible and damage on the enemy, which characterized the KhoiSan’s warfare, as follows9:101:
This explains the frequent apparently senseless cruelty of the Bushmen. They did not just murder cattle watchmen, but tortured them with incredible cruelty. Stolen cattle were mistreated and frequently maimed as they fled. The cattle watchmen were sometimes murdered and their sheep or cattle were stabbed to death, without any thought being given to using them for food. (Own translation).
After the 1770s, the conflicts between White frontiersmen and the KhoiSan worsened, leading thereto that during the period of the early 1770s to the late 1780s, the White frontiersmen were successfully driven out of areas like the Nuweveld, bringing about serious loss of lives, livestock and damage to property. With regard to the immense losses for the period 1786 to 1788 of the White frontiersmen at the hand of these various KhoiSan guerilla attacks, Van der Walt reports9:102:
According to the calculations of Magistrate Woeke, in the Graaf-Reinet district, in the two and a half years between 1 July 1786 and 31 December 1788, 107 cattle watchmen were murdered, and 99 horses, 6,299 cattle and 17970 sheep were stolen or killed. During the last thirty years of the centuary, a bloody guerilla war full of hatred and bitterness developed. The Bushmen did not lose any chance to steal or destroy, to burn down farm houses and to murder farmers or cattle watchmen. The farmers shot all the Bushmen that they could get in their sights, and commandos were destroyed as often as possible. In 1777 the government approved a war of extermination (Own translation).
About the tragic outcomes for the KhoiSan brought on them by one of these official wars of extermination of the KhoiSan, to which Van der Walt above refers, Geen reports as follows12:28:
The relations between the frontier farmers and the Bushmen were far less satisfactory. In the ten years after 1754 there where frequent Bushmen raids on the farms each followed by a punishment commando that killed many of the raiders and made apprenctices of the captured women and children. In 1774 the Council of Policy organized a large commando under Godlieb Opperman, which ranged over three hundred miles of the borderland and, for the loss of one burgher, took over two hundred prisoners, most of whom were apprenticed to members of the commando, and killed over five hundred Bushmen. It was a sorry business and by no means the end of the matter, as for years to come, these raids and counter commandos continued.
The question must be asked as to whether the constant and senseless killing of the KhoiSan, driven from their original living space by the White frontiersmen since 1652, differs from crimes against humanity and whether it was not genocide? Was this not a well-planned scheme to wipe the KhoiSan from the face of South Africa, as the Nazis tried to do with the Jews and other minorities in the Second World War? Geen’s12 undermentioned description of who the KhoiSan were and how they were treated in the 1600s to 1700s (and possibly are still treated today) may offer us some insight into the dehumanizing and distancing as human beings which the KhoiSan underwent since the Cape Settlement started up in 1652. This process of dehumanizing was executed by the Whites, but activated and allowed unobstructed by the VOC’s executive political leaders at the Cape; persons who were supposed to be responsible for the rights and life of every South African. It also gives some insight as to how South Africans’ respect for the lives and the happiness of other people already went wrong in the 1700s. Most of all, it gives an in-depth insight as to how some of our executive political leaders between 1652 and 1795 failed all South Africans, including the KhoiSan. To issue the approval for the cold-blooded mass termination of other humans – people who were here in South Africa long before the Europeans, and basically to steal their land for self-enrichment – is unforgiveable. Any person or group wiping out a tribe, not only by their direct killing, but also by robbing them of their economics and livelihood and erasing them from society, is/are real Frankenstein Monsters. On the tragic reaching of the end of the road for the KhoiSan frontiersmen and their families as a significant tribe or group, Geen offers us a short historical reflection12:9-10:
The Bushmen, little yellow-skinned people barely five feet in height, were the least advanced of the three races [Blacks, Hottentots and Bushmen] occupying Southern Africa at the time of the arrival of the Europeans. An examination of instruments and mounds suggest that they were, perhaps, the first inhabitants of South Africa, probably having been compelled to migrate from central Southern Asia, either by scarcity of food and space, or by a stronger race. According to one theory, one section going south-east occupied the Malay Peninsula, the Philippines and Australia, another section travelling west entered Spain, while a third found its way into Africa, where they were gradually pushed south by the stronger Hamites occupying the Nile region. In succession other races entered Africa from the east and by the Sixteenth Century there were probably no Bushmen north of the Zambesi River. Being nomadic hunters, they lived largely on game and roots. Their family and tribal ties were weak, their ideas of religion rudimentary and their vocabulary limited, but they had considerable artistic talent as we know from their drawings and paintings to be found in rock shelters all over South Africa. These are in many ways similar, and in some respects superior, to those extant on the walls of caves in southern Spain. However, their neighbours, both the Hottentots and Bantu, doubted whether they were quite human and so it is not surprising that the Europeans also proved enemies, and today Bushmen remain only in very small numbers in the Kalahari Desert and South-West Africa.
This “animalizing” of the KhoiSan is worse than dehumanizing can ever be, and is further well illustrated by the fact that during the Difaqane (the period 1810 to 1840 of Black-on-Black violence inland in Northern South Africa) they fell victim to cannibalism and were hunted as game by various Black tribes like the Bafokeng, in the mountain areas where they took shelter.4,12,15 As also described by Geen12 their presence as “a people” and their status as humans in Southern Africa, seen from the White frontiersmens’ view of the 1700s, was as “only a nuisance”, undoubtedly equal to the nuisance of a predator. The KhoiSan was “just a Bushman”.
