Background Notes: Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Official Info - RealAdventures

Background Notes: Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe Official Info


Details of Background Notes: Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Official Info
Details for Background Notes: Zimbabwe

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Primarily of the Bantu group of south and central Africa, the blacks are divided into two major language groups, which are subdivided into several ethnic groups. The Mashona (Shona speakers), who constitute about 75 percent of the population, have lived in the area the longest and are the majority language group. The Matabele (Sindebele speakers), representing about 20 percent of the population and centered in the southwest around Bulawayo, arrived in within the last 150 years. An offshoot of the South African Zulu group, they maintained control over the Mashona until the white occupation of Rhodesia in 1890.

More than half of the whites, primarily of English origin, arrived in Zimbabwe after World War II. Afrikaners from South Africa and other European minorities, including Portuguese from Mozambique, are also present. Until the mid-1970's, there were about 1,000 white immigrants per year, but from 1976 to 1985 a steady emigration resulted in a loss of more than 150,000, leaving approximately 100,000 in 1992. English, the official language, is spoken by the white population and understood, if not always used, by more than half of the blacks.

The literacy rate is estimated at 70%. Primary and secondary schools were segregated until 1979 when racial restrictions were removed. Since independence, the educational system had been systematically enlarged by the Zimbabwean Government which is committed to providing free public education to all citizens on an equal basis. As of the late 1970s, some 50 percent of the African children (5-19 years old) were listed officially as attending rural schools. Today, most African children attend primary school. Primary through post-secondary enrollment has expanded from 1 million to about 2.9 million since independence. About 40 percent of the rural primary schools were destroyed during the Rhodesian conflict, which delayed improvement of the rural education system. Higher education, offered at the University of Zimbabwe in Harare, the new National University of Science and Technology in Bulawayo, the new Africa (Methodist) University in Mutare, several teacher-training colleges, and three technical institutes, are being expanded with assistance from several donor countries.



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Early History

Archaeologists have found stone-age implements and pebble tools in several areas of Zimbabwe, a suggestion of human habitation for many centuries, and the ruins of stone buildings provide evidence of early civilization. The most impressive of these sites is the "Great Zimbabwe" ruins, after which the country is named, located near Masvingo. Evidence suggests that these stone structures were built between the 9th and 13th centuries A.D. by indigenous Africans who had established trading contacts with commercial centers on Africa's southeastern coast.

In the 16th century, the Portuguese were the first Europeans to attempt colonization of south-central Africa, but the hinterland lay virtually untouched by Europeans until the arrival of explorers, missionaries, ivory hunters, and traders some 300 years later. Meanwhile, mass migrations of indigenous peoples took place. Successive waves of more highly developed Bantu peoples from equatorial regions supplanted the original inhabitants and are the ancestors of the region's Africans today.

British Settlement And Administration

In 1888, Cecil Rhodes obtained a concession for mineral rights from local chiefs. Later that year, the area that became Southern and Northern Rhodesia was proclaimed a British sphere of influence. The British South Africa Company was chartered in 1889, and the settlement of Salisbury (now Harare, the capital) was established in 1890. In 1895, the territory was formally named Rhodesia after Cecil Rhodes under the British South Africa Company's administration.

Following the abrogation of the company's charter in 1923, Southern Rhodesia's white settlements were given the choice of being incorporated into the Union of South Africa or becoming a separate entity within the British Empire. The settlers rejected incorporation, and Southern Rhodesia was formally annexed by the United Kingdom that year. Until 1980, Rhodesia was an internally self-governing colony with its own legislature, civil service, armed forces, and police. Although Rhodesia was never administered directly from London, the United Kingdom always retained the right to intervene in the affairs of the colony, particularly in matters affecting Africans.

After 1923, European immigrants concentrated in developing Rhodesia's rich mineral resources and agricultural potential. The settlers' demand for more land led in 1934 to the passage of the first of a series of land apportionment acts that reserved certain areas for Europeans.

In September 1953, Southern Rhodesia was joined in a multiracial Central African Federation with the British protectorate of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland in an effort to pool resources and markets. Although the federation flourished economically, it was opposed by the African population who feared they would not be able to achieve self- government with the federal structure dominated by White Southern Rhodesians. The federation was dissolved at the end of 1963 after much crisis and turmoil, and Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland became the independent states of Zambia and Malawi in 1964.

