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Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe Rhodesia (1979)

Historical flag

Last modified: 2022-10-22 by bruce berry
Keywords: rhodesia | southern rhodesia | zimbabwe | zimbabwe rhodesia |
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  image by Bruce Berry, 20 Nov 1995

    Other Zimbabwe Historical flags:

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Zimbabwe Rhodesia (June - December 1979)

African opposition to the Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) and the white-led regime in Rhodesia manifested itself through an increasing guerrilla struggle waged from initially Zambia and then also from Mozambique. In 1978 the Rhodesian Government reached a compromise with "internal" African leaders resulting in first time universal suffrage elections in February 1979. This led to the establishment of a black led government under Bishop Abel Muzorewa and the formation of Zimbabwe Rhodesia on 01 June 1979. As the external guerrilla leaders were not accommodated the new state was not recognised (although Margaret Thatcher did attempt to secure recognition at the Commonwealth Heads of Govt. meeting in Lusaka in August 1979) and UN sanctions were maintained and the guerrilla struggle continued. A new flag to reflect the changing political dispensation was hoisted on 02 September 1979.  This flag has a vertical black stripe, with white fimbriation, at the hoist, with three horizontal stripes of red, white and green in the fly.  A yellow Zimbabwe Bird is in the black stripe in the canton.

The flag of Zimbabwe Rhodesia was designed by Flight Lieutenant Cedric Herbert of the Rhodesian Air Force and a member of the Rhodesian Heraldry and Genealogy Society.  The design incorporates the pan-African colours of yellow, black, green and red with the following explanation:
Black symbolises the achievement of majority rule in the country, red is for the struggle for independence, yellow represents the mineral wealth and green the agricultural and natural resources of the country.  The vertical white stripe represents the white community while the central horizontal white stripe represents peace.

Officially this flag was short-lived as it was replaced in December 1979 by the Union Jack when Zimbabwe Rhodesia once again came a British colony and reverted to its formal colonial name of Southern Rhodesia, this time with direct-rule under a British Governor, following the Lancaster House agreement.  While de jure the Union Jack was the flag of the "colony", de facto the Zimbabwe Rhodesian flag continued to fly until the new flag of Zimbabwe was adopted at independence on 18 April 1980.
Bruce Berry, 20 Nov 1995, 14 Mar 1996

1979 Flag of Zimbabwe Rhodesia No. 21 / Printed by Government Printer
Zimbabwe Rhodesia

To provide for the adoption of a national flag for Zimbabwe Rhodesia; to provide for the making of regulations to restrict or control the application to any goods of a reproduction of such flag; to repeal the Flag of Rhodesia Act [Chapter 3]; and to provide for matters incidental to or connected with the foregoing.

BE IT ENACTED by the President and the Parliament of Zimbabwe Rhodesia, as follows: -
1. This Act may be cited as the Flag of Zimbabwe Rhodesia Act, 1979.
2. In this Act - "Flag" means the Flag of Zimbabwe Rhodesia referred to in section three.
3. The Flag of Zimbabwe Rhodesia shall be a flag consisting of
(a) at the hoist, a black vertical stripe; and
(b) on the field, three horizontal stripes in the order red, white and green of equal width, separated from the black vertical stripe by a white vertical stripe; and
(c) in canton a representation in gold of the Bird carved in soapstone and discovered at Great Zimbabwe (otherwise the Great Zimbabwe Bird); as depicted in the Schedule.
4. The Minister of Justice shall cause a copy of the Flag to be prepared and deposited in the National Archives established in terms of the National Archives Act [Chapter 309].
5. (1) Where, in the opinion of the President, it is necessary to regulate and control the use of the Flag in order that it is not used for purposes which, in his opinion, are improper, he may make such regulations restricting, regulating or controlling the application to any goods or the importation into Zimbabwe Rhodesia of any goods to which there has been applied a reproduction of the Flag or of a flag which resembles or is intended to resemble the Flag as he may consider to be necessary or expedient for the purpose.
(2) Regulations made in terms of subsection (1) may provide for penalties for any contravention thereof, including provision for the forfeiture of any goods to which a reproduction of the Flag or of a flag which resembles or is intended to resemble the Flag has been applied or which have been imported in contravention of such regulations.
Provided that no such penalty shall exceed a fine of one thousand dollars or imprisonment for period of two years, excluding the value of any goods forfeited.
6. Any person who burns, mutilates or otherwise insults the Flag or a flag which resembles or is intended to resemble the Flag or any reproduction thereof in circumstances which are calculated or likely to show disrespect for the Flag or to bring the Flag into disrepute shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years.
7. The Flag of Rhodesia Act [Chapter 3] is repealed.

SCHEDULE (Section 3)

FLAG OF Zimbabwe Rhodesia

[[B/W image of the flag]]

  image by Željko Heimer, 25 April 2005

[[construction sheet which does not seem to be from the same source]]

The sheet gives the flag dimensions as follows:

overall = 60 x 120
width of black vertical stripe = 30
width of white fimbriation = 3
remaining length for the stripes = 87
width of each stripe = 20
rectangle containing the Bird (height x length) = 20x14
top of the rectangle to the top edge = 5
left edge of the rectangle to the hoist = 8
(otherwise said, the rectangle is centred in the upper half of the black stripe)
Željko Heimer, 25 April 2005

Overview of the Flags of Southern Rhodesia / Rhodesia / Zimbabwe-Rhodesia / Zimbabwe

1890 - 1923                British South African Company (BSAC) flag
1923 - 1968                British Union flag (alongside various colonial flags)
1923 - 1953                Southern Rhodesia dark blue ensign (two variants - with and without white disc in fly)
1953 - 1963                Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland ensign (alongside British Union Flag)
1964 - 1968                Southern Rhodesian light blue ensign (alongside British Union Flag)
1968 - 1979                Rhodesian flag
Jun - Dec1979             Zimbabwe-Rhodesia flag (de facto until Dec 1979; de jure until Apr 1980)
Dec 1979 - Apr 1980  British Union flag (de facto although Zimbabwe Rhodesia flag in common use)
18 Apr 1980 to date    Zimbabwe flag
Stuart Notholt, 16 Mar 1996