HISTORY OF ZIMBABWE

Towers of Great Zimbabwe



Pre-colonial era (1000–1887)

Proto-Shona speaking societies first emerged in the middle Limpopo valley in the 9th century before moving on to the Zimbabwean highlands. The Zimbabwean plateau eventually became the center of subsequent Shona states, beginning in ca. the 10th century. Around the early 10th century, trade developed with Muslim merchants on the Indian Ocean coast, helping to develop the Kingdom of Mapungubwe in the 11th century. This was the precursor to the more impressive Shona civilizations that would dominate the region during the 13th to 15th centuries, evidenced by ruins at Great Zimbabwe, near Masvingo, and other smaller sites. The main archaeological site is a unique dry stone architecture.



The Kingdom of Mapungubwe was the first in a series of sophisticated trade states developed in Zimbabwe by the time of the first European explorers from Portugal. They traded in gold, ivory and copper for cloth and glass.



From about 1300 until 1600, Mapungubwe was eclipsed by the Kingdom of Zimbabwe. This Shona state further refined and expanded upon Mapungubwe's stone architecture, which survives to this day at the ruins of the kingdom's capital of Great Zimbabwe. From circa 1450–1760, Zimbabwe gave way to the Kingdom of Mutapa. This Shona state ruled much of the area that is known as Zimbabwe today, and parts of central Mozambique. It is known by many names including the Mutapa Empire, also known as Mwene Mutapa or Monomotapa as well as "Munhumutapa," and was renowned for its gold trade routes with Arabs and the Portuguese. Portuguese settlers destroyed the trade and began a series of wars which left the empire in near collapse in the early 17th century.



As a direct response to Portuguese aggression in the interior, a new Shona state emerged called the Rozvi Empire. Relying on centuries of military, political and religious development, the Rozvi (which means "destroyers") removed the Portuguese from the Zimbabwe plateau by force of arms. The Rozvi continued the stone building traditions of the Zimbabwe and Mapungubwe kingdoms while adding guns to its arsenal and developing a professional army to protect its trade routes and conquests.



Around 1821, the Zulu general Mzilikazi (meaning The Great Road) of the Khumalo clan successfully rebelled from King Shaka and set up his own tribe, the Ndebele. The tribe fought its way northwards into the Transvaal leaving a trail of destruction in its wake and beginning an era of widespread killings and devastation known as the Mfecane. When the Boer settlers (descendants of Dutch and other Europeans) arrived in the Transvaal in 1836 during the Great Trek they attacked the Ndebele and drove the tribe even further northward. In 1837–38, the Rozvi Empire along with other Shona states were conquered by the Ndebele and forced to pay tribute and concentrate in the northeast of present-day Zimbabwe.



After losing the Transvaal in 1840, Mzilikazi and his tribe settled the southwest of present-day Zimbabwe in what became known as Matabeleland and established Bulawayo as their capital. Mzilikazi then organized his followers into a military system with regimental kraals, similar to those of Shaka, which became strong enough to repel the Boer attacks of 1847–1851 and persuade the government of the South African Republic to sign a peace treaty with him in 1852. Mzilikazi died in 1868 and after a brief, violent power struggle was succeed by his son, Lobengula.



Colonial era (1888–1965)

In the 1880s, the British arrived with colonialist Cecil Rhodes's British South Africa Company. In 1888, Rhodes obtained a concession for mining rights from King Lobengula of the Ndebele peoples. He presented this concession to persuade the government of the United Kingdom to grant a royal charter to his British South Africa Company (BSAC) over Matabeleland, and its subject states such as Mashonaland.



Rhodes used this document in 1890 to justify sending the Pioneer Column, a group of white settlers protected by well-armed British South Africa Police (BSAP) through Matabeleland and into Shona territory to establish Fort Salisbury (now Harare). In 1893 and 1894, with the help of their new maxim guns, the BSAP would go on to defeat the Ndebele in the First Matabele War, a war which also resulted in the death of King Lobengula. Rhodes sought permission to negotiate similar concessions covering all territory between the Limpopo River and Lake Tanganyika, then known as "Zambesia".



In accordance with the terms of aforementioned concessions and treaties, Rhodes promoted the colonisation of the region's land, with British control over labour as well as precious metals and other mineral resources. In 1895 the BSAC adopted the name "Rhodesia" for the territory of Zambesia, in honour of Rhodes. In 1898 "Southern Rhodesia" became the official denotation for the region south of the Zambezi, which later became Zimbabwe. The region to the north was administered separately by the BSAC and later named Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia).



