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Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland election, 1953

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Title: Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland election, 1953  
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Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland election, 1953

The Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland general election of 15 December 1953 was the first election to the legislative assembly of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, which had been formed a few months before. The election saw a landslide victory for the Federal Party under Godfrey Huggins, who had been Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia for the past 20 years.

Composition of the Federal Assembly

Voters elected 35 members of a unicameral Federal Assembly: 14 from Southern Rhodesia constituencies, 8 from Northern Rhodesia constituencies, and four from Nyasaland. In addition, there were three members from each territory representing African interests: one of these was a European and two were African. In Southern Rhodesia only, these positions were elected; in the other territories, the Governor appointed the European member, while an electoral college chose the African members.

Electoral qualifications

When the Federal constitution was agreed at the London conference of 1953, the qualification for electors in Northern and Southern Rhodesia was taken as the same as those in operation for territorial elections in those territories. Nyasaland did not have direct elections at this point and so was excluded until the Legislative Council there enacted proper provisions.

At the election day, the electorate was comprised as follows:

Territory European electors Asian electors Coloured electors African electors Total
Southern Rhodesia 48,869 594 570 441 50,474
Northern Rhodesia 14,588 856 3 15,447
Nyasaland 983 75 1,058
Total 64,440 2,095 444 66,979

Election campaign

The advent of the Federation caused a profound shift in the structure of politics in the Rhodesias. Godfrey Huggins formed the Federal Party to fight the election, merging his own United Party with the opposition Rhodesia Party and incorporating supporters in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. Several members of other opposition parties in Southern Rhodesia who supported federation also decided to join the Federal Party. Among them were William Eastwood, from the Rhodesia Labour Party, whose departure was prompted by the initial decision of his Party to fight the elections: Eastwood felt that this would divide supporters of federation. Another opposition member going over to the Federal Party was Ian Smith, who had been elected as a Liberal candidate in the 1948 general election.

Opponents of federation formed the Confederate Party, which advocated a system in the Rhodesias akin to apartheid in South Africa. This issue was also raised by Huggins who campaigned vigorously against it. Huggins believed the policy was unpopular and impractical. A group called the Progressive Party was formed to offer voters a party of the centre-left, but swiftly dissolved when it found organising a difficulty and realised it would not be able to nominate more than about two candidates. There were a few independent candidates, most notably two in Northern Rhodesia. Dr Alexander Scott in Lusaka and Norman Lacey in the copperbelt constituency of Nkana-Chingola both advocated a liberal racial policy similar to that which the Progressive Party had been intending to offer.

One unusual court case arose after nominations. Gaston Thornicroft, a mixed-race man who was described as "living like a European", was refused nomination for the Southern Rhodesia constituency for Europeans to represent African interests on the grounds that he was not a European. He challenged the decision in court but was unsuccessful.


The state of the parties was:

Party Members
Northern Rhodesia Nyasaland Southern Rhodesia Total
Federal Party 7 4 13 24
Independents 4 3 3 10
Confederate Party - - 1 1
Total 11 7 17 35

Constituency results

Northern Rhodesia

Ordinary members

Electorate and turnout
Candidate Party Votes %
1,552 (60.3%)
Roland Welensky FP 817 87.3
William Kirkwood CP 119 12.7
1,015 (62.9%)
Guillaume François Marais Van Eeden FP 441 69.1
John Gaunt CP 197 30.9
1,377 (66.7%)
John Cranmer Graylin FP 671 73.0
Frank Sheridan Derby CP 248 27.0
3,066 (60.0%)
Vincent Thomas Joyce FP 1,326 72.1
Douglas Edgar Charsley CP 513 27.9
889 (61.9%)
Frank Bruce Robertson FP 446 81.1
Charles Benjamin Dodkins CP 104 18.9
2,172 (67.4%)
Dr Alexander Scott Ind 758 51.8
Ernest Walter Sargeant FP 626 42.8
Raymond Beresford Pakenham CP 79 5.4
1,946 (57.2%)
Frank Stephen Owen FP 907 81.5
Willem Hugo Van Zyl CP 206 18.5
3,490 (66.6%)
George Wellington Rex L'Ange FP 1,819 78.2
Edward Brockman Hovelmeier CP 392 16.9
Norman Henry Lacey Ind 115 4.9

Specially elected African members

Territory Member Party
Dauti Lawton Yamba Ind

Specially appointed European member

Territory Member Party
NORTHERN RHODESIA Dr. John Fearby Campbell Haslam (resigned, 20 December 1954) Ind
Sir John Smith Moffat (appointed 22 December 1954) Ind


Ordinary members

Electorate and turnout
Candidate Party Votes %
Four members
1,058 (85.8%)
Rupert Cecil Bucquet FP 903 87.3
John Foot FP 879
Paul Frederick Brereton FP 822
Malcolm Palliser Barrow FP 808
Pranlal Dayaram Lalsodagarwala Ind 105 9.7
Alibhai Adambhai Desai Ind 85
Charles Walsh CP 29 3.0

Specially elected African members

Territory Member Party
NYASALAND Wellington Manoah Chirwa Ind
Clement Robin Kumbikano Ind

