Independence Day Of The Republic Of Zimbabwe
Independence Day Of The Republic Of Zimbabwe
WAELE AFRICA Foundation Wishes to congratulate the government and people of Zimbabwe on the occasion of her 41st independence. We wish your country and all its people happiness, continued success and prosperity.
History of Zimbabwe
Following the Lancaster House Agreement of 1979 there was a transition to internationally recognized majority rule in 1980; the United Kingdom ceremonially granted Zimbabwe independence on 18 April that year. In the 2000s Zimbabwe’s economy began to deteriorate due to various factors, including, the imposition of economic sanctions by western countries led by the United Kingdom, and also due to wide spread corruption in government. Economic instability caused a lot of Zimbabweans to move overseas or to neighboring countries. Prior to its recognized independence as Zimbabwe in 1980, the nation had been known by several names: Rhodesia, Southern Rhodesia and Zimbabwe Rhodesia.
Prior to the arrival of Bantu speakers in present-day Zimbabwe the region was populated by ancestors of the San people. The first Bantu-speaking farmers arrived during the Bantu expansion around 2000 years ago.
These Bantu speakers were the makers of early Iron Age pottery belonging to the Silver Leaves or Matola tradition, third to fifth centuries A.D., found in southeast Zimbabwe. This tradition was part of the eastern stream of Bantu expansion (sometimes called Kwale) which originated west of the Great Lakes, spreading to the coastal regions of southeastern Kenya and north eastern Tanzania, and then southwards to Mozambique, south eastern Zimbabwe and Natal. More substantial in numbers in Zimbabwe were the makers of the Ziwa and Gokomere ceramic wares, of the fourth century A.D. Their early Iron Age ceramic tradition belonged to the highlands facies of the eastern stream, which moved inland to Malawi and Zimbabwe. Imports of beads have been found at Gokomere and Ziwa sites, possibly in return for gold exported to the coast.
A later phase of the Gokomere culture was the Zhizo in southern Zimbabwe. Zhizo communities settled in the Shashe-Limpopo area in the tenth century. Their capital there was Schroda (just across the Limpopo River from Zimbabwe). Many fragments of ceramic figurines have been recovered from there, figures of animals and birds, and also fertility dolls. The inhabitants produced ivory bracelets and other ivory goods. Imported beads found there and at other Zhizo sites, are evidence of trade, probably of ivory and skins, with traders on the Indian Ocean coast.
Pottery belonging to a western stream of Bantu expansion (sometimes called Kalundu) has been found at sites in northeastern Zimbabwe, dated from the seventh century. (The western stream originated in the same area as the eastern stream: both belong to the same style system, called by Phillipson the Chifumbadze system, which has general acceptance by archaeologists.)
The terms eastern and western streams represent the expansion of the Bantu speaking peoples in terms of their culture. Another question is the branches of the Bantu languages which they spoke. It seems that the makers of the Ziwa/Gokomere wares were not the ancestral speakers of the Shona languages of today’s Zimbabwe, who did not arrive in there until around the tenth century, from south of the Limpopo river, and whose ceramic culture belonged to the western stream. The linguist and historian Ehret believes that in view of the similarity of the Ziwa/Gokomere pottery to the Nkope of the ancestral Nyasa language speakers, the Ziwa/Gokomere people spoke a language closely related to the Nyasa group. Their language, whatever it was, was superseded by the ancestral Shona languages, although Ehret says that a set of Nyasa words occur in central Shona dialects today.
The evidence that the ancestral Shona speakers came from South Africa is that the ceramic styles associated with Shona speakers in Zimbabwe from the thirteenth to the seventeenth centuries can be traced back to western stream (Kalunndu) pottery styles in South Africa. The Ziwa /Gokomere and Zhizo traditions were superseded by Leopards Kopje and Gumanye wares of the Kalundu tradition from the tenth century.
Although the western stream Kalundu tradition was ancestral to Shona ceramic wares, the closest relationships of the ancestral Shona language according to many linguists were with a southern division of eastern Bantu – such languages as the southeastern languages (Nguni, Sotho-Tswana, Tsonga), Nyasa and Makwa. While it may well be the case that the people of the western stream spoke a language belonging to a wider Eastern Bantu division, it is a puzzle which remains to be resolved that they spoke a language most closely related to the languages just mentioned, all of which are today spoken in southeastern Africa.
