HISTORY OF ZIMBABWE
Africa's human history extends back through the millennia
to the first rumblings of humanity on the planet.
The first upright-walking 'hominids' established
themselves in the savannas of southern and eastern
Africa nearly 4 million years ago. These human-like
creatures slowly developed into persons-as-we-know-'em
as more sophisticated tools were produced and climatic
conditions became more favourable. By the middle
Stone Age, which lasted until 20,000 years ago, organized
hunting and gathering societies had been established,
and by 8000BC, late Stone Age people occupied rock
shelters and caves all over southern Africa. The
first inhabitants of Zimbabwe were probably nomadic,
adaptable San groups, gradually absorbed by Khoi-Khoi
grazier tribes, and slowly transmuting into a culture
known as Khoisan.
the beginning of the first millennium AD the
region immediately to the south of the Zambezi
River, which was later to become Rhodesia, was
inhabited by Neolithic hunter-gatherers related
to the San or 'Bushmen' people. In succeeding
centuries groups of Iron Age peoples from the
north began moving into the area, bringing with
them knowledge of food-crop cultivation and absorbing
or pushing further south the original inhabitants.
It was during this period that thousands of small
gold mines began to be worked and contact was
established with Swahili and Arab merchants from
the East African coast.
and Shona Peoples
farmers, either Khoisan settlers or Iron Age migrants
from the north, were the first occupants of the Great
Zimbabwe site in the south of the country. Between
500 and 1000AD, the Gokomere (a Bantu group into
gold-mining and cattle ranching) enslaved and absorbed
San groups in the area. As early as the 11th century,
some foundations and stonework were in place at Great
Zimbabwe and the settlement, generally regarded as
the nascent Shona society, became the trading capital
of the wealthiest and most powerful society in south-eastern
Africa. The hilltop acropolis at Great Zimbabwe came
to serve not only as a fortress but as a shrine for
the worship of Mwari, the pre-eminent Shona deity.
By the 15th century, Great Zimbabwe's influence had
begun to decline, due to a heady cocktail of overpopulation,
overgrazing, popular uprisings and political fragmentation.
During the ninth
and tenth centuries, Shona-speaking peoples (ancestors
of the dominant linguistic group in present-day
Zimbabwe) began to migrate into the area, intermingling
with and absorbing the other Bantu-speaking inhabitants
already there. By the beginning of the 12th century
they had already established the basis for the
civilization that was to develop into the two great
state systems known as the Mwene Mutapa and Rozwi
empires that successively dominated the area into
the 19th century. Its greatest period of expansion
was between 1450 and 1500 under King Mutota, and
by the time of the arrival of the first Portuguese
at the beginning of the 16th century its area of
control included most of present-day Zimbabwe and
large parts of present-day Moçambique.
The central government
maintained its power through a system of tribute
from its vassals. By the beginning of the 17th
century the Mutapa empire was in rapid decline
as a result of its constant struggles with the
invading Portuguese, coupled with a debilitating
series of internal dynastic disputes.
Beginning in the
14th century as a separate state from the Mutapa
empire, the Rozwi kingdom reached its zenith in
the 17th and 18th centuries. Not only was it able
to take control of external trade, but it was also
able to drive back the Portuguese invaders. Rozwi
power disintegrated in the mid-19th century after
invasions from the south, the most important of
which was led by Mzilikazi, the chief of the Ndebele.
In 1834, Ndebele raiders invaded from the south,
assassinated the Rozwi leader and established a
Ndebele state with the capital at Bulawayo.
Mzilikazi was a military commander
in the powerful army of Shaka, the ruler of the
expansionist, centralized Zulu state on the eastern
coast of South Africa. Having fallen out with Shaka,
Mzilikazi led his splinter group out of the reach
of Shaka's vengeance, first into the Transvaal,
and then across the Limpopo River into Matabeleland.
The Ndebele people were a product of this migration,
having conquered and assimilated local people of
the areas through which they travelled.
Mzilikazi set up
his capital in south-western Zimbabwe around Bulawayo.
He was succeeded in 1870 by his son, Lobengula,
the last of the independent Ndebele rulers. By
the 1880s the Ndebele were becoming increasingly
pressed by European encroachment from the south.
European gold seekers and ivory hunters from the
Cape were moving into Shona and Ndebele territory.
The best known of these was Cecil John Rhodes who
envisioned a corridor of British-style 'civilization'
stretching all the way from the Cape to Cairo.
In 1888 Lobengula signed the so-called
Rudd Concession with representatives of Cecil Rhodes,
who formed the British South Africa Company the following
year. What for Lobengula was seen only as an agreement
for the company to mine gold was interpreted by Rhodes
as virtually turning over sovereignty to the company,
and in 1890 the famous 'Pioneer Column' invaded the
country, setting up its capital at Salisbury (now
Harare). Sanctioned by Queen
Victoria, white settlers swarmed in, led by the heavy-handed
Rhodes. By 1895, the new country was being referred
to as Rhodesia and a white legislature was set up.
By 1911 there were some 24,000 settlers.
A war broke out between
Lobengula and the British South Africa Company
in 1893, in which the Ndebele were decisively defeated
and forced to forfeit their lands. Three years
later, however, the Ndebele rose up again, this
time in conjunction with the Shona, their erstwhile
enemies. The first chimurenga (war of liberation)
was finally put down in 1897 after much bloodshed,
though few whites were killed. Despite its defeat
the chimurenga provided an inspiration to the later
nationalist movement as a symbol of resistance
and national unity.
