The Colonial government and the great depression in Northern Rhodesia: Administrative and legislative changes, 1929-1939

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Santebe, Mbozi
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This study focuses on the administrative and legislative changes that the colonial government made in response to the impact of the Great Depression in Northern Rhodesia. It reveals that the government mainly responded to the decline in government revenues, the widespread poverty and destitution and the distortion of internal trade. The study shows that during the emergency period, 1932-1934, the administration made changes to government structures and functioning so as to curtail expenditure and balance its budget. It reorganised staff in the public service, reduced budgetary allocations to departments and realigned several departments and provinces. The colonial government also passed various pieces of legislation during the emergency period. Its fiscal legislative changes legalised new taxes that were envisaged to raise extra revenues with which to balance the budget. To reduce poverty and destitution, the government passed legislation that introduced new currency from England and Southern Rhodesia, legalised compulsory repatriation of destitutes to their countries of origin and restricted immigration into Northern Rhodesia. The study concludes that some of the changes made yielded good results while others did not. The government managed to reduce annual budget deficits but failed to balance the budget during the emergency period. Also, the staff reduction scheme caused work pressure on the remaining staff and reduced government efficiency. Although currency was acquired during the emergency period, the circulation of money remained distorted up to around 1938 as many rural dwellers resented the use of small value coins having become accustomed to barter trade during the times of currency scarcity.
Great Britain-Colonies , Depression-1929-1939-N.R