Of the KhoiSan tribe’s early empowerment, strong enough initially to successfully fight the White and Black frontiersmen from 1652, there was, by the beginning of the early 1800s, basically nothing left. They could also not be spoken of as a tribe anymore. Sadly in the 1800s there was not yet an International Criminal Court (ICC) to prevent the termination of the Bushmen.
The demography of the indigenous people of South Africa, having evolved over hundreds, if not thousands of years, was irreversibly changed in one hundred and fifty years of European progress. Infantile geo-politics arrived in the 1800s for South Africa.
126.96.36.199.3 Black frontiersmen
Unil the early 1700s, the White frontiersmen’s immediate indigenous enemies were the KhoiKhoi and KhoiSan, who they forced to move north-, east- and westwards with ease, further away from the Cape Authority and further over the official borders of the Cape Colony. This constant extension of the colony’s authority, from the Breede River to the Fish River, forced Baron van Plettenberg to extend the frontier “officially” to the Fish River in July 1775. In September 1778, during a visit of Van Plettenberg to the Fish River border, he found two opposition groups living suddenly in close proximity to each other: the Xhosa frontiersmen, moving south, and the White frontiersmen, moving north. The first real battle line between Black and White about land ownership in South Africa was clearly and precisely drawn.8,912,22,40
But what was important of this first clash, was that the Xhosas were not to be a pushover for the White frontiersmen, as the KhoiKhoi or KhoiSan had been. The Boers found their match after more than hundred years of uncontrolled subjugation of the KhoiKhoi, KhoiSan and Cape slaves. These first clashes in the Fish River region formed the beginning of the future infighting between Blacks and Whites, running continuously over more than two centuries, until 2018.8,912,22,40
Geen12 describes the needs and reasoning of Blacks as well as Whites of that time (which do not differ very much from their needs and reasoning in 2018, and which also form the arguments of the leader of the EFF, Julius Malema, which he is constantly hot-bloodedly voicing in Parliament in favour of his land-capture). Geen writes12:28:
The clash with the Bantu in the region of the Fish opened a new chapter in South African history, which was to prove both long and stormy, for both the Bantu and the Boers were pastoralists whose wealth lay in their herds of cattle and sheep and whose chief object in life was the search for new water and pastures. What made the clash all the more severe was the fact that the new eastern frontier lay in an area of uncertain rainfall and drought. Moreover, to intensify the struggle, the area of unreliable rainfall lay behind the Boers and that of the more plentiful rainfall behind the Bantu.
But the concept of land and the fighting about it goes much deeper than just grazing and a livelihood through farming, as many White historians, like Geen12 (also quoting Professor WM Macmillan in this respect) interpret by saying12:30:
‘The little understood Kaffir Wars are properly to be regarded as the struggle between two streams of colonizers for the possession of valuable land’. This struggle was complicated by the fact that the European and Bantu ideas on the holding of land differed fundamentally, the former being based on ownership, while according to Bantu customary law, a chief could neither sell nor cede land, but could merely grant the right of using it in a particular way. For a long time this difference of conception was a stumbling block to peace in South Eastern Africa.
This view of Geen’s12 is far from the full truth: the truth was that the constant northern, western and eastern moving White frontiermen were not interested in leasing or buying land. They “stole” land which had become over a long period, mostly by fighting and then occupation, the exclusive property of the Black frontiersmen (it did not matter if it was under a chief’s customary holding). (Mostly it seems that the chiefs were not willing to relinquish their land anyway). It was unlawful land grabbing, mostly by force, by the White frontiersmen. When these Black frontiersmen reacted by raids into their lost land, these actions led to “justified” reprisals by the Whites in the form of the various Xhosa wars (or, as Geen12 called them, the Kaffir Wars).
Although the Blacks were the majority in these first clashes, they made their own pre-modern weaponry and were thus unequal in fighting ability, when compared with the White frontiersmen, who were well equiped with weapons and horse mobility. They became the losers in the long term political history of South Africa. But this victory for the Whites did not come with ease, and never really eased up, not even in 2018.
Geen writes about the inequality between the White and Black frontiersmen battling for empowerment and the good outcomes for the White frontiersmen from their better military striking power, as follows12:28:
In the struggle that followed it was the [White] frontiersman that had the advantage, for his horse gave him greater mobility, his gun gave him irresistible fire power and his tented wagon enabled him to turn conquest into settlement by bringing up his family and household goods, as they were.