Unilateral Declaration Of Independence (UDI)

The European electorate in Rhodesia, however, showed little willingness to accede to African demands for increased political participation and progressively replaced more moderate party leaders. In April 1964, Prime Minister Winston Field, accused of not moving rapidly enough to obtain independence from the United Kingdom, was replaced by his deputy, Ian Smith. Prime Minster Smith led his Rhodesian Front Party to an overwhelming victory in the 1965 elections, winning all 50 of the first roll seats and demoralizing the more moderate European opposition.

Although prepared to grant independence to Rhodesia, the United Kingdom insisted that the authorities at Salisbury first demonstrate their intention to move toward eventual majority rule. Desiring to keep their dominant position, the white Rhodesians refused to give such assurances. On November 11, 1965, after lengthy and unsuccessful negotiations with the British Government, Prime Minister Smith issued a Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) from the United Kingdom.

Post-UDI Events

The British government considered the UDI unconstitutional and illegal but made clear that it would not use force to the rebellion. On November 12, 1965, the United Nations also determined the Rhodesian government and UDI to be illegal and called on member states to refrain from assisting or recognizing the Smith regime. The British government imposed sanctions on Rhodesia and requested other nations to do the same.

On December 16, 1966, the UN Security Council, for the first time in this history, imposed mandatory economic sanctions on a state. Rhodesia's primary exports including ferrochrome and tobacco, were replaced on the selective sanctions list, as were shipments of arms, aircraft, motor vehicles, petroleum, and petroleum products to Rhodesia. On May 29, 1968, the Security Council unanimously voted to broaden the sanctions by imposing an almost total embargo on all trade with, investments in, or transfers of funds to Rhodesia and imposed restrictions on air transport to the territory.

In the early 1970s, informal attempts at settlement were renewed between the United Kingdom and the Rhodesian administration. Following the April 1974 coup in Portugal and the resulting shifts of power in Mozambique and Angola, pressure on the Smith regime to negotiate a peaceful settlement began to increase. In addition, sporadic antigovernment guerilla activity which began in the late 1960s, increased dramatically after 1972, causing destruction, economic dislocation, casualties, and a slump in white morale. In 1974, the major African nationalists groups-- the Zimbabwe African Peoples Union (ZAPU), and the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU), which split away from ZAPU in 1963--were united into the "Patriotic Front" and combined their military forces, at least nominally.

In 1976, because of a combination of embargo-related economic hardships, the pressure of guerilla activity, independence and majority rule in the neighboring former Portuguese territories, and a UK-US diplomatic initiative, the Smith government agreed in principle to majority rule and to a meeting in Geneva with black nationalist leaders to negotiate a final settlement of the conflict. Blacks represented at the Geneva meeting included ZAPU leader Joshua Nkomo, ZANU leader Robert Mugabe, UANC chairman bishop Abel Muzorewa, and former ZANU leader Rev. Nadabaningi Sithole. The meeting failed to find a basis for agreement because of Smith's inflexibility and the inability of the black leaders to form a common political front.

On September 1, 1977 a detailed Anglo-American plan was put forward with proposals for majority rule, neutrally administered with pre-independence elections, a democratic constitution and the formation of an integrated army. Reactions were mixed, but no party rejected them. In the interim, on March 3, 1978, the Smith administration signed the "internal settlement" agreement in Salisbury with Bishop Muzorewa, Rev. Sithole, and Chief Jeremiah Chirau. The agreement provided for qualified majority rule and elections with universal suffrage. Following elections in April 1979, in which his UANC party won a majority, Bishop Muzorewa assumed office on June 1, becoming "Zimbabwe-Rhodesia's" first black prime minister. However, the installation of the new black majority government did not end the guerilla conflict that had claimed more than 20,000 lives since 1972.

Shortly after British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's conservative government took power in May 1979, the British began a new round of consultations that culminated in an agreement among the Commonwealth countries as the basis for fresh negotiations among the parties and the British involving a new constitution, free elections and independence.