Shortly after the disastrous Jameson Raid on the South African Republic, the Ndebele were led by their spiritual leader Mlimo against the white colonials and thus began the Second Matabele War (1896–97). The Shona also staged unsuccessful revolts (known as Chimurenga) against encroachment upon their lands, by clients of BSAC and Cecil Rhodes in 1896 and 1897. Following the failed insurrections of 1896–97 the Ndebele and Shona groups became subject to Rhodes's administration thus precipitating European settlement en masse which led to land distribution disproportionately favouring Europeans, displacing the Shona, Ndebele, and other indigenous peoples.



Southern Rhodesia became a self-governing British colony in October 1923, subsequent to a 1922 referendum. Rhodesians served on behalf of the United Kingdom during World War II, mainly in the East African Campaign against Axis forces in Italian East Africa. Proportional to (European-descended) population, Southern Rhodesia contributed more to both the First and Second World Wars than any other part of the Empire, including Britain itself.



In 1953, in the face of African opposition, Britain consolidated the two colonies of Rhodesia with Nyasaland in the ill-fated Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland which was dominated by Southern Rhodesia. Growing African nationalism and general dissent, particularly in Nyasaland, persuaded Britain to dissolve the Union in 1963, forming three colonies. As colonial rule was ending throughout the continent and as African-majority governments assumed control in neighboring Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) and in Nyasaland (Malawi), the white-minority Rhodesian government led by Ian Smith's Rhodesian Front (RF) dropped the designation "Southern" in 1964 and issued a Unilateral Declaration of Independence (commonly abbreviated to "UDI") from the United Kingdom on 11 November 1965, effectively repudiating the British plan that the country should become a multi-racial democracy. It was the first declaration of independence by a British colony since the American declaration of 1776, which was indeed claimed by the Rhodesian government to provide a precedent.



Independence and civil war (1965–1979)

After UDI, the British government requested United Nations economic sanctions against Rhodesia as negotiations with the Smith administration in 1966 and 1968 ended in stalemate. The United Kingdom deemed the Rhodesian declaration an act of rebellion, but did not re-establish control by force. A civil war ensued, with Joshua Nkomo's Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU) and Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) using assistance from the governments of Zambia and Mozambique (the latter following its independence from Portugal in 1975).



Smith's declaration of a republic in 1970 was recognized only by South Africa, then governed by its apartheid administration. Over the years, the fighting against Ian Smith's government intensified. As a result, the Smith government opened negotiations with the leaders of ZAPU and ZANU.



In March 1978, with his regime near the brink of collapse, Smith signed an accord with three African leaders, led by Bishop Abel Muzorewa, who offered safeguards for white civilians. As a result of the Internal Settlement, elections were held in April 1979. The United African National Council (UANC) party won a majority in this election. On 1 June 1979, the leader of UANC, Abel Muzorewa, became the country's prime minister and the country's name was changed to Zimbabwe Rhodesia. The internal settlement left control of the country's police, security forces, civil service and judiciary in white hands. It assured whites of about one-third of the seats in parliament. On 12 June, the United States Senate voted to end economic sanctions against Zimbabwe Rhodesia.



Following the fifth Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), held in Lusaka, Zambia from 1 August to 7 August in 1979, the British government invited Muzorewa and the leaders of the Patriotic Front to participate in a constitutional conference at Lancaster House. The purpose of the conference was to discuss and reach an agreement on the terms of an independence constitution and that elections should be supervised under British authority to enable Rhodesia to proceed to legal independence and the parties to settle their differences by political means.



Lord Carrington, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom, chaired the conference. The conference took place from 10 September to 15 December in 1979 with 47 plenary sessions. On 1 December 1979, delegations from the British and Rhodesian governments and the Patriotic Front signed the Lancaster House Agreement, ending the civil war.



Post-Independence (1980–1999)

Britain's Lord Soames was appointed governor to oversee the disarming of revolutionary fighters, the holding of elections and the granting of independence to an uneasy coalition government with Joshua Nkomo, head of ZAPU. In the elections of February 1980, Mugabe and his ZANU won a landslide victory.



There was opposition to a Shona win in Matabeleland. In November 1980 Enos Nkala made remarks at a rally in Bulawayo, in which he warned ZAPU that ZANU would deliver a few blows against them. This started the first Entumbane uprising, in which ZIPRA and ZANLA fought for two days.



In February 1981 there was a second uprising, which spread to Glenville and also to Connemara in the Midlands. ZIPRA troops in other parts of Matabeleland headed for Bulawayo to join the battle, and ex-Rhodesian units had to come in to stop the fighting. Over 300 people were killed.



These uprisings led to what has become known as Gukurahundi (Shona: "the early rain which washes away the chaff before the spring rains") or the Matabeleland Massacres, which ran from 1982 until 1985. Mugabe used his North Korean trained Fifth Brigade to crush any resistance in Matabeleland. It has been estimated that at least 20,000 Matabele were murdered and tens of thousands of others were tortured in camps such as the Valagwe camp, where 2-3000 people could be detained for torture and interrogation at any one time. The violence ended after ZANU and ZAPU reached a unity agreement in 1988 that merged the two parties, creating ZANU-PF.



