Zimbabwe has been populated by the bantu
people Shona and Ndebele for almost 2,000 years. Shona
built the stone city of Greater Zimbabwe, which
conducted extensive trade. During the 19th century,
European colonizers came. The British came to control
the area, and in 1923 South Rhodesia became a British
colony. When Rhodesia was declared independent in 1965,
blacks were not granted the right to vote, and therefore
the country was not recognized by the outside world.
After a long liberation war by black nationalist groups,
the nation of Zimbabwe was proclaimed in 1980. Robert
Mugabe and his party Zanu-PF won big in the first free
Comprehensive guide to and popular abbreviations of Zimbabwe, covering history, economy, and social conditions.
Between the twentieth century BC and the third
century AD, Shona and Ndebele gradually migrated into
the area that is today Zimbabwe. These two peoples are
still almost the entire population of the country (see
Population and Languages).
In the 800's, Zimbabwe's high plateau was dominated
by shona. They extracted gold, copper, iron and tin, and
traded Muslim communities on the east coast. However,
the main industries were agriculture, livestock and
hunting. It was Shona who built the remarkable stone
town of Greater Zimbabwe in the central part of the
country. This city, which dates to a period similar to
the European Middle Ages, has given today's nation its
name. At most, up to 20,000 people lived in the city.
Greater Zimbabwe had a favorable location in fertile
agricultural countryside between the Indian Ocean coast
and the gold deposits of the present Matabeleland.
Historians believe that a state formation extended from
the city to the east coast.
In the middle of the 1400s, Great Zimbabwe was
abandoned, which became too small for the growing
population. The demise of the city is typical of
settlements in southern Africa: the environment
gradually deteriorates, the soil is sucked out, the
pastures are overgrazed, the forest is decomposed, the
mineral resources are depleted and the game disappears.
Kingdoms are formed
In the mid-1800s, the Ndebele people formed a kingdom
in the area that is today Matabeleland, and the court
held where Bulawayo town is. Although ndebele took
control of the shona and taxed a large part of them, the
people could coexist, albeit under tense conditions.
This was mainly because shona was a farmer and ndebele a
shepherd people. In the 1880s, however, the Shona, with
the help of Portuguese colonizers in neighboring
Mozambique, tried to free themselves from ndebele. These
struggles underlie contradictions that still exist
between the two peoples (see Modern History).
During the 19th century, European missionaries,
traders and adventurers came to the area. In 1890, an
expedition of 700 men was organized by the Prime
Minister of the British Cape Colony, Cecil Rhodes. The
mission was to find and extract ore deposits. Rhodes
negotiated the right of extraction by the Ndebelekung
and formed the British South Africa Company (British
South Africa Company). The United Kingdom gave the
trading company exclusive rights to enact laws, collect
taxes and maintain law and order. The company's
operations expanded rapidly and the Africans were forced
back when the colonizers seized their land.
Ndebele rebelled against the white settlers in 1893.
Afterwards, Shona joined the rebellion which in 1896 had
developed into a liberation war, the chimurenga. The
resistance was crushed by the whites, who continued to
colonize the country. The British South Africa Company
ruled in practice until 1923 when the area became a
British colony, Southern Rhodesia.
Rhodesia is not recognized
In 1953, the self-governing Southern Rhodesia merged
with two directly managed colonies of the United
Kingdom, Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) and Nyasaland
(Malawi), forming the Central African Federation. This
was dissolved in 1963, and the following year Zambia and
Malawi became independent.
But Britain did not want to give South Rhodesia
independence unless white leaders first guaranteed black
voting rights. The white minority regime did not listen
to the British. In 1964, Ian Smith took office as Prime
Minister, the first white political leader born in the
country. In November 1965, Smith unilaterally proclaimed
Rhodesia as independent. The British did not recognize
the new state but instead imposed sanctions. The UN
Security Council adopted a resolution in 1968 which
prohibited member states from trading with Rhodesia.
However, South Africa and Portugal did not follow the UN
resolution, but traded openly with Rhodesia.
In the 1960s, a black nationalist movement emerged.
Zimbabwe's African People's Union
(Zimbabwe African People's Union, Zapu)
was formed in 1961 and was led by Joshua Nkomo who
belonged to the Ndebele people. In 1963,
Zimbabwe's African National Union (Zimbabwe
African National Union, Zanu) broke out
of Zapu. The group's secretary general was Robert Mugabe,
who belonged to the Shona.