The British and the African parties began deliberations on a Rhodesian settlement at Lancaster house in London on September 10, 1979. On December 10, 1979, in preparation for the transition under British authority to officially recognized independence, the "Zimbabwe- Rhodesia" reverted de facto to colonial status. On December 12, British Governor Lord Christopher Soames arrived in Salisbury to reassert British authority over the colony. His arrival signaled the end of the Rhodesian rebellion and the "internal settlement," as well as the beginning of Zimbabwe's transition to independence. The United Kingdom lifted all remaining sanctions against Zimbabwe that day. The United States lifted sanctions effective December 16.

On December 21, after three months of hard bargaining, the parties signed an agreement at Lancaster House calling for a ceasefire, new elections, a transition period under British rule, and a new constitution implementing majority rule while protecting minority rights. The agreement specified that upon the granting of independence, the country's name would be Zimbabwe. The same day, the U.N. Security Council endorsed the settlement agreement and formally voted unanimously to call on member nations to remove sanctions.

During the transitions period, nine political parties campaigned for the February 27-29 pre-independence elections. The elections were supervised by the British government and monitored by hundreds of observers, most of whom concluded that, under the prevailing circumstances, the elections were free and fair and reflected the will of the people. Robert Mugabe's ZANU(PF) party won an absolute majority and was asked to form Zimbabwe's first government.

In a series of public statements during the transition period, Prime Minister Mugabe indicated that he was committed to a process of national reconciliation and reconstruction as well as moderate socioeconomic change. His priorities were to integrate the various armed forces, reestablish social services and education in rural areas, and resettle the estimated one million refugees and displaced persons. Mugabe also announced that his government would begin investigating ways of reversing past discriminatory policies in land distribution, education, employment, and wages.

Mugabe stated that Zimbabwe would follow a non-aligned foreign policy while seeking assistance from all actions and would pursue a pragmatic relationship with South Africa. He noted that while Zimbabwe opposed apartheid and would support democratic change in South Africa, it would not provide bases for anti-South African guerillas.

The British government formally granted independence to Zimbabwe on April 18, 1980. Most nations recognized Zimbabwe following independence. The United States was to first nation to open an embassy in Salisbury on that day. Parliament convened for the first time on May 13, 1980. Zimbabwe became a member of the United Nations on August 25, 1980.

In seeking national reconciliation, Prime Minister Mugabe's first cabinet comprised members of ZANU-PF, PF-ZAPU, and independent white members of parliament (MPs) and senators. The government embarked on an ambitious reconstruction and development program and instituted increases in minimum wages. Land redistribution proceeded under four experimental models on land that the government had purchased at market rates from willing sellers.

Zimbabwe Since Independence

Prime Minister Mugabe's policy of reconciliation was generally successful during the country's first two years of independence, as the former political and military opponents began to work together. Although additional blacks were hired to fill new places in the civil service, there was no retribution for those whites who had worked for the Smith regime. Smith and many of his associates held seats in the parliament where they participated freely in debates. Likewise, Joshua Nkomo, Mugabe's rival as leader of the nationalist forces, was included in the first cabinet along with several other members of PF-ZAPU.

Splits soon developed, however. In 1981, several MPs from Smith's party left to sit as "independents," signifying that they did not automatically accept his antigovernment posture. More importantly, government security officials discovered large caches of arms and ammunition on properties owned by ZAPU, and Nkomo and his followers were accused of plotting to overthrow Mugabe's government. Nkomo and his closest aides were expelled from the cabinet.

As a result of what they perceived as persecution of Nkomo (known as "Father Zimbabwe") and of his party, PF-ZAPU supporters, some of them deserters from the army, began a loosely organized and ill- defined campaign of dissidence against the government. Centering primarily in Matabeleland, home of the Ndebeles who were PF-ZAPU's main followers, this dissidence continued through 1987 and involved attacks on government personnel and installations, armed banditry aimed at disrupting security and economic life in the rural areas, and harassment of ZANU-PF members. Occasionally, some demanded the Nkomo and his colleagues be reinstated in the cabinet. More frequently, however, dissidents called for the return of farms and other properties seized from PF-ZAPU.

Because of the unsettled security situation immediately after independence and the continuing anti-government dissidence, the government kept in force a "state of emergency," which was first declared before UDI. This gave government authorities widespread powers under the "Law and Order Maintenance Act," including the right to detain persons without charge.