This inequality in military empowerment against the Whites stayed with the Blacks (as with the other non-Whites, like the Coloreds and Indians) for centuries, and could not even be cracked by the ANC’s MKs’ best tries. But in these conflicts, originating in the late 1700s, the Blacks also lost out immensely on politics, economics and social life: the winner takes all; all ways. The same which had happened with the Whites’ political, emotional, cognitive and economical deprivation at the Cape Colony under the VOC regime of nearly two centuries, had unfortunately also happened to all non-Whites in South Africa, due to their suppression from 1652 onward. The same process to make people from a backwards country acceptable and fit for a modern country — as was tried by the British Empire with the Whites in the Cape Colony after their years of ordeal at the hands of the VOC – had also been followed since 1994 in South Africa. Unfortunately not all South Africans have so far been successful in overcoming their immense deprivation, coming from as far back as1652.4,12
188.8.131.52 Joachim van Plettenberg (1773-1785)
After the Willem van der Stel debacle, the relations between the Cape Authority and the colonists were stable, although there was no real change to a democratic government and open society. The political power was still solely vested in the governor and his Council of Policy and the VOC owners of the Cape Colony. For the Cape Government, which was the sole representative of the VOC, the business interests of the VOC were essential, while the colonists’ interests were secondary. But it seems that gradually extortion, self-conceit, corruption and nepotism inside the VOC by its officials began to emerge once again, especially among the higher ranking officials. Prominent was the top-heavy number of officials working for the VOC (with a ratio of one official for every five burghers!) and their under-payment, making them corrupt and nepotistic in order for them to be able to make a living. The influence of the successful revolt of the American English colonies against the trading restrictions forced upon them by the British Empire began to take a hold in the mindsets of the burghers. In this regard it must be mentioned that the free burghers still had no direct share in the government of the day, while there were numerous trading restrictions imposed on them which smothered the development of trade and the beginning of any industry. At the same time the VOC was in the process of declining, making the burghers a target for a greater income generating source for the VOC and the Cape Colony’s administration.8,9,12,22,40
There was also a new misuse of juridical power inside the undemocratic VOC management against the colonists. It was highlighted with the appointment of the Independent Fiscal, Willem Cornelis Boers, who was only responsible for his behaviour to the Council of Seventeen to judicially oversee cases without any say by the governor. He also discriminated against the status of the colonists (White, but of local birth) and the inhabitants of the Netherlands. This inclination led further to an “uplifted” view of the VOC officials’ status with the colonists “stripped” of their “status”, resulting in more and more objections by the colonists against the governor, the Council of Policy and specifically WC Boers.8,9,12,22,40
A petition to the Council of Seventeen gave a better view of the unsatisfactory Cape situation to the council, although little negative was mentioned of Van Plettenberg himself as governor, notwithstanding his extreme policy against any opposition, which had already led to his deportation of eighteen burghers. As previously mentioned, prominently in focus during that time were WC Boers and his crony officials. The burghers put forward certain demands, like the codification of the laws; demanding that seven burghers should be members of the Council of Policy when matters concerning the colonists were under discussion; that two of these burghers should retire annually and that their places should only be replaced by the nominees of the burgher councillors; they asked for equal representation with the officials on the High Court of Justice and for the right of appeal to the Council of India. Regarding the immediate improvement of their economics, they demanded the abolition of private trading by the officials, the grant of free trade with foreign ships and the VOC, and a reduction in farm rents.8,9,12,22,40,43
Van Plettenberg, in reaction to the Council of Seventeen’s enquiry, argued that the petitioners were in the minority (only four hundred out of three thousand burghers signed it). The outcome was that only the demand about the same number of representatives as that of the officials on the High Court was granted, but having representatives on the Council of Policy was refused.8,9,12,22,40
After this negative outcome the burghers sent a deputation to the State-General in the Netherlands in 1785, bringing some, but limited improvement in 1876 to the Cape’s governance, such as the introduction of a committee of the High Court consisting of three officials and three burghers, chosen by the Council of Policy to fix prices, but only to make suggestions on new forms of taxation. Included in their duties were also the control of public works and acting as a municipal council for Cape Town. The political rights of the burghers were still non-existant.8,9,12,22,40,44
The successors of WC Boers – Jan Jacob Serrurier and Van Lyden van Blittersrijk – showed the same judicial arrogance. New reactions by the burghers began to take place. Central to these actions were various unnamed writings, which started to circulate in the Cape Colony. The central sentiments in these writings were the right to live in a democracy and to have political rights and freedom, something so far unknown at the Cape. Uncontrolled wrongdoing by the VOC officials and governor, against the colonists, also became prominent subjects. More and more requests for resistance by the White frontiersmen were put on paper. Anti-VOC secret meetings were being held. This battle for freedom, lead by 444 colonists, ended in a comprehensive Burgher petition (a political and juridical document of very high standard) which they wanted to send to the Netherlands, but this was refused by the governor and the Council of Policy. In the end it was sent in 1779 in secret to the Netherlands, where it was presented to the Council of Seventeen by four colonists as representatives of the Cape burghers. Although many of these 1779 requests of the colonists were refused, some were accepted.12,22,44
A later petition in 1782, the Nadere Memorie, was mostly also unsuccessful. Most of all, the beginning of democracy was blocked, as Beyers explains43:118: “The principle of free election in all burger-like matters, which were pleaded for in art 7 of the Nadere Memorie and in art 9 and 13 of the Burgerpetisie, were not approved by the HERE XVII (Own translation).
On the other hand, positive political outcomes followed, some slow but some fast, such as the resignation of some of the prominent corrupt and underperforming high officials, namely the Independent Fiscal WC Boers, the Equipage Master Damien Staring and the Head of the Cape Militia, Van Prehn. But most of all at last sound political thinking and planning on the side of the burghers did prevail. The colonists started to ignore the Council of Seventeen and the VOC and turned for help to the State-General of the Netherlands in their quest for democracy. The organization of the colonists into a political unity led to the founding in 1784 of a political party, the Patriotte. In 1784 this party addressed the State-General three times with requests that the Cape Colony’s statutory position should be changed to a “Volkstaat subordinate to the State-General” for political governance. These three addresses in 1785 were without real success. As a last resort, they again sent a delegation in 1795 to the Netherlands, and again addressed the State-General, but again without success.12,22,43
Geen12 summarized the immense failure of Van Plettenberg as a governor very well with the following inscription12:33: “The record of van Plettenberg’s governorship make for dismal reading…”. However, the reading of the records of the other commanders and governors before him, from as far back as 1652, also make for dismal reading.8,9,12,22,31,40,43
184.108.40.206 Cornelis Jacob van de Graaff (1785-1791)
In 1786, during the office of Cornelis Jacob van de Graaff (1785-1791), another petition was sent to the State-General in the Netherlands, but again it failed the test.
