Rand Rebellion

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Rand Rebellion
Randrebellion.png
A contemporary French depiction of the uprising
Date 28 December 1921 - March 1922
Location Witwatersrand region, Union of South Africa
Result Rebellion suppressed
Political backlash against Smuts
Belligerents
 Union of South Africa Rebels
Commanders and leaders
Union of South Africa Jan Smuts Percy Fisher  
Harry Spendiff  
Jimmy Green
William H. Andrews
Strength
20,000
Casualties and losses
200 dead
Monument to officials and soldiers killed in the uprising

The Rand Rebellion (or Rand Revolt, or Second Rand Revolt) was an armed uprising of white miners in the Witwatersrand region of South Africa, in March 1922. Jimmy Green, a prominent politician in the Labour Party, was one of the leaders of the strike. Following a drop in the world price of gold from 130 shillings (£6 10s) a fine troy ounce in 1919 to 95s/oz (£4 15s) in December 1921, the companies tried to cut their operating costs by decreasing wages, and by weakening the colour bar to enable the promotion of cheaper black miners to skilled and supervisory positions.[1]

The rebellion started as a strike by white mineworkers on 28 December 1921 and shortly thereafter, it became an open rebellion against the state. Subsequently the workers, who had armed themselves, took over the cities of Benoni and Brakpan, and the Johannesburg suburbs of Fordsburg and Jeppe.

The young Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA) took an active part in the uprising on grounds of class struggle while opposing racist aspects of the strike,[2] as did the syndicalists.The racist aspect was typified by the slogan; "Workers of the world, unite and fight for a white South Africa!" and by several pogroms against blacks [3]

Several communists and syndicalists, the latter including the strike leaders Percy Fisher and Harry Spendiff, were killed as the rebellion was quelled by state forces.[4] The rebellion was eventually crushed by "considerable military firepower and at the cost of over 200 lives".[5]

Prime Minister Jan Smuts crushed the rebellion with 20,000 troops, artillery, tanks, and bomber aircraft. By this time the rebels had dug trenches across Fordsburg Square and the air force tried to bomb but missed and hit a local church. However the army's bombardment finally overran them.[6]

Smuts caused a political backlash and he lost the following elections in 1924 to a coalition of the National and Labour parties. They introduced the Industrial Conciliation Act 1924, Wage Act 1925 and Mines and Works Amendment Act 1926, which recognised white trade unions and reinforced the colour bar.[7] Under instruction from the Comintern, the CPSA reversed its attitude toward the white working class and adopted a new 'Native Republic' policy.[8][9]

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