Zimbabwe Recent Politics
The procedure for the independence of Zimbabwe (formerly Southern Rhodesia), effective from April 18, 1980, formally followed the model dear to the Colonial Office: constitutional conference, elections and transmission of powers to the African government. In the meantime, the British government had summed up the powers over the colony, which since 1965, the date of the UDI (Unilateral Declaration of Independence) by the minority of European origin, has behaved in fact as an independent state. The Constitutional Conference was held at Lancaster House in London from September to December 1979: an agreement was reached that included the Patriotic Front (PF) in the political process, born from the alliance between the two parties engaged in the armed struggle against the white government, the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) and the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU), agreed to hold free elections reserving 20 of the 100 seats for the white minority and invested Great Britain with the responsibility of overseeing the transition. Despite the controversy and the constant threats of confrontation, the elections were regular and the transfer of power was peaceful. The PF had presented itself in the elections divided into its two components, which overall won 87% of the votes, finding clear legitimacy in the polls: the ZANU obtained 57 seats and the ZAPU 20, leaving only 3 seats to the party that had agreed to collaborate with whites; the 20 white seats were occupied by the extremists of the Rhodesian Front.R. Mugabe, the head of the ZANU, of Marxist tendencies, was called to preside over the government, relegating the ZAPU and its president, J. Nkomo, to a secondary position, albeit within a coalition government.
According to topschoolsintheusa, the wait for a profound social transformation was partly disappointed. Crucial was the question of land reform in order to narrow the gap between the small white minority who owned vast tracts of land and the large number of landless Africans. The land problem has always been at the center of the political and social life of Rhodesia before and after Zimbabwe While confirming socialism as a strategic goal, Mugabe adopted a pragmatic policy to avoid the massive exodus of whites and a fall in production. The ” Africanization ” of the public administration and a partial distribution of land were the most effective reforms. Zimbabwe established a modus vivendiwith South Africa, which did not for this reason give up disturbing actions by also attacking the capital Harare with two raids, in May 1987, against offices of the African National Congress.
The lack of structural reforms led to a disaffection with government policy which was stronger among the Ndebeli of Matabeleland, a fiefdom of the ZAPU, where a creeping insurrection developed starting in 1982. The repression was studded with brutality and aroused controversy in ZAPU circles but also on the part of the Church. In the 1985 elections, ZANU confirmed itself as the majority party with 76% of the votes and 64 seats (but none in Matabeleland, where ZAPU triumphed once again, while ZANU won among the Shona).
In 1987 the Constitution was reformed with the prescribed majority: seats reserved for whites were abolished and the office of executive president was introduced, investing the President of the Republic also with the office of head of government. In December 1987 ZANU and ZAPU signed a unitary agreement after difficult and long negotiations, based on the statute already adopted by the ZANU-PF in the 1984 congress, by virtue of which the government was subjected to the control of the party. Furthermore, both the ideological reference to Marxism-Leninism and the purpose of building a one-party state were reconfirmed. The one-party solution was intended de facto to strengthen Mugabe’s power, perhaps accentuating his tendency towards authoritarianism,
Mugabe, the only candidate, was elected first executive president on December 30, 1987. On January 2, 1988, two members of the PF-ZAPU joined the government together with the party leader, J. Nkomo. Political stability favored the normalization of the country, reinforced by a large amnesty, in April 1988. On January 21 of the same year, however, Parliament voted to renew the state of emergency, which was reconfirmed every six months until July 25, 1990 During 1988, opposition grew to the plan to formalize the one-party state, which in fact already exists. The spokesman for the critical position was E. Tekere, a founding member of ZANU-PF, who was expelled from the party in October 1988 and founded, in the following April, an opposition party,(ZUM). The repression of the demonstrations and riots sparked by the expulsion of Tekere – Harare University has repeatedly been the scene of incidents – was carried out with very harsh methods, sparking new protests, supported by complaints from human rights bodies and the Church. In March 1990, legislative elections were held, from which the reduction of the Parliament to a single chamber of 150 members became effective. The new ZANU-PF, an acronym with which the merger of the two major parties was ratified in December 1989, obtained 117 of the 120 elective seats. Despite only obtaining 2 seats, the ZUM gained 20% of the votes (30% in Harare), proving to have acquired a national dimension. Mugabe was re-elected with 78% of the vote. However, the turnout was 54%,
The expiry of the 10-year period from independence allowed the Constitution to be amended: the government used it in April 1991 to adopt a law that made it easier to expropriate land in an attempt to silence social protest. The Parliament had been reformed in 1990 (before the March elections) and from bicameral it had become a single chamber, with 150 members, of which 120 were elected by universal and direct suffrage, 12 were appointed by the head of state, 8 by the governors of the provinces and 10 by the traditional leaders. Irrevocably lost the prestige that his commitment against colonialism and racism had earned him, Mugabe’s party and Mugabe himself had by now to gain consensus with current political choices in the face of the pressing and never resolved problems of land and unemployment. On the other hand, also rejected by the ZANU Central Committee as well as by the new political orientations throughout Africa, the prospect of institutionalizing the single party was definitively abandoned.
To give breath to the economy, in 1990 the government of the Zimbabwe, doing violence to its ideological approach, agreed to enter into a structural adjustment agreement with the International Monetary Fund. References to Marxism became increasingly rare in favor of a program that relied rather on pragmatic socialism and indigenous capitalism. The social costs of economic liberalization, however, exacerbated the malaise among the less protected strata. Again the government thought it had to speed up the land reform: a law much opposed by the community of white farmers was approved in 1992 to distribute at least half of the 11 million hectares of land that at the time were still owned by just over 4000 large owners., mostly white.
Since independence Zimbabwe has been at the forefront of efforts against racism and colonialism, among other things making a strong contribution to the Southern African Development Coordination Conference (SADCC), the coordination organization for development and communications from southern Africa. As a landlocked country, Zimbabwe was particularly interested in collaborating and containing the aggression of white South Africa. The civil war unleashed by RENAMO (Resistência Nacional Moa̧mbicana) in neighboring Mozambique – towards which Mugabe felt profound reasons of gratitude for the aid received during the war against the white government and through whose territory much of his country’s international trade passed – threatened the connections of the Zimbabwe with foreign countries and Zimbabwe troops were deployed in Mozambican territory to ensure freedom of transit in the Beira corridor. However, not even the Zimbabwe was able to oppose the excessive power of South Africa and was unable to provide all the necessary assistance to the FRELIMO regime (Frente de Libertação de Moa̧mbique). Zimbabwe was therefore very relieved by the initiation in 1990 of the procedures to abolish apartheid. Mugabe took advantage of this to improve relations with the United States, which had already shown its appreciation for the measures agreed with the IMF.
The verification of the government’s strength, in the conditions of pacification and conciliation that characterized all of southern Africa after the dismantling of racism in South Africa, took place with the elections of 8-9 April 1995. Despite the opposition’s attempt to establish a front coalition, the ZANU-PF won 118 of the 120 seats up for grabs, but in 55 constituencies the candidates of the ruling party had no opponents. The choice of ministers welcome to the business community for key posts in the economy and agriculture revealed Mugabe’s intention to continue with the liberalization and privatization policy.