Why was Zimbabwe colonized
The history of Zimbabwe goes back to the Stone Age, a time of the first traces of human settlement. The existence of the ancient civilizations that arose in the second half of the Middle Ages is evidenced by significant archaeological finds.
If the Portuguese were the first Europeans to venture into the area in the 16th century, colonization did not begin until 1890. The region is under British influence. The area was then named Southern Rhodesia until 1965, then, after independence from Northern Rhodesia, which became Zambia, Rhodesia until the end of the segregationist regime.
On April 18, 1980, Rhodesia became an independent state under the name Zimbabwe ("House of Stone").
The Khoisan are the oldest inhabitants of the country and their documented presence in southern Africa dates back more than 8,000 years before the beginning of our Common Era. Their presence is largely evidenced by the prehistoric sculptures that can be found in many places in this region of the world.
The first iron craftsmen and Bantu farmers were the Gokomers, who arrived from Central Africa around 500 on the site of the future "Great Zimbabwe".
Between the 5th and 10th centuries, the Gokomers and their successors used gold mining techniques and produced many ceramic objects, jewelry, soapstone sculptures and high quality fabrics. However, these groups were primarily cattle ranchers in stables. They dominated the Unoboy groups, who migrated west when not enslaved.
It was between the nineteenth and thirteenth centuries that a civilization found the stone monument of "Great Zimbabwe", at the origin of the Shona civilization (the monument has long been the subject of controversy over its origin). The founders of "Great Zimbabwe", near Masvingo, were undoubtedly Bantu, who had trade contacts with Arab traders on the east coast of Africa, especially those who were based in what is now Mozambique. The city of Great Zimbabwe itself had to accommodate up to 20,000 residents, and its social organization was built around a king, a ruling caste, and an army. The influence of this dynasty suddenly erupted in the fifteenth century under the influence of overpopulation, the exhaustion of the pastures, the popular protest and the fragmentation of the kingdom.
Around 1420 members of the great Zimbabwean civilization established a Shona state further north, the kingdom of King Mwene Mutapa ("The Great Marauder"), known as Monomotapa, which flourished until 1629 when another dynasty, the Torwa, settled in Khami .
Around 1440, the Monomatapa Empire under the rule of King Mutota extended over the plateau of present-day Zimbabwe, but also over a significant part of present-day Mozambique. The resources of this empire were based largely on the control of the trade routes that connected it to the coast and on the extractive industries (gold, iron, copper, ivory, cotton, agriculture), the extraction of which was sold to the Arab and Swahilian traders.
The Shona Kingdom of the Torwa emerged around 1480 and was considered the direct successor to the "Great Zimbabwe". It thrived on the cattle and gold trade.
The empires of Zimbabwe
At the beginning of the 16th century, the arrival of the Portuguese on the Mozambican coast wiped out trade with the people of Zimbabwe. Several skirmishes took place between the inland locals and the military contingents sent to the colony of Mozambique. Portuguese and Swahili traders also managed to play tribal rivalries to prevail and confiscate all the gold they could find.
In 1629, King Mwene Mutapa Kaparidze failed to unite the indigenous tribes against the Portuguese. He was deposed and replaced by Mwene Mutapa Mavura, a Portuguese vassal. After several reversals of alliances and rebellions, the Portuguese who had conquered the Rhodesian Plateau were finally driven out by the Monomatapa troops in 1690. But the rule of the old empire was now limited to the Zambezi Valley (so weakened, it finally collapsed at the end of the 19th century, victims of British and Portuguese raids), while the Torwa dynasty was taken over by the Changamire clan in 1684, who owned the Rozwi empire founded.
So this new Rozvi empire emerged from the ruins of the Torwa Kingdom, which makes up almost half of present-day Zimbabwe. This in turn collapsed in the middle of the 19th century, an indirect victim of the Zulu wars in Natal and the future Transvaal.
The Ndebele invasion
In 1823 Mzilikazi, chief of the Xumalo clan and lieutenant of the Zulu king Shaka, rebelled against his monarch. Sentenced to death, he managed to flee Zululand with his tribe. After reaching Mozambique, he crosses the land of the future Transvaal, which is pursued by the impis of the Zulu king. His flight took him to future Botswana, where he met the missionary Robert Moffat, with whom he befriended. Then Mzilikazi continues north to what is now Zambia. On her way she plundered, massacred and subjugated the local population. Mzilikazi's reputation attracted many warriors who joined his Ndebele army ("those who disappeared under their long shields"). Rejected from Zambia by the Kololo Nation, he finally settled in what is now southwestern Zimbabwe around 1840. He founded his capital Inyati near the "Amatobos" hills ("bald skulls").
