Farmer; President of Rhodesian Tobacco Association; army serviceman in the Second World War; Member of Parliament for the Dominion Party; Founder member of the Rhodesian Front (FR); the seventh white Rhodesian Prime Minister.
Winston Field was born on 6 June 1904, in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire in the United Kingdom, where he was brought up. He moved to Southern Rhodesia in 1921.
He became a tobacco farmer in Zimbabwe’s Mashonaland East, near Marandellas (now known as Marondera). From 1938 to 1940, he was the president of the influential and powerful Rhodesian Tobacco Association. He left this position when he went for military service during the Second World War.
In 1957 he was elected Federal MP for Mtoko under the Dominion Party (DP) banner. He was chosen by Ian Smith and Boss Lilford to head their newly formed Rhodesian Front (RF), and so becoming a founding member. He became the Prime Minister of Rhodesia after Edgar Whitehead, when the RF party was elected to form a government in 1962, and was in office from 17 December 1962 to 13 April 1964.
During his time in office, Britain had maintained that it would not grant Rhodesia independence until there was majority rule. Most members of the RF felt that Field was not fighting hard enough for independence and thought the British had tricked him over promises of independence during his visits to London in June 1963 and January 1964. His time in office also saw the dissolution of the Central African Federation on 31 December 1963, after which Northern Rhodesia became Zambia and Malawi. He however retained the majority of the Federation’s military and other assets for Southern Rhodesia.
He was replaced by Ian Douglas Smith, his deputy. This was after one of Field’s cabinet ministers, John Gaunt, a former Federal MP for Lusaka and a former District Commissioner in Northern Rhodesia, avoided his own ouster from the cabinet by joining with Ian Smith to sabotage Field who they presented as having failed to deliver independence to Rhodesia.
Influenced by Smith, some ministers under the RF met on 2 April 1964 and decided to call for Field’s resignation and this was communicated to Field the day after the meeting. A formal demand was then made a few days later at a cabinet meeting, leading to his replacement by Ian Smith on 14 April 1964.
He died on 17 March 1969 in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).
• Godwin, P. & Hancock, I., (1995) Rhodesians Never Die. Harare: Baobab Books.
• Hlongwana, J., Maposa, R. S., & Moyo, T. (2013) ‘‘Personalization or Fictionalization of National History in Zimbabwe?’ A Re-evaluation of the Political Careers of Ian Smith and Ndabalingi Sithole’, in the Journal of Social Sciences, COES & RJ-JSS, Vol. 2, No. 1, pp 15-26.
• Raftopolous, B. and Mlambo, A. S. (2009) Becoming Zimbabwe. Harare: Weaver Press.
• Johnson, P. and Martin, D. (1981)The Struggle for Zimbabwe, London: Heinemann.
• Nelson, D. D. (ed). (1883). Zimbabwe, A Country Study. Washington: The American University.
• Rasmussen, K. R. & Rubert, S. C. (1990)Historical Dictionary of Zimbabwe. London: Scarecrow Press.
• Smith, D. I. (1997) Bitter Harvest: The Great Betrayal. London: Blake Publishing House.
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