History Monday: BSAC – Native Tax

This History Monday will continue the BSAC series and explore the Acts and Ordinances that were enacted under the governance of the BSAC

Although authorized by the Colonial Office in London, the tax was paid to the British South Africa Company, the agent of colonial government in the area.

In Mashonaland, the tax was introduced at the rate of 10/- per hut in 1894. In Mashonaland, the rate was dropped to 5/- in 1894. Payment could made in cash or kind. An example below:

  • Bulls – £4 10/-
  • Goats – 5/-
  • Sheep – 5/-
  • Grain at 10/- per 200lb.

In North Eastern Rhodesia, the Hut Tax was introduced in 1900, replacing the Poll Tax.

Between 1901 and 1906, there was Native Tax was set at 3/-. Stocks of 3/- stamps were quickly exhausted and a number of stamps were bisected to make-up the 3/- value.

The Native Tax was raised to 5/- until 1919. In 1920, the Native Tax was raised to 10/- in the Eastern Districts.

Receipts

Payment was originally acknowledged by a written receipt. However, after a initial trial in 1903, the Native Ordinance of 1904 was implemented where the tax was £1 per male adult and 10/- per polygamous wife (excluding the first wife).

Under Government Notice No.179, the Administrator was required to deliver to each taxpayer a metal token, usually brass or copper, as proof of payment. Tokens were issued either to an individual or in bulk to a village headman. The tokens were designed to be nailed to the door of the hut but were often worn around the neck. Shapes differed from year to year and two sizes were released: large for males and small for females.

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