Zimbabwe Rhodesia

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Zimbabwe Rhodesia

Motto: Sit Nomine Digna(Latin)
"May she be worthy of the name"
Zimbabwe (orthographic projection).svg
Status Unrecognised state
Capital Salisbury
Common languages English (official)
GovernmentParliamentary republic
President [1]  
Prime Minister  
Historical era Cold War
1 June 1979
12 December 1979
1979390,580 km2 (150,800 sq mi)
Currency Rhodesian dollar
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Flag of Rhodesia (1968-1979).svg Rhodesia
Southern Rhodesia Flag of Rhodesia (1964-1968).svg
Today part ofFlag of Zimbabwe.svg  Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe Rhodesia /zɪmˈbɑːbwrˈdʒə/ was an unrecognised state that existed from 1 June 1979 to 12 December 1979. Zimbabwe Rhodesia was preceded by an unrecognised republic named Rhodesia and was briefly followed by the re-established British colony of Southern Rhodesia, which according to British constitutional theory had remained the proper government after Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) in 1965. About three months later, the re-established colony of Southern Rhodesia was granted internationally recognised independence as the Republic of Zimbabwe.

Rhodesia former country in Africa

Rhodesia was a country in southern Africa from 1965 to 1979, equivalent in territory to modern Zimbabwe. Rhodesia was the de facto successor state to the British colony of Southern Rhodesia, which had been self-governing since achieving responsible government in 1923. A landlocked nation, Rhodesia was bordered by South Africa to the south, Bechuanaland to the southwest, Zambia to the northwest, and Mozambique to the east.

Southern Rhodesia self-governing British colony from 1923 to 1980

The Colony of Southern Rhodesia was a self-governing British Crown colony in southern Africa. It was the predecessor state of what is now Zimbabwe.

Rhodesias Unilateral Declaration of Independence

The Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) was a statement adopted by the Cabinet of Rhodesia on 11 November 1965, announcing that Rhodesia, a British territory in southern Africa that had governed itself since 1923, now regarded itself as an independent sovereign state. The culmination of a protracted dispute between the British and Rhodesian governments regarding the terms under which the latter could become fully independent, it was the first unilateral break from the United Kingdom by one of its colonies since the United States Declaration of Independence nearly two centuries before. The UK, the Commonwealth and the United Nations all deemed Rhodesia's UDI illegal, and economic sanctions, the first in the UN's history, were imposed on the breakaway colony. Amid near-complete international isolation, Rhodesia continued as an unrecognised state with the assistance of South Africa and Portugal.


Under pressure from the international community to satisfy the civil rights movement by blacks in Rhodesia, an "Internal Settlement" was drawn up between the Smith administration of Rhodesia and moderate African nationalist parties not involved in armed resistance. Meanwhile, the government continued to battle armed resistance from both Soviet and Chinese backed Marxist liberation movements it referred to as "terrorists"- the Rhodesian Bush War was an extension of the Cold War, being a proxy conflict between the West and East, similar to those in Vietnam and Korea.

Internal Settlement 1978 agreement in Rhodesia

The Internal Settlement was an agreement which was signed on 3 March 1978 between Prime Minister of Rhodesia Ian Smith and the moderate African nationalist leaders comprising Bishop Abel Muzorewa, Ndabaningi Sithole and Senator Chief Jeremiah Chirau. After almost 15 years of the Rhodesian Bush War, and under pressure from the sanctions placed on Rhodesia by the international community, and political pressure from South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States, the Rhodesian government met with some of the internally based moderate African nationalist leaders in order to reach an agreement on the political future for the country.

Ian Smith 20th-century Prime Minister of Rhodesia

Ian Douglas Smith was a politician, farmer, and fighter pilot who served as Prime Minister of Rhodesia from 1964 to 1979. As the country's first premier not born abroad, he led the predominantly white government that unilaterally declared independence from the United Kingdom in 1965, following prolonged dispute over the terms. He remained Prime Minister for almost all of the 14 years of international isolation that followed, and oversaw Rhodesia's security forces during most of the Bush War, which pitted the unrecognised administration against communist-backed black nationalist guerrilla groups. Smith, who has been described as personifying white Rhodesia, remains a highly controversial figure—supporters venerate him as a man of integrity and vision "who understood the uncomfortable truths of Africa", while critics describe an unrepentant racist whose policies and actions caused the deaths of thousands and contributed to Zimbabwe's later crises.

