Zimbabwe History

By | November 28, 2021

The residents of what is now Zimbabwe have been mining ore (especially gold) since around 900 AD; the first stone city complexes emerged (Zimbabwe, ruins). Around 1450, the Monomotapa empire was formed under Shona rulers, which split around 1490. The southern part, the Urozwi Empire, existed until 1820. In the period that followed, several Nguni peoples, driven to migrate from the south by the founding of the Zulu state under Chaka , broke in one after the other. At the beginning of the 19th century, the Nguni people of the Ndebele settled here; the Shona were partly subjugated and partly assimilated.

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In 1889/90 the British South Africa Company (BSAC) under C. Rhodes occupied the area between Limpopo and Zambezi (later Southern Rhodesia, Rhodesia) with troops and settlers, after the BSAC had secured the mining rights through a contract with the Ndebele. In 1891 the British government declared the country a protectorate; however, it remained under the administration of the BSAC. Ndebele uprisings (1893/94 and 1896) were put down. In 1923, Southern Rhodesia became a British crown colony with internal self-government. Black Africans only gained the right to vote in isolated cases; the government remained entirely in the hands of the whites. In 1930 the colony was divided into settlement areas for whites and blacks. In 1953 Great Britain united Southern Rhodesia with Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland to formCentral African Federation, which broke up in 1963. Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland became independent as Zambia and Malawi in 1964, while Southern Rhodesia now referred to itself as Rhodesia alone.

After the election victory of the radical Rhodesian Front (RF) Prime Minister I. D. Smith declared against Great Britain’s refusal to give Rhodesia independence without full government participation of the black populationon November 11, 1965 “unilaterally”, d. H. without agreement with the British government, independence on the basis of a white minority rule. As a reaction to this, Great Britain stated that its responsibility under constitutional and international law continued, declared the “unilateral declaration of independence” illegal and imposed economic sanctions, which were declared binding worldwide by the UN Security Council in 1966, but had only limited effects. In 1970 the Republic of Rhodesia was proclaimed. While the British government was negotiating a resolution of the constitutional conflict with the Smith government until 1979, ZAPU (mainly based on the Ndebele ethnic minority and led by J. Nkomo ) and ZANU (mainly based on the majority of the Shona and led by R. G. Mugabe ), 1976–79 in the Patriotic Front (PF), with the support of v. a. of Zambia, Tanzania and (since 1975) Mozambique started the guerrilla war against the white minority rule in Rhodesia.

Robert Gabriel Mugabe. In the course of his reign he developed into an authoritarian politician who is responsible for the economic and political crisis in his country.

After the failure of the Geneva Rhodesia Conference in 1976, Prime Minister Smith and Bishop A. T. Muzorewa, who headed the United African National Council (UANC) represented the state-approved opposition, and ZANU founder Pastor Ndabaningi Sithole , bypassing the militant liberation movements in 1978, agreed a » internal solution «in the constitutional question: It left the parliamentary majority to the black population and guaranteed the office of prime minister to the leader of the strongest black faction, but secured the whites a parliamentary blocking minority against constitutional changes as well as important leadership positions, v. a. in the military and police.

After the UANC won the April 1979 elections on this basis, Muzorewa became first black prime minister of the country officially renamed “Zimbabwe-Rhodesia”. Since this government was not recognized by either Great Britain or the PF, the forces directly affected by the Rhodesia question decided at a conference in London (September – December 1979) in the Lancaster House Agreement to temporarily return Zimbabwe-Rhodesia to direct rule Great Britain, a ceasefire (under the supervision of Commonwealth observers), a constitution and the holding of elections (prepared by the British Governor General, who was appointed for the transitional period), in which in February 1980 the RF won all 20 seats reserved for the whites; of the 80 seats reserved for blacks, the ZANU 57, ZAPU 20 and UANC won 3. On April 18. In 1980 Great Britain granted the country independence under the name Zimbabwe. The tension between the supporters of Mugabe and Nkomo , aggravated by tribal differences, remained, however. In the 1980s there were repeated massacres by government forces in Matabeleland, in which at least 20,000 Ndebele were killed.