His troops put an end to the Rozwi empire (since the raids of the Ngunis armies of Soshangane and Zwangendaba in 1834), subjugated the local Shona tribes and enforced the Zulu way of life at the four corners of his new Matabeland empire. It is then a centralized military state modeled on that established by Shaka. In this way he managed to repel the Boers' incursions between 1847 and 1851 and in 1852 to sign an agreement on peace and mutual recognition with the South African Republic of the Transvaal.
In 1854 the explorer David Livingstone discovered the Victoria Falls. A few years later he tried to go up the Zambezi. The expedition lasted from March 1858 to mid-1864 and ended on April 29, 1863 with the failure of his wife and death from dysentery.
In 1859 Mzilikazi authorized Robert Moffat and his son John to set up a mission not far from Bulawayo for the London Mission Society. However, he refused to convert to Christianity.
On September 5, 1868, Lobengula succeeded his father after firing his rivals. He was crowned on January 22, 1870 and moved the capital from Matabéland to Bulawayo. The beginning of his rule was marked by the European influence, whose style of clothing he adopted. However, in the 1880s, relations with the British government deteriorated and it returned to its original culture.
In the 1870s, several European adventurers explored the areas of Ndebele and Shona. Frederick Selous discovers old gold mines, the painter Thomas Baines discovers gold in Mashonaland and Adam Render shows the world the existence of the ruins of "Great Zimbabwe".
Southern Rhodesia (1890-1980)
Colonization under BSAC (1890-1922)
In 1888 the Ndebele King Lobengula, who was abused by his English-speaking advisors, "granted" mining rights to Cecil Rhodes' British South Africa Company (BSAC) in the Matabeleland Territories, south of the Zambezi River. Believing he was signing a right of way, he actually initialed the annexation of his kingdom. The BSAC then received a charter from the British government that allowed the administration of the conquered areas in southern Africa.
In 1890, the pioneering column headed by Leander Starr Jameson and Frederick Selous began with the establishment of Fort Salisbury, which later became the country's capital.
In November 1893, Lobengula's Ndebele forces, who had entered the war against the British, were defeated. Bulawayo, the capital of the Ndebele, burned by Lobengula while fleeing, was captured. The Ndebele king died of smallpox six months later.
In 1895, the areas administered by the BSAC were divided into North Sambézie and South Sambézie. The first was then divided into Northern Rhodesia and Nyassaland, while the second was named Southern Rhodesia. Her baptismal name is a tribute to Cecil Rhodes.
In January 1896 the Ndebele started the "Chimurenga" (rebellion or war of liberation) to protest against the living conditions imposed by the British. After an unprecedented wave of crimes against whites in the remote areas of Matabéland, settlers fled in Bulawayo, Gwelo, Belingwe and Tuli. In June Mashonaland was won by an uprising. The British Imperial Forces, normally stationed in Natal, were tasked with the evacuation of Bulawayo and the besieged cities. Under pressure from the London government, Rhodes resisted the call for extermination demanded by the settlers and came on August 21, 1896 itself in the middle of the Matopos hills to negotiate a truce with the Ndebele chiefs.
Two months later the peace was signed. The Shonas continued to resist, but in vain.
By resolution of the council of October 20, 1898, an executive council and a legislative council were created to reconcile the interests of the settlers and the BSAC.
Reserves were also created for the exclusive use of the locals, into which only civil authorities and missionaries could enter. The latter approved this territorial segregation because they saw it as "mission land" in which they could build schools, pharmacies, hospitals, farms, churches and teach the religion of Christ.
Cecil Rhodes died in Cape Town in 1902. He was buried in the Matopo Mountains near Bulawayo and greeted by hundreds of sailors.
In 1914 the BSAC charter came to an end. The settlers managed to renew them for 10 years, with a clause providing territorial autonomy until the end of the decade.
In just 30 years, the settlers had built cities, opened roads, cleared bushes and irrigated dry land. The railroad from Cape Town connected Bulawayo since 1890, then crossed Victoria Falls in 1907 and reached Katangaen. Bulawayo, Salisbury and Beira in Mozambique run independent lines. Gold, asbestos, coal and chrome mines were put into operation, while agriculture (tobacco, grain) developed like cattle breeding1.
The Shonas and Ndebele benefited very little from this economic and industrial expansion and continued to live in a traditional economy, taking only what was necessary for their survival from the land. However, the too few settlers were dependent on their labor. The Master and Servants Act of November 29, 1901 introduced written or oral employment contracts for one month with no guaranteed minimum wage.
In 1922, after violent clashes between settlers and the BSAC, the whites of Rhodesia demanded emancipation and political autonomy. Consulted in a referendum, they rejected the link with South Africa.