But the Cape Patriotte had a taste now for freedom and democracy. Basically the driving force was that they believed in their right to be able to select their own political representatives and the right to rule themselves. This was now the main thinking of and planning by the burghers. In the meantime, the VOC started to lose authority and to fall into financial dispair as a business entity. The need for independence was fast activated at Graaff-Reinett and Swellendam. The burghers of Graaff-Reinet, which was declared a separate District in December 1785 by the Cape Authority, started, especially as a result of their poor economic conditions and the continuing attacks by the Xhosas, for which they received no help, to take the first steps towards “independence”.
The founding of Graaff-Reinet as a separate district by the VOC sounds more glorious than it was. It was mainly constructive in improving the governmental order of the VOC between the Gamtoos and Fish Rivers, and changing the White frontiersmen’s delinquent and disorderly behaviour. The Graaff-Reinet district, most of which fell between the two rivers, fast became a headache for the VOC. The VOC’s various edicts, recalling all burghers to the colonial side of the Fish River, and their forbidding of the burghers to go into the Xhosa territory to trade, was, as the many previous VOC proclamations, null and void, basically because there was no VOC police force to enforce the edicts on the many Boers who trespassed constantly. (It is doubted whether the VOC Government was ever actually intent on stopping border crossings and trade). This ongoing expansion of the Cape Colony and White territory by the uncontrolled and more and more independent White frontiersmen, activated direct conflict between the burghers and the Xhosas, leading to the Second Xhosa war (1789-1793) and the Xhosa’s focused driving out of the burghers from the Zuurveld by their chief Ndhlambi. The stage was set for future and more White frontiersmen’s conflicts with the Black frontiersmen and the intensification of the growing “Black-White problem” of South Africa. Central here was the legal land ownership of established Xhosa areas (although without card and transport), ongoing confiscation by the White frontiersmen and the VOC Government themselves. Vague international legislation was available but for the Xhosas, as for the KhoiSan, it seems to have not been available in the South African 1800s of “cracked” European justice.9,12,40
220.127.116.11 Abraham Josias Sluysken (1793-1795)
On the 1st February 1793 the newly established French Republic declared war on Great Britain and Holland, leaving Sluysken as governor in charge of the VOC’s Cape Colony with a very insecure position. He upheld the interim situation of the failing frontier policy of the VOC by basically doing nothing. As a result, the situation became more and more restless, mostly due to the disorderly activities of the White frontiersmen. The end outcome was that the frontiersmen started to ignore the Cape Government, which they saw as not having protected them and, in terms of the liberal Maynier policy, having forbidden them to protect themselves against the KhoiSan and the Xhosas. This political instability of the VOC Government and sudden political opportunity for a break-away, gave birth to the long dreamed of ideal of the free burghers own republic spirit.
… on the 27th Augustus 1795, the seething dissatisfaction came to a head, when Adriaan van Jaarsveld and JC Trigardt, in command of forty burghers, drove Maynier from his drostdy at Graaff-Reinet and appointed a provincial landdrost and heemraden. Subsequently they proclaimed a republic with a National Assembly of its own of which van Jaarsveld was president. On the 16th July 1795 the Swellendam ‘Nationals’ followed suit and chose H Steyn as president.12, 43
These two declarations as “republics” must in addition be seen as declarations of “independence from the VOC”, rather than a total break-away from the Cape Colony. Although there was some unclearness with the burghers of Graaff-Reinet and Swellendam on their political and judicial positions in the Cape Colony, it seems as though they saw themselves as part of the free Republic of the Netherlands, either as republics or as colonies. The most important outcome of these happenings was that they saw themselves to be “unchained from the slavery of the VOC”. It seems that Stellenbosch and Cape Town also considered “independence”, but their plans were fast blocked by the arrival of a British military force at the Cape in June 1795. For the burghers of Graaf-Reinett and Swellendam, a British occupation of the Cape Colony was less favourable in terms of their existing lack of respect for law and order, than it was for the politically finessed and law-ordered Stellenbosch and Cape Town. Graaf-Reinett and Swellendam saw the coming of a possible British rule over them as endangering their “delinquent” freedom and uncontrolled activities which they had been allowed by the VOC. Notwithstanding some military resistance, the Cape Colony was handed over to the British Forces on the 16th September 1795. With this transfer, the VOC disappeared forever from the Cape Colony. In 1796 Graaff-Reinett accept British rule. The same happened with Swellendam. The dream of political freedom of the White colonist farmers and White frontiersmen, coming from as far back as 1652, ended absurdly a hundred and fifty years later in 1796. Notwithstanding this disappointment, the foundation was laid for a new political struggle for freedom.12,22,43
18.104.22.168 The beginning of Xhosa and KhoiSan racism
The above-mentioned overview of the executive political leaders of the Cape Colony shows a new, clear separation between Whites and non-Whites in the colony, additional to the earlier separation at the Cape Settlement since 1652. This racial separation was now based on the economic, social and cultural factors. It laid the foundation in the mindsets of non-Whites, such as the Blacks and the Khoisan, that the Whites did not respect their culture and habits, customs and traditions, as well as their “property rights and laws”, despite how undefined and “pre-modern and uncivilized” these “rights and laws” were in terms of the “standards” seen from European stereotypes. For the non-Whites, the Whites were undoubtedly seen as “European barbarians” who did not deserve a place in the African context. For many of the non-Whites, modelled into their pre-modern psyche, the killing of the enemy was the natural way (and the only way) to assure their continuation as a group and reinstitute their previous rights and properties. (This behaviour is still apparent today in the USA’s activities in the Middle East against the indigenous Afghans, Iraqis and Syrians who dare to oppose their will or endanger their interests). In this context the non-Whites were fast classified by Whites to be a “dangerous species”; one without a justified place in the modern society, and with very good reason because of their constant murderous behavior. Their killings on sight were justified and constantly practiced, while the “extermination” for instance of the KhoiSan, was a legal and natural process. Inhumanity began to be internalized into the mindset of the Whites, while racial discrimination in the form of White supremacy, was undoubtedly activated to lay the foundation for later phenomena such as Apartheid.4,9,12,22