Specially appointed European member

Territory Member Party
NYASALAND Andrew Beveridge Doig (resigned, 24 June 1958) Ind

Southern Rhodesia

Ordinary members

Electorate and turnout
Candidate Party Votes %
3,618 (83.2%)
Benjamin Disraeli Goldberg FP 1,886 62.7
Andrew Skeen CP 1,123 37.3
3,401 (75.9%)
Donald Macintyre FP 1,789 69.3
Arthur Lear Smith CP 793 30.7
3,575 (77.3%)
William Hives Eastwood FP 1,961 71.0
William Shaw CP 801 29.0
3,547 (79.4%)
John Moore Caldicott FP 1,946 69.1
Richard Hunter Christie CP 872 30.9
3,584 (71.5%)
Ian Douglas Smith FP 1,148 44.8
Robert Williamson Ind 785 30.6
William Henry Weedon CP 629 24.6
3,664 (80.3%)
Neville Gwynne Barrett FP 1,816 61.7
George Richard Musgrave CP 1,126 38.3
3,995 (72.8%)
Leslie Manfred Noel Hodson FP 2,023 69.5
John Liston Dalrymple CP 886 30.5
3,665 (75.2%)
William Alexander Eustace Winterton FP 1,496 54.3
Hendrik Andries Alberts CP 1,261 45.7
3,649 (77.2%)
Godfrey Martin Huggins FP 2,055 73.0
Estcourt Vernon Herbert Cresswell-George CP 761 27.0
3,848 (78.3%)
James Watson Swan FP 2,069 68.7
Percy Arthur Newton CP 943 31.3
3,331 (78.0%)
John Richard Dendy Young CP 1,415 54.5
Jacob Letterstedt Smit FP 1,182 45.5
3,675 (78.0%)
Julius Macdonald Greenfield FP 2,072 72.3
William Henry Rattham CP 795 27.7
3,484 (75.5%)
Leslie Major Cullinan FP 1,491 56.7
James Angus Graham, Marquess Graham CP 1,138 43.3
3,375 (73.4%)
Robert Francis Halsted FP 1,593 64.3
Andries Bernardus Mentz CP 883 35.7

Specially elected African members

Electorate and turnout
Candidate Party Votes %
26,049 (55.9%)
Jasper Zengeza Savanhu Ind 9,447 64.9
Stanlake John William Thompson Samkange Ind 5,120 35.1
24,425 (53.1%)
Masotsha Mike Hove Ind 10,558 81.5
Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Ind 2,400 18.5

Specially elected European member

Electorate and turnout
Candidate Party Votes %
50,474 (72.4%)
Rev Percy Ibbotson Ind 13,402 36.7
Ian Finlay McLean CP 10,183 27.9
James Henderson Farquhar Ind 8,353 22.8
Henry Alfred Holmes Ind 4,621 12.6

Changes during the Assembly

Southern Rhodesia by-election

Rev. Percy Ibbotson, the specially elected European member representing African interests from Southern Rhodesia, died on 3 April 1955. When nominations closed on 27 May 1955, Harry Ellinder Davies was the only candidate to replace him, and was therefore declared elected unopposed.

Kafue by-election

Guy Van Eeden, who became increasingly opposed to Federal Party policies, was expelled from the party in July 1955 and responded by resigning on 8 July 1955 to seek re-election in his constituency of Kafue (Northern Rhodesia). The by-election was held on 6 October 1955.

Electorate and turnout
Candidate Party Votes %
1,290 (64.7%)
Guillaume François Marais Van Eeden Ind 500 59.9
Geoffrey Bernard Beckett FP 305 36.5
Frank Sheridan Derby Ind CP 30 3.6

Sebakwe by-election

J.R. Dendy Young, the Confederate Party member for Sebakwe (Southern Rhodesia), was appointed as a Judge. He resigned on 26 January 1956, and the by-election to succeed him was held on 5 April 1956. By this time, the Confederate Party had been dissolved and replaced by the Dominion Party.

Electorate and turnout
Candidate Party Votes %
SEBAKWE Robert Williamson DP 805 36.7
Dr Morris Isaac Hirsch FP 786 35.8
Johannes Mathys de Kock Com P 603 27.5

Mrewa by-election

Neville Barrett, the Federal Party member for Mrewa (Southern Rhodesia) died on 15 April 1957. The by-election to replace him was held on 6 June 1957.

Electorate and turnout
Candidate Party Votes %
3,853 (67.4%)
Winston Joseph Field DP 1,375 52.9
Evan Roy Campbell FP 1,223 47.1

Mashonaland by-election

Jasper Savanhu, the specially elected African member for Mashonaland (Southern Rhodesia), had problems with the proposed new constitution in terms of its provisions for voters' qualifications. Although his responsibility was to represent the views of Africans, his electorate were predominantly Europeans. He therefore decided to vote for the proposals, but immediately to resign (1 August 1957) and seek re-election. When nominations closed on 27 September 1957, he was the only candidate nominated, and was therefore declared elected unopposed.

Seat vacant at dissolution

Paul Brereton (Federal Party), one of the ordinary members for Nyasaland, died on 21 July 1958. The seat was left vacant due to the imminent federal election.

Template:Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland elections

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