President of Rhodesia

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President of Rhodesia
Flag of the President of Rhodesia.svg
Flag of the President of Rhodesia (1970–79)
Style The Honourable
Formation 2 March 1970
First holder Clifford Dupont
Final holder Henry Everard (Acting)
Abolished 1 June 1979
Succession President of Zimbabwe Rhodesia

The position of President of Rhodesia was the head of state of Rhodesia from 1970 to 1979. However, as Rhodesia never had a presidential system of government, 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 white people of British descent. As with Rhodesia itself, the position lacked international recognition for the entire period.


On 11 November 1965, Ian Smith's Rhodesian Front Government proclaimed the Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) from the United Kingdom. On orders from the UK, the then-Governor of Southern Rhodesia, 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 favor of a republic in 1969, Gibbs resigned his office and left Rhodesia.


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 office of President; Smith's position as prime minister remained 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 president. Like the UDI and the declaration of a republic, Zimbabwe Rhodesia was unrecognised internationally and in 1979, Britain resumed control of the rebel colony under the Lancaster House Agreement. Britain appointed Lord Soames as Governor until the country became independent as Zimbabwe on 18 April 1980.

List of presidents of Rhodesia[edit]


  Rhodesian Front

No. Name
Picture Took office Left office Political Party
Officer Administering the Government (1965–1970)[1]
Clifford Dupont
C Dupont.jpg 11 November 1965 2 March 1970 Rhodesian Front
Presidents of the Republic of Rhodesia (1970–1979)
1 Clifford Dupont
C Dupont.jpg 16 April 1970
Acting since
2 March 1970
31 December 1975
Rhodesian Front
Henry Everard
Acting President
HEverard.jpg 31 December 1975 14 January 1976 Rhodesian Front
2 John Wrathall
J Wrathall.jpg 14 January 1976 31 August 1978
(Died in office)
Rhodesian Front
Henry Everard
Acting President
HEverard.jpg 31 August 1978 1 November 1978 Rhodesian Front
Jack William Pithey
Acting President
J Pithey.jpg 1 November 1978 5 March 1979 Rhodesian Front
Henry Everard
Acting President
HEverard.jpg 5 March 1979 1 June 1979 Rhodesian Front


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

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