Zimbabwe History

Zimbabwe History

Zimbabwe owes its name to a city that was probably founded around 800 and later became the center of the Bantu empire Monomotapa (see Zimbabwe ruins).

In the first half of the 19th century the Bantu people of the Ndebele immigrated and subjugated the people of the Shona. At the same time the first white settlers came to the area of ​​today’s Zimbabwe. In the mid-19th century, it was David Livingstone, a Scottish explorer and missionary, who explored the country (including giving the Victoria Falls its name in honor of the British Queen). In 1888, Cecil Rhodes acquired the first mining concessions from Lobengula, King of the Ndebele. Rhodes’ British South African Company was granted sovereignty by the British crown and took possession of the area of ​​”South Rhodesia” (1895) after a so-called land transfer agreement was signed with the Ndebee king and it recognized the British protectorate.

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Until 1923 the country was under the administration of the Britsh South African Company. Riots by the two leading ethnic groups Shona and Ndebele were bloodily suppressed. Southern Rhodesia became a colony of the British crown, self-administered by white settlers. In 1930 the country was divided into settlement areas for whites and Africans by land distribution law. In fact, this meant that around four fifths of the country was owned by whites within a few years. Despite official racial equality, blacks were excluded from political life.

In the mid-1950s, smaller black political groups began to form, which formed the African National Congress (ANC) and called for general and free elections. The ANC has been banned, as have other groups, and members have been arrested repeatedly over the years. At this point in time, the political liberation movement saw a split into two camps, one of which was ethnic and deepened in the following years: The Ndebele were predominantly supporters of the African People’s Union (ZAPU, Zimbabwe’s African People’s Union), who supported the majority of the Shona the African National Union (ZANU, Zimbabwe African National Union).

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According to AbbreviationFinder, Britain, which had ruled the Rhodesian Front since 1962 and led by White Ian Smith, was denied independence because the political equality of the black African minority was not guaranteed. As a result, in 1965 the Rhodesian white minority government unilaterally declared independence. The Republic of Rhodesia was proclaimed in 1970 (the prefix “South” has been omitted since 1965). In the mid-1970s, the government had to give up its uncompromising stance under increasing international pressure and due to the ongoing guerrilla war: parts of the black political movement were involved in the government. In 1979 a new constitution was issued that proclaimed the right of the blacks to participate. The country was now called Zimbabwe Rhodesia. In 1980 Robert Gabriel Mugabe ‘ s ZANU party received almost three quarters of the seats in parliament, Mugabe himself became prime minister. The ZAPU party under Joshua Nkomo was also involved in the government.

The Republic of Zimbabwe with the capital Harare (formerly Salisbury) declared independence on April 18, 1980. The patriotic front formed by ZAPU and ZANU before the decisive elections did not last long: Mugabe increasingly pushed his strongest adversary Nkomo out of the government and propagated a one-party system with his party. The constitutional changes in 1987 introduced the presidential system, which abolished seats of parliament that had previously been reserved for whites, and Mugabe, president with increased powers. A merger of ZAPU and ZANU led to the ZANU-PF party chaired by Mugabe (December 1989). In the 1990 elections, the new party got almost all seats. A riot by the government soon caused renewed unrest.to take white large landowners for a certain amount of compensation and to redistribute them among the population. Mugabe was reappointed in 1996, but the extremely low turnout indicated the election boycott of the opposition parties, which accused the president and his party of incompetence and corruption. Natural disasters such as the long-lasting drought in 1992 and strict government austerity measures had led to high unemployment and poor economic conditions for the population. In February 2000, the economic situation in Zimbabwe deteriorated again as a result of a severe flood disaster. In the run-up to the elections in the same year, the ruling party ZANU-PF was accused ofto prevent genuinely fair and free elections by targeted intimidation attempts and violent attacks on farms of supporters of the opposition party “Movement for Democratic Change” (MDC).

In the June 2000 election, the ruling party lost its two-thirds majority and suffered heavy losses, but remained in power. Robert Mugabe was confirmed in office in March 2002; however, the opposition and the western states did not recognize the election result; Zimbabwe was excluded from the Commonwealth for one year and nine months. The European Union (EU) and the USA had previously issued a ban on entry and sanctions due to a new media law restricting press freedom. In 2005, the ZANU-PF was again able to achieve a two-thirds majority in the parliamentary elections. Because of the worsening economic crisis, the Mugabe government stepped up repression measures against the opposition, Unions and Human Rights Movements (renewed constitutional change in September).

A runoff election was necessary in the presidential elections in March 2008; Mugabe’s opponent, MDC chairman Morgan Tsvangirai, declined to participate due to ongoing violence against his followers. Mugabe was confirmed in office in June. The opposition achieved a slight majority in the parliamentary elections taking place at the same time. Under the mediation of South Africa, the government and the opposition agreed to negotiations for a division of power: an agreement was signed in September, which Mugabe established as president and Tsvangirai as head of government – but not implemented. Due to the total political and economic standstill, Zimbabwe was on the verge of collapse at the end of 2008.In mid-February 2009, the transitional government consisting of all three parties was finally formed. Mugabe remained president. Morgan Tsvangirai became the new prime minister. The coalition government was shaped by an unequal distribution of power in favor of President Mugabe; the main agreements of the agreement were again not implemented. However, the economy was quickly stabilized by the introduction of the US dollar and the South African rand.

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The government parties agreed at the beginning of 2012 to jointly promote the adoption of a new constitutional text drawn up in a constitutional committee. The draft guarantees separation of powers and free and regular elections. The President’s term of office is limited to two five-year mandates, and his immunity ends at the end of the term. People are better protected from arbitrary arrests and persecution. The new constitution was adopted in the referendum of March 16, 2013 with a 95% majority. Parliamentary and presidential elections were held in July 2013. Mugabe received 61% of the vote. The ZANU-PF now holds a two-thirds majority in parliament.

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