It was not only the end of the Great War which made 1918 a significant year for Southern Rhodesia. In that year, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council at long last issued its judgement on the question of the ownership of the country’s land. It did not belong to the Company, their Lordships announced, but to the Crown and could not, therefore, be sold to enhance the Company’s profits and produce at long last the resources for a dividend to their remarkably long-suffering shareholders. The sale of land henceforth could only be used to defray administrative costs. However, the Judgement did say that the Company had a right to compensation for any deficits incurred in administering the Colony. These were considerable, but they were not easy to calculate. The immediate consequences of the Privy Council decision were twofold: the Company lost interest in continuing its administration and developing the territory and, in the second place, immediately sought some ruling on how much their compensation should be. This last question was resolved by the Cave Commission, which was appointed in July 1919, reported in January 1921, and scaled down the Company’s claim for nearly eight million pounds to four and a half million pounds. The next question was clearly related to the political future of the country, since the Company’s Supplemental Charter expired in 1924 and the Directors had no wish to extend it further.
KeywordsLocal Farmer Public Meeting Unanimous Vote Privy Council Night Soil
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