Rhodesian Front

The Rhodesian Front (RF) was a right-wing, conservative political party in Southern Rhodesia,[12][13][14] subsequently known as Rhodesia. It was the last ruling party of Southern Rhodesia prior to the country's unilateral declaration of independence, and the ruling party of Rhodesia from 1965 until 1979. Led first by Winston Field, and, from 1964, by Ian Smith, the Rhodesian Front was the successor to the Dominion Party, which was the main opposition party in Southern Rhodesia when the territory was a part of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. The RF was formed in March 1962 by conservative white Rhodesians who opposed decolonization and majority rule. It carried the general election in Southern Rhodesia that December, and remained in power until 1979.

Rhodesian Front
LeaderIan Smith
Founded1 March 1962 (1962-03-01)
Dissolved6 June 1981 (1981-06-06)
Preceded byDominion Party[1]
Southern Rhodesia Liberal Party
Succeeded byRepublican Front
HeadquartersSalisbury, Rhodesia
IdeologyWhite minority interests[2]
White supremacy[3][4][5]
Rhodesian nationalism[6][7]
Social conservatism[9][10]
Political positionRight-wing[11]
Colours  Purple   White
Party flag

History and ideologyEdit

The RF had fifteen founding principles, which included the preservation of each racial group's right to maintain its own identity, the preservation of "proper standards" through a policy of advancement through merit, the maintenance of the Land Apportionment Act, which formalized the racial imbalance in the ownership and distribution of land, opposition to compulsory racial integration, job protection for white workers, and the practice of Christianity. Historians have generally defined the party as conservative and wanting to maintain white Rhodesian interests by staunchly opposing majority rule, which the RF argued (citing other post-colonial African nations as examples) would lead to a collapse in economic development, law and order, and the emergence of a communist regime in Rhodesia. The party also encouraged the emigration of whites from other African former colonies to Rhodesia.[15] In contrast to the ideology of the South African National Party, the RF allowed for democratic opposition and did not advocate social apartheid (under the RF, marriage, relationships and intermingling between whites and non-white persons was possible and legal, albeit uncommon). Black Rhodesians were allowed to vote for candidates on separate and smaller electoral rolls in parliamentary elections following the UDI. However, the RF wanted to continue the maintenance of the government's right to provide separate amenities for different races, such as education and public sector resources, and maintained an all-white membership, which resulted in it facing accusations of racism from both within Rhodesia and abroad.[16] Smith and the RF also claimed that they based their policies, ideas, and democratic principles on merit and "not on color or nationalism." The party also claimed that a system of merit and separate economic advancement would ultimately result in an "equal partnership between black and white" as an alternative to majority rule.[17] In 1977, the party had a schism in which the more hardline wing broke off to form the Rhodesian Action Party, which opposed Smith's proposals to negotiate a settlement with black nationalist leaders.

In the elections leading to the country's independence in 1980, as the Republic of Zimbabwe, the RF won all 20 parliamentary seats reserved for whites in the power-sharing agreement that it had forged. On 6 June 1981, the party changed its name to the Republican Front, and on 21 July 1984, it became the Conservative Alliance of Zimbabwe. Eleven of its 20 parliamentarians defected over the following four years, but the party again won 15 of the 20 parliamentary seats reserved for whites in the 1985 election. In 1986, the CAZ opened its membership to Zimbabweans of all races.[18] In 1987 the ruling government abolished all reserved seats for whites.[19] When these were abolished many white MPs became independents or joined the ruling ZANU–PF party.

Electoral historyEdit

House of Assembly electionsEdit

Year Popular Vote Percentage Seats Government
1962 38,282 54.9%
35 / 65
1965 28,175 78.4%
50 / 65
1970 39,066 76.8%
50 / 66
1974 55,597 77.0%
50 / 66
1977 57,348 85.4%
50 / 66
1979 11,613 (White Roll) 82.0%
28 / 100
1980 13,621 (White Roll) 83.0%
20 / 100

See alsoEdit

Further readingEdit

  • Rhodesians Never Die, Godwin, P. & Hancock, I., 1995. Baobab Books, Harare, Zimbabwe.
  • Pollard, William C. A Career of Defiance: The Life of Ian Smith, Agusan River Publishing Co., 1992. Topeka, KS.
  • McLaughlin, John . "Ian Smith and the Future of Zimbabwe," The National Review, October 30, 1981, pp. 2168–70.
  • Facts on File, 1984 ed., p. 574.


  1. ^ Lipschutz, Mark R.; Rasmussen, R. Kent (1989). University of California Press (ed.). Dictionary of African Historical Biography. p. 265.
  2. ^ Leaver, John David (2006). "Multiracialism and nationalisms: A political retrospective on 1950s Southern Rhodesia ('Colonial Zimbabwe')". Journal of Third World Studies. 23 (2): 167–188. JSTOR 45194313.
  3. ^ a b Donal Lowry (2009). "The impact of anti-communism on white Rhodesian political culture, c.1920s-1980". In Onslow, Sue (ed.). Cold War in Southern Africa: White Power, Black Liberation. New York: Routledge. p. 84. ISBN 978-0-415-47420-7. Retrieved 7 April 2020.
  4. ^ Cilliers, Jakkie (17 April 2015). Counter-Insurgency in Rhodesia (e-Book 1st ed.). London: Routledge. p. 18. ISBN 9781315713854. Retrieved 9 April 2020.
  5. ^ Good, Kenneth (1974). "Settler Colonialism in Rhodesia". African Affairs. 73 (290): 10–36. doi:10.1093/oxfordjournals.afraf.a096439. JSTOR 720978.
  6. ^ Preston, Matthew (2004). I.B.Tauris (ed.). Ending Civil War: Rhodesia and Lebanon in Perspective. p. 107. ISBN 9781850435792.
  7. ^ West, Michael O. (2002). Indiana University Press (ed.). The Rise of an African Middle Class: Colonial Zimbabwe, 1898-1965. p. 229. ISBN 0253215242.
  8. ^ Rhodesian Front[dead link]
  9. ^ Hume, Ian (2018). Outskirts Press (ed.). From the Edge of Empire: A Memoir. p. 149. ISBN 9781478794554.
  10. ^ Roscoe, Adrian (2007). Columbia University Press (ed.). The Columbia Guide to Central African Literature in English Since 1945. p. 35. ISBN 9780231503792.
  11. ^ Evans, Michael (2007). "The Wretched of the Empire: Politics, Ideology and Counterinsurgency in Rhodesia, 1965–80". Small Wars & Insurgencies. 18 (2): 175–195. doi:10.1080/09574040701400601. S2CID 144153887.
  12. ^ Hsu, Chia Yin; Luckett, Thomas M.; Vause, Erika (2015). The Cultural History of Money and Credit: A Global Perspective. Lexington Books. p. 142. ISBN 9781498505932.
  13. ^ Onslow, Sue (2009). Cold War in Southern Africa: White Power, Black Liberation. Routledge. p. 92. ISBN 9781135219338.
  14. ^ Butler, L. J. (2002). Britain and Empire: Adjusting to a Post-Imperial World. I.B.Tauris. p. 164. ISBN 9781860644481. Retrieved 19 February 2017.
  15. ^ Selby thesis:p58 Archived 15 June 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ RRT Research Response Refugee Review Tribunal. Retrieved 20 December 2022
  17. ^ Hall 1966, p. 22
  18. ^ Ian Smith Invites Blacks to Join His Party, The New York Times, July 23, 1984, p. A5.
  19. ^ Zimbabwe whites lose special political status. End of reserved seats in Parliament brings one-party state closer, Christian Science Monitor, August 25, 1987