Rhodesian Bush War civil conflict in Southern Africa from 1964 to 1979

The Rhodesian Bush War—also called the Second Chimurenga and the Zimbabwe War of Liberation—was a civil conflict from July 1964 to December 1979 in the unrecognised country of Rhodesia . The conflict pitted three forces against one another: the Rhodesian government, led by Ian Smith ; the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army, the military wing of Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union; and the Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army of Joshua Nkomo's Zimbabwe African People's Union.

The "Internal Settlement" agreement led to relaxation of education, property and income qualifications for voter rolls, resulting in the first ever black-majority electorate. The country's civil service, judiciary, police and armed forces continued to be administered by the same officials as before, of whom most were whites, due to the composition of the upper-middle class of the period. [2]

Education in Zimbabwe

Education in Zimbabwe is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education for primary and secondary education and the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development for higher education. Both are regulated by the Cabinet of Zimbabwe. The education system in Zimbabwe encompasses 13 years of primary and secondary school and runs from January to December. The school year is a total of 40 weeks with three terms and a month break in-between each term.

White Zimbabweans are people from the southern African country Zimbabwe who are White (Caucasian/European). In linguistic cultural and historical terms, these Zimbabweans of European ethnic origin are divided among the English-speaking descendants of British and Irish settlers, the Afrikaans-speaking descendants of Afrikaners from South Africa, and those descended from Greek and Portuguese settlers.

Despite these changes, the new state did not gain international recognition, with the Commonwealth claiming that the "so-called 'Constitution of Zimbabwe Rhodesia'" would be "no more legal and valid" than the UDI constitution it replaced. [3]

Commonwealth of Nations Intergovernmental organisation

The Commonwealth of Nations, normally known as the Commonwealth, and historically the British Commonwealth, is a unique political association of 53 member states, nearly all of them former territories of the British Empire. The chief institutions of the organisation are the Commonwealth Secretariat, which focuses on intergovernmental aspects, and the Commonwealth Foundation, which focuses on non-governmental relations between member states.


As early as 1960 African nationalist political organisations in Rhodesia agreed that the country should use the name "Zimbabwe"; they used that name as part of the titles of their organisations. The name "Zimbabwe", broken down to Dzimba dzamabwe in Shona (one of the two major languages in the country), means "houses of stone". Meanwhile, the white Rhodesian community was reluctant to drop the name "Rhodesia", hence a compromise was met. [4]

Great Zimbabwe ruined city in the south-eastern hills of Zimbabwe near Lake Mutirikwe and the town of Masvingo, was once the capital of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe during the countrys Late Iron Age

Great Zimbabwe is a ruined city in the south-eastern hills of Zimbabwe near Lake Mutirikwe and the town of Masvingo. It was the capital of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe during the country's Late Iron Age. Construction on the monument began in the 11th century and continued until the 15th century. The edifices were erected by the ancestral Shona. The stone city spans an area of 7.22 square kilometres which, at its peak, could have housed up to 18,000 people. It is recognised as a World Heritage site by UNESCO.

The Constitution named the new State simply as "Zimbabwe Rhodesia", with no reference to its status as a republic in its name. [5] As such, it was similar in style to post-1994 South Africa renaming the Natal province as "KwaZulu-Natal". Although the official name contained no hyphen, the country's name was hyphenated in some foreign publications as "Zimbabwe-Rhodesia". [6] [7] [8] [9] The country was also nicknamed "Rhobabwe", a portmanteau of "Rhodesia" and "Zimbabwe". [10] [11]

KwaZulu-Natal Province of South Africa

KwaZulu-Natal is a province of South Africa that was created in 1994 when the Zulu bantustan of KwaZulu and Natal Province were merged. It is located in the southeast of the country, enjoying a long shoreline beside the Indian Ocean and sharing borders with three other provinces and the countries of Mozambique, Eswatini and Lesotho. Its capital is Pietermaritzburg and its largest city is Durban. It is the 2nd most populous province in South Africa, with slightly fewer residents than Gauteng.

A portmanteau or portmanteau word is a linguistic blend of words, in which parts of multiple words or their phones (sounds) are combined into a new word, as in smog, coined by blending smoke and fog, or motel, from motor and hotel. In linguistics, a portmanteau is defined as a single morph that represents two or more morphemes.

