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Ministry of Internal Affairs
Coat of arms of Rhodesia.svg
Flag of Rhodesia (1968–1979).svg
Agency overview
Formed1962; 59 years ago (1962)
Preceding agency
  • Native Affairs Department
Dissolved1 June 1979; 41 years ago (1979-06-01)
HeadquartersSalisbury, Rhodesia
Agency executive
Child agencies

The Ministry of Internal Affairs, commonly referred to as INTAF (or Intaf), was a cabinet ministry of the Rhodesian government. One of Rhodesia's most important governmental departments, it was responsible for the welfare and development of the black African rural population. It played a significant role maintaining control of rural African villages during the Rhodesian Bush War.

Established by the British South Africa Company in 1894 as the Native Affairs Department, it was reconstituted in 1962 as the Ministry of Internal Affairs. It established administrative districts throughout Rhodesia. Each district was led by a white uniformed District Commissioner, who was assisted by a multiracial staff and security forces. As the Rhodesian Bush War began in the early 1970s, INTAF significantly expanded its security operations. It established a paramilitary force, the Guard Force, which patrolled the rural areas. It also began intelligence-gathering and maintained the protected villages program. Upon Zimbabwe's internationally recognised independence in 1980, INTAF was disestablished and was succeeded by the Zimbabwean Ministry of Home Affairs.

INTAF was led by the Minister of Internal Affairs, who was appointed by Prime Minister of Rhodesia Ian Smith. William Harper was the first Minister of Internal Affairs, and Rollo Hayman was the last.


Native Affairs Department, 1894-1962[edit]

In 1894 the British South Africa Company established the Native Affairs Department[1] to be responsible for the welfare of black Africans living on tribal trust lands in the colony of Southern Rhodesia. 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.[2]

Ministry of Internal Affairs, 1962-1979[edit]

In 1962, the Native Affairs Department was abolished by the Southern Rhodesian government.[3] Most of its duties were designated to the newly established Ministry of Internal Affairs.[3] The exceptions were agricultural responsibilities, which were designated to the Ministry of Agriculture, the administration of Native Purchase Areas, which was taken over by the Ministry of Mines and Lands, and local judicial functions, which were taken over by the Ministry of Justice.[3] Following the ranks of the Colonial Service, the ministry's Native Commissioners were renamed District Commissioners.[4] In addition, the areas formerly known as Native Reserves and Special Native Areas were reclassified as Tribal Trust Land.[3]

William Harper was the first Minister of Internal Affairs beginning in 1964. In October of that year, he oversaw the indaba (conference) of chiefs and headmen at Domboshawa in October 1964, at the end of which the tribal leaders unanimously announced their support for Southern Rhodesia's independence, which was unilaterally declared on 11 November 1965.[5] Harper, a staunch conservative seen as a rival to Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith, resigned from political office on 11 July 1968.

Harper was replaced as Minister of Internal Affairs by Lance Smith, another member of Ian Smith's ruling Rhodesian Front party. In 1970, he oversaw the implementation of the Land Tenure Act, which divided Rhodesia's land into equal halves for the black and white populations.[3] The law was controversial as Rhodesia's white population of around 200,000 was dwarfed by the black population of over four million. Smith also introduced plans for black Rhodesians to be required to carry identity cards when working outside of designated areas.[citation needed] These plans were defeated at the Rhodesian Front Congress in October 1971.[citation needed] After the May 1972 Pearce Commission verdict against the provisional independence proposal, Smith advised black Rhodesians in June 1972 that they would have to rely on themselves to improve their position, and that external assistance would not be available.[citation needed] His "provincialisation" plans, announced on 13 July 1972, were intended to shift control of tribal areas from the white government to African chiefs, thus trending towards separate development for blacks and whites.[citation needed] He also established the Tribal Trust Land Development Corporation.[6] Smith stepped down as INTAF minister in 1974.

Upon the dissolution of Rhodesia and the independence of Zimbabwe in 1980 through the Lancaster House Agreement, INTAF was dissolved and replaced with the Zimbabwean Ministry of Home Affairs.