Emancipation from Southern Rhodesia (1923-1953)
In 1923, Southern Rhodesia became a colony of the British Crown. An autonomous government headed by Charles Coghlan was responsible for the administration of the territory in Salisbury, the capital, while Northern Rhodesia and Nyassaland remained under the control of the colonial office. The UK Parliament reserved the right to intervene in national law (including the right to protect indigenous rights) with reservations. The aim was to transform Southern Rhodesia, which had a much larger white population, into a rule comparable to the Union of South Africa. Although the colony was not yet officially racist, voting rights were based on British citizenship and annual income, conditions very few blacks could meet.
In the 1930s, the Land Allocation Act officially introduced a segregationist regime, while in 1934 a law introduced segregationist social legislation that banned blacks from entering certain professions or from settling in areas declared white. The area was divided into white zones, reserves, indigenous purchase funds, mission land and crown land. Overall, the area allotted to blacks was about the same as that of whites, but these were ten times less numerous than Africans. However, the indigenous reserve proved completely inadequate for a population with full population growth.
The African opposition to this segregationist policy was slowly constituting itself and was not born until the 1940s, especially since the economic development of Southern Rhodesia had significantly increased the gross national income of the colony, but 3/4 of it in the white sector and 1/4 in the black sector ( 92% of the population) flowed. For example, a 1949 UN poll found that Southern Rhodesia was one of the areas with the highest income inequality in the world, where the annual income of an African was $ 31, compared to $ 1,170 for a Rhodesian of European descent.
Unlike their compatriots in Northern Rhodesia, blacks in Southern Rhodesia had no right to strike, could not join a trade union or political party, and their land rights were poorly respected.
In the early 1950s, Southern Rhodesia had a population of more than two million, of whom 200,000 were white (one white for 13 blacks).
Rhodesia and Nyassaland Federation (1953-1963)
In 1953, the status of the Rhodesian territories changed again with their integration into the Central African Federation. The British government therefore decided to experiment with an administrative and economic union of its colonies in Central Africa by bringing them together under the control of a federal government in order to develop the region's economy and curb the nationalist aspirations of blacks. In theory, they had the right to vote, but the conditions of entry were so harsh that fewer than a thousand of them had a voting card.
Sir Godfrey Huggins (Lord Malvern) was the Federation's first Prime Minister, while in Southern Rhodesia Garfield Todd, a Liberal, Federalist, supporter of the smooth accession of the black majority and opponent of racial discrimination, came to power.
In 1955, Lord Malvern was replaced as head of government by Roy Welensky.
In 1958, Garfield Todd, who was rejected by his party after attempting to increase the black constituency from 2 to 16%, resigns and is replaced by a partisan of segregation, Edgar Whitehead, while black leaders join the system Federation are becoming more and more hostile.
In 1959, a state of emergency was declared in each of the three colonies.
At the conference on the revision of the provisional federal constitution of 1953, African representatives condemned the intransigence and racism of the white settlers of southern Rhodesia. They then began direct talks with the British government to achieve independence for the three colonies.
In July 1961, a new constitution was proposed to the 80,000 voters in Southern Rhodesia. It was approved by white voters alone, while 4,000 black voters abstained.
Black nationalist leader Joshua Nkomo founded the Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU), while shortly afterwards another black leader, Robert Mugabe, founded the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU). Both demanded racial equality, the right to vote and the independence of the country, which they would refer to as Zimbabwe based on the pre-colonial ruins of the "Great Zimbabwe".
In March 1962, the Rhodesian Front (RF) was founded by conservative whites. In December 1962 this RF, led by Winston Field, won the parliamentary elections in Southern Rhodesia.
In early 1963, Great Britain recognized Nyassaland's right to leave the now condemned federation. On March 29, 1963, the same decision was made for Northern Rhodesia.
On December 31, 1963, the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland was officially dissolved.
Rhodesia's unilateral declaration of independence
Until 1964, Southern Rhodesia was again an autonomous colony. Ian Smith, a World War II veteran, succeeded Field as head of government on April 13, 1964, on a mission to preserve the privileges of the white minority (8% of the population).
After the independence of Nyassaland (renamed Malawi) and Northern Rhodesia (Zambia), Smith received an empty hand from his voters to negotiate the future of Rhodesia through a referendum, through the support of the great tribal leaders, and then through the total victory of the Rhodesian Front in the general election of March 7, 1965.
But negotiations with the British government stalled. In order to avoid the independence imposed by London, the colonial government took the initiative on November 11, 1965 to declare its independence unilaterally (Unilateral Declaration of Independence - UDI).
The British government not only declared the UDI illegal, but also the dissolution of the Rhodesian government and the direct resumption of control of the administration of its colony by the Governor General. However, his decisions had no effect within the borders of Rhodesia. The UK then turned to the UN and advocated "impunity" economic sanctions. At the United Nations, successive resolutions condemned the IDU and called on governments not to recognize the new state. The Security Council passed the first resolution imposing binding sanctions in 1968, but some states such as South Africa, Portugal, Israel and the United States took non-binding measures to circumvent these sanctions.