Prime Minister Mugabe and the ZANU led by him, which forced the merger with the ZAPU in 1987, emphasized “scientific socialism” as a political guideline, but initially spared the private sector of white farmers, black farmers and capital investors from industrialized countries. In its foreign policy, Zimbabwe joined the non-aligned countries. In 1990 the state of emergency that had been in force for 25 years was lifted. After Mugabe had already been proclaimed President of the Republic by Parliament in December 1987, the population confirmed him in March 1990 and 1996 in this office; second vice president was 1990-96 Nkomo . By Mugabe The pursued idea of ​​a one-party state was abandoned in 1990, but Zimbabwe remained a state dominated by the ZANU-PF and its president. As a result of the difficult economic situation, especially of the black population, there were repeated protests and strikes (especially in 1996). As an opposition alliance, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was formed in 1999 under M. Tsvangirai . In the parliamentary elections in June 2000, the ruling ZANU-PF lost the two-thirds majority necessary for constitutional amendments for the first time; the opposition won a total of 58 of the 150 seats in parliament. The presidential elections, which were neither free nor fair, at the beginning of March 2002 according to an assessment by an observer committee, confirmed Mugabe in office for a further six years; they took place under intimidation and violence as well as changing the franchise in Mugabe’s favor. In response to these elections, Zimbabwe’s membership of the Commonwealth was suspended for one year at the end of March 2002. Since membership was to remain suspended thereafter, Zimbabwe declared its withdrawal from the Commonwealth in December 2003. As early as February 2002, the European Union imposed sanctions against the country (including arms embargo) and against President Mugabe and other leading members of his regime (including entry bans in EU countries, freezing of their accounts) by the European Union, which were extended several times.

After a constitutional referendum in February 2000, which inter alia. should give the president greater authority and enable white farmers to expropriate land. On April 6, 2000, Parliament finally passed a law on land reform, which permitted the expropriation of land owned by white farmers without compensation, obliged Great Britain to compensate white farmers and provided for the land to be given to black people. The 4,000 or so white farmers, who so far were Zimbabwe’s largest employers and employed more than 200,000 farm workers, were given an ultimatum in May 2002 to leave their country by August 2002. Despite serious acts of violence against the large farmers and the threat of fines or imprisonment, initially only a few farmers complied with this request; however, by mid-2004 almost all of their farms had given up. The land reform plunged Zimbabwe into a famine and severe domestic political crisis.

After mass protests in June 2003 against the policies of the Mugabe government, the opposition leader was M. Tsvangirai (MDC) temporarily detained. In the parliamentary elections in April 2005, which were marked by irregularities, the ruling ZANU-PF again achieved a two-thirds majority necessary for constitutional amendments, which it had lost in the 2000 elections. The domestic political situation worsened when, at the instigation of the government, the shelters of the poor population in Harare and other cities were destroyed in May 2005 on the grounds of fighting crime. As a result, around 700,000 people lost their homes in these areas, which are regarded as centers of opposition. The crisis in the infrastructure and the food supply escalated in the period that followed. The inflation rate reached 1,000% at the beginning of May 2006. Against the currency collapse and the shadow economy, the regime tried in August 2006, proceed with a currency reform. All old Zimbabwean dollars (Z. $) should be exchanged within just three weeks, with a maximum exchange amount of 100 million Z. $ (1,000 US- $) per day. The measure could only be carried out with the use of the military. Over 2,000 people were arrested. Despite the drastic devaluation, the intervention was unsuccessful: According to expert estimates, the inflation rate at the end of 2006 was 1,800%, the most important consumer goods were still only available at black market prices. The Zimbabwean opposition party MDC repeatedly organized public protests against the dramatic impoverishment of the population. In September 2006, the MDC, trade unions, student and citizen associations joined forces to form an action alliance whose rallies were severely suppressed by the police. The low yields in agriculture made the country dependent on foreign food aid, as Zimbabwe does not have the foreign currency for the necessary imports. The government tried to curb inflation by a six-month wage and price freeze in September 2007, which, according to official figures, had reached 8,000% by the end of the year. In the same year an amendment to the constitution was passed, including included an increase in the number of parliamentary seats from 150 to 210 and the simultaneous holding of presidential and parliamentary elections. In December 2007, the ZANU-PF determined Mugabe , as a candidate for the presidential election.

Zimbabwe History