David Smith (Rhodesian politician)

David Colville Smith GLM ICD (19 April 1922 – 9 July 1996) was a farmer and politician in Rhodesia and its successor states, Zimbabwe Rhodesia and Zimbabwe. He served in the cabinet of Rhodesia as Minister of Agriculture from 1968 to 1976, Minister of Finance from 1976 to 1979, and Minister of Commerce and Industry from 1978 to 1979. From 1976 to 1979, he also served Deputy Prime Minister of Rhodesia. He continued to serve as Minister of Finance in the government of Zimbabwe Rhodesia in 1979. In 1980, he was appointed Minister of Trade and Commerce of the newly independent Zimbabwe, one of two whites included in the cabinet of Prime Minister Robert Mugabe.

David Smith
Minister de Koning begroet op Schiphol minister van Handel en Industrie van Zimb, Bestanddeelnr 930-9121.jpg
Minister of Trade and Commerce of Zimbabwe
In office
19 April 1980 – March 1981
Prime MinisterRobert Mugabe
DeputyMoses Mvenge
Preceded byErnest Bulle (Zimbabwe Rhodesia)
Succeeded byRichard Hove
Minister of Finance of Zimbabwe Rhodesia
In office
1 June 1979 – 12 December 1979
Prime MinisterAbel Muzorewa
DeputyDennis Nyamuswa
Preceded byHimself (Rhodesia)
Succeeded byEnos Nkala (Zimbabwe)
Minister of Commerce and Industry of Rhodesia
In office
April 1978 – 1979
Serving with Ernest Bulle
Prime MinisterIan Smith
Succeeded byErnest Bulle (Zimbabwe Rhodesia)
Deputy Prime Minister of Rhodesia
In office
20 August 1976 – 1979
Prime MinisterIan Smith
Preceded byJohn Wrathall
Succeeded bySilas Mundawarara (Zimbabwe Rhodesia)
Minister of Finance of Rhodesia
In office
13 January 1976 – 1979
Serving with Ernest Bulle (1978−1979)
Prime MinisterIan Smith
Preceded byJohn Wrathall
Succeeded byHimself (Zimbabwe Rhodesia)
Minister of Agriculture of Rhodesia
In office
September 1968 – January 1976
Prime MinisterIan Smith
Preceded byGeorge Rudland
Succeeded byRollo Hayman
Personal details
Born19 April 1922
Argyll, Scotland
Died9 July 1996(1996-07-09) (aged 74)
Harare, Zimbabwe
Resting placeKilkerran Cemetery, Campbeltown, Scotland
Political partyRhodesian Front
Jean Graham
(m. 1948)

Born in Kintyre, Scotland, Smith emigrated to Southern Rhodesia in 1946 to take up farming. Initially a farm assistant, he rose to become a farm manager and later co-founded a farming enterprise of his own in Mazowe. He was elected to the Southern Rhodesian Legislative Assembly in 1965, the year of Rhodesia's Unilateral Declaration of Independence, and was added to the cabinet three years later as agriculture minister. He later held the portfolios of finance and commerce, and served for three years as Ian Smith's deputy prime minister. Considered a moderate within the Rhodesian Front, he was one of a few white ministers included in the cabinets of premier Abel Muzorewa of Zimbabwe Rhodesia in 1979, and by Robert Mugabe in 1980. He resigned from the cabinet and the Rhodesian Front in 1981, and remained in retirement in Harare until his death.

Early life and familyEdit

Smith was born on 19 April 1922 on the Kintyre peninsula of Argyll, Scotland, either in Campbeltown[1][2] or at his family's Corran farm in Clachan.[3][4][5][6] He was the son of farmer William Reid Smith, a Newmains native, and Margaret Brown Mundell, who originated from Bellochantuy.[4][7] He was educated at Campbeltown Grammar School.[3][4][6]

Smith emigrated to Southern Rhodesia in 1946, sailing from England on the Winchester Castle's first post-war voyage.[1][3][4][8][9] His brother, Hamish Smith, also moved to the colony and farmed in Nyabira.[10] Prior to leaving, Smith became engaged to Jean Barclay Graham, whom he married in 1948.[3][4][8] Together, they had five children, Catherine, Marge, Graham, Elizabeth, and William Lindsay—who died in 1952 at the age of two—and fourteen grandchildren.[2][4][7][8]