The Republic of Rhodesia (1970-1979)
On March 3, 1970, the Republic of Rhodesia was proclaimed along the lines of the Westminster parliamentary regime. Because the electoral criteria were very strict, in 1970 only 8,000 Africans (out of 5 million) were eligible to vote to elect 16 black MPs, while 82,300 whites (out of 256,000 Rhodesians) elected 50 white MPs. This civic injustice was reflected in the geographical distribution of the territory, where 7% of whites owned 49% of the land. The remaining 92 percent of the population (blacks) shared 51 percent of the land as "indigenous reserves". Black liberation movements were banned and their leaders were regularly detained.
The United Nations continued to organize the international isolation of Rhodesia, but many states and international companies have discreetly circumvented the sanctions. The richness of the Rhodesian underground in rare metals was useful for western industry.
In 1971, an agreement on the status of the territory appeared to have been reached between Great Britain and Rhodesia. This project envisaged the gradual reduction of racial segregation to its complete abolition, the rapid extension of the franchise to Africans and their gradual participation in the political affairs of the country. In January 1972 a royal commission examined whether the project had the approval of the entire population of Rhodesia. In her report, she replied in the negative, noting that 98% of the white population, like almost all tribal leaders, was opposed to the project by the vast majority of blacks. Then he was buried.
On August 25, 1975, John Vorster, Prime Minister of South Africa, and Kenneth Kaunda, President of Zambia, began a joint summit between Ian Smith and the black leaders of the guerrilla movements, whose struggle had intensified since 1972. The meeting took place in a South African car on a bridge over Victoria Falls on the border between Zambia and Rhodesia. After nine hours of conversation, this conference between Smith, Abel Muzorewa, Joshua Nkomo, the Reverend Ndabaningi Sitholé and Robert Mugabe ended in failure.
In 1976 Vorster, supported by the United States, with concern for the political development of Angola and Mozambique, two former independent Portuguese colonies, undertook since the previous year to convince Smith to compromise with moderate black nationalists. This compromise resulted in the Salisbury Accords of March 3, 1978, signed between Ian Smith and three moderate African leaders. On March 21, 1978, Rhodesia's first multiracial government was formed with an executive council of signatories to the agreement.
In September 1978 the situation on the ground degenerated, which shows the vulnerability of civil society. On September 3, shortly after taking off from Lake Kariba Airport, an Air Rhodesia aircraft with 59 passengers and crew on board was shot down by surface-to-air missiles fired by ZIPRA guerrillas. Of the 18 survivors, 10 were massacred by guerrillas using Kalashnikovs. Joshua Nkomo claimed the plane was destroyed in flight, but denied that the survivors were shot down by his men.
In January 1979 a new constitution was ratified by the 3% of white Rhodesians. You would have a quota of 28 seats out of 100. However, the constitution was rejected by all other black movements, the United Nations and Britain.
The first multiracial elections took place in April 1979. Abel Muzorewa's party won 51 of the 100 seats, while the Rhodesian Front won all 28 seats for whites.
On June 1, 1979 Abel Muzorewa was appointed the first black Prime Minister of the new Zimbabwe-Rhodesia. The first black president was Josiah Gumede, succeeding the country's last white president and a new national flag adopted in September.
Ian Smith remained minister in the new government, which consisted of 12 black and 5 white ministers.
For South Africa it was a moderate black government, but for the United Nations it was just a discredited and illegitimate new regime. The lack of international recognition and guerrilla pressure prevented the new administration from asserting its legitimacy, especially as Smith remained the regime's strongest man within the government.
However, in the United States and the United Kingdom, only requests to lift the sanctions against Rhodesia were denied. In the United States, it was President Jimmy Carter who refused to lift the sanctions, despite the US Senate voting 75-19 on June 12, 1979. The Senate attempted to overturn this, but the House of Representatives agreed with the US President that the April 1979 elections were "neither fair nor fair," which he confirmed orally during his visit to Washington on July 11, 1979 in Muzorewa .
In the UK, however, Lord Carrington, the new British Foreign Secretary, stated that Muzorewa's government was the "legitimate authority" of Southern Rhodesia and that it needed help.
When the government of the new South African Prime Minister Pieter Willem Botha saw the failure of his friendly government project, it pushed Muzorewa and Smith back to the negotiating table with the United Kingdom and other black opposition parties.
If the sanctions did not bend South Rhodesia, they would have weakened it considerably after fifteen years. In addition, harassment by guerrilla movements had fatigued a white population whose migration balance had turned negative since 1975.
The end of the Rhodesian utopia (1979-1980)
In September 1979 negotiations began in the United Kingdom between the British government, the Muzorewa government and the black liberation movements (ZANU, ZAPU, etc.). The negotiations were exhausting and in order to avoid a blockade, especially on the Patriotic Front, the British Parliament passed a law in November giving the British government the right to unilaterally bring Zimbabwe-Rhodesia into independence.