Organizational structure[edit]

INTAF was headed by the Minister of Internal Affairs, who was assisted by the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs.[7]


District Commissioners, Assistant District Commissioners, District Officers, Cadets and District Assistants were expected to be qualified in Rhodesian law, the customary law of the tribe they dealt with, and the tribal language (i.e. Shona or Sindebele). As the Bush War placed pressure on Intaf, new District Assistants were recruited to serve for the duration of the war - these were called District Security Assistants. The security force of Intaf was known as the Guard Force. This was the descendant of the Matabele Native Police raised in 1894.

In 1975, with the security situation increasingly volatile, a training depot was set up at Chikurubi to ensure all new District Assistants and all members of the Guard Force had full military training. Training instructors were recruited from the Rhodesian Light Infantry. Members of the Guard Force were mainly black volunteers, but also included white conscripts. The mainstay of National Servicemen were regular officers of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The Administration cadet national servicemen were Cadet 1 and 2, District Officers and Assistant District Commissioners. Agricultural Officers and African Development Fund men were also National Servicemen trained at Chikurubi. Their training included drill, weapons, map reading, African Customs and African Languages.

As well as providing security at villages, Guard Force personnel patrolled the surrounding area. According to the local situation and resources, this was done on foot, on bicycles, in motor vehicles, or on horseback. The utility of INTAF horse-mounted units led to the formation of Grey's Scouts, an army horse-mounted unit, in 1975.

As the war progressed, Intaf formed an elite military branch called the Administrative Reinforcement Units (ARU); these consisted of eight troops (one for each province). The ARU were reinforced with volunteers seconded from the Rhodesian African Rifles, Rhodesian Defence Regiment, and Selous Scouts.

Reservists called up for service with Intaf were generally allotted to units known as "echelons". There was one INTAF echelon for each province.

Intaf maintained light aircraft for transport and reconnaissance, of which one was shot down during the Bush War.

Members of INTAF initially wore a khaki uniform formerly worn by the Rhodesian Army with a red beret or a slouch hat with red puggaree, but later wore camouflage.[8][9]

Protected villages[edit]

Internal Affairs personnel played a prominent role in the war. They served at Joint Operational Centres 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.


INTAF's expanded duties during the Rhodesian Bush War corresponded with a great increase in its budget. From the 1971–72 and 1977-78 budgets, the Rhodesian government's allocations to INTAF grew by 305%.[10]


  • Van Tonder, Gerry & Wall, Dudley Operation Lighthouse: Rhodesian Internal Affairs, 1972–1980 Helion and Company – 19 November 2015 ISBN 191077703X


  1. ^ "Ministry of Internal Affairs, Rhodesia". Retrieved 30 October 2013.
  2. ^ Keppel-Jones, Arthur (1983). Rhodes and Rhodesia: The White Conquest of Zimbabwe, 1884–1902. McGill-Queen's Press – MQUP. p. 530.
  3. ^ a b c d e Paxton, J. (1979). The Statesman's Year-Book 1978-79. Springer. p. 1012. ISBN 9780230271074.
  4. ^ Weinrich, A. K. H. (1971). Chiefs and Councils in Rhodesia: Transition from Patriarchal to Bureaucratic Power Heinemann. p. 21.
  5. ^ Wood, J R T (2005). So Far and No Further! Rhodesia's Bid for Independence During the Retreat From Empire 1959–1965. Victoria, British Columbia: Trafford Publishing. pp. 243–246. ISBN 978-1-4120-4952-8.
  6. ^ "INTERNAL AFFAIRS Honours and Awards 1967 - 1980". Retrieved 29 August 2017.
  7. ^ Nada: The Rhodesia Ministry of Internal Affairs Annual. Ministry of Internal Affairs. 1974. p. 452.
  8. ^ Wall, Dudley. "Intaf Rank Insignia - Rhodesia". Intaf Rank Insignia - Rhodesia. Retrieved 14 October 2014.
  9. ^ Wall, Dudley (2009). Insignia and History of the Rhodesian Armed Forces. 1890-1980 (4th ed.). Durban, South Africa: Just Done Productions Publishing (published 25 November 2009). ISBN 978-1-920315-53-5. Archived from the original on 13 September 2014. Retrieved 14 October 2014.
  10. ^ Morris-Jones, W. H. (1980). From Rhodesia to Zimbabwe: Behind and Beyond Lancaster House. London: Frank Cass & Co. p. 115. ISBN 9781317761006.

External links[edit]