After the Shona speaking people moved into the present day Zimbabwe many different dialects developed over time in the different parts of the country. Among these was Kalanga.
Towers of Great Zimbabwe.
It is believed that Kalanga 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 centre of subsequent Kalanga states. 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 1250 until 1450, Mapungubwe was eclipsed by the Kingdom of Zimbabwe.
This Kalanga 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 Kalanga 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 Mwenemutapa was known for its gold trade routes with Arabs and the Portuguese. However, 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 Kalanga state emerged called the Rozwi Empire. Relying on centuries of military, political and religious development, the Rozwi (which means “destroyers”) removed the Portuguese from the Zimbabwe plateau by force of arms. The Rozwi 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 of the Khumalo clan successfully rebelled from King Shaka and created his own clan, the Ndebele. The Ndebele fought their way northwards into the Transvaal, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake and beginning an era of widespread devastation known as the Mfecane. When Dutch trekboers converged on the Transvaal in 1836, they drove the tribe even further northward. By 1838, the Rozwi Empire, along with the other Shona states remained unconquered by the Ndebele.
After losing their remaining South African lands in 1840, Mzilikazi and his tribe permanently settled the southwest of present-day Zimbabwe in what became known as Matabeleland, establishing Bulawayo as their capital. Mzilikazi then organised his society into a military system with regimental kraals, similar to those of Shaka, which was stable enough to repel further Boer incursions. Mzilikazi died in 1868 and, following a violent power struggle, was succeeded by his son, Lobengula.
In the 1880s, the British arrived with Cecil Rhodes’ British South Africa Company. In 1898, the name Southern Rhodesia was adopted. In 1888, British colonialist Cecil Rhodes obtained a concession for mining rights from King Lobengula of the Ndebele peoples. Cecil Rhodes 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 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, Cecil 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 Cecil 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).
The Shona 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 referendum held the previous year. Many 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.
In 1953, in the face of African opposition, Britain consolidated the two colonies of Rhodesia with Nyasaland (now Malawi) 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 the UK 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 neighbouring Northern Rhodesia and in Nyasaland, the white-minority Rhodesian government led by Ian Smith made a Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) from the United Kingdom on 11 November 1965.
The United Kingdom deemed this an act of rebellion, but did not re-establish control by force. The white minority government declared itself a republic in 1970. A civil war ensued, with Joshua Nkomo’s ZAPU and Robert Mugabe’s ZANU using assistance from the governments of Zambia and Mozambique. Although Smith’s declaration was not recognised by the United Kingdom nor any other foreign power, Southern Rhodesia dropped the designation “Southern”, and claimed nation status as the Republic of Rhodesia in 1970 although this was not recognised internationally.
Independence and the 1980s
The country gained official independence as Zimbabwe on 18 April 1980. The government held independence celebrations in Rufaro stadium in Salisbury, the capital. Lord Christopher Soames, the last Governor of Southern Rhodesia, watched as Charles, Prince of Wales, gave a farewell salute and the Rhodesian Signal Corps played “God Save the Queen”. Many foreign dignitaries also attended, including Prime Minister Indira Gandhi of India, President Shehu Shagari of Nigeria, President Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, President Seretse Khama of Botswana, and Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser of Australia, representing the Commonwealth of Nations. Bob Marley sang ‘Zimbabwe’, a song he wrote, at the government’s invitation in a concert at the country’s independence festivities.
President Shagari pledged $15 million at the celebration to train Zimbabweans in Zimbabwe and expatriates in Nigeria. Mugabe’s government used part of the money to buy newspaper companies owned by South Africans, increasing the government’s control over the media. The rest went to training students in Nigerian universities, government workers in the Administrative Staff College of Nigeria in Badagry, and soldiers in the Nigerian Defence Academy in Kaduna. Later that year Mugabe commissioned a report by the BBC on press freedom in Zimbabwe. The BBC issued its report on 26 June, recommending the privatisation of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation and its independence from political interests. See also: Foreign relations of Zimbabwe.
Mugabe’s government changed the capital’s name from Salisbury to Harare on 18 April 1982 in celebration of the second anniversary of independence. The government renamed the main street in the capital, Jameson Avenue, in honour of Samora Machel, President of Mozambique.