From the above it is clear that the executive political leaders of the White farmers, as well as the executive leaders of the government, in their actions to solely safeguard the lives and property of the White farmers (notwithstanding the illegal possession thereof from the indigenous non-Whites) by the “formal extermination” for instance of the KhoiSan, were undoubtedly seen as “good”, or even “great” leaders from the White side. This policy of “extermination” was further undoubtedly transferred with time into the mindsets and ruling culture of the Cape regime’s executive leadership, to be followed in time by future White executive political leaders, to uphold peace and security seen from a White perspective, and only to benefit the White inhabitants. In the end it became the only “correct, justified and applicable way” of dealing with South Africa’s masses of non-Whites.9,12
The non-White South Africans, such as the Xhosa and the KhoiSan, had however, clearly developed totally different views to those of the Whites on the concepts of good leaders and good regimes of leadership. The non-Whites’ disapproving and opposing views are reflected in their “formal extermination” of White farmers (and even their non-White servants) in the 1700s to the 1800s in their war against the White occupiers. This means undoubtedly that they viewed their own leaders, enacting these murders, as “good” leaders, acting in line with their established pre-modern regime of leadership, which had prescribed for a long time, from generation to generation, the murdering and outright killing of their enemies.9,12,22 But to say that there was not the same quality of leader, or the same type of regime of leadership with the Xhosas or KhoiSan, as had been maintained by the Whites at the Cape since 1652, is totally untrue. Just study once again the inhumanity of installing non-Whites as slaves and their cruel treatment at the Cape, the grabbing of the Xhosas’ and KhoiSan’s land, together for instance with the hunting of the “animal’, the Bushman. This makes the quality of the indigenous non-Whites and that of the “European” Whites, equal, notwithstanding the poor quality of this behaviour.4,9,12,22
For the South African non-Whites, namely the Xhosa and KhoiSan, the only clear cognition reflected for them in the constant killing spree against them by the 1700s-1800s Cape Whites, was that they were losers against the dominant White winners, missing out on their own pre-modern murderous and cruel behavior against the Whites which made them targets. Although the Khoisan was basically in terms of group empowerment and numbers wiped out from public life through the Cape Government’s and the colonists’ policy of “termination”, hate for the proto-Afrikaner and the Whites lived on in the mindsets of their small group of descendants, and also their descendants who mixed with other non-Whites whose forefathers had suffered the same unfortunate lot at the hands of the Whites. This hatred was also apparent among the mass of Xhosas against the Whites.9
22.214.171.124 The end of the VOC and its Cape Colony ruling in 1802
The golden age of the VOC started to come to an end when the Cape refreshment station was founded in 1652, slowly moving into decline in the 18th Century. A direct reason for this decline was the two English Navigation Acts of 1651 and 1660, aimed at the Dutch carrying trade. Both the acts were followed up by indecisive naval wars between England and Holland (1652-1654 and 1664-1667). In the meantime, Holland was also involved in four wars with the French. After the death in 1702 of William of Orange (who was also King of England as William lll), Holland was ruled under an oligarchic form of republican government until 1747. These outcomes, as well as Holland’s involvement in the Austrian Succession War between 1740 to 1748, and the American War of Independence from 1780 to 1783, brought huge financial and other loses, as well as the loss of much of her shipping activities and movements. The restart of war between the French Revolution Republic and the restored House of Orange led to the flight of the Stadtholder to England and the establishment of the Batavian Republic in the Netherlands. The eventual downfall of the Netherlands as a great naval and a commercial power, also spelled disaster for the VOC in the end. The costs of the VOC and the mismanagement of the Council of Seventeen, together with immense corruption, forced the VOC to declare its last dividend in 1782, and twelve year later it was declared bankrupt.8,9,12
After the Prince of Orange fled to England, the Patriot Party of the Netherlands came to terms with the French, forming the Netherlands into the Batavian Republic as a vassal state of the French Republic. In this context the Prince of Orange asked the British Government to protect the Cape against a French occupation. With the treaty of Rustenburg, signed on the 6th September 1795, the Cape Colony surrendered to Great Britain, ending the rule of the VOC at the Cape after 143 years forever. Furthermore, with the establishment of the Batavian Republic, the VOC lost its governing powers and was legally dissolved after a chequered career of almost two hundred years.12
For this study, taking the period of 1652 to 1795 into consideration, to be able to make an evaluation on the quality of leadership of South African executive political leaders and governments, the descriptions by various political and historical writers on political leaders and governments, as well as the writings of business and management experts on business executive leaders, were consultated.13-26
The period reviewed was over one hundred and forty-three years, covering twenty-nine commanders and governors as the chief executive officers of the VOC Government at the Cape. It became obvious from day one of the study that the South Africa political history is an exclusively White one, wherein the South African non-Whites played a minimal role. Where there are references to Black leaders such as Tshaka, Ndhlambi, Gaika, Adam Kok, Moroko, and Mosheh, to mention a few, it was within a negative context, reflecting them to be aggressive, murdering and anti-White orientated. Their constructive contributions to the history of South Africa from 1652 to 1795 seem not to exist, besides their so called “constant path of bloodshed”. 8,9,12