Zanu and Zapu were banned at an early stage. When the
regime introduced a state of emergency in November 1964,
almost all of their leaders were imprisoned. The
one-sided declaration of independence in 1965 led to the
black nationalist movement becoming more radical and
eventually becoming armed resistance. The Liberation War
(Second Chimurenga) broke out in December 1972 with
guerrilla attacks against white farms in the northeast.
After the Portuguese colonial empire collapsed,
Mozambique became independent in 1975. Rhodesia was then
almost surrounded by black states. South Africa's Prime
Minister John Vorster realized that black majority rule
in Rhodesia was soon inevitable and he managed to get
Ian Smith to the negotiating table.
In the fall of 1976, the Nationalists and the Smith
regime gathered for a conference in Geneva on a new
constitution. Before that, Zapu and Zanu had united in a
loose alliance, the Patriotic Front (
PF). However, the negotiations broke
down the New Year 1977.
A year later, the United Kingdom was given a new
Conservative government which invited the parties to
negotiations in London. In December 1979 they were able
to agree on a constitution for an independent Zimbabwe
(see Political system).
When the war, which had harvested about 36,000
casualties, was over, the Patriotic Front disbanded, and
Zanu-PF was formed. When elections were
held in February 1980, Zanu-PF with Mugabe in the lead
won big. On April 18 of that year, Zimbabwe became
A national crisis situation is announced due to a cholera epidemic.
Healthcare threatens to completely collapse.
Ministerial posts are distributed
Disagreement over the distribution of ministerial posts causes MDC to
threaten to withdraw from the agreement. Mugabe gives party friends the heaviest
items, with responsibility for, for example, the Defense, Foreign, Justice and
Information Ministries. Thus, Zanu-PF retains control over the army, the police
and the media.
Power sharing agreement
A historic agreement on power sharing is signed. Under the agreement, Mugabe
remains the head of state and government as well as commander-in-chief.
Tsvangirai will be given a newly appointed office as prime minister and lead the
daily government work. The ministerial posts should be divided approximately
equally between the parties. The unifying government will prepare a new
Opposition politician new president
Parliament is gathering. The election of the Speaker of the House of Commons
becomes dramatic when Zanu-PF chooses to support MDC-M's candidate for the
Speaker's post. But MDC-T's candidate Lovemore Moyo wins and Zimbabwe gets an
opposition politician as president for the first time since independence.
Accusations of opposition harassment
The MDC states that at least 200 of the party's sympathizers have been
murdered since the March elections, and about 200,000 have been forced away from
their homes. The government rejects the information.
During South African mediation, Mugabe and Tsvangirai initiate talks about
the distribution of power and a transitional government.
Tsvangirai withdraws from elections
Violence is rising sharply: black farm workers are being chased from their
homes, dozens of people are being murdered and Tsvangirai and other MDC leaders
are repeatedly arrested, but soon released. On June 22, Tsvangirai withdraws
from the elections. He states as a reason that the conditions for a fair
election are completely lacking. The UN Security Council condemns the threats
and violence against the opposition. African countries are also unusually sharp
in their criticism of Mugabe's regime. In the election, Mugabe, the only
candidate, gets 85 percent of the vote. The turnout is 42 percent. Independent
observers judge the election.
Tsvangirai wins first round of elections
On May 2, over a month after the election, the election commission announces
the results of the presidential election: Tsvangirai has received 48 percent of
the vote and Mugabe 43 percent. The remaining votes go to two independent
candidates. The result means that a second round of elections must be held
between Tsvangirai and Mugabe. The date is set for June 27.
Tense the wait for presidential election results
The results of the presidential election are waiting. Many people interpret
it as Mugabe's loss. Zanu-PF militia is accused of increasing violence against
Parliamentary elections Results
Both before and during the election on March 29, it is tense but no major
violence erupts. The opposition complains of cheating and foreign observers
describe the election as flawed. Results in the parliamentary elections will
come after a few days: in the lower house, Zanu-PF has received 99 and
Tsvangirai's MDC faction 100 seats. Thus, Zanu-PF has lost the majority in the
lower house after 28 years in power. MDC-Mutambara gets 10 seats and one goes to
an independent candidate. In the Senate, Zanu-PF receives 30 of the 60 electoral
seats and opposition 30 (MDC-T 24, MDC-M 6). As the president appoints some
senators, Zanu-PF retains control of the senate.
Selection date is announced
The government announces that the election will be held on March 29, despite
no new constitution being in place. MDC's two factions are protesting and
believe it means too little time for the electoral movement. They still decide