In 1894 the British South Africa Company established the Native Affairs Department to be responsible for the welfare of black Africans living on tribal trust lands. The Head of the Department was the Administrator in Council; beneath him was the Secretary for Native Affairs. Under the Secretary were the two Chief Native Commissioners of Matabeleland and Mashonaland. Under the Chief Native Commissioners were Native Commissioners, who were responsible for the administration of their tribal districts and sub-districts. They were assisted by Assistant Native Commissioners. The organization operated its own native police force.
In 1962 the Native Affairs Department was renamed the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Following the ranks of the Colonial Service, the Native Commissioners were renamed District Commissioners.
Internal Affairs personnel played a prominent role in the war. They served at Joint Operational Centers and were involved in setting up the protected villages program. The paramilitary "Guard Force,” later became responsible for security of the protected villages INTAF controlled this force.