The new Constitution provided for an executive President as Head of State with a Prime Minister as Head of Government. Reverend Canaan Banana served as the first President. In government amended the Constitution in 1987 to provide for an Executive President and abolished the office of Prime Minister. The constitutional changes came into effect on 1 January 1988 with Robert Mugabe as President. The bicameral Parliament of Zimbabwe had a directly elected House of Assembly and an indirectly elected Senate, partly made up of tribal chiefs.
The Constitution established two separate voters rolls, one for the black majority, who had 80% of the seats in Parliament, and the other for whites and other ethnic minorities, such as Coloureds, people of mixed race, and Asians, who held 20%. The government amended the Constitution in 1986, eliminating the voter rolls and replacing the white seats with seats filled by nominated members. Many white MPs joined ZANU which then reappointed them. In 1990 the government abolished the Senate and increased the House of Assembly’s membership to include members nominated by the President.
Prime Minister Mugabe kept Peter Walls, the head of the army, in his government and put him in charge of integrating the Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA), Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA), and the Rhodesian Army. While Western media outlets praised Mugabe’s efforts at reconciliation with the white minority, tension soon developed. On 17 March 1980, after several unsuccessful assassination attempts Mugabe asked Walls, “Why are your men trying to kill me?” Walls replied, “If they were my men you would be dead.”
BBC news interviewed Walls on 11 August 1980. He told the BBC that he had asked British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to annul the 1980 election prior to the official announcement of the result on the grounds that Mugabe used intimidation to win the election. Walls said Thatcher had not replied to his request. On 12 August British government officials denied that they had not responded, saying Antony Duff, Deputy Governor of Salisbury, told Walls on 3 March that Thatcher would not annul the election.
Minister of Information Nathan Shamuyarira said the government would not be “held ransom by racial misfits” and told “all those Europeans who do not accept the new order to pack their bags.” He also said the government continued to consider taking “legal or administrative action” against Walls. Mugabe, returning from a visit with United States President Jimmy Carter in New York City, said, “One thing is quite clear—we are not going to have disloyal characters in our society.” Walls returned to Zimbabwe after the interview, telling Peter Hawthorne of Time magazine, “To stay away at this time would have appeared like an admission of guilt.” Mugabe drafted legislation that would exile Walls from Zimbabwe for life and Walls moved to South Africa.
Ethnic divisions soon came back to the forefront of national politics. Tension between ZAPU and ZANU erupted with guerrilla activity starting again in Matabeleland in south-western Zimbabwe. Nkomo (ZAPU) left for exile in Britain and did not return until Mugabe guaranteed his safety. In 1982 government security officials discovered large caches of arms and ammunition on properties owned by ZAPU, accusing Nkomo and his followers of plotting to overthrow the government. Mugabe fired Nkomo and his closest aides from the cabinet.
Seven MPs, members of the Rhodesian Front, left Smith’s party to sit as “independents” on 4 March 1982, signifying their dissatisfaction with his policies. As a result of what they saw as persecution of Nkomo and his party, PF-ZAPU supporters, army deserters began a campaign of dissidence against the government. Centring primarily in Matabeleland, home of the Ndebeles who were at the time PF-ZAPU’s main followers, this dissidence continued through 1987. It 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.
Because of the unsettled security situation immediately after independence and democratic sentiments, the government kept in force a “state of emergency”. This gave the government widespread powers under the “Law and Order Maintenance Act,” including the right to detain persons without charge which it used quite widely. In 1983 to 1984 the government declared a curfew in areas of Matabeleland and sent in the army in an attempt to suppress members of the Ndebele tribe. The pacification campaign, known as the Gukuruhundi, or strong wind, resulted in at least 20,000 civilian deaths perpetrated by an elite, North Korean-trained brigade, known in Zimbabwe as the Gukurahundi.
ZANU-PF increased its majority in the 1985 elections, winning 67 of the 100 seats. The majority gave Mugabe the opportunity to start making changes to the constitution, including those with regard to land restoration. Fighting did not cease until Mugabe and Nkomo reached an agreement in December 1987 whereby ZAPU became part of ZANU-PF and the government changed the constitution to make Mugabe the country’s first executive president and Nkomo one of two vice-presidents.