The profile of the executive political leaders and their regimes, appraised over this period of one hundred and forty-three years in totality, undoubtedly reflects some good points, such as the instalation in 1652 of a fast, workable farming unit by Jan van Riebeeck, which activated in a few years a basic farming and sheltering environment wherein the first inhabitants could successfully survive. Here the successful instalation of a kind of administrative management to run the refreshment station by him as a leader, was prominent.8,9,12,31
What is notable is that future planning and strategic thinking with regard to the long term future of the settlement and its inhabitants was lacking from day one. This shortcoming, aside from the simple daily function of existence, was created by the fact that the VOC, although a semi-governmental institution of the Netherlands Government, failed to be a truly statutory institution, driven by the political, social, personal and economical needs, thinking, planning and activities of its inhabitants from the beginning. Profit making for the VOC was central to all activities, leading to an exclusive business mentality of thinking and management wherein the employer was the sole decision maker. This business culture stayed with the VOC at the Cape until it went bankrupt, and led to an autocratic governmental system until 1795, with the end of the VOC, leaving a legacy of many of the later Cape burghers having a cultural, economic and politically backwards setup.8,9,12
On leadership per se, the subordination of the commanders and governors to the various higher empowered bodies overseeing them, like the Council of Seventeen and the Council of India, was an enormous impediment to institute in the long term any improvement to the legal ruling of the settlement and later the colony. The Council of Policy at the Cape was always an autocratic body, serving as a power base for the Council of Seventeen, as well as for the executive leaders to enforce their foolish political views and beliefs. Herewith went the opportunity which this autocratic system offered to the executive leaders to allow corruption and nepotism by their cronies and to enrich themselves by crooked activities. With regard to allegations of crooked activities, state capture and misused power, which are being laid at the door of Jacob Zuma at the moment, persons like Jan van Riebeeck and Simon and Willem van der Stel were masters at these delinquencies. Indeed, the modern day South Africa was started up by a crook in 1652 and corruption and dishonesty have been rife among its officials from day one. It was not only Australia which was started up by criminal forefathers: South Africa, looking back on our political and historical tracts from 1652, leaves us with the question in 2018: can we ever be rehabilitated?8,9,12
One point of light in the constant political rhetoric around Jacob Zuma’s innocence or not, is that if he has stolen, it was a BEE action, fingering the Whites as the only “colonist thieves” with Jan van Riebeeck in the lead. This pin-points in our political history two contradictions which makes Whites, Coloreds and Blacks equal: Blacks, Coloreds and Whites are all colonists and it is not only Zuma to be accused of crookery, but also Van Riebeeck as a White and Willem van der Stel as a Colored! This makes us triple-blood-brothers of crooks! South African Blacks, Coloreds and Whites seemingly are all the same when it comes to delinquency!31,33-36,40
Looking critically at the appraisal checklist of the executive political leaders of the period 1652 to 1795, they failed to solve short and long term economic and political problems, especially the racial issue. They undoubtedly did good for the inhabitants in many ways, but when asking who these “inhabitants” were, they are overwhelmingly the Whites. The South African non-Whites have zero status on all terrains of life in this 1652 to 1795 environment. This inclination goes much deeper: the KhoiSans were killed by the authorities as though they were animals, while the White frontiersmen also had a free hand in these atrocities. The introduction of slaves under the auspices of the Cape’s executive leaders, starting with the White Jan van Riebeeck in the lead, laid the foundation for crimes against humanity, Apartheid and discrimination. To argue that slavery must be seen as an acceptable custom in the 1600s to 1700s timeframe and in line with Biblical traditions, is without any logical foundation. Allowing slavery into the Cape’s system was a massive moral mistake, demonstrated by the actions of Cape leaders and VOC overseers like Captain Dominique de Chavonnes in 1717 and Baron Gustaf Willem in 1743. Slavery at the Cape was for one purpose only: the self-enrichment of the Cape White farmers of today’s Western Cape. The Cape’s leaders were not only guilty of crimes against humanity by allowing it, they practiced it themselves in the buying of slaves for the service of the VOC, as well as that of their own farming. Van Riebeeck as well as the two Van der Stels were prominent slave owners in this context. Also the capturing as apprecntices of KhoiSan womenfolk and the children of the KhoiSan men, who the White frontiersmen had killed in their punitive expeditions (apprecntices being forced slaves), confirm these crimes against humanity which saturated the South African mindset over time. But slavery goes deeper: it had at its base a view of non-Whites such as the Blacks, Malaysians, Indians and KhoiSan as “dehumanized” beings in the mindsets of many Whites. Non-Whites had become objects which could become property of Whites, without free choice, as though the slave was a wagon or sheep, etc. The prominent question about the period 1652 to 1795 is: Why did the English not go into Scotland, Ireland and Spain, or the Netherlanders into Spain, to catch some of those Whites and to sell them as slaves at the Cape? Why the differentiation between White slaves versus Black slaves? Does this unanswered question not give us some insight into the racially contaminated mindsets of some of the Whites settled at the Cape refreshment station and later the Cape Colony?8,9,12,22,31,40
