John Wrathall

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For the New Zealand international football (soccer) player, see John Wrathall (footballer).
The Hon.
John Wrathall
GCLM, ID
J Wrathall.jpg
John James Wrathall
2nd President of Rhodesia
In office
14 January 1976 – 31 August 1978
Prime Minister Ian Smith
Preceded by Clifford Dupont
Succeeded by Henry Everard (Acting)
Minister of African Education
In office
1963–1964
Prime Minister Ian Smith
Preceded by Jack Howman
Succeeded by Post abolished
Minister of Finance
In office
1964–1976
Prime Minister Ian Smith
Preceded by Ian Smith
Succeeded by David Smith
Minister of Posts
In office
1964–1973
Prime Minister Ian Smith
Preceded by Ian Smith
Succeeded by Roger Hawkins
Personal details
Born 28 August 1913
Lancaster, United Kingdom
Died 31 August 1978(1978-08-31) (aged 65)
Rhodesia
Political party Rhodesian Front
Alma mater Lancaster Royal Grammar School
Profession Chartered Accountant

John James Wrathall (28 August 1913 – 31 August 1978) was a Rhodesian politician. He was the last white President of Rhodesia (later holders of the post were only acting as such). He formerly worked as an accountant.

Biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

Presidential Flag (Rhodesia)

Wrathall was born in Lancaster, England and went to Lancaster Royal Grammar School. He never forgot his Lancashire background and was president of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Society in Rhodesia. Having qualified as a chartered accountant in 1935, he emigrated to Southern Rhodesia the next year. He worked for the Southern Rhodesian government in its income tax department for the next ten years.

Rhodesian career[edit]

In 1946 Wrathall set up in private practice as an accountant in Bulawayo and also became involved in politics. In 1949 he was elected to Bulawayo City Council, where he served for a decade. Wrathall was elected to the Legislative Assembly for Bulawayo South in the 1954 general election, as a member of the United Rhodesia Party, then led by Garfield Todd. He stood down after one term in 1958.

Ministerial office[edit]

By 1962 Wrathall was no longer a supporter of the United Federal Party and became a founder member of the Rhodesian Front under Winston Field. He was elected in Bulawayo North in the December 1962 election under the RF banner. As one of the party's most experienced members, in October 1963 he was made Minister of African Education. A month later he also took on the Ministry of Health, which was being transferred from the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland on its demise at the end of 1963.

Wrathall was among the members of the Rhodesian Front who deposed Winston Field and instead installed Ian Smith as Prime Minister in April 1964. Smith promoted him to be Minister of Finance and of Posts and Telecommunications. As such, he was one of the signatories to the UDI on 11 November 1965. He was deputy Prime Minister from 7 September 1966. Known as the quiet man of Rhodesian politics, he nevertheless was a key figure in the secret struggle against United Nations sanctions imposed after UDI.

In 1975 he presented his 12th (and last) consecutive Budget as Rhodesia's longest serving Finance Minister. Comparatively moderate on racial issues, he was recognised as a steadying influence in Smith's Cabinet which had several headstrong characters such as Desmond Lardner-Burke and P.K. van der Byl.

Presidency[edit]

In July 1973 Wrathall ceded his responsibility as Minister of Posts; during the 1974 general election he stood down from the House of Assembly and transferred to the Senate. On 14 January 1976 he was sworn in as the second President of Rhodesia, succeeding Clifford Dupont. He served for two and a half years, and died in office of a heart attack.

Political offices
Preceded by
Jack Howman
Minister of African Education
1963–1964
Succeeded by
office abolished
Preceded by
Ian Smith
(Minister of the Treasury)
Minister of Finance
1964–1976
Succeeded by
David Smith
Preceded by
Ian Smith
Minister of Posts
1964–1973
Succeeded by
Roger Hawkins
Preceded by
Clifford Dupont
President of Rhodesia
1976–1978
Succeeded by
Henry Everard
(Acting)

References[edit]

  • 'Key Figure in Rhodesia's trade battle dies', Sydney Morning Herald, 1 September 1978
  • "Mr John Wrathall: President of Rhodesia" (Obituary), The Times, 1 September 1978
  • F.M.G. Willson and G.C. Passmore, Holders of Administrative and Ministerial Office 1894–1964 (University College of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, Salisbury, Rhodesia, 1966)