From an original
invasion force of 200 settlers and 500 armed police,
the white population of what was called Southern
Rhodesia (after Rhodes) grew to 12,000 in 1904
and doubled again by 1911. In a 1922 referendum,
whites chose 'responsible self-government' over
inclusion in the Union of South Africa or continued
company rule. In 1923 Southern Rhodesia officially
became a self-governing colony, with the British
government retaining some powers in those areas
dealing directly with Africans. The franchise was
theoretically non-racial, but financial qualifications
effectively limited any significant African vote.
In the late 1940s, moves began to create a Central
African Federation of Southern and Northern Rhodesia
(Zambia) and Nyasaland (Malawi). Some whites opposed
this as they would become a smaller minority in
such a federation, since the European population
of the latter two colonies was minimal and the
'winds of change' on the continent, brought about
by African nationalism, were already beginning
At the same time,
however, Southern Rhodesia was in transition from
an economy based almost entirely on settler agriculture
to one that was becoming increasingly industrialized.
It was these industrial interests - both local
and foreign - which, along with the British government,
provided the bulk of support for federation. The
vision was to combine the large supply of cheap
labour of Nyasaland and the vast mineral resources
of Northern Rhodesia with the capital, technological
know-how and coal-supplied power of Southern Rhodesia,
while at the same time maintaining European dominance
Almost from its beginning in 1953,
the Federation was plagued by both black and white
opposition. Local and foreign industrial and mining
interests wanted to limit the power of settler
agriculture and of the white workers by making
some concessions to Africans, so as to create a
broader and more racially mixed middle stratum
between large-scale capital and the masses of African
peasants and workers.
The year 1945 witnessed
the first successful strike by African railway
workers, resulting in wage increases and official
recognition for their union. In the early l950s
the All-African Convention was formed with nationalists
from both the Rhodesias and Nyasaland to oppose
federation. Joshua Nkomo, then the head of the
Railway African Workers' Union became the Convention's
president in 1952.
Sporadic acts of
sabotage in the early 1960s indicated an increasing
African impatience with the prospects for constitutional
change. In 1962 The Zimbabwe African People's Union
(ZAPU) was banned, and most of its leadership was
restricted for three months. The People's Caretaker
Council was created as a temporary replacement
inside Rhodesia, but ZAPU maintained its existence
externally. In 1963 the breakaway Zimbabwe African
National Union (ZANU) was formed under the leadership
of Ndabaningi Sithole, reflecting tensions concerning
the pace of the nationalist struggle under Nkomo.
The Central African Federation
was dissolved in 1963, paving the way for the independence
of Malawi and Zambia on the basis of 'majority
rule'. Britain refused to decolonise Southern Rhodesia
until some sort of accommodation could be worked
out between black and white. Field was replaced
as Prime Minister by Ian Smith, who moved rapidly
to bring the crisis to a head. Both ZAPU and ZANU
were banned completely in 1964, and much of the
nationalist leadership was imprisoned. Another
referendum showed overwhelming white support for
a unilateral declaration of independence. A May
1965 general election gave all 50 upper roll seats
to the Rhodesian Front, and Smith's government
made a unilateral declaration of independence (UDI)
on 11 November 1965.
Declaring Smith's action
to be illegal, the British Labour government of
Harold Wilson imposed economic sanctions on the
breakaway colony. After heavy Commonwealth pressure,
these sanctions were made mandatory by the UN in
1968 but were ignored or sidestepped to a large
extent by most Western nations, including Britain.
Then in March 1970, Rhodesia declared
itself a republic. In the meantime both ZANU and
ZAPU had opted for a strategy of armed struggle.
Guerrilla incursions began in 1966 on the initiative
of ZANU, and continued rather sporadically over
the next few years. In 1972 the guerrilla war escalated
sharply as ZANU began to open up a new front in
the north-east, operating out of Moçambique
with the co-operation of the Frelimo forces who
kept the Rhodesian army off their flank.
The guerrilla war,
carried on primarily by the Mugabe-led ZANU forces
based in Moçambique, was causing a rapid
deterioration in the Rhodesian government's position.
Faced with increasing pressure from his erstwhile
South African and American allies, Smith agreed
to meet US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in
Pretoria in September 1976. Given a virtual ultimatum
by Kissinger in Pretoria, Smith announced to an
astonished Rhodesian public later that month that
he had agreed to majority rule within two years,
after having promised white Rhodesians the previous
March that majority rule would come about 'never
in a thousand years'.
Nkomo and Mugabe each led separate delegations
to Geneva. After the breakdown of the discussions
with Smith the previous spring, Nkomo had again
gone into exile and adopted a much more militant
stance as head of the Zambia-based ZAPU guerrilla
army. In order to present a common front for the
purposes of negotiations, Nkomo's ZAPU and Mugabe's
ZANU decided to form an alliance in the Patriotic
Front (PF), while Muzorewa and Sithole still led
separate delegations. After many weeks of deliberations,
the conference met a sticking point over the schedule
for independence and the talks broke down. Muzorewa
and Sithole ended their exile and returned to Salisbury.
proposals were presented to Smith by British Foreign
Secretary David Owen and US Ambassador to the UN
Andrew Young in mid-1977. The new proposals called
for a six-month interim period in which a British-appointed
commissioner would assume absolute control. A new
Zimbabwe army would be created out of a combination
of the Rhodesian forces and elements of the guerrilla
armies. All whites' property rights would be guaranteed,
and whites would be assured an influence far in
excess of their numbers over any future government
In the face of the widening war,
rising white emigration and a collapsing economy,
Smith decided in December 1977 to bring about an
'internal settlement'. Negotiations were started
with Muzorewa and Sithole along with Jeremiah Chirau
of the Zimbabwe United People's Organization (ZUPO),
a narrow grouping organized by government-appointed
chiefs. On 3 March 1978, an agreement was signed
outlining the broad parameters of a new constitution
and creating a Transitional Government to rule
until 31 December - the proposed date of independence.