It seems as though most of the executive leaders at the Cape came from “good” family stock and had also received above average training and education. (Only one governor was born here, namely Hendrik Swellengrebel). Many, as previously mentioned used these personal qualities to benefit the colony, but, as happens in most political outcomes, became persons contaminated with self-enrichment and self-empowerment for themselves and the autocratic VOC Government, erasing the “good” which they could do for the inhabitants. Where improvement was brought into the Cape Government, it was requested by the inhabitants, and this improvement was also limited and not focused on empowering the inhabitants politically. Never in the various records of the Cape’s executive leaders is strong resistance reflected by them against the VOC’s many wrongdoings to the inhabitants, such as the VOC’s policies or the actions of senior VOC officials, commanders and governors. The VOC’s interests always came first; and then of course their own interests as commander or governor.8,9,12,22,31,40
Some historians use the description of “goodness” of Ryk Tulbagh (1751-1771) as an example of the “excellence” of Cape executive leaders. However, this is totally misleading, as the following example tries to show12:25-26:
“His [He] indeed was a fine character and his kindness, courtesy and generosity made him the best loved of all the Dutch governors at the Cape. The new governor was nothing if not honest and did everything possible to check the corruption of his subordinates and to counteract any official tendency to introduce into the Cape the luxurious way of life in the East by the imposition of sumptuary laws”.
This “curbing” by Ryk Tulbagh of officials’ lifestyles was clearly to generate extra money to fill the coffers of the VOC (which was moving into bankcrupcy). Moreover, how on earth could he be best loved by the KhoiSan whom he had allowed to be slaughtered without limitation by the White frontiersmen [See 126.96.36.199.2: The official termination of the KhoiSan frontiersmen. The uncontrolled killings (terminations) of KhoiSan were extremely reflected during the offices of Ryk Tulbagh (1751-1771), Swellengrebel’s successor, and that of Baron Joachim van Plettenberg (1773-1785)].
Of characteristics as leaders who were fanatically driven and infected with an incurable need to produce sustained results for the Cape and its people, to make the colony great, to take on opportunities, to study in-depth its various problems, to nourish and to propagate a lifestyle among the inhabitants and a “nation-culture” of high ethics, and to collect an excellent team of democratic confidants around them to make their leadership of top-quality, there were no real signs in the study of the profiles of the various executive leaders of the period 1652 to 1795. More precisely: not a single one of these leaders reached the status of a world-statesman after leaving the Cape, neither did they even reach the status of a good executive leader in terms of the appraisal checklist.8,9,12,22,31,40
Most of all, these early executive political leaders missed out on South Africa’s indigenous realities: of different races with different cultures, religions, customs, traditions, beliefs and development stages they seem to have had very little understanding. Furthermore, they missed out on how to think outside their color cognition of Whiteness as the only good “color” of a human being, ignoring and missing out on the immense energy locked within Black-empowerment, that was waiting to overrun the White frontiersmen’s dreams, arrogance and sense of reality (although Black empowerment was only enacted in South Africa in 1994, it was clearly visible in 1795). The respect of the personal and human rights of non-Whites and the international law on territories (in terms of which many European Wars had already been fought in the 1600s) were totally absent in the South African context of an exclusive European thinking, planning and doing in the period 1652 to 1795, with regard to lawful land-ownership. Land-ownership from 1652 onward formed the basis for racial tension and hate. Instead of addressing it with wisdom, insight, justice and a balanced objectivity, the issue was addressed by killing, subordination and dehumanizing of the non-Whites and the conquering of their land. Knowing very well that the persons who control the economics of a country also rule its politics, and they who are in charge of the politics of a country own the economics, these early Cape executive leaders kept the non-Whites completely out of the political scenario (most of the Cape’s White inhabitants experienced this too). There were not the slightest signs in the mindsets of the early Cape executive political leaders of honest development of all the Cape’s people. These political inclinations of autocracy and intolerance against subordinates, mostly of course against non-Whites, were transferred and internalized into the mindsets of the Cape’s White inhabitants by their own bad experiences at the hands of the Cape’s corrupt officials, as well as the bad examples set by the corruption practiced not only by the officials, but also by the commanders and governors. The contamination of the mindsets of the Cape’s inhabitants by serious delinquency such as murder is evident by the growing uncontrollable and unruly behaviour in the early 1700s of the White frontiersmen, and their practice of a misplaced Christian religion which was contaminated by extreme racial politics. (With regard to the Black frontiersmen’s behavior there is also evidence of growing uncontrollable and unruly behaviour in the early 1700s, not more tolerant or less murderous as that of the White Frontiersmen’s actions).8,9,12,22,31,40
The fate of the missionaries of the Moravian Brethren, during the sojourn (1737-1747) of the missionary George Schmidt at Genadendal, confirms the contaminated extreme racial politics on all levels of the White society. Geen reports as follows on this inclination12:24:
Prior to Swellengrebel’s appointment, the Moravian Brethren, a Protestant sect with a considerable following in Bohemia and parts of Germany, sent George Schmidt to the Cape as a missionary to work among the Hottentots. He founded a flourishing mission at Baviaan’s Kloof, to be known later as Genadendal, where he laboured from 1737 to 1747 to teach the Hottentots the Christian faith and to raise their standards of living and work. However, when he wished to baptize some converts, he roused the enmity not only of the ministers of the Dutch Reformed Church, but also of the colonists, who did not look upon missionary endeavour with much favour. There was no religious toleration in the colony and so George Schmidt, who was a Lutheran, was forced to abandon his work and return to Europe. It was not until almost half a century later that the Moravians returned to South Africa and took up their work at Genadendal again.
