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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 72

Future Pacific Policy

page 81

Future Pacific Policy.

The Matabele are not all warriors. They possess much of the raw material of a peaceful and hard-working people; and a certain proportion has already tasted the sweets of justice and regular payment of wages in the Transvaal and even in Mashonaland. But it present the flower of the nation is locked up in the military-system prevailing in the country. Once this caste is broken up, the more peaceable and industrious elements will detach themselves and settle down. I have already expressed this opinion through the medium of the press, and, although a contrary view in quarters deserving of attention has been advanced, I would strongly reiterate it here.

There is also a feeling abroad which finds expression in a certain section of the press that the main object of the military operations now being carried out is to drive away the whole Matabele nation to the north of the Zambesi. Such a policy is impossible of execution in my opinion, and even if it were feasible, the establishment of a standing menace north of the Zambesi would prove most highly-disadvantageous to the Company's territory south of that river as well as to that controlled by the British Commissioner in Nyassaland. It must be borne in mind that a military campaign in the very difficult, remote, and not healthy region north of the Zambesi would prove a very different task to that of coping with the Matabele where they now are, namely, in a healthy open table-land, with several practicable roads into the country. Merely to remove, or rather hide away, the present difficulty by such a policy would be most unwise, from purely military reasons. There is, however, another consideration, an economic one of the highest importance.

The future prosperity of the country depends entirely upon two things—efficient transport and sufficient labour. White mining labour alone, it must be remembered, is out of the question. Even at Johannesburg and Kimberley the mines would have to close to-morrow if native labour were not available. Fortunately Mr. Rhodes' past record in dealing with difficult situations warrants the belief that he will successfully overcome the present one.