It was also charged
with writing a new constitution that would be subject
to the approval of the nearly all white electorate.
On both levels of the new government, the white
Rhodesian Front members held veto power. The three
African signatories agreed that the new constitution
would include provisions giving whites 28 out of
100 legislative seats; a veto over any legislation
for at least ten years; the maintenance of all
white property and pension rights; and white control
of the civil service, police and judiciary. Finally,
Smith would continue as prime minister during the
The new Transitional
Government announced an amnesty programme for PF
guerrillas, but within a couple of months it became
clear that this effort had failed - instead the
war intensified. Muzorewa and Sithole, in turn,
blamed Smith and the Rhodesian Front for vetoing
any attempt to ameliorate the conditions under
which the mass of Africans lived. Faced with the
obvious failure of the internal settlement to achieve
an end to the war and the lifting of international
economic sanctions, Smith made a bold attempt in
August 1978 to split the Patriotic Front and bring
ZAPU's Nkomo into the Transitional Government.
The initial Smith-Nkomo
meeting took place on 14 August in the Zambian
capital of Lusaka, with the knowledge and encouragement
of Zambia's Kenneth Kaunda and that of Nigeria,
the US and Britain. Other Frontline States - Tanzania,
Botswana, Moçambique and Angola - were not
informed, nor was Nkomo's Patriotic Front partner,
Mugabe. A week later Mugabe, who had been in Nigeria,
was accompanied to Zambia by the Nigerian Foreign
Minister, Joseph Garba, who informed him that the
negotiations had gone on and that another meeting
was taking place at the time in Lusaka. An incensed
Mugabe refused to conduct secret negotiations with
Smith. It also became clear that the negotiations
had been conducted without the knowledge or approval
of Smith's colleagues in the Rhodesian Transitional
Only days after the
whole affair was made public, any slim remaining
chances that it would bear fruit were dashed when
an Air Rhodesia plane was shot down by a guerrilla
rocket (for which ZAPU claimed responsibility)
resulting in the deaths of 48 people. Reacting
to the near-hysterical response of Rhodesian whites,
Smith unleashed a series of large-scale attacks
on refugee camps and suspected guerrilla bases
in Zambia and Moçambique.
As the elections
scheduled for the end of December approached amid
the rapidly escalating war, the Transitional Government
was forced to announce a postponement until the
third week in April. All three African members
of the Executive Council were rapidly losing any
internal political support they had previously
enjoyed, since they were constantly unable to deliver
any tangible improvement to the conditions of the
mass of Zimbabweans.
In late January 1979 the new constitution
was submitted to a referendum of the 90,000 registered
white voters. The constitution now included one
more victory by Smith over his fellow Executive
Council members: the name of the new country would
be 'Zimbabwe-Rhodesia' instead of the previously
agreed upon African name - Zimbabwe. With about
70% of the white electorate voting, the new constitution
received 85% approval. The 6.5 million Africans
had no voice in approving the document.
The referendum took
place on 30 January amid the accelerating disintegration
of Rhodesian society. Reports on the previous year's
economic performance were disastrous. In December
PF guerrillas blew up the largest fuel storage
depot in the country. The fire raged for a week,
destroying 17 million gallons of fuel. In early
January only 300 of a listed 1,500 men reported
for duty in the first national call-up of Africans.
An even more severe blow to white morale was that
30% of the whites scheduled to report for duty
the same day had also joined the ranks of the war
The four-day elections for the new parliament in
April resulted in the expected victory for Bishop Muzorewa's UANC,
but it took a government mobilization of 100,000 men under arms to
bring it off. Sithole, who had called the elections 'a great democratic
experiment' several days before they began, referred to them as 'one
big cheat' several days later. But perhaps the most devastating and
best documented critique of the elections was that of the British
All-Party Parliamentary Group on Human Rights. The report labelled
the elections 'a gigantic confidence trick' and said that a climate
of intimidation surrounded the entire election with threats of death
directed at anyone who urged people not to vote.
On 29 April, the
UN Security Council condemned the elections as
illegal and called for the maintenance of sanctions
by a 12-0 vote, with France, the US and Britain
abstaining. Four days later, however, in what would
seem a contradiction in the light of his Security
Council abstention, American UN Ambassador Andrew
Young denounced the elections as 'rigged'. The
immediate post-election policy of the coalition
government headed by Bishop Muzorewa was to get
sanctions lifted and achieve international recognition.
In early May, after a three-day meeting in Addis
Ababa, the Patriotic Front leaders, Nkomo and Mugabe,
announced the creation of a joint military command
for their respective armies. They also rejected
a request from some of the Frontline States that
they form a provisional government that could be
accorded recognition. The obvious reason for this
was that the two organizations were still unable
to bring about sufficient unity (on political questions
at least) to form such a government.
meeting in Lusaka in August 1979 produced another
'last chance' attempt to bring about a settlement.