After taking office as Prime Minister, Abel Muzorewa sought to drop "Rhodesia" from the country's name. [12] The name "Zimbabwe Rhodesia" had been criticised by some black politicians like Senator Chief Zephaniah Charumbira, who said it implied that Zimbabwe was "the son of Rhodesia". [13] ZANU PF, led by Robert Mugabe in exile, denounced what it described as "the derogatory name of 'Zimbabwe Rhodesia'". [14]

The government also adopted a new national flag featuring the same Zimbabwe soapstone bird on 4 September of that year. [15] In addition, it announced changes to public holidays, with Rhodes Day and Founders Day being replaced by two new holidays, both of which were known as Ancestors Day, while Republic Day and Independence Day were to be replaced by President's Day and Unity Day, celebrated on 25 and 26 October of that year. [16]

In response, the Voice of Zimbabwe radio service operated by Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF from Maputo in Mozambique, carried a commentary entitled "The proof of independence is not flags or names", dismissing the changes as aimed at "strengthening the racist puppet alliance's position at the Zimbabwe conference in London". [17]

The national airline, Air Rhodesia, was also renamed Air Zimbabwe. [18] However, no postage stamps were issued; issues of 1978 still used "Rhodesia", and the next stamp issues were in 1980, after the change to just "Zimbabwe," and were inscribed accordingly. [19]

Government of Zimbabwe Rhodesia

During its brief existence, Zimbabwe Rhodesia had one election which resulted in its short-lived biracial government.


Adapting the constitution of the Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI), Zimbabwe Rhodesia was governed by a Prime Minister and Cabinet chosen from the majority party in a one-hundred-member House of Assembly. A forty-member Senate acted as the upper House, and both together chose a figurehead President in whose name the government was conducted.

Legislative branch

House of Assembly

Of the one hundred members of the House of Assembly, seventy-two were "common roll" members for whom the electorate was every adult citizen. All of these members were black Africans. Those on the previous electoral roll of Rhodesia (due to education, property and income qualifications for voter rolls, mostly but not only white constituencies) elected twenty members; although this did not actually exclude non-whites, very few black Africans met the qualification requirements. A delimitation commission sat in 1978 to determine how to reduce the previous fifty constituencies to twenty. The remaining eight seats for old voter role non-constituency members were filled by members chosen by the other 92 members of the House of Assembly once their election was complete. In the only election held by Zimbabwe Rhodesia, Bishop Abel Muzorewa's United African National Council (UANC) won a majority in the common-roll seats, while Ian Smith's Rhodesian Front (RF) won all of the old voter roll seats. Ndabaningi Sithole's Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) won twelve seats.


The Senate of Zimbabwe Rhodesia had 40 members. Ten members each were returned by the old voter roll members of the House of Assembly and the common roll members, and five members each by the Council of Chiefs of Mashonaland and Matabeleland. The remaining members were directly appointed by the President under the advice of the Prime Minister. While the House of Assembly had changed greatly to be nearly in line with modern ideals of universal suffrage, the Senate remained dominated by the former political stalwarts, effectively allowing a check on the new House.

Executive branch


The President of Zimbabwe Rhodesia was elected by the members of the Parliament, sitting together. At the election on 28 May 1979, Josiah Zion Gumede of the United African National Council (UANC) [20] and Timoth Ndhlovu of the United National Federal Party (UNFP) were nominated. [21] Gumede won by 80 votes to Ndhlovu's 33. [22]

Prime Minister

Starting with 51 seats out of 100, Abel Muzorewa of the UANC was appointed as Prime Minister, and also appointed Minister Combined Operations and Defence. [23] He formed a joint government with Ian Smith, the former Prime Minister of Rhodesia, who was a Minister without Portfolio. [24] Muzorewa also attempted to include the other African parties who had lost the election. Rhodesian Front members served as Muzorewa's Ministers of Justice, Agriculture, and Finance, with David Smith continuing in the role of Minister of Finance, while P K van der Byl, the hardline former Minister of Defence, serving as both Minister of Transport and Minister of Power and Posts. [23]

End of Zimbabwe Rhodesia

The Lancaster House Agreement stipulated that control over the country be returned to the United Kingdom in preparation for elections to be held in the spring of 1980. Accordingly, on 11 December 1979, the Constitution of Zimbabwe Rhodesia (Amendment) (No. 4) Act, declaring that "Zimbabwe Rhodesia shall cease to be an independent State and become part of Her Majesty's dominions", was passed. [25]

In response, the Parliament of the United Kingdom passed the Southern Rhodesia Constitution (Interim Provisions) Order 1979, establishing the offices of Governor and Deputy Governor of Southern Rhodesia, filled by Lord Soames and Sir Antony Duff respectively. [26]

Although the name of the country formally reverted to Southern Rhodesia at this time, the name "Zimbabwe Rhodesia" remained in many of the country's institutions, such as the Zimbabwe Rhodesia Broadcasting Corporation. [27] On 18 April 1980, Southern Rhodesia became the independent Republic of Zimbabwe.

