1963 – Last Day of Federation
Last Day of Federation
31 December 1963
During 1960, many French African colonies had become independent. Belgium more hastily vacated its colony and thousands of European refugees fled the Belgian Congo from the brutalities of the civil war and into Southern Rhodesia.
During the Congolese crisis, Africans increasingly viewed the Rhodesia & Nyasaland Prime Minister, Sir Roy Welensky, as an arch-reactionary.
The new Commonwealth Secretary, Duncan Sandys, negotiated the ‘1961 Constitution’, a new constitution for the Federation which greatly reduced Britain’s powers over it. But by 1962, the British and the Federation cabinet had agreed that Nyasaland should be allowed to secede, though Southern Rhodesian Premier Sir Edgar Whitehead committed the British to keep this secret until after the 1962 election in the territory. A year later, the same status was given to Northern Rhodesia, decisively ending the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland in the immediate future.
In 1963, the Victoria Falls Conference was held, partly as a last effort to save the Federation, and partly as a forum to dissolve it. After nearly collapsing several times, it ended by 5 July 1963, and the state was virtually dissolved. Only the appropriation of its assets remained as a formality.
By 31 December, the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland was formally dissolved and its assets distributed among the territorial governments. Southern Rhodesia obtained the vast majority of these including the assets of the Federal army, to which it had overwhelmingly contributed.