Southern Rhodesia - South African Relations, 1923 - 1953

Political, Social and Economic Ties

Abraham Mlombo



This book provides the first comprehensive study of the ‘special relationship’ between Southern Rhodesia and South Africa. While most studies approach this from the history of British and South African relations or the history of South African territorial expansion, this book offers new insights by examining Southern Rhodesia’s relations with South Africa from the former’s perspective. Exploring relations through the lens of settler colonialism, the book argues that settler colonialism in the region was marked by a competitive and antagonistic relationship between settler communities, particularly Afrikaner and English communities. The book explores the connections between these countries by examining (high) politics, economic links, and social and cultural ties, highlighting both instances of competition and cooperation. Above all, it argues that economic ties were the cornerstone of the relationship and that these shaped the rest of the ties between the two countries. Drawing on archival records from Britain, South Africa and Zimbabwe, as well as a number of secondary sources, it offers a much more nuanced perspective of this relationship than has been previously offered.


This book is a well-researched and insightful history of the relations between South Africa and its northern neighbour, Southern Rhodesia, which explores the tension-filled social, political and economic relations between the two countries which, sometimes, resulted in mutual resentment and other times in very fruitful cooperation... - Alois Mlambo


Abraham Mlombo is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the International Studies Group at the University of the Free State, South Africa.