Discussions between Thatcher, Kaunda and Tanzanian
President Julius Nyerere produced an agreement
signed by all 39 members of the Commonwealth calling
for new all-party talks in London the following
month. On 10 September, the latest negotiations
to bring about a settlement began under the chairmanship
of British Foreign Minister Lord Carrington at
Lancaster House in London. After 14 weeks of negotiations,
the Lancaster House agreement was finally signed
on 17 December 1979. It was agreed that independence
would be achieved in stages. First on 28 December
a formal ceasefire would come into effect. Then
there would be a laying down of arms, followed
by free elections, the formation of an African
government and, at long last, independence.
The agreement specified that upon the granting of independence, the country's
name would be Zimbabwe. The same day, the U.N. Security Council endorsed the
settlement agreement and formally voted unanimously to call on member nations
to remove sanctions. During the transitions period, nine political parties
campaigned for the February 27-29 pre-independence elections. The elections
were supervised by the British government and monitored by hundreds of observers,
most of whom concluded that, under the prevailing circumstances, the elections
were free and fair and reflected the will of the people.
and ZANU Party Take Power
Nearly 94% of the country's black electorate of
2.9 million people voted during the three days of polling at the
end of February. The results were announced on 4 March. Robert Mugabe's
ZANU(PF) party won an absolute majority. The scale of Mugabe's victory
surprised most observers. He had taken 63% of the votes cast and
57 seats; Nkomo's ZAPU-PF had won only 20 seats with 24% of the votes.
Bishop Muzorewa was totally routed, with only three seats. No seats
were won by the minor parties.
Prime Minister Mugabe indicated that he was committed to a process of national
reconciliation and reconstruction as well as moderate socioeconomic change.
His priorities were to integrate the various armed forces, reestablish social
services and education in rural areas, and resettle the estimated one million
refugees and displaced persons. Mugabe also announced that his government would
begin investigating ways of reversing past discriminatory policies in land
distribution, education, employment, and wages. Mugabe stated that Zimbabwe
would follow a non-aligned foreign policy while seeking assistance from all
actions and would pursue a pragmatic relationship with South Africa. He noted
that while Zimbabwe opposed apartheid and would support democratic change in
South Africa, it would not provide bases for anti-South African guerillas.
The British government formally granted independence to Zimbabwe on April 18,
1980. Most nations recognized Zimbabwe following independence. The United States
was to first nation to open an embassy in Salisbury on that day. Parliament
convened for the first time on May 13, 1980. Zimbabwe became a member of the
United Nations on August 25, 1980. In seeking national reconciliation, Prime
Minister Mugabe's first cabinet comprised members of ZANU-PF, PF-ZAPU, and
independent white members of parliament (MPs) and senators. The government
embarked on an ambitious reconstruction and development program and instituted
increases in minimum wages. Land redistribution proceeded under four experimental
models on land that the government had purchased at market rates from willing
Since independence Prime Minister Mugabe's policy
of reconciliation was generally successful during the country's first
two years of independence, as the former political and military opponents
began to work together. Although additional blacks were hired to
fill new places in the civil service, there was no retribution for
those whites who had worked for the Smith regime. Smith and many
of his associates held seats in the parliament where they participated
freely in debates. Likewise, Joshua Nkomo, Mugabe's rival as leader
of the nationalist forces, was included in the first cabinet along
with several other members of PF-ZAPU.
Mugabe revealed himself as more of a pragmatist than a Marxist. He consistently
followed policies designed to achieve the maximum national unity. This meant
leaving the existing economic structure largely untouched while concentrating
his efforts on the problems of resettling up to a million refugees who had
left Zimbabwe during the war and reintegrating the guerrillas, who remained
in their camps until jobs could be found for them. Most whites accepted the
new political situation. Though white emigration continued as it had done throughout
the UDI era, it was far less dramatic than most expected. Those whites not
prepared to live under an African government steadily drifted away, mostly
to South Africa.
Splits soon developed, however. In 1981, several
MPs from Smith's party left to sit as "independents," signifying
that they did not automatically accept his antigovernment posture.
More importantly, government security officials discovered large
caches of arms and ammunition on properties owned by ZAPU, and Nkomo
and his followers were accused of plotting to overthrow Mugabe's
government. Nkomo and his closest aides were expelled from the cabinet.
As a result of what they perceived as persecution of Nkomo (known
as "Father Zimbabwe") and of his party, PF-ZAPU supporters,
some of them deserters from the army, began a loosely organized and
ill-defined campaign of dissidence against the government.
Terrorism and violence
in Matabeleland aggravated by the worst drought
for more than a century and acute land problems
became particularly bad in 1982, especially after
the discovery of the arms caches in February. In
March, two senior commanders of Nkomo's former
guerrilla army were arrested, and Nkomo, after
getting permission to address public meetings to
calm the situation, remained defiant and accused
the government of trying to overthrow constitutional
government. On 8 March 1983 Nkomo fled from his
Bulawayo home, took refuge in Botswana and then
went into exile in Britain. He had been in hiding
from government security forces since a weekend
raid on his home in which his chauffeur was injured
and 1,000 of his supporters were detained.
The situation in Matabeleland gradually improved in 1984 with the appointment
of a government commission of inquiry on 10 January, though the press was still
banned from the area and the government renewed the state of emergency for
the eighth time since independence. Outside food supplies were allowed into
the area from February. Mugabe visited Matabeleland for the first time in April
1984 and lifted the dawn-to-dusk curfew to allow the local stores to restock
On 8 August 1984
ZANU-PF held its first congress in 20 years and
adopted a new constitution which greatly enlarged
the central committee from 26 to 90 members and
introduced a new 15-member Politburo, whose members
were to be selected by Mugabe and the Deputy Prime
Minister. This was seen as strengthening Mugabe's
position. ZAPU held its party congress on 14 October.
