Multimedia: Zimbabwe 33 years on

 

As Zimbabwe celebrates 33 years of independence today, Newsday takes you through the history of the country under self-rule.

Report by Tapiwa Zivira and Cynthia Matonhodze, Online reporters

In 1980, President Robert Mugabe took the reins, starting off as a Prime Minister and later elevating himself to executive president, a post that he has held to this day.

His 33-year grip on the country has been mired by controversial political developments where in some quarters he is seen as a hero while others see him as a power hungry despot who has ruined the country’s fortunes.

In 1976, Mugabe, then a guerilla war leader, said he wished for a non-racialised independent Zimbabwe where there would be equal distribution of wealth and resources. This was at a time when the liberation war was towards its end and a new Zimbabwe was in the horizon.

In 1980, in his Independence Day and inauguration speech, Mugabe as the new Prime Minister said, “Our