In 1880, Sir Bartle Frere, who by his energetic and statesmanlike attitude on the relations with the native states, as well as on all other questions, had won the esteem and regard of loyal South African colonists, was recalled by the 1st earl of Kimberley, the liberal secretary of state for the colonies, and was succeeded by Sir Hercules Robinson.
The secretary of state sought the aid of Sir Bartle Frere as his chief agent in carrying through confederation, the then governor of Cape Colony and high commissioner for South Africa, Sir Henry Barkly, sharing the views of the Cape ministry that the time was inopportune to force such a step upon South Africa.
Sir Bartle Frere, who had won distinction in India, and was sent out by Lord Beaconsfields government to the Cape, kept back the award; and, though he ultimately communicated it to Cetewayo, thought it desirable to deman.d the disbandment of the Zulu army.
A still further reason for Shepstone's annexation, given by Sir Bartle Frere, was that Burgers had already sought alliance with European powers, and Shepstone had no reason to doubt that if Great Britain refused to interfere, Germany would intervene.
Frere, believing that the Zulu power was a standing menace to the peace of South Africa, and that delay in dealing with Cetywayo would only increase the danger, sent an ultimatum to the chief in November 1878.