7.—What the “Vultures” brought.
Before Dr. Kuyper’s “vultures” came to despoil it, the Transvaal was in a very shaky condition. It was heavily in debt and the Exchequer was empty; the Boer having always had a horror of paying his taxes. In 1884 when Messrs. Krueger and Smits came to London to sign the famous Convention, and stayed at the Albemarle Hotel, they found themselves, after the first few weeks unable to pay their bill, and Baron Grant had to come to their assistance. Now the “vultures” have been pouring some millions annually into the coffers of the Transvaal; a certain proportion of which has stuck to the fingers of Mr. Krueger, his family and intimates. The “vultures” have brought riches, industry, and civilisation into a wild and uncivilised country. The simile of the bird of prey is more applicable to the Boer than to the Uitlander.
FINANCIAL POLICY OF THE BOERS
1.—Receipt of the Boer Exchequer.
Like every true aristocrat, the Boer has always had a horror of paying taxes; he only approves of taxes paid by others.
At the time of the annexation of the Transvaal by England in 1877, the Government was being crushed by debt, the burghers resolutely refusing to pay their taxes.
Some order was brought into the finances by England; but the Boer revolt in December, 1880, was caused by the determination of Colonel Owen Lanyon, the English Resident, to seize the bullocks and wagons of recalcitrant tax-payers.
The Transvaal Government obtained the Convention of 1881. In 1883, the budget showed L143,000 revenue, and L184,000 expenditure. From April 1st, 1884, to March 31st, 1885, the revenue rose to L161,000, the expenditure remained at L184,000.
In 1886, the gold mines were discovered, and in 1889, the revenue rose to L1,577,000. The crisis of 1890 caused it to drop below the million; in 1892 it rose again, reaching in:—
1894 L2,247,728 1895 2,923,648 1896 3,912,095 1897 3,956,402 1898 3,329,958
In 1899, it was estimated at L4,087,000. These figures do not include the sale of explosives from 1895 to 1898; the share of licences of claims from 1895 to 1899; nor the Delagoa Bay customs dues paid to the Netherlands Railway for 1898 and 1899.
[Footnote 14: Le Siecle, April 4th, 1900.]
2.—Budget Assessment of the Burghers.
According to the Staats Almanak, the white population numbers 300,000, of whom 175,000 are males. The number of burghers aged between sixteen and sixty, entitled to vote, is 29,447; that of Uitlanders, between the same ages, 81,000.
These 30,000 Boers who represent the electoral portion of the community, do not pay one-tenth of the revenue of the state. They represent, however, a budget of over four millions of pounds; or, L133 per head. If our 10,800,000 electors in France had a proportionate budget at their disposal, it would amount annually to L1,436,400,000; or considerably more than our whole National Debt.