Zimbabwe A Brief History Royal Charter to 1980

Zimbabwe A Brief History Royal Charter to 1980

There are many out there who do not fully appreciate the bloody journey Zimbabwe has travelled to get to where it is. In this post I briefly cover the period from the granting of the Royal Charter to the lowering of the Union Jack in 1980. For a  more detailed timeline of events follow the link.

What is clear is that no matter what we think, there were and are no total innocents in so far as our leaders were or are concerned. Whites against Africans, African against African. One of our biggest problems as a nation has been our inability to get over tribal/sectarian differences. Petty divisions amongst ourselves even before independence often had deadly and regressive consequences.

For example was ZANU formed as a Shona response to ZAPU’s Ndebele leadership? Was Chitepo killed for not being Zezuru or Karanga or was it really the Smith government that was responsible? Did Zezuru /Karanga rivalry get Tongogara or was it just an accident?

For our future leaders knowing this history is important in so far as assuring, the past does not repeat itself and we as a people (black, white or whatever) must learn to put Zimbabwe first before tribe.

1889The British South Africa Company (BSAC) obtains a Royal Charter granting extensive rights over present Zimbabwe and Zambia.
1890The BSAC Pioneer Column occupies Mashonaland.
1893The Ndebele in Matabeleland revolt against BSAC occupation and administration.
1896-7The Ndebele and Shona rebel against white settlers and the BSAC administration. The scale and impact of rebellions exceed any other early rebellion in tropical Africa.
1898The BSAC designates Southern Rhodesia (SR) and Northern Rhodesia (NR) as separate entities. A Legislative Council (LC) introduces representation for white settlers in SR. By 1908 elected settlers outnumber the BSAC nominees.
1922A majority of settlers vote in a referendum against union with South Africa and in support of full self-government.
1923Britain annexes SR as a colony; responsible government is established. A British governor replaces the BSAC administrator and a Legislative Assembly (LA) replaces the LC. Britain reserves the right to block legislation and limits the LA’s competence to internal matters, excluding certain reserved constitutional clauses pertaining to African affairs. In practice the LA and its prime ministers gradually broaden their range of competence and the British government never vetoes any legislation. Nowhere else in its African colonies except South Africa does Britain give self-government to white settlers.
1930The Land Apportionment Act passes. The BSAC had introduced Native Reserves which were restricted to African communal occupation, but outside the Reserves, there were no restrictions on land ownership. The Act extends racial land segregation to the rest of the country. Africans can buy or lease individual plots only in the Purchase Areas (7.7 percent of the country),whereas the tiny European population can buy land anywhere in the much larger and superior European Areas (50.8 percent). Most Africans live in the communally owned Native Reserves (22.4 percent). The Act and its amendments lead to massive forced evictions and resettlement of Africans and become the center-piece of racially discriminatory laws affecting every sphere of life.
1953SR, NR (later Zambia), and Nyasaland (Malawi) are brought together in a self-governing Federation, dominated by SR settlers. SR retains its LA and governor and sole responsibility for its African affairs, local government, police and economy.
1957The Southern Rhodesian African National Congress (ANC) is founded with Joshua Nkomo as president. The ANC engages in non-violent protests against discriminatory legislation and demands universal suffrage.
1959The government declares a State of Emergency, arrests some 500 ANC leaders bans the ANC and soon passes the Unlawful Organizations Act, enabling the arrest of any person associated with a banned organization.
1960The ANC re-establishes itself as the National Democratic Party (NDP). The acting president,Michael Mawema and other NDP leaders are arrested for their alleged membership in the banned ANC. The NDP organizes urban demonstrations against the arrests; police repression provokes violence. The government introduces a draconian Law and Order (Maintenance) Act which becomes a primary means of suppressing African nationalist activity. Joshua Nkomo becomes the NDP president.
1961A new constitution provides for African representation for the first time but for African majority rule only in the distant future. Britain gives up its reserve powers over local legislation. The NDP is banned at year end but re-emerges as the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU) days later.
1962The Rhodesian Front (RF),a settler party is founded and wins the election. The government bans ZAPU and arrests all its officers, except Nkomo who is out of the country.
1963The Federation collapses under African pressure for independence in NR and Nyasaland. In SR the African nationalist movement splits into two organizations when the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) is formed under Ndabiningi Sithole and other former ZAPU leaders such as Robert Mugabe.
1964Ian Smith the RF leader comes to power. The government bans ZAPU (which then exists under a different name) and ZANU and most African nationalist leaders are arrested and spend the next decade in prison. The Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA) is founded as the military wing of ZANU to wage guerrilla war against the government. NR gains independence as Zambia.
