Two republics lay across Rhodes' planned route to the North, they were Stellaland, with its capital at Vryburg and the Land of Goshen, both ruled by Boers. Alternately, there was Bechuanaland which was divided by the river, Malopo into a Crown Colony in the south and a Protectorate to the north, where one of the tribes was ruled by Chief Khama of the Bamangurato tribe and he opposed Rhodes' plan to annex this area to the Chartered territories on the same basis as Mashonaland and others. But Rhodes continued to work and scheme, with the help of his friends and associates, to push forward towards his ultimate goal. In April, 1889 a Charter was applied for 'to develop minerals', which would allow the extension of the railway and telegraph northwards but nothing was finalised or signed for many years and eventually Bechuanaland became a Crown Colony. Khama and other principal Bechuana chiefs were opposed to the suggestion that the Charter Company should take over but the British government gave up a strip of the Protectorate, which lay on the western border of the Transvaal, and this provided access from the north to Mafeking. Rhodes was also interested in Uganda as a link in the chain of his 'all-red route' northwards and this was proclaimed a British Protectorate in 1894.
Up until 1868 Mzilikazi, was the Chief or King of the Matabele and at that time he was being approached by a number of interested parties who professed to give him advice concerning the future of Matabeleland. But eventually Rhodes' men prevailed to the extent that a treaty was signed giving miners permission to dig for gold in that territory. In 1870 his son, Lobengula was made King of the Matabele and it was in September 1888 that Rudd and Thompson reached Bulawayo bent on persuading him of the benefits of an agreement with the man he called 'Ulodzi' [Rhodes], but it took them until the end of October before the concession was signed. Jameson then got permission for digging to start, for pioneers to enter and for Johnston and Rhodes to build a railway.

Before the Letters Patent granting a Royal Charter of Incorporation to the British South Africa Company was signed by the Queen, Rhodes was prepared to pay the British Government the Thirty Thousand pounds he was undertaking to find for a telegraph line from Mafeking as well as Four Thousand pounds a year offered by the Charter Company for the establishment of a British Resident in Bulawayo to advise Lobengula. This was accepted in principle but was only given the Royal signature on 29th October 1889. Meantime Rhodes had cabled an order for 250 miles of telegraph wire and the poles to carry it. The railway was proceeding from Kimberley.

By about 1890 the financial situation became a considerable problem. The Company had started with a capital of a million, but about half of this had been spent on the pioneers, the extension of roads and telegraph, the large number of concessions and the police, who were the most costly of all.

In 1892 Merriman went to England for a loan for railway extensions of the vital line to Johannesburg, which finally reached there in September. Then in May 1893 eight hundred yards of copper wire for the telegraph were stolen between Tuli and Fort Victoria, which are about one hundred miles apart.

From1895 until 1898 Rhodes was working towards obtaining an agreement for Free Trade in South African products, a Customs Union and Railway Convention. The Imperial Tarriff scheme and Customs Clause was signed on 20th October 1898.

By February 1896 there was impending trouble with the Matabele, which was exacerbated by the outbreak of cattle disease called Rinderpest and when the High Commissioner ordered the slaughtering of cattle to control the spread of this problem the Matabele turned very bitter.

In 1896 the construction of the railway and telegraph continued northwards and the telegraph had reached Bulawayo; the opening ceremony for the railway took place on 4th November 1897.