Nkomo was re-elected as President, a post he had
already held for 20 years. He attacked the government's
record in Matabeleland and firmly rejected its
plans for a one-party state. He also rejected the
idea of a united opposition front with the other
between rival ZANU and ZAPU party supporters occurred
frequently in the build-up to the elections of
June 1985. Twenty ZAPU members were killed on 10
November 1984 in a riot in Beitbridge following
the murder of a ZANU central committee member.
On 8 January 1985 Nkomo claimed that his car was
stoned and shot at by government supporters at
Masvingo, a strongly pro-ZANU area. A passionate
demonstration followed in which Nkomo was forced
to take refuge in the local police station. In
February 1985, the government postponed the forthcoming
elections, ostensibly to complete election preparations
but also because of the escalating violence and
fighting between rival political parties. ZAPU
complained that restrictions being placed in its
way were making it difficult to campaign. ZAPU
areas were under heavy military control, and its
supporters were subjected to continual harassment.
The government meanwhile pointed to continued killings
by anti-government rebels.
On 23 December 1985 it was announced
that the government planned to enact a new law that
would give the President sweeping powers to allow
him to adopt regulations to deal with any urgent
situation involving defence, public order, safety,
morality, health or the economy. Parliament's only
role would be to endorse cabinet decrees. The bill
was intended to help the government handle difficult
situations if the 20-year state of emergency were
The election finally
took place on 27 June 1986 for white voters and
on 1-2 July for black voters. ZANU-PF won an overwhelming
victory, increasing its share of the seats from
57 to 63 out of the 79 seats on the common roll,
and taking 77% of the votes cast. ZAPU held only
15 of the 20 seats it had in 1985 and all these
were in the Matabele area. The UANC of Bishop Muzorewa
won no seats at all. Sithole's ZANU party won a
solitary seat. On the white roll, Ian Smith's Conservative
Alliance of Zimbabwe (CAZ) won 15 of the 20 white-reserved
seats on an extremely low poll in which only 33,000
of the 65,000 whites bothered to vote.
In April 1986 Mugabe,
addressing parliament on the occasion of the sixth
anniversary of independence, said he planned to
abolish the 20 white reserved seats within the
next 12 months. 'Racial representation will just
have to go,' he said. The white seats were abolished
in September 1987. He also declared that he planned
to change the constitution to allow the creation
of a one-party state, but he made no mention of
the unity talks with ZAPU.
In October 1987 parliament adopted the proposed
constitutional reform, creating an executive presidency with wide
powers including all those previously wielded by the prime minister.
Prime Minister Robert Mugabe was the only candidate nominated for
the new post and formally became President on 31 December 1987. Deputy
Prime Minister Simon Muzenda became Vice President. Former President
Canaan Banana retired. Mugabe reiterated his call for Zimbabwe to
become a one-party state; his drive towards this end became known
popularly as 'perming', with reference to the permanent hold on power
for Mugabe that a one-party state would bring. Mugabe also proposed
that the next elections would be for seats in a new 150-seat unicameral
legislature, replacing the existing bi-cameral parliament. The one-party
chamber was to go ahead, but Mugabe had to fight the March 1990 elections
against four other parties.
and 1990 Elections
The run-up to the 27-28 March poll was marred by
violence, but the two-day voting period was relatively calm. Mugabe
was re-elected to a third five-year term with 78.3% of the votes
cast, as against Tekere's 16%. The united ZANU Party won 116 of the
120 elective seats, and ZUM took only two. The Sunday Mail reported
that of the 4.8 million Zimbabweans who were eligible to vote, 2.6
million actually voted, for a voter turnout of 54%. Mugabe immediately
declared that his victory in the elections constituted 'a firm mandate'
for his proposed one-party state. The government embarked in a policy
of taking over large tracts of commercial farmland under the Land
Acquisition Act passed in March 1992. Over 70 farms, mostly owned
by whites, had been designated. Twenty seven of these were to be
taken against their owners' will. This raised a storm of protest
from farmers' organizations, opposition politicians and foreign donors.
The government pointed out that 4,300 white farmers owned half of
the country's farmland while 7 million blacks lived on less viable
Wins Fourth Term - 1996
In the March 1996 presidential elections Mugabe,
standing for a fourth term, was opposed by his old opponents Bishop
Abel Muzorewa (United Party) and Rev. Ndabaningi Sithole (ZANU-Ndonga).
He swept the board, winning 92.7% of the vote, but only 31.7% of
the electorate turned out. Muzorewa gained 4.7% of the vote and Sithole
2.4%. In June, Vice-President Joshua Nkomo, announced his intention
to retire because of ill health. In August, Mugabe married his former
secretary Grace Marufu, who had already had two children by him in
a ten-year relationship.
In September 1996
a 14th amendment of the constitution provoked a
row over the continued erosion of human rights.
The amendment imposed strict regulations on foreign
spouses who no longer had the right to automatic
citizenship. On 28 October ZANU-PF formally dropped
Marxism-Leninism as its guiding principle because
it no longer reflected the practical and realistic
aspirations of the country.