By November 30, the Bush War in Southern Rhodesia had claimed 19,500 black casualties (10,300 guerrillas and 7,500 civilians) and 953 whites and security forces (480 white or black Southern Rhodesian soldiers, 473 white civilians).
On December 12, 1979, ten years after the start of the guerrilla war and twenty thousand dead, the former rebel colony accepted the appointment of a new governor who ended 14 years of desperate independence. The British Government appointed Lord Soames Governor General of the Colony of Southern Rhodesia with full power.
The Union Jack was again hoisted in Salisbury in place of the Zimbabwe-Rhodesia flag, signifying the effective return of British sovereignty over its rebel colony. Great Britain is thus regaining its prestige, which began with two world wars and decolonization.
Constitutional negotiations opened in September at Lancaster House in the UK under Lord Carrington, Minister for Margaret Thatcher, resulted in an agreement between Ian Smith, Muzorewa and the leaders of ZANU and ZAPU.
On December 21, 1979, the Lancaster House Agreement provided for the establishment of a parliamentary system, the retention of twenty out of the hundred seats reserved for whites in parliament for seven years, and a ten-year ban on the forced nationalization of private property. However, peaceful land redistribution has been promoted with substantial compensation payments with UK guarantees. The Lancaster House Accords were ratified by the House of Commons as the Zimbabwe Act, while the UN Security Council decided at the same time to lift all sanctions against Southern Rhodesia.
A general amnesty was imposed to prevent prosecution in the United Kingdom of acts committed in Southern Rhodesia between November 11, 1965 and December 12, 1979.
The armistice came into effect on December 28, 1979 and was in effect from January 4, 1980 under the control of 1,200 men from the Commonwealth contingent. On January 6, 1980, the South Rhodesian Army was authorized to assist the police in maintaining order after the persistence of insecurity and the development of banditry.
On January 21, 1980, around 240,000 refugees began to reach the neighboring countries of Southern Rhodesia when 18,500 guerrillas joined the 16 collection points designated for their deployment.
The six-week election campaign was marked by violence and intimidation by Robert Mugabe's party. Soames chose not to disqualify Mugabe's ZANU, though, despite the Lancaster House agreement forcing parties involved in intimidation to be removed. Robert Mugabe was also the subject of two assassinations.
On February 14, 1980, elections were held for the twenty white seats won by Ian Smith on the Rhodesian Front in their entirety.
From February 27 to 29, 1980, the 80 seats reserved for blacks were voted on. The President of Tanzania, Julius Nyerere, warned, pending the final result of the elections, that he would only recognize a government of the Patriotic Front and in no case Zimbabwe-Rhodesia. To everyone's surprise, it was the most radical party, Robert Mugabe's ZANU Patriotic Front, which won the election with 62.9% of the vote (57 seats), far behind Joshua Nkomo's ZAPU (25% of the vote and 20 seats) and Abel Muzorewa's UANC (8% of the vote and 3 seats) fell behind.
On March 4, 1980, Robert Mugabe, a Marxist Christian, was appointed Prime Minister by Lord Soames. He formed a national front-line government made up of two whites: Dennis Norman as head of the Department of Agriculture and David Smith as head of the Department of Industry and Trade. That night an agreement was reached with the white minority (still under the leadership of Ian Smith) that allowed the retention of whites in government and administration, in return, preparations for a coup under the leadership of the army and white police were made canceled. Alec Smith, Ian Smith's own son, was one of the architects of the agreement.
On April 18, 1980, the former Southern Rhodesia regained its independence under the new name Zimbabwe. The new state was warmly welcomed by the international community. The new President of the Republic of Zimbabwe was Kanaan Banana, a moderate one.
Zimbabwe immediately joined the United Nations and then the Commonwealth and broke diplomatic relations with South Africa in September 1980, while economic and trade ties remained relatively close.
Zimbabwe from 1980 to 2000
The new government of Robert Mugabe gave the impression of national unity. Two whites, also former ministers in the Ian Smith administrations, had been appointed to sensitive positions in agriculture and industry. Former Liberal Prime Minister Garfield Todd, incarcerated under Smith, was appointed Senator and Joshua Nkomo, the hostile brother, was appointed government. General Peter Walls, head of the Rhodesian National Army, remained in office and directed the establishment of the Zimbabwean National Army through the integration of former ZANLA and ZIPRA guerrillas. Mugabe said he wanted to stand out from the disastrous examples of Mozambique or Tanzania. The first symbolic measures were the general wage increase and the introduction of new social programs with a focus on education and health.
However, between 1980 and 1985, the white population fell from 225,000 to less than 100,000. The white minority no longer had any influence on the country's political life as it was forbidden to participate in a parliamentary coalition to sanction the government.