In 1983-84, the government declared a curfew in areas of Matabeleland and sent in the army in an attempt to suppress dissidents. Credible reports surfaced of widespread violence and disregard for human rights by the security forces during these operations, and the level of political tension rose in the country as a result. Nkomo and his lieutenants repeatedly denied any connection with the dissidents and called for an all-party conference to discuss the political problems facing the country. In the 1985 elections, ZANU-PF increased its majority, holding 67 of the 100 seats. ZANU-PF and PF-ZAPU agreed to unite in December 1987, and the parties formally merged in December 1989.

In October 1987, in accordance with the Lancaster House Accords, the constitution was amended to end the separate roll for white voters and to establish an executive presidency to replace the whites whose reserved seats had been abolished; among the new members were 15 whites in the Senate and House of Assembly. Elections in March of 1990 resulted in another overwhelming victory for Mugabe and his party, which won 117 of the 120 election seats. However, voter turnout was only 54% and the campaign was not free and fair although the actual balloting was. Not satisfied with a de facto one-party state, Mugabe called the ZANU-PF Central Committee to support the creation of a de jure one-party state in September 1990 and lost. The state of emergency was lifted in July 1990. However, though control of the media, the huge parastatal sector of the economy, and the security forces, the government has managed to keep political opposition to minimum.

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According to Zimbabwe's constitution, the president is head of state and ahead of government elected for a 6-year term by popular majority vote.

Parliament consists of the House of Assembly and has up to a 5-year life span. The House of Assembly has 120 members elected by the common-roll electorate, eight governors, 10 chiefs, 12 presidential appointees, the Speaker and the Attorney General.

The Zimbabwean constitution institutionalizes majority rule and protection of minority rights. The elected government controls senior appointments in the public service, including the military and police, and insures that appointments at lower levels are made on an equitable basis by the independent Public Service Commission.

The judiciary is headed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme court who like the other justices is appointed by the President on the advice of the Judicial Service Commission. The constitution has a bill of rights containing extensive protection of human rights. The bill of rights could not be amended for the first ten years of independence except by unanimous vote of the House of Assembly.

Zimbabwe is divided into eight provinces, each administered by a provincial governor appointed by the president. The provincial governor is assisted by the provincial administrator and representatives of several service ministries.

Zimbabwe is governed by President Robert Mugabe and his Zimbabwean African National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), which has dominated the legislative and executive branches since independence in 1980. The ruling party effectively controls 148 of the 150 seats in Parliament. The Constitution allows for multiple parties and there are a number of small, poorly funded and generally poorly organized opposition parties. The two most significant opposition parties-- the Forum Party of Zimbabwe (FPZ), led by former Chief Justice Enoch Dumbutshena, and the United Parties, led by former Zimbabwe-Rhodesia Prime Minister Abel Muzorewa--both advocate strong protection for the Constitutional Bill of Rights and the independence of the judiciary.

Support for ZANU-NDONGA, the only opposition party represented in Parliament (2 seats) is based primarily on regional and tribal loyalties rather than ideology. All three parties bill themselves as pro-business and are highly critical of the Government of Zimbabwe's early socialist policies. Only one party, the Front for Popular Democracy, headed by UK-based Professor Austin Chakaodza, advocates the scrapping of the Economic Structural Adjustment Program.

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Properly managed, Zimbabwe's wide range of resources should enable it to support sustained economic growth. The country has an important percentage of the world's known reserves of metallurgical-grade chromite. Other commercial mineral deposits include coal, asbestos, copper, nickel, gold and iron ore.

Zimbabwe has adequate internal transportation and electrical power networks. Paved roads link the major urban and industrial centers, and rail lines tie it into an extensive central African railroad network with all its neighbors. In non-drought years, it has adequate electrical power, mainly generated by the Kariba Dam on the Zambezi River but augmented since 1983 by large thermal plants adjacent to the Wankie coal field. Telephone service is problematic, and new lines are difficult of obtain.

The manufacturing sector, already well developed before UDI in 1965, was given a major stimulus by the imposition of U.N. sanctions. The sanctions obliged Rhodesian industry to diversify and create many import-substitution undertakings to compensate for loss of traditional sources of imports. Rhodesian processing of local raw materials also grew rapidly. Major growth industries include steel and steel products, heavy equipment, transportation equipment, ferrochrome, textiles, and food processing.