Elections in March 1990 resulted in another victory for Mugabe and his party, which won 117 of the 120 election seats. Election observers estimated voter turnout at only 54% and found the campaign neither free nor fair.



During the 1990s students, trade unionists and workers often demonstrated to express their discontent with the government. Students protested in 1990 against proposals for an increase in government control of universities and again in 1991 and 1992 when they clashed with police. Trade unionists and workers also criticised the government during this time. In 1992 police prevented trade unionists from holding anti-government demonstrations. In 1994 widespread industrial unrest weakened the economy. In 1996 civil servants, nurses, and junior doctors went on strike over salary issues. The general health of the civilian population also began to significantly flounder. By 1997 an estimated 25% of the population of Zimbabwe had been infected by HIV, the AIDS virus.



Economic difficulties and hyperinflation (1999–2011)

Land issues, which the liberation movement had promised to solve, re-emerged as the main issue for the ruling party around 1997. Despite majority rule and the existence of a "willing-buyer-willing-seller" land reform programme since the 1980s, whites made up less than 1% of the population but held about 70% of the most arable land. Mugabe began to redistribute land to blacks in 2000 with a compulsory land redistribution.



Eventually a wide range of sanctions were imposed by the US government and European Union against the person of Mugabe, individuals, private companies, parastatals, and the government of Zimbabwe.



The legality and constitutionality of the process has regularly been challenged in the Zimbabwean High and Supreme Courts. The confiscation of the farmland was affected by continuous droughts and lack of inputs and finance led to a sharp decline in agricultural exports, which was traditionally the country's leading export producing sector. Mining and tourism have surpassed agriculture. As a result, Zimbabwe experienced a severe hard-currency shortage that led to hyperinflation and chronic shortages in imported fuel and consumer goods. In 2002, Zimbabwe was suspended from the Commonwealth of Nations on charges of human rights abuses during the land redistribution and of election tampering. In 2003, the Zimbabwe government withdrew its Commonwealth membership.



Following elections in 2005, the government initiated "Operation Murambatsvina", an effort to crack down on illegal markets and homes that had seen slums emerge in towns and cities. This action has been widely condemned by opposition and international figures, who charge that it has left a substantial section of urban poor homeless. The Zimbabwe government has described the operation as an attempt to provide decent housing to the population although they have yet to deliver any new housing for the forcibly removed people.



Zimbabwe's current economic and food crisis, described by some observers as the country's worst humanitarian crisis since independence, has been attributed in varying degrees to the government's price controls and land confiscations, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and a drought affecting the entire region.



Life expectancy at birth for males in Zimbabwe has dramatically declined since 1990 from 60 to 42 years, among the lowest in the world. The amount of time a Zimbabwean citizen is expected to live healthily from birth is 39 years. Concurrently, the infant mortality rate has climbed from 53 to 81 deaths per 1,000 live births in the same period. As of 2009 1.2 million Zimbabweans live with HIV.



On 29 March 2008, Zimbabwe held a presidential election along with a parliamentary election. The three major candidates were Robert Mugabe of the Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change – Tsvangirai (MDC-T), and Simba Makoni, an independent. The results of this election were withheld for two weeks, following which it was generally acknowledged that the MDC had achieved a majority of one seat in lower house of parliament. Mugabe retained control because after the "recount" which was done behind close doors without independent monitors Tsvangirai no longer had the margin required by Zimbabwean law. Hence, the doctored election results that would otherwise put Mugabe out of power, failed the opposition.



In late 2008, problems in Zimbabwe reached crisis proportions in the areas of living standards, public health (with a major cholera outbreak in December) and various public considerations.Mining of diamonds at Marange in Chiadzwa became the subject of international attention as the World Diamond Council called for a clampdown on smuggling and supposed illegal miners killings by the military.



2012–present

In September 2008, a power-sharing agreement was reached between Mugabe and Tsvangirai, in which Mugabe remained president and Tsvangirai became prime minister. Due to ministerial differences between their respective political parties, the agreement was not fully implemented until 13 February 2009, two days after the swearing in of Tsvangirai as Prime Minister of Zimbabwe.



In November 2010, the IMF described the Zimbabwean economy as "completing its second year of buoyant economic growth after a decade of economic decline", mentioning "strengthening policies" and "favorable shocks" as main reasons for the economic growth.



In December 2010 President Mugabe threatened to further expropriate privately-owned companies unless "western sanctions" were lifted. He said: "Why should we continue having companies and organizations that are supported by Britain and America without hitting back? Time has come for us to revenge. We can read the riot act and say this is 51 percent we are taking and if the sanctions persist we are taking over 100 percent."



Wikipedia