Economically, however, this minority continued to be a heavy burden. 4,500 farmers based in Europe used 49 percent of the agricultural area to maintain food self-sufficiency and to contribute to the World Food Program. But there were 200,000 black farmers who asked for land to grow crops and whose demands kept putting the government under pressure. From the first year of independence onwards, anti-white demonstrations calling for land redistribution degenerated. In September 1980, the two statues of Cecil Rhodes placed in front of the Salisbury Parliament and in central Bulawayo were unleashed by an angry mob calling for an immediate redistribution of the land and the eviction of all whites.
Still, neighboring South Africa played a role as the apartheid regime occasionally raided ANC bases on Zimbabwean territory against powerless Zimbabwean troops.
To mark the break with colonialism, on the second anniversary of independence in April 1982, the government had all of the country's cities renamed or rephrased along the lines of Salisbury, now known as Harare.
However, it is the rivalry between ZANU and ZAPU that leads to widespread humiliation and bloody armed conflict. By 1981, Nkomo was ousted by the government and several of his supporters were arrested. The political conflict was based on an ethnic conflict. Mugabe was a Shona (like his 62.9% of the electorate) and a Nkomo a ndebele (like most of his electorate). After the discovery of the secret arsenal in the ZAPU, guerrilla activities resumed in Matabeleland. Nkomo was accused of treason. In January 1983, Mugabe sent the Fifth Brigade, trained by North Korea, to restore order in Matabéland. Thousands of civilians were massacred and villages razed to the ground. Nkomo fled to England. It was not until 1988 and after the death of 25,000 civilians that the Nkomo-Mugabe reconciliation ended the conflict, which was secured by an amnesty and the merger between ZANU and ZAPU in the ZANU Patriotic Front.
In 1987 the whites of the Conservative Alliance of Zimbabwe (CAZ), the former Rhodesian Front, lost their guaranteed 20-person representation and were expelled from parliament. Their seats were made available to the government, which appointed about twenty MPs. With the support of 99 out of 100 MPs, Robert Mugabe had the constitution amended to introduce a presidential regime that would abolish the office of prime minister and restore the title of president. Joshua Nkomo then became one of Zimbabwe's two Vice Presidents.
Although they made up 1 percent of the population, white Zimbabweans continued to lead the economy, accounting for 80 percent of GDP.
However, in the late 1980s, the regime appeared corrupt and the socialist creed of the leading ZANU leaders increasingly obscured their pursuit of big financial gains. In 1988 the government became embroiled in the Willowvale auto assembly scandal. The corruption was then denounced by a still free press and by students at the University of Zimbabwe. The regime felt threatened and responded quickly by removing its university subsidies and increasing its political control.
The dismantling of apartheid in South Africa and the collapse of the USSR had a profound impact on the countries, pushing the regime and national opinion to turn to liberalism and multipartism in order to strengthen the power of the remaining 100,000 whites and counter the protests against the regime ( Strikes, demonstrations) and the desire to expel the whites.
In 1990 the transition to authoritarianism was confirmed when repression against anyone who might lead an opposition movement, white or black, declined. The March 1990 elections were marred by several scams in favor of government candidates. The ZUM (United Zimbabwe Movement) of Edgar Tekere, the most important liberal and democratic opposition force, was then in full growth the victim of a tendentious redistribution of the elections. His most promising candidate, Patrick Kombayi in Gweru, was the victim of an attempted murder that forced all other ZUM candidates to hold back.
In August 1990, the challenge was also internal to ZANU. At the meeting of the central committee, 22 of the 26 members voted against the conversion of the republic into a one-party regime, which Mugabe wanted. The latter finally accepted the majority decision without risk, as the country no longer had any structured opposition parties.
Robert Mugabe was re-elected President of the Republic in 1996 with 92% of the vote after his two opponents withdrew.
Under a law passed in 1992, Mugabe decided to implement his agrarian reform and nationalize half of the land of the 4,500 white farmers who at that time still owned 30% of the arable land, with the official aim of redistributing it to hundreds of thousands of poor Africans. However, only large areas could be profitable for a country like Zimbabwe and enable it to feed itself. The measure was also detrimental to the country's economy as white farmers earned more than half of GDP and were entitled to fair compensation under the country's law and constitution.
On December 9, 1997, a national strike initiated by ZANLA veterans paralyzed the country. The veterans demanded land and fair compensation for their service in the guerrillas. They received pensions that were much higher than the Zimbabwean state budget allowed.
Then, despite warnings from the IMF, Mugabe decided to begin the authoritarian redistribution of the white land. She and her union then challenged the law in court, using all legal means at their disposal. From there, a campaign of urban and rural terror eventually submerged the land to evict the reluctant white farmers, leading the country into the worst political, economic, and social crisis in its history.
