Zimbabwe Political Situation

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Zimbabwe Political Situation


Zimbabwe suffered protracted conflict even before the collapse of the Federation of Rhodesia(s) and Nyasaland—made up of Nyasaland (now Malawi), Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) and Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe); creating an environment of peace and stability in the independent Zimbabwe of 1980 therefore meant surmounting several major challenges. The process was expected to overcome entrenched and inherited socio-political legacies and the regional geo-strategic security dynamics that had developed, as well as to overcome the deep divisions that had grown between the nationalists during the period of armed struggle. It is against this backdrop that the Zimbabwe's Political History was established and evolved from the independence elections of February/March 1980.

Zimbabwe Political Situation


The minority regime in Rhodesia then continued policies that perpetuated the colonial status quo. Stated briefly, the territory was occupied in September 1890 by the British South Africa Company, a commercial company armed with a royal charter, which was owned and financed by former Cape province Premier Cecil John Rhodes. From the time of military occupation, interaction with the local people was characterised by the violent dispossession of fertile land, cattle theft and other domestic assets. Able-bodied Africans were coerced into offering their labour for no payment, and were politically marginalised based on race and property ownership in the new cash economy. Meanwhile, the colonials' conduct drew vociferous protests from victims—that is, the African majority population. Significantly, UDI in Rhodesia enjoyed the support of the United States (US)1 and Great Britain.2 Nationalist armed struggle against the Rhodesian Front therefore had domestic, regional and international dimensions.


While decolonisation and African majority rule had become a reality in Malawi and Zambia in 1964, the minority white settler regime under the Rhodesian Front (RF) in then Rhodesia issued a Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) on 11 November 1965. It then set about creating a formidable military machine aimed at crushing African aspirations for independence—with assistance from the neighbouring imperial and colonial-dominated states of Portuguese East Africa and South Africa. Military reorganisation included creating the Joint Operations Command (JOC) to formally integrate the operations of the police, army and air force.


During the late 1950s a major umbrella political party, the National Democratic Party (NDP), had emerged in Rhodesia as part of the federation-wide African and labour unions, based on political consciousness and formal organisation. The NDP was banned by 1960, but soon re-emerged as the Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU). However, in May 1963 ZAPU split on regional, ethnic and strategic differences over the execution of civil disobedience and later armed struggle against the RF government—this division was to remain in place for the next 24 years.3 The new splinter movement, the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU), drew its supporters from Mashonaland and Manicaland.


Both ZAPU and ZANU drew recruits from the emerging military faction that was already evolving in Zambia and Tanzania.4 Based on the post-1963 nationalist political divisions, ZAPU formed the Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA), while ZANU created the Zimbabwe ...
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