Farming in RhodesiaEdit

In Southern Rhodesia, Smith initially worked as a farm assistant, before becoming a farm manager.[1][3][4][6][11] He later started his own farming enterprise, Smith and Wheeler (Pvt) Ldt., with a partner in Mazowe.[3][6][8][11] He joined the Grain Marketing Board in 1953, and served on several other agricultural committees.[3] He became chairman of the national Farmers' Co-operative in 1966.[3][4] In 1974, he purchased a farm in Banket worth several hundred thousand dollars.[1]

Political careerEdit

In 1965, the year of Rhodesia's Unilateral Declaration of Independence, Smith was elected to the Southern Rhodesian Legislative Assembly for the Marandellas constituency.[1][8][12] On 28 September 1968, he was named to Prime Minister Ian Smith's cabinet as Minister of Agriculture, succeeding George Rudland.[1][3][4][13][14] At that time, Smith was described as the Rhodesian Front's "most liberal MP" and a moderate within the party who opposed press censorship and favoured a settlement with Britain.[12][15][16][17][18] He was reelected to Parliament in the 1970 election with 72.5 percent of the vote against independent candidate Thomas Edridge, a Wedza farmer and member of the Rhodesia Tobacco Association's governing council.[19] Edridge and the RTA took issue with price controls put in place by Smith in his capacity as agriculture minister.[19] In April 1970, the month of the election, Smith criticized the RTA and other commodities boards for their political involvement, and accused them of lobbying against him in other government ministries.[19] In 1972, he was elected vice-president of the Rhodesian Front, succeeding Lord Angus Graham.[20][21] Smith was reelected in 1974 with 79 percent of the vote against Alfred John Harrison, the Rhodesia Party candidate.

Smith (center) at the signing of the Internal Settlement on 3 March 1978.

On 13 January 1976, Smith was made Minister of Finance after the incumbent minister, John Wrathall, became President of Rhodesia.[1][3][8][11][13] He became Deputy Prime Minister on 20 August 1976, retaining his finance portfolio.[1][3][8][11][13] He was returned to Parliament in the 1977 election with 86 percent of the vote against William John Raymond Pratt of the right-wing Rhodesian Action Party. In April 1978, he was appointed joint Minister of Commerce and Industry, serving alongside Ernest Bulle, one of the black co-ministers appointed as a result of the Internal Settlement.[3][11][22] That year, he was the first Rhodesian minister to say he would run for Parliament under the Internal Settlement constitution, which would ensure a multiracial government.[1]

On 30 May 1979, Smith was appointed Minister of Finance in the government of Zimbabwe Rhodesia, the successor state to Rhodesia.[8][23] In a by-election held on 24 July 1979 to replace Hilary Squires, Smith was elected unopposed to Parliament for the Borrowdale constituency. In the fall of 1979, he attended the Lancaster House Conference as part of Zimbabwe Rhodesia premier Abel Muzorewa's delegation.[8] He refused to go unless Ian Smith was also allowed to attend, a demand to which Muzorewa acquiesced.[24] After the conference, which ended the Rhodesian Bush War and led to the creation of the independent Zimbabwe, he kept in personal touch with nationalist leaders Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo.[5]

In the country's first multiracial elections in 1980, Smith was reelected unopposed as MP for Borrowdale, one of the twenty seats reserved for whites.[8] After the election, he was named Minister of Commerce and Industry in Prime Minister Robert Mugabe's cabinet.[5][8][21][25] He was one of two whites in the cabinet, along with agriculture minister Denis Norman, and was the only minister belonging to the Rhodesian Front.[21][25][26] He said he would remain in the party, and Ian Smith played a role in his selection for the cabinet.[21] He was sworn in with the other cabinet ministers on 19 April 1980.[27] Later that year, his title was changed to Minister of Trade and Commerce, with the industry portfolio going to Simba Makoni.[28][29] In early March 1981, Smith resigned from the cabinet, citing ill health.[5][8][9][26][30][31] He resigned from Parliament and the Rhodesian Front on 30 April, saying in a statement that he had decided to retire from politics but would be "an interested onlooker".[9][11][32]