Zimbabwe since 2000: a country in crisis
To everyone's surprise, Mugabe was rejected by the population in a referendum in February 2000 on a constitutional amendment that could have paved the way for a comprehensive agrarian reform that would have enabled the expropriation of the white peasants without compensation.
A few months later, Mugabe's ZANU-PF party lost the election to Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC (Movement for Democratic Change), the first political force to finally compete with Mugabe's party. The vast majority of the city's constituencies escaped the ZANU-PF. Despite government-orchestrated fraud, the MDC was almost level with Mugabe's ZANU, but under the Constitution Mugabe directly appointed about 30 other MPs and gave his party a clear majority.
Mugabe announced shortly after the almost general expropriation of all white farmers.
The farms were then occupied and devastated by bands of bandits in the service of the ZANU-PF, who had banded together under the aegis of pseudo-veterans of the struggle for independence. They forcibly intimidated the employees, ransacked homes and plunged the country into famine and poverty without hesitation to kill under the complicit eyes of the police. The murder of farmers has caused consternation and the sharpest condemnation in the UK. The much-heralded redistribution did not take place, except in favor of those close to the regime.
Ian Smith was himself expropriated, while Doris Lessing, a well-known writer who spent her youth in Rhodesia and a former opponent of the white regime, first criticized the Zimbabwean president's methods.
In 2002, out of 13 million Zimbabweans, 9 million - or 7 in 10 people - lived below the poverty line and one in 2 was unemployed. Demagogic land use and the increasingly violent stigmatization by the country's 50,000 white regime ultimately plunged Zimbabwe into an unprecedented economic and political crisis. The famine now threatened Africa's old bread basket.
The choice of dictatorship
During the presidential election in March 2002, Mugabe was seriously hanged by the MDC leader. Thanks to massive electoral fraud by international observers, he was able to stay in power with 56% of the vote against 41.9%.
Great Britain then tried to organize international sanctions against Zimbabwe with the Commonwealth countries. However, backed by Western countries, the United States and Australia, the British struggled to convince African countries to join them. On the contrary, they were reluctant to sanction any of them and gathered around the dictator to justify his agrarian reform through the abuse of colonialism.
In the summer of 2002, Mugabe gave 2,900 of the 4,500 white farmers an ultimatum to leave their farms. Those who refused to submit were arrested despite different court rulings. Around 197 farmers finally agreed to put their farms at risk. In a new ultimatum in September it appeared that the government had decided that about 95 percent of the farms owned by white Zimbabweans should be redistributed. But these land-grabbing policies and the drought contributed to food shortages across the country.
In 2003 the country was on the verge of civil war with an unemployment rate of over 70% of the labor force. The famine was rampant in the former bread basket of southern Africa. Hunger riots broke out when the land seized from the whites collapsed because the new black farmers lacked the means and the knowledge. The opposition organized general strike days, which were very well attended, but had no effect on the government other than intensifying the repression.
The opposition leader who challenged Mugabe in the last election in 2002 was then tried for high treason. He was finally acquitted in 2004 in view of the death penalty.
In March 2005, in the parliamentary elections, the Zanu-PF won a crushing victory, with 78 seats in parliament against 41 for the Movement for Democratic Change, stunned by the brutality of the regime and the indecision of its leaders to defy Mugabe head-on. Since the Constitution gave the President of Zimbabwe the power to appoint 30 additional MPs, the Zanu-PF ended up having more than two-thirds of the seats. Zimbabwe's expatriates were excluded from voting after the elections as there were no qualified international observers present to ensure they were conducted properly.
Demolition of slums (spring 2005)
Since the elections in March 2005, the human rights situation in Zimbabwe has deteriorated further.
In the spring of 2005, Mugabe decided to destroy the slums on the outskirts of Harare (which were created as a result of the country's severe economic crisis and are forcing many Zimbabweans to look for work in the cities), i.e. the fiefs of the opposition, by pulling the residents into drove out the very poor rural areas. This clean-up, presented in the form of slogans such as "Get rid of garbage" and "Restore order", officially aimed to fight crime and provide adequate housing to the families living in these slums. To help relocate families, the government pledged to spend $ 325 million on building 1.2 million homes or buying land, which should be completed by 2008. But for the opposition it was a punitive measure against those who had not voted for Robert Mugabe's party.
By June 2005, more than 300,000 people had been displaced. The situation was so worrying that a UN special envoy, Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka, director of the UN Agency for Human Settlements (UN-Habitat), was appointed to investigate the destruction and displacement while unifying more than 200 African and international non-governmental organizations made a joint appeal to the African Union to help the people of Zimbabwe. Some of these groups no longer hesitated to compare Mugabe's policies with Pol Pot's in Cambodia in 1975.
