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A Closer Union: A Letter on the South African Union and the Principles of Government. Schreiner, Olive, 1855–1920.
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page: 16
page: 17

IX. Do you consider the Convention should deal with the question of the representation of Asiatics, natives, and coloured people, or should it leave this matter for settlement by the future Parliament of South Africa? If you are of opinion the matter should be dealt with by the National Convention, please state on what lines.

I think this, like all other root questions, should be most fully discussed by the Convention, and the result of that discussion most fully and frankly placed before the nation. I am of opinion that where the Federal franchise is concerned, no distinction of race or colour should be made between South Africans. All persons born in the country or permanently resident here should be one in the eye of the State. I am, and have always been, strongly opposed to the importation of Asiatic or other labourers to undersell the labour of the permanent inhabitants of the land. I regard it as criminal on two wholly distinct counts: and I have always held that, whether as a speculator or a seeker-for-health, when a man temporarily enters a country for a limited number of page: 18 years, having no interest in its future, it is quite just, though it may not be expedient, to refuse him the franchise. I hold, further, that the inhabitants of South Africa, like those of all other countries, are under certain conditions justified in refusing admission to foreigners at their ports, though I think the conditions under which it is desirable seldom occur; but, once admitted to take up their permanent residence in our country, I think no distinction of race or colour should be made. South Africa must be a free man's country. The idea that a man born in this country, possibly endowed with many gifts and highly cultured, should in this, his native land, be refused any form of civic or political right on the ground that he is descended from a race with a civilisation, it may be, much older than our own, is one which must be abhorrent to every liberalised mind. I believe that an attempt to base our national life on distinctions of race and colour, as such, will, after the lapse of many years, prove fatal to us.

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