1924 Southern Rhodesian general election

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1924 Southern Rhodesian general election

← 1920 29 April 1924 1928 →

All 30 seats in the Legislative Assembly
16 seats needed for a majority
  First party Second party
  Sir Charles Coghlan, circa 1925.jpg
Leader Charles Coghlan Lawrence John Walter Keller
Party Rhodesia Party Labour
Leader since 1923 1923
Leader's seat Bulawayo North Bulawayo South
Last election 9 2
Seats won 26 0
Seat change Increase 17 Decrease 2
Popular vote 6,994 2,210
Percentage 54.0% 17.0%
Swing Increase 6.0% Increase 6.5%

Premier before election

Charles Coghlan
Rhodesia Party

Subsequent Premier

Charles Coghlan
Rhodesia Party

The Southern Rhodesia general election of 29 April 1924 was the first election to the Legislative Assembly of Southern Rhodesia following the grant of responsible government to the colony. It saw a comprehensive victory for the Rhodesia Party, which had been formed by the supporters of responsible government, who won 26 out of the 30 seats.


The Letters Patent granting the colony the right to self-government in 1923 made no change to the pre-existing franchise. The law provided that voters must have been resident in Southern Rhodesia for at least six months, and have the ability to complete the claim form for the electoral register in their own handwriting if the registrar required, and to write from dictation 50 words in the English language. In addition, voters had to meet one of three criteria for their financial means: either occupy property worth £150 in their Electoral District, or own a registered mining claim within the colony (for which residence was not required), or receive annual salary of £100 in the colony.

Electoral procedure[edit]

No change was made to the basic electoral procedure which continued to be the single non-transferable vote, or First past the post system, cast by means of the secret ballot.

Electoral districts[edit]

The Letters Patent created a legislative assembly with 30 members, and for simplicity the 15 electoral districts set the previous year for the Legislative Council were used for the new assembly, but with each district returning two members. Voters were therefore entitled to two votes.

Political parties[edit]

Since the previous election, and the grant of responsible government, the Responsible Government Association had organised itself under the leadership of Sir Charles Coghlan into the Rhodesia Party and been appointed as the new government. In addition the Rhodesia Labour Party, which had been formed some years before, entered into the election. However a substantial number of candidates fought as Independents on their own record. In general these candidates represented small farmers, small businesses and mining interests.


The Labour Party had supported the Responsible Government Association in its campaign for a separate government for the colony, and in opposition to union with South Africa, and members of both parties hoped to reach agreement on an allocation of seats between them so that they did not oppose each other. Negotiations were unsuccessful and where candidates of the parties were fighting for seats, the fight between them became bitter. The independent candidates were also in opposition to the 'establishment' party and many stressed the need for a strong opposition in the new Assembly.

Summary result[edit]

Electorate: 21,936 (20,060 in contested seats) Turnout: 59.8%

Party Candidates Elected Unopposed Popular vote
Votes %
Rhodesia Party 30 26 2 6,994 54.0
Independents 21 4 - 3,757 29.0
Rhodesia Labour Party 15 - - 2,210 17.0
Totals 66 30 2 12,961 100%