On July 22, 2005, UN-Habitat released its report condemning the "catastrophic" demolitions of slums which were carried out "indiscriminately, unjustifiably and with indifference to human suffering" and which sparked a "humanitarian crisis of immense proportions" . "The number of people without a home or job was then estimated at over 700,000 (1.5 million according to the opposition). UN Secretary General Kofi Annan took note of the report and called on the Zimbabwean government to stop the demolition program immediately.
Zimbabwe's foreign minister, Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, condemned the report as "pro-opposition tone" and "greatly exaggerated the number of those affected by the operation". British Prime Minister Tony Blair is also accused of manipulating the UN mission.
Constitutional reform to restrict freedom and justice
On August 30, 2005, the parliament, dominated by the supporters of Robert Mugabe, passed the revision of the constitution, which allows the nationalization of white farms and the intensification of repression against political opponents. One of the constitutional amendments removed the ability for white farmers to go to court.
Another article prohibits Zimbabweans suspected of engaging in terrorist activities or violent political opposition from leaving the country. The text also removes the right to vote from anyone who has at least one foreign relative despite having permanent residence status. It also provides that anyone suspected of violating national "interests" can be excluded from leaving the country. This article thus violates the right to oppression enshrined in human rights.
Today, Zimbabwe is home to more than 10 million people, including around 30,000 whites (mostly elderly) who make up just 0.3 percent of the total population, while more than 3 million Zimbabweans, according to the opposition (mainly from the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) embodied) left the country.
The presidential and parliamentary elections on March 29, 2008
The presidential, local and parliamentary elections on March 29, 2008 took place in a very tense economic, political and social environment. The former granary of southern Africa was then in ruins, with annual hyperinflation of 165,000 percent in February, four out of five adults unemployed, empty shops, repeated food and energy shortages and life expectancy falling to 36 years. The outgoing head of state Robert Mugabe enjoys the tireless support of the police and army as well as a sophisticated system of clientelism, accompanied by repression campaigns or intimidation from rival parties.
Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front - Zanu-Pf), a candidate for a sixth presidential term, meets again Morgan Tsvangirai (Movement for Democratic Change - MDC) and Simba Makoni, a former finance minister and Zanu-PF- Dissidents. In the parliamentary elections taking place at the same time, the MDC and the Zanu-PF are the main competitors.
The elections took place in the absence of most foreign press correspondents and European and American observers, the regime only accepting the presence of observers from African countries or "friends" such as China, Iran or Venezuela. More than 5.9 million voters will be called to vote.
On March 31, two days after the election, the results were delivered drop by drop and appeared to be positive to the opposition. However, the MDC accuses authorities of delaying the results in order to manipulate them in favor of Robert Mugabe. For fear of violence, the security forces are deployed in the capital of the country, while in this tense context the Southern African Development Community (SADC) is subjecting the election results to a blank check before the official results are published, while the MDC accuses the electoral commission and the regime of to be in cahoots with the SADC mission officials?
On April 2, after a long count, the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission finally declared that the MDC received 105 seats (including 5 dissident MDC) out of 210 seats against 93 in the Zanu-PF, which means that the latter could not get a parliamentary majority, even if it did she received the few remaining seats. The Commission also recognizes the defeat of Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, fellow Minister Chen Chimutengwende and the re-election of Vice President Joyce Mujuru. In the Senate, however, the two parties are bound by the figures from the commission. For its part, the MDC announced that Morgan Tsvangirai was elected president with 50.3% of the vote, but no official result has yet been announced.
On April 7, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on the authorities to officially publish the results of the presidential elections, while the ZANU-PF called for a recount. The lack of official publication of the results of the presidential elections made the MDC fear that the electoral commission would manipulate the results. For his part, Robert Mugabe urges Zimbabweans to protect their land from whites, while the Zanu-PF accuses the MDC of trying to stop the redistribution of land to blacks. On April 16, 2008, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on southern Africa to "act decisively" in Zimbabwe, condemning the ongoing political violence, which has resulted in at least two deaths (two opposition figures killed by ZANU-PF supporters) and 157 injured had requested. While the official results of the presidential elections are not yet known 18 days after the election, around fifty members of the opposition, including one deputy, are arrested by the police. According to a Western diplomat, the government had released its troops in the villages previously acquired by Robert Mugabe, which had chosen MDC for the first time. The diplomat testifies to abuse across the country, from people being beaten, houses burned down or hospitals attacked by armed people.
The results of the presidential election were finally published on May 2nd. According to these official results, Morgan Tsvangirai had received almost 48% of the vote, ahead of Robert Mugabe (43%). When the MDC claims that Tsvangirai received 50.3% of the vote, it has no choice but to participate in this second round, but unsuccessfully demands that it take place in the presence of international observers.
The election campaign, scheduled for June 27, 2008, takes place against the backdrop of ongoing political violence marked by "atrocities" by state police against members of the opposition and their families, but also by the arrest of their key leaders, starting with Tsvangirai.
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