President of Rhodesia

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President of Rhodesia
Former political post
Flag of the President of Rhodesia.svg
Flag of the President of Rhodesia (1970–79)
Successor President of Zimbabwe Rhodesia
First officeholder Clifford Dupont
Last officeholder Henry Everard (Acting)
Style The Honourable
Office began 2 March 1970
Office ended 1 June 1979

The position of President of Rhodesia was the nominal head of state of Rhodesia from 1970 to 1979. As with Rhodesia itself, the position lacked international recognition for the entire period. The position of president, however, was mostly symbolic, and Rhodesia never had a presidential system of government. Instead, power continued to be exercised by Rhodesia's Prime Minister, Ian Smith. Two individuals held the office of President, while two others served as acting presidents. All were of British descent.

Origins[edit]

Rhodesia was formed by the a pioneer column in the late 1800s, headed by Cecil Rhodes after whom the country was named.

On 11 November 1965, Ian Smith's Rhodesian Front Government proclaimed the Unilateral Declaration of Independence from the United Kingdom. On orders from the UK, the then Governor, Sir Humphrey Gibbs, immediately sacked Smith and his cabinet. This action was ignored by Smith, who stated that the UDI brought into immediate force a new constitution which dissolved the position of Governor. Under this constitution, the position of Governor was replaced by an "Officer Administering the Government", and this position was filled by Deputy Prime Minister Clifford Dupont. Following a referendum of the mostly white voters in favour of a republic in 1969, Gibbs resigned his office and left Rhodesia.

Republic[edit]

Smith had sought to make Rhodesia a Commonwealth realm, with Elizabeth II as Queen of Rhodesia. Through this period Elizabeth II would be recognised as Rhodesia's head of state, but he later decided to sever constitutional links with Britain, by making the country a republic. Following the declaration of a republic in 1970, Dupont assumed the ceremonial office of President, Smith's position as prime minister remaining unchanged. A presidential flag was adopted, featuring a blue field with the coat of arms in the centre.

Dupont resigned due to ill health in 1975. He was succeeded as President in 1976 by John Wrathall, who died in office in 1978. In 1979 there was an Internal Settlement, which saw a black majority government for the first time, and the country was renamed Zimbabwe-Rhodesia. Josiah Zion Gumede was chosen as its first (and only) president, which remained a ceremonial office. However, like the UDI and the declaration of a republic, Zimbabwe-Rhodesia was unrecognised internationally.

Following the Lancaster House Agreement, Britain resumed control of the rebel colony, and appointed Lord Soames as Governor until the country became independent as Zimbabwe on 18 April 1980. Canaan Banana became the first President of Zimbabwe, serving until 1987, when Robert Mugabe, previously Prime Minister, became executive President.

List of presidents of Rhodesia[edit]

Parties

      Rhodesian Front

# Name
(Born–Died)
Picture Took office Left office Political Party
Officer Administering the Government (Ceremonial, 1965–1970)[1]
Clifford Dupont
(1905–1978)
C Dupont.jpg 11 November 1965 2 March 1970 Rhodesian Front
Presidents of the Republic of Rhodesia (Ceremonial, 1970–1979)
1 Clifford Dupont
(1905–1978)
C Dupont.jpg 16 April 1970
Acting since 2 March 1970
31 December 1975
(Resigned)
Rhodesian Front
Henry Everard
(1897–1980)
(Acting)
HEverard.jpg 31 December 1975 14 January 1976 Rhodesian Front
2 John Wrathall
(1913–1978)
J Wrathall.jpg 14 January 1976 31 August 1978
(Died in office)
Rhodesian Front
Henry Everard
(1897–1980)
(Acting)
HEverard.jpg 31 August 1978 1 November 1978 Rhodesian Front
Jack William Pithey
(1903–1987)
(Acting)
J Pithey.jpg 1 November 1978 5 March 1979 Rhodesian Front
Henry Everard
(1897–1980)
(Acting)
HEverard.jpg 5 March 1979 1 June 1979 Rhodesian Front

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ During this period, Queen Elizabeth II was still considered to be the official Head of State.

External links[edit]

See also[edit]