Still In Power Today
Mugabe, a committed Marxist, has hung on to power
ever since. He's survived resurgent rivalry and guerilla activity
through a canny combination of dirty government, gerrymander and
intimidation. It seems unlikely that Mugabe will ever get his one-party
state - especially after the collapse of the USSR, the landslide
defeat of Kaunda (a very mixed-up Marxist) in neighbouring Zambia
and the increasingly strident demands by the International Monetary
Fund, the World Bank and aid donors for the introduction of greater
democratic measures in return for loan or aid.
have become increasingly impatient with Mugabe
as his large-scale mismanagement has filtered down
as hip-pocket pinch. In Harare in early 1998, the
dissatisfaction spilt over into open hostility,
riots and looting. Although the country is recovering
from the catastrophic drought of the early 1990s,
the economy remains in dire straits. Zimbabwe,
and Mugabe in particular, have come under increasing
scrutiny due to the worrying increase in politically
motivated human rights abuses and general climate
Mugabe was reelected
in March 2002, but the election was controversial
and marred by scandal. Ignoring international condemnation,
it is widely accepted that Mugabe rigged the 2002
presidential election to ensure his reelection.
Opposition and labor groups launched general strikes
in 2003 to pressure Mugabe to retire early; security
forces continue their brutal repression of regime
opponents. The rival Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) has united with other civic organizations
in continuing protests for a new constitution and
against Mugabe's dictatorial tactics. Mugabe has
accused his rivals of treason and clamped down
on journalists who dare criticize his regime.
and labor strikes in 2003 were unsuccessful in
pressuring MUGABE to retire early; security forces
continued their brutal repression of regime opponents.
The ruling ZANU-PF party used fraud and intimidation
to win a two-thirds majority in the March 2005
parliamentary election, allowing it to amend the
constitution at will and recreate the Senate, which
had been abolished in the late 1980s. In April
2005, Harare embarked on Operation Restore Order,
ostensibly an urban rationalization program, which
resulted in the destruction of the homes or businesses
of 700,000 mostly poor supporters of the opposition,
according to UN estimates. ZANU-PF announced in
December 2006 that they would seek to extend MUGABE's
term in office until 2010 when presidential and
parliamentary elections would be "harmonized."
Mugabe's ZANU-PF party won the 2005 parliamentary elections with an increased majority. The elections were said by (again) South African observers to "reflect the free will of the people of Zimbabwe", despite accusations of widespread fraud from the MDC.
On 6 February 2007, Mugabe orchestrated a cabinet reshuffle, ousting ministers including five-year veteran finance minister Herbert Murerwa.
On 11 March 2007, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was arrested and beaten following a prayer meeting in the Harare suburb of Highfields. Another member of the Movement for Democratic Change was killed while other protesters were injured. Mugabe claimed that "Tsvangirai deserved his beating-up by police because he was not allowed to attend a banned rally" on 30 March 2007.
General elections 2008:
The presidential elections were conducted on 29 March 2008, together with the parliamentary elections. On 2 April 2008, the Zimbabwe Election Commission confirmed that Mugabe and his party had lost control of Parliament to the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change. This was confirmed when the results were released. Both the opposition and his party challenged the results in some constituencies. According to unofficial polling, Zanu-PF took 94 seats, and the main opposition party MDC took 96 seats. On 3 April 2008 Zimbabwean government forces began cracking down on the main opposition party and arrested at least two foreign journalists, who were covering the disputed presidential election, including a correspondent for the New York Times.
On 30 March 2008, Mugabe convened a meeting with his top security officials to discuss his defeat in the elections. According to the Washington Post, he was prepared to concede, but was advised by Zimbabwe's military chief, Gen. Constantine Chiwenga, to remain in the race, with the senior military officers "supervising a military-style campaign against the opposition". The first phase of the plan started a week later, involving the building of 2,000 party compounds across Zimbabwe, to serve as bases for the party militias. On an 8 April 2008 meeting, the military plan was given the code name of "CIBD", which stood for: "Coercion. Intimidation. Beating. Displacement."
The official results for the presidential elections would be delayed for five weeks. When British Prime Minister Gordon Brown attempted to intervene into the election controversy, Mugabe dismissed him as "a little tiny dot on this planet".
When the official results for the presidential elections were finally published by the Zimbabwe election commission on 2 May 2008, they showed that Mr. Mugabe had lost in the first round, getting 1,079,730 votes (43.2%) against 1,195,562 (47.9%) collected by Mr. Tsvangirai. Therefore no candidate secured the final win in the first round and a presidential run-off would be needed. The opposition called the results "scandalous daylight robbery", claiming an outright victory in the first round with 50.3% of the votes.
Mugabe's run-off campaign was managed by Emerson Mnangagwa, a former security chief of the conflict of Gukurahundi. The Washington Post asserts that the campaign of violence was bringing results to the ruling party by crushing the opposition party MDC and coercion of its supporters. By 20 June 2008, the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights had "recorded 85 deaths in political violence since the first round of voting". News organizations report that, by the date of the second-round election, more than 80 opposition supporters had been killed, hundreds more were missing, in addition to thousands injured, and hundreds of thousands driven from their homes.
Zimbabwean officials alleged that activists of the MDC, disguised as ZANU-PF members, had perpetrated violence against the population, mimicking the tactics of the Selous Scouts during the liberation struggle. They alleged that there was a "predominance" of Selous Scouts in the MDC. The Sunday Mail published an article which claimed that former Selous Scouts were training MDC youth activists in violent tactics, at locations near Tswane (Pretoria) and Pietermaritzburg in South Africa] In addition, at least 100 officials and polling officers of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission were arrested after the first round election.