1965The Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA) is founded in Lusaka,Zambia as ZAPU’s armed wing. Smith declares a State of Emergency and then a Unilateral Declaration of Independence to pre-empt British pressures for movement toward African majority rule. A new constitution is introduced and the country is called Rhodesia. Britain responds with economic sanctions. ZANU establishes itself in Lusaka, Zambia under Herbert Chitepo.
1966ZANLA guerrillas engage Rhodesian security forces at Chinhoyi (formerly Sinoia) in the northeast. Constitutional talks with Britain fail. The UN imposes selective mandatory economic sanctions.
1967ZAPU and the South African ANC send guerrillas into the northwest. At this stage,ZAPU has a larger more active army than ZANU.
1968The UN imposes comprehensive mandatory sanctions. Further constitutional talks with Britain fail.
1969A new constitution is introduced. The Land Tenure Act replaces the Land Apportionment Act. The government seeks to expand European agricultural land, despite massive under-utilization of land. Agricultural and settlement land is divided as follows:
Europeans (40 percent),
African communally owned land which is now called Tribal Trust Land (41.4 percent),
Purchase Areas (3.8 percent).
More Africans are evicted from European land.
1970Rhodesia is declared a republic. Internal feuding occurs in ZAPU/ZIPRA in Zambia.
1971ZANLA steps up war in northeast from bases in Portuguese-controlled Mozambique. ZAPU/ZIPRA feuding leads to losses of personnel to ZANU/ZANLA and to a new organization, the Front for the Liberation of Zimbabwe (FROLIZI). Britain requires a British–Rhodesian constitutional settlement to obtain African approval. Africans are permitted to organize and Bishop Muzorewa forms the African National Council. ZANLA becomes the more active and larger of the two guerrilla armies, both of which fight a rural-based war. ZANLA recruits chiefly from the Shona and ZIPRA from the Ndebele, reflecting also their respective operational areas.
1972Britain’s Pearce Commission reports that Africans oppose the proposed constitution.
1973The Smith–Muzorewa constitutional talks fail.
1974The formal transition to majority rule in Mozambique starts. ZANU leaders in prison in Rhodesia remove Sithole as leader and replace him with Robert Mugabe. The Organization of African Unity forms the Front Line States (FLS) Presidents’ Committee. ZANU, ZAPU and FROLIZI announce agreement to form an umbrella organization under Muzorewa’s leadership. There follows a ceasefire plans for constitutional talks and the release of African nationalists imprisoned since 1964. The Nhari rebellion/mutiny creates a crisis in ZANU/ZANLA.
1975Herbert Chitepo is assassinated in Lusaka, Zambia. Zambia blames internal party feuds and detains ZANU/ZANLA leaders in Lusaka and Tanzania and Zambia close training camps. ZANLA field commanders in Tanzania and Mozambique agree to accept Mugabe as their leader. The Victoria Falls constitutional conference fails. Smith and Nkomo hold talks. Mozambique agrees to the formation of the Zimbabwe People’s Army (ZIPA), a guerrilla army uniting ZANLA and ZIPRA to restart the stalled war.
1976Kissinger the US Secretary of State and Smith meet in Pretoria. Smith later agrees to African majority rule in two years. Nkomo and Mugabe form the Patriotic Front (PF) under FLS pressure to present a united front at the Geneva constitutional talks, which fail. ZIPA is dismantled. ZANLA no longer operates from Zambia; it shifts to Mozambique. Rhodesian retaliatory attacks into Mozambique begin.
1977ZANU elects Mugabe as president. ZIPRA’s Jason Moyo is killed by letter bomb in Lusaka, Zambia. There is a new Anglo-American constitutional initiative to end the war. Smith initiates “internal settlement” talks with Muzorewa, Sithole and Chief Chirau. ZANU has some 3,000 guerrillas inside Rhodesia and ZAPU a mere 100–200.
1978The internal parties reach agreement, which the PF and the FLS reject. The agreement provides for a transitional government, universal franchise elections under a new constitution and amnesty for guerrillas who lay down arms. Nkomo and Smith hold secret talks. The Rhodesian security forces attack Zambia. The war escalates. Guerrillas inside the country number some 9,000, 85 percent belonging to ZANLA.
1979With sixty-four percent of the African vote in a separate election from Europeans, Muzorewa’s United African National Council (UANC) wins fifty-one of the seventy-two African seats; the RF wins all twenty-eight seats reserved for whites and Muzorewa becomes prime minister of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia. Whites continue to control the executive (and importantly the military) and the judiciary. Muzorewa’s government fails to win international recognition and the lifting of sanctions because the guerrilla movements did not participate in the settlement. The war intensifies. An estimated 28,000 guerrillas (20,000 ZANLA) are inside the country at the ceasefire with many thousands more outside. Commonwealth leaders meet in Lusaka and agree to conditions under which Britain should seek a constitutional resolution and an end to the war. Britain convenes the Lancaster House conference. Muzorewa’s team and the PF agree to a new constitution, a transitional government and a ceasefire.
1980ZANU contests the February election as ZANU(PF) and wins a majority; the RF wins all twenty seats reserved for whites. The guerrilla armies remain intact. The economy is still in white hands. Racial inequalities in wealth and income make Zimbabwe a world leader in inequality.
A brief history of Zimbabwe from the granting of the Royal Charter to 1980 independence

Source: Guerrilla Veterans in Post-War Zimbabwe - Symbolic and Violent Politics, 1980–1987 - N J Kriger