Electorate and turnout
Candidate Party Votes
1,493 (54.8%)
Francis Leslie Hadfield RP 420
James Cowden RP 397
Septimus Leonard John Steggall Lab 249
Harry Joseph Sonnenberg Ind 217
William George Durbin Morsman Lab 194
Frederick Fisher Ind 159
1,253 (62.3%)
Frederic Philip Mennell RP 499
Alexander Robert Thomson RP 492
Harry Herbert Davies Lab 335
George Walter Price Lab 234
1,490 (62.9%)
Sir Charles Patrick John Coghlan RP 830
Robert James Hudson RP 771
William Davies Lab 274
1,486 (69.0%)
Charles Folliot Birney RP 631
Henry Robert Barbour RP 469
Lawrence John Walter Keller Lab 408
George Mitchell Ind 303
Robert John Dent Lab 241
1,617 (64.2%)
Charles Edward Gilfillan Ind 590
John Louis Martin Ind 576
Lewis Aloys MacDonald Hastings RP 552
William Matthias Longden RP 359
1,456 (66.0%)
David Campbell Duncan Munro RP 572
Max Danziger RP 527
John Charles Jesser Coope Ind 401
James Henry Edwards Ind 257
James White Ross Lab 165
1,519 (58.2%)
Sir Ernest William Sanders Montagu Ind 426
Osmond Charteris Du Port RP 422
Richard Wright Albertson Ind 379
Burton Ireland Collings RP 275
Robert Hawker Futter Ind 267
1,351 (50.4%)
Sir Francis James Newton RP 624
John Wallace Downie RP 579
William Martin Lab 159
1,321 (70.6%)
Robert Dunipace Gilchrist RP 415
William James Boggie RP 307
John Austen Ind 307
Henry Tyndall Brett Ind 260
William Harrison Lab 184
Miss Ellen Constance Steedman Ind 150
Walter Douglas Douglas-Jones Ind 130
George Alexander Campbell Lab 111
1,387 (54.7%)
William Muter Leggate RP 612
James Murdoch Eaton RP 608
John McChlery Ind 296
Percival Donald Leslie Fynn RP unopposed
Godfrey Martin Huggins RP unopposed
1,454 (58.1%)
Harry Bertin RP 595
George Frederick Elcombe RP 433
Milton Evan Cleveland Ind 329
George Harold Johnson Ind 208
Albert Edward Wetherill Lab 125
1,598 (60.1%)
Charles Eickhoff RP 506
Mrs. Ethel Tawse Jollie RP 404
William Robb Love Lab 378
James Allin Methuen Lab 299
Francis Rudolph Myburgh Ind 206
Thomas Benjamin Hulley Ind 130
1,353 (52.0%)
Howard Unwin Moffat RP 539
Lucius Knapp Robinson RP 469
John Albert Halliday Ind 399
1,282 (51.8%)
Robert Alexander Fletcher Ind 476
John Parke Richardson RP 375
William Elliot Thomas RP 306
William Edward Green Lab 171

Note: As the Midlands result was a tie between Boggie and Austen, the election was determined by a drawing of lots, which was supervised by a Judge of the High Court, on 15 May 1924.

Changes during the Assembly[edit]


Sir Francis Newton resigned on 26 August 1924 on appointment as High Commissioner of the United Kingdom to Southern Rhodesia, precipitating a byelection in his electoral district which was held on 26 September 1924.

Electorate and turnout
Candidate Party Votes
1,351 (53.6%)
Percy Sidney Inskipp RP 394
John William Dunlop Ind RP 330

Salisbury South[edit]

George Elcombe resigned his seat on 10 January 1927 and a byelection was held on 8 March 1927.

Electorate and turnout
Candidate Party Votes
1,454 (64.9%)
Frank William Frederick Johson Ind 406
John William Dunlop Lab 362
Burton Ireland Collings RP 175

Bulawayo North[edit]

Sir Charles Coghlan died on 28 August 1927 and a byelection was held on 18 November 1927.

Constituency Candidate Party Votes
BULAWAYO NORTH Allan Ross Welsh RP 549
Edward Jonathan Davies Lab 377


William James Boggie died on 8 February 1928 and a byelection was held on 18 April 1928.

Electorate and turnout
Candidate Party Votes
1,374 (47.5%)
Arthur James Taylor RP 352
Alexander Louis Wynand Koch Worsthorne PP 301


There were a number of changes within the assembly. Robert Dunipace Gilchrist 'crossed the floor' to sit as an opposition Independent in 1925. He was followed in May 1927 by Francis Leslie Hadfield and Max Danziger. In June 1927, the Progressive Party was formed by Harry Bertin, Robert Alexander Fletcher, Robert Dunipace Gilchrist, George Edward Gilfillan, Francis Leslie Hadfield, Frank William Frederick Johnson, John Louis Martin, Frederic Philip Mennell and Sir Ernest William Sanders Montagu. This party campaigned for a pro-white immigration policy, the development of Matabeleland, and establishing African reserves. It was opposed to monopolies, and sought reform and depoliticisation of the Civil Service.


  • Source Book of Parliamentary Elections and Referenda in Southern Rhodesia 1898–1962 ed. by F.M.G. Willson (Department of Government, University College of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, Salisbury 1963)
  • Holders of Administrative and Ministerial Office 1894–1964 by F.M.G. Willson and G.C. Passmore, assisted by Margaret T. Mitchell (Source Book No. 3, Department of Government, University College of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, Salisbury 1966)