Morgan Tsvangirai initially agreed to a presidential run-off with Robert Mugabe, but later withdrew (on 22 June 2008), citing violence targeted at his campaign. He complained that the elections were pointless, as the outcome would be determined by Mugabe himself.
The run-off election was held on 27 June 2008 and Zimbabwe’s Electoral Commission released the results two days later. The official results showed that Mugabe had managed to double his votes since the first round, to 2,150,269 votes (85.5%), while his opponent Tsvangirai obtained only 233,000 (9.3%). However Tsvangirai had pulled out previously because of widespread violence from the Zanu PF's forces. The violence included beating, rape and others. Many voted because if they didn't, they could face violence against them. Although witnesses and election monitors had reported a low turnout in many areas of the country, the official tally showed that the total vote had increased, from 2,497,265 votes in the first round to 2,514,750 votes in the second round.
Two legal opinions commissioned by the Southern African Litigation Centre (SALC) declared the run-off election illegal because it occurred outside the 21 day period within which it had to take place under Zimbabwean law. Under item 3(1)(b) of the Second Schedule of the Electoral Act, if no second election is held within 21 days of the first election, the candidate with the highest number of votes in the first election has been duly elected as President and must be declared as such. According to the figures released by Zimbabwe’s Electoral Commission, that would mean that Morgan Tsvangirai is the de jure President.
Mugabe's inauguration to his sixth presidential term of office was a hastily arranged ceremony, convened barely an hour after the electoral commission declared his victory on 29 June 2008. None of his fellow African heads of state were present at his inauguration; there were only family members, ministers, and security chiefs in the guests' tent. The Zimbabwean military, and not President Robert Mugabe, is now considered to be running the troubled country, in the opinion of a South Africa-based NGO called the Zimbabwe Solidarity Forum (ZSF) - 10 Jul 2008.
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INFORMATION ON ZIMBABWE
The UK annexed Southern Rhodesia
from the South Africa Company in 1923. A 1961 constitution
was formulated that favored whites in power. In
1965 the government unilaterally declared its independence,
but the UK did not recognize the act and demanded
more complete voting rights for the black African
majority in the country (then called Rhodesia).
UN sanctions and a guerrilla uprising finally led
to free elections in 1979 and independence (as
Zimbabwe) in 1980. Robert MUGABE, the nation's
first prime minister, has been the country's only
ruler (as president since 1987) and has dominated
the country's political system since independence.
of state: Executive President Robert
Gabriel MUGABE (since 31 December 1987); Vice
President Joseph MSIKA (since December 1999)
and Vice President Joyce MUJURU (since 6 December
2004); note - the president is both the chief
of state and head of government.
Head of government: Executive President Robert
Gabriel MUGABE (since 31 December 1987); Vice President Joseph
MSIKA (since December 1999) and Vice President Joyce MUJURU (since
6 December 2004).
Cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president; responsible
to the House of Assembly.
Elections: presidential candidates nominated with a nomination paper signed by at least 10 registered voters (at least one from each province) and elected by popular vote for a five-year term (no term limits); elections last held 28 March 2008, followed by a run-off on 27 June 2008 (next to be held in 2013); co-vice presidents appointed by the president.
Election results: Robert Gabriel MUGABE reelected president; percent of vote - Robert Gabriel MUGABE 85.5%, Morgan TSVANGIRAI 9.3%, other 5.2%; note - first round voting results - Morgan TSVANGIRAI 47.9%, Robert Gabriel MUGABE 43.2%, Simba MAKONI 8.3%, other 0.6%; first-round round polls were deemed to be flawed suppressing TSVANGIRAI's results; the 27 June 2008 run-off between MUGABE and TSVANGIRAI were severely flawed and internationally condemned.
The Republic of Zimbabwe covers
390,580 square kilometres, an area slightly larger
than the state of Montana in the U.S. The landlocked
country is bordered on the south by South Africa,
on the east by Moçambique,
to the west is Botswana, and to its north lies
Most of Zimbabwe consists of a central plateau, 3,000-4,000 feet above sea
level. The highveld stretches from southwest to northeast from 4,000 to 5,000
feet with a mountainous region along the eastern border from 6,000 to 8,000
feet in altitude. The Zambezi River runs along the northern border and the
Limpopo River along the southern border. The Zambezi Valley is an extension
of the Great Rift Valley. The southern edge of the Zambezi Valley is formed
by the Zimbabwean Escarpment. The Zambian Escarpment, situated north of the
Zambezi River, forms the northern edge of the Zambezi Valley.
The capital city of Zimbabwe is Harare.
Zimbabwe's ethnicity is as follows:
African 98% (Shona 82%, Ndebele 14%, other 2%),
mixed and Asian 1%, white less than 1%. Fifty percent
of the population are syncretic (part Christian
and part traditional beliefs), 25 percent are Christian,
24 percent traditional, and one percent are Hindu
and Muslim. One-quarter of the population lives
in urban areas, with half of that number residing
in the cities of Harare and nearby Chitungwiza
alone. English is understood by a majority of the
Its estimated population
of 11.35 million people (July 2008) is uncertain
due to the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS. The
HIV adult infection rate is currentlly estimated at
33.7% (2004 est) with 2.3 million adults living with
the disease. Approximately 200,000 deaths
per year are attributed to HIV/AIDS.