Agriculture is the backbone of the Zimbabwean economy. Corn is the largest crop. Tobacco is the largest export crop followed by cotton.

In the early 1970's, the economy experienced a modest boom. Real per capita earnings for blacks and whites reached record highs, although the disparity in incomes between blacks and whites remained, with blacks earning only about one-tenth as much as whites. After 1975, however, Rhodesia's economy was undermined by the cumulative effects of sanctions, declining earnings from commodity exports, worsening guerilla conflict, and increasing white emigration. When Mozambique severed economic ties, the Smith regime was forced to depend on South Africa for access to the outside world. Real gross domestic product (GDP) declined between 1974 and 1979. An increasing proportion of the national budget (an estimated 30%-40% per year) was allocated to defense, and a large budget deficit raised the public debt burden substantially.

Following the Lancaster House settlement in December 1979, Zimbabwe enjoyed a brisk economic recovery. REAL growth for 1980-81 exceeded 20%. However, depressed foreign demand for the country's mineral exports and the onset of a drought cut sharply into the growth rate in 1982, 1983, and 1984. In 1985, the economy rebounded strongly due to a 30% jump in agricultural production. However it slumped in 1986 to a zero growth rate and registered negative of about minus 3% in 1987 due primarily to drought and foreign-exchange crisis faced by the country. Growth in 1988-90 averaged about 4.5%.

Paragraph on economic reform program began in 1991. Its features, results, and any new data/paragraphs that should be added to this section.

Energy Resources

With considerable hydroelectric power and plentiful coal deposits for thermal power station, Zimbabwe is less dependent on oil as an energy source than most other comparably industrialized countries. Only about 15% of Zimbabwe's total energy consumption is accounted for by oil, all of which is imported. Zimbabwe imports about 1.2 billion liters per year. Dependence on petroleum is managed through the price controls for vehicle fuels, the use of gasohol, and the substitution of diesel- electric locomotives on the railway system. Zimbabwe also has substantial coal reserves that are utilized for power generation, and recently discovered in Matabeleland province are coalbed methane deposits greater than any know natural gas field in Southern or Eastern Africa.

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Since independence, Zimbabwe has enunciated and follows a policy of "active nonalignment". In practice, this has meant that Zimbabwe usually adheres to positions established by the non-aligned movement, the organization of African Unity (OAU), or the commonwealth. Zimbabwe took a particular interest in the search for independence for Namibia (South-West Africa) from South Africa. In addition, as chairman of the Front-line States in southern AFRICA, Zimbabwe has spoken out vigorously against the policies of apartheid in South African and frequently called for the imposition of economic sanctions against Pretoria.

In November 1982, Zimbabwe was chosen by the OAU to hold one of the nonpermanent seats in the U.N. Security Council for the following two years, which brought it onto the center stage of world events and gave it much needed experience in international affairs. In 1986, Zimbabwe was the site of the Non-aligned Movement summit meeting; Prime Minister Mugabe became chairman of that organization, giving both Mugabe and Zimbabwe added international visibility and responsibility.

Zimbabwe maintains embassies in the United States, United Kingdom, Egypt, Angola, Kenya, Senegal, Nigeria, India, Sweden, France, China, Malaysia, Ethiopia, Namibia, Swaziland, Belgium, Tanzania, Botswana, the FRY, Mozambique, Switzerland, Cuba, Canada, Japan, Australia, Germany, India, Italy, Russia, and South Africa. Sixty-six countries are represented in Harare as are several international organizations including U.N. institutions, the European Economic Community, and the World Bank. Zimbabwe is a member of many international organizations including the International Monetary Fund (IMF); African Development Bank; the Commonwealth; Southern African Development Community (SADC); Preferential trade Area for Eastern and Southern Africa (PTA); African Caribbean and Pacific Countries (ACP, in association with the EU); Group of 77 (G-77); Group of 15 (G-15); Non-Aligned Movement (NAM); Organization of African Unity (OAU); Customs Cooperation Council (CCC); and the World Federation of Trade Unions.



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