Later life and deathEdit

After leaving politics, Smith remained in Zimbabwe in retirement.[5][8] He enjoyed riding and shooting, and was a member of the Harare Club and Dining Club.[3] He died at his home in Harare on 9 July 1996 at age 74, several years after being diagnosed with heart disease.[5][8][33] He was buried at Kilkerran Cemetery in Campbeltown, Argyll and Bute, with his parents and son, William.[7]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Deputy Prime Minister to Remain in Politics". The Sunday Mail. 1978-06-04. Retrieved 2020-06-02.
  2. ^ a b Who's who of Southern Africa. Ken Donaldson (Pty.) Limited. 1976. p. 1096.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Current World Leaders. International Academy at Santa Barbara. 1979. p. 850.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Kintyre man in Rhodesian cabinet". Campbeltown Courier. 1968-10-03. Retrieved 2020-05-31.
  5. ^ a b c d e f "David Smith". The Herald. 1996-07-17. Retrieved 2020-05-31.
  6. ^ a b c d Sub-Saharan Africa Report. Foreign Broadcast Information Service. 1979. p. 58.
  7. ^ a b c "David Colville Smith". Find A Grave. Retrieved 2020-06-01.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "David Smith: Tireless worker for his country". The Farmer. 1996-07-18. Retrieved 2020-05-31 – via Bundu Times.
  9. ^ a b c "White Official Quits Mugabe Government". The Washington Star. 1981-05-01. Retrieved 2020-06-02.
  10. ^ "New Board Member for Tribal Trust Land Development Corporation". Rhodesia Ministry of Information. 1969-11-19. Retrieved 2020-05-31.
  11. ^ a b c d e f Sub-Saharan Africa Report. Foreign Broadcast Information Service. 1981. p. 96.CS1 maint: date and year (link)
  12. ^ a b Africa Confidential. Miramoor Publications Limited. 1968. p. 140.
  13. ^ a b c "New Deputy Premier". Africa Research Bulletin. Blackwell. 1976. p. 4136.
  14. ^ Africa Digest. Africa Bureau. 1968. p. 106.
  15. ^ Good, Robert C. (1973). U.D.I: The International Politics of the Rhodesian Rebellion. Princeton: Princeton University Press. p. 265. ISBN 978-1-4008-6917-6.
  16. ^ The Round Table. Round Table Limited. 1969. p. 72.
  17. ^ Hudson, Miles (1981). Triumph Or Tragedy?: Rhodesia to Zimbabwe. H. Hamilton. pp. 123–124. ISBN 978-0-241-10571-9.
  18. ^ White, Matthew C. (1978). Smith of Rhodesia. Cape Town: Don Nelson. p. 92. ISBN 978-0-909238-36-0.CS1 maint: date and year (link)
  19. ^ a b c Rowe, David M. (2001). Manipulating the Market: Understanding Economic Sanctions, Institutional Change, and the Political Unity of White Rhodesia. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. pp. 87–88. ISBN 978-0-472-11187-9.
  20. ^ Davies, Dorothy Keyworth (1975). Race Relations in Rhodesia: A Survey for 1972-73. R. Collings. p. 109. ISBN 9780901720566.
  21. ^ a b c d Ross, Jay (1980-03-12). "Mugabe Appoints Cabinet Designed To Placate Whites". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2020-06-02.
  22. ^ The International Year Book and Statesmen's Who's who. Burke's Peerage Limited. 1979. p. 520.
  23. ^ Burns, John F. (1979-05-31). "Muzorewa Names a Cabinet, Reserving Key Roles for Himself and Smith". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-06-02.
  24. ^ Stedman, Stephen John (1988). The Lancaster House constitutional conference on Rhodesia. Pew Charitable Trusts. p. 9.
  25. ^ a b Walker, Ruth, ed. (1980-03-12). "Mugabe Cabinet list seeks unity". The Christian Science Monitor. ISSN 0882-7729. Retrieved 2020-06-02.
  26. ^ a b Facts & Reports. Holland Committee on Southern Africa. 1981. p. 50.
  27. ^ A Concise Guide to the Second Parliament of Zimbabwe. Harare: Ministry of Information. 1985. p. 4.
  28. ^ Zimbabwe Information Group. Zimbabwe Information Group. 1981. p. 3.
  29. ^ Paxton, John, ed. (1981). The Statesman's Year-Book 1981-82. London: Macmillan Press. p. 1634. ISBN 978-0-230-27110-4.
  30. ^ The Annual Register. Longmans. 1981. p. 256. ISBN 978-0-582-50303-8.
  31. ^ "Appointment of Acting Minister of Trade and Commerce" (PDF). Zimbabwean Government Gazette. 59: 295. 1981-03-20 – via Gazettes.Africa.
  32. ^ "Resignation of Rhodesian Front member". Summary of World Broadcasts: Non-Arab Africa. BBC. 1981.
  33. ^ "Notices to Creditors and Debtors" (PDF). Zimbabwean Government Gazette. 74: 1154. 1996-12-20 – via Gazettes.Africa.