Clifford Walter Dupont (December 6 1905 – June 28 1978) served in the internationally unrecognized positions as Officer Administrating the Government from 1965 until 1970 and President of Rhodesia from 1970 until 1975. Dupont, a close ally of Prime Minister Ian Smith, previously served as his Minister of External Affairs.
Dupont was educated at Bishop's Stortford College
and Clare College, Cambridge
where he read law. He qualified as a solicitor
in 1929 and set up his own company in 1933. Having served in the Royal Artillery
Officer Training Corps while at University, on the outbreak of World War II
he was commissioned into the Artillery and served as an adjutant for a light anti-aircraft battalion. He served in North Africa and was on General Eisenhower
's staff during the liberation of Europe in 1944; he ended the war as a War Office official.
Move to Rhodesia
In 1947 Dupont briefly visited Southern Rhodesia
, returning in 1948. He bought land at Featherstone, south of Salisbury
, which he turned into a successful cattle ranch. He emigrated full-time in the early 1950s, but was not initially involved in politics. In 1957 his second wife died, and the deaths of his son and daughter in an air crash in 1958 left him looking for a new role.
At the Federal election for the Central African Federation in 1958, Dupont became the Dominion Party candidate for Fort Victoria. In the 1962 general election
in Rhodesia, he won the Charter constituency as a Rhodesian Front
candidate and was rewarded with appointment as Minister of Justice in the RF government. However, Dupont was not pleased with the performance of the Prime Minister, Winston Field
, and after Field's failure to win independence from the United Kingdom
in 1963 following the dissolution of the Central African Federation, he joined with the plotters who successfully overthrew Field and installed Ian Smith
as Prime Minister.
From August 1964 Dupont was Deputy Prime Minister of Rhodesia, and served as Smith's Minister of External Affairs (adding also the Defence portfolio from June 1965). When Smith issued the Unilateral Declaration of Independence
on November 11 1965
(with Dupont as the second signatory to the UDI document), he decided that Dupont should take over as the Queen's representative.
An approach to the British government requesting Dupont's appointment as Governor-General was rebuffed. Instead, Smith crafted a new post of Officer Administering the Government in which Dupont effectively replaced the Governor, Sir Humphrey Gibbs, when formally appointed on December 20. Opponents of UDI who considered it an illegal move, such as the Independent member of the House of Assembly Ahrn Palley, refused to recognize Dupont's office.
It therefore fell to Dupont to sign the papers to dissolve the Rhodesia Legislative Assembly in March 1970 and to issue the proclamation summoning a new House of Assembly under a constitution which severed Rhodesia's links with Britain. When Rhodesia was formally declared a republic
, Dupont was named as President of Rhodesia
on April 14 1970
. During the latter period of his term he suffered long bouts of ill health, and retired on December 31 1975