National flag has seven equal horizontal bands
of green, yellow, red, black, red, yellow, and
green with a white isosceles triangle edged in
black with its base on the hoist side; a yellow
Zimbabwe bird is superimposed on a red five-pointed
star in the center of the triangle. The green represents
Country's vegetation and land resources. The yellow
represents the country's mineral wealth. The red
represents the blood spilt during the liberation
struggle. Black represents the black majority.
The Zimbabwe Bird is the National Emblem of Zimbabwe.
White triangle for peace and the "way forward".
Red Star for internationalism (and reflects the
ruling party's socialist credentials).
temperature and rainfall details in Victoria Falls,
The climate is
moderate with winter days (May-August) being generally
dry and sunny with day temperatures averaging 59-68
degrees-F (15-20 degrees-C). Summer daytime temperatures
average 77-86 degrees-F (25-30 degrees-C), with
October being the hottest month. The rainy season
The chief industries in Zimbabwe are mining (coal,
gold, copper, nickel, tin, clay, numerous metallic and nonmetallic
ores), steel, wood products, cement, chemicals, fertilizer, clothing
and footwear, foodstuffs, and beverages. Agricultural products include
corn, cotton, tobacco, wheat, coffee, sugarcane, peanuts; cattle,
sheep, goats, and pigs.
The economy of Zimbabwe is collapsing under the weight of economic mismanagement, resulting in 85% unemployment and spiraling hyperinflation. The economy poorly transitioned in recent years, deteriorating from one of Africa's strongest economies to the world's worst. Inflation has surpassed that of all other nations at over 80 sextillion% (although it is impossible to calculate an accurate value), with the next highest in Burma at 39.5%. The government has attributed the economy's poor performance to ZDERA, a US congressional act hinging debt relief for Zimbabwe on democratic reform, and freezing the international assets of the ruling class. It currently has the lowest GDP real growth rate in an independent country and 3rd in total (behind Palestinian territories.)
The country has reserves of metallurgical-grade chromite. Other commercial mineral deposits include coal, asbestos, copper, nickel, gold, platinum and iron ore. However, its ongoing political turmoil and the world's highest rate of AIDS infection have greatly hampered its progress. Spiraling inflation, which many critics argue was caused by president Robert Mugabe's policies towards land reform, have led to internal upheaval and population displacement, and poverty.
The currency is the
Zambian Kwacha. Recent historical exchange rates
are as follows: Kwachas per US dollar -
revalued); 82,902 (12/31/2005); 5,609 (12/31/2004);
826.4 (12/31/2003); 57.1 (12/31/2002); 57.3 (12/31/2001);
55.2 (12/31/2000); 38.0 (12/31/1999); 37.3 (12/31/1998);
The official Zimbabwean dollar exchange rate had been frozen at Z$101,196 per U.S. dollar since early 2006, but as of 27 July 2006, the parallel (black market) rate had reached Z$550,000 per U.S. dollar. By comparison, 10 years earlier, the rate of exchange was only Z$9.13 per USD.
In August 2006 the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) revalued the Zimbabwean Dollar by 1000 ZWD to 1 (revalued) dollar. At the same tim,e Zimbabwe devalued the Zim Dollar by 60% against the USD. The new official exchange rate was revalued ZWD 250 per USD. The parallel market rate was about revalued ZWD 1,200 to 1,500 per USD (28 September 2006).
In November 2006 it was announced that sometime around 01 December, there would be a further devaluation and that the official exchange rate would change to revalued ZWD 750 per USD. This never materialized; however, the parallel market immediately reacted to this news with the parallel rate falling to ZWD 2,000 per USD (18 November 2006) and by year end it had fallen to ZWD 3,000 per USD.
On 01 April 2007 the parallel market was asking ZWD 30,000 for $1 USD. By year end, it was down to about ZWD 2,000,000. On 18 January 2008, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe began to issue higher denomination ZWD bearer cheques (a banknote with an expiry date), including $10 million bearer cheques - each of which was worth less than US $1.35 (70p Sterling; 0.90 Euro) on the parallel market at the time of first issue. On 04 April 2008 the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe introduced new $25 million and $50 million bearer cheques. At the time of first issue they were worth US$0.70 & US$1.40 on the parallel market respectively.
On 01 May 2008, the RBZ announced that the dollar would be allowed to float in value subject to some conditions.
On 06 May 2008, the RBZ issued new $100 million and $250 million bearer cheques. At the date of first issue, the $250 million bearer cheque was worth approximately US$1.30 on the parallel market. On 15 May 2008, a new $500 million bearer cheque was issued by the RBZ. At time of first issue it was worth US$1.93. In a widely unreported parallel move, on 15 May 2008, the RBZ issued three "special agro-cheques" with face values $5 billion (at time of first issue - $19.30), $25 billion ($96.50), and $50 billion ($193). It is further reported that the new agro-cheques could be used to buy any goods and services like the bearer cheques.
On 30 July 2008, the Governor of the RBZ, Gideon Gono announced that the Zimbabwe dollar would be redenominated by removing 10 zeroes, with effect from 01 August 2008. ZWD 10billion became 1 dollar after the redenomination.
built electric fences and South Africa has placed military
along the border to stem the flow of thousands of Zimbabweans
fleeing to find work and escape political persecution.
has supported, and in 2004 Zimbabwe dropped objections to,
plans between Botswana and Zambia to build a bridge over
the Zambezi River, thereby de facto recognizing a short,
but not clearly delimited, Botswana-Zambia boundary in the
Camps & Map of Zimbabwe
information about the National Parks of Zimbabwe, click Zim