18 OCTOBER 1919, Page 13

(TO THE EDITOR OF THE "SPECTATOR.") Srr,—One cannot allow the

statements contained in a letter signed " Alice Werner " in your issue of August 2nd to go unchallenged. In referring to contemplated legislation in the South African Parliament in respect to natives, the writer affirms that if the Bills are passed the natives will be handed over to a state "scarcely distinguishable from slavery." This is nonsense. The "Native Affairs Administration Bill " is a genuine attempt to carry out a modified form of segregation, and to abolish the custom of " Kafir farming." Segregation explains itself, and; although unfortunately impossible of being carried out thoroughly—the time has gone by for that—is the only real solution of the native question; and even partial segregation is better than none. By " Kafir farming " meant the practice of many South African farmers (so called) allowing the natives to work their farms on shares and in lieu of wages. The custom is degrading to the white farmer, and has an ill effect on the native in making him disinclined for industrious, continuous work. But to assert that because this pernicious custom is proposed to be abolished the native is to be handed over to semi:slavery is ridiculous. If the native cannot obtain land in the territory set aside for natives, he still retains the power of free contract for hiring out his services. And, despite the number of natives, the farmer is only ton anxious to obtain his services; and there is too much competition for those services not to enable the native to make favour.

able terms for himself and family. The ordinary law of supply and demand regulates the status and wage of the South African native; and the demand is so great that both status and wage are on the up-grade, and will thus preclude any possibility both now and in the future of anything approaching slavery.—

I am, Sir, &o., J. S. PRIDDY. Ferndale, Bathurst, C.P., South Africa.