This political outcome of 1747, contaminating the mindset of many of the early Cape Whites, is what Louw4 refers to in the Afrikaners’ lifestyle as a White Christianity versus a Black Christianity and a White Jesus versus a Black Jesus.
The executive political leaders at the Cape for the period 1652 to 1795 undoubtedly created a trend by setting an example of bad leadership. The first leaders were persons who lacked integrity and morality, creating a vicious cycle of flawed political, social, religious and political thinking and behaviour among many of the Cape Whites. Sadly, this mindset that obscured sound thinking, reasoning and behaviour, also developed in the non-Whites, creating manifold problems such as racial hatred, intolerance and most devastatingly, ideas of revenge against Whites for the treatment they received during the country’s political history of 1652 to 1795.
The checklist makes it easy to classify a plethora of political behaviours by political leaders and regimes from 1652 to 1795 as bad when measured against its criteria.
From this article it is clear that there is an urgent need to evaluate also the executive political leaders and regimes from 1796 to 2018 (μ=53). The intention is to do this as a separate project with time (Project Two). At the moment some political scientists are not yet convinced of the value of statistical political science with respect to responsible political analysis and sound governmental planning, which means that funding for such research as Project Two is limited. At present many political scientists still rely on intellectual analysis and opinion for political comments and predictions. The subjectivity and superficiality of such commentary make it dubious, even dangerous.
In light of the above appraisal of political leaders and regimes for the period 1652 to 1795 (μ=30), it is important to mention that the Democratic Alliance (DA) successfully uses a similar approach to judge the performances the ANC-regime’s leaders and their standard of governance over the last ten years according to a basic 10-point scale. However, it seems as if the ANC’s elite have never taken on any of the lessons that come out of such appraisals. The DA itself has failed to measure their own performances as a party and that of their leaders with the same diligence.
The checklist (see Part 4: A basic checklist for the appraisal of executive political leaders and regimes) presented in this research, aims to evaluate retrospective the performances of executive political leaders and regimes, in this instance specifically for the period 1652 to 1795. Its contribution will be much greater if it can be standardized with reliability and validity as a checklist not only for retrospective and present-day perspective evaluations of the performances of executive political leaders and regimes, but also specifically for sifting and selecting South African politicians for top public posts, such as president and vice-president. The Canadian government’s selection of its top managers through an approach known as the Career Assignment Programme (CAP) is a good example.44 Gregory’s44 writing gives a good guideline of how we can get rid of political crooks long before they reach the gates of the political world and at the same time cultivate leaders of excellence.
It is doubtful if the South African government or political parties would ever subscribe to a selection programme such as the CAP or a checklist such as this one. It would mean that political crooks would be locked out of state capture and political abuse. Their primary argument will be that such a process would be undemocratic (it violates citizens’ rights and invades the politician’s privacy). In practice (as we have seen from this research) the opposite is true: such an appraisal checklist is democratic as it forces undemocratic persons out of the democratic government.
The two objectives of this study were to discover whether the South African executive political leaders and their regimes of the period 1652 to 1795 (μ=30) had, during their time in office, made extraordinary contributions to the country and its people; and to determine whether the behaviour of the South African executive political leaders of the period 1652 to 1795 as leaders and as persons were extraordinary and impeccable.
The conclusions that are drawn from this study are presented in accordance with the aims and hypotheses as postulated in 2.2 to 2.5:
H1: The South African executive political leaders and their regimes of the period 1652 to 1795 had during their time in office made extraordinary contributions to the country and its people.
The findings of this study show that the South African executive political leaders and their regimes of the period 1652 to 1795 had during their time in office failed to make extraordinary contributions to the country and its people. # Hypothesis H1 must be rejected.
H2: To determine whether the behaviours of the South African executive political leaders of the period 1652 to 1795 as leaders and as persons were extraordinary and impeccable.
The findings of this study show that the behaviors of the South African executive political leaders of the period 1652 to 1795 as leaders and as persons failed to be extraordinary and impeccable. # Hypothesis H2 must be rejected.
South Africa is a beautiful country, with beautiful people and many, many other beautiful things, but it missed one essential component in its being for the period 1652 to 1795, as the following African Proverb tells us: If there is character, ugliness becomes beauty; if there is none, beauty becomes ugliness. This character seems to have missed out most of the executive political leaders and regimes of the period 1652 to 1795.
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Not commissioned; Externally peer-reviewed.
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
The author declares that he has no competing interest.
The research was funded by the Focus Area Social Transformation, Faculty of Humanities, Potchefstroom Campus, North-West University, South Africa.