See also

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  1. Section 6 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Rhodesia, 1979: "There shall be a President in and over Zimbabwe Rhodesia who shall be Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces of Zimbabwe Rhodesia." Quoted in The Struggle for Independence: Doc. 696-899 (February-September 1979) Archived 20 November 2018 at the Wayback Machine , Inst. für Afrikakunde, 1984, page 921
  2. Will We Destroy Zimbabwe-Rhodesia? Archived 11 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine , Sarasota Journal , July 18, 1979, page 4
  3. An Analysis of the Illegal Regime's "Constitution for Zimbabwe Rhodesia" Archived 21 November 2018 at the Wayback Machine , Commonwealth Secretariat, 1979, page 2
  4. A Concise Encyclopedia of Zimbabwe Archived 24 September 2017 at the Wayback Machine , Donatus Bonde, Mambo Press, 1988 page 422
  5. "Constitution of Zimbabwe Rhodesia, 1979" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 4 February 2016. Retrieved 3 February 2016.
  6. Editorials on File, Volume 10, Issue 2, Facts on File, Incorporated, 1979, pages 873-877
  7. Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, Volume 37, Congressional Quarterly, Incorporated, 1979, page 1585
  8. African Leaders United On View Of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia Archived 10 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine , Toledo Blade , June 24, 1979
  9. Zimbabwe-Rhodesia Plagued By Trouble Archived 10 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine , Reading Eagle , June 14, 1979
  10. Under The Skin: The Death of White Rhodesia, David Caute, Northwestern University Press, 1983, page 354
  11. Confusion in Rhobabwe Archived 15 August 2017 at the Wayback Machine , The Spectator 20 May 1978
  12. Zimbabwe Rhodesia Bids To Shorten Name To Zimbabwe Archived 10 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine , Lakeland Ledger , August 26, 1979
  13. Pioneers, Settlers, Aliens, Exiles: The Decolonisation of White Identity in Zimbabwe Archived 23 March 2017 at the Wayback Machine , J. L. Fisher, ANU E Press, 2010, page 58
  14. Zimbabwe News, Volumes 11-16, Central Bureau of Information of the Zimbabwe National Union, 1979, page 2
  15. NEW FLAG RAISING CEREMONY IN SALISBURY, Associated Press Archive, 4 September 1979
  16. Summary of World Broadcasts: Non-Arab Africa Archived 15 November 2018 at the Wayback Machine , Issues 6208-6259, BBC Monitoring Service, 1979
  17. Summary of World Broadcasts: Non-Arab Africa Archived 30 August 2017 at the Wayback Machine , Issues 6208-6259, BBC Monitoring Service, 1979
  18. Africa Calls from Zimbabwe Rhodesia Archived 15 November 2018 at the Wayback Machine , Issues 115-125, 1979, page 33
  19. Summary of World Broadcasts: Non-Arab Africa Archived 15 November 2018 at the Wayback Machine , Issues 6308-6358, BBC Monitoring Service, 1980
  20. Library of Congress Foreign Affairs and National Defense Division, United States Congress. Chronologies of Major Developments in Selected Areas of Foreign Affairs.
  21. Sub-Saharan Africa Report Archived 24 September 2017 at the Wayback Machine , Issues 2114-2120, page 5278, 1979
  22. Africa Research Bulletin Archived 24 September 2017 at the Wayback Machine , Blackwell, 1979, page 5278
  23. 1 2 Muzorewa Names a Cabinet, Reserving Key Roles for Himself and Smith Archived 24 June 2018 at the Wayback Machine , New York Times , May 31, 1979
  24. Zimbabwe-Rhodesia Attacks Guerrilla Positions in Zambia Archived 3 February 2019 at the Wayback Machine , Washington Post , June 27, 1979
  25. Collective Responses to Illegal Acts in International Law: United Nations Action in the Question of Southern Rhodesia, Vera Gowlland-Debbas Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1990, page 91
  26. Southern Rhodesia Constitution (Interim Provisions) Order 1979 Archived 21 November 2018 at the Wayback Machine , Hansard, 14 December 1979
  27. ZIMBABWE BILL Archived 15 September 2016 at the Wayback Machine , HL Deb 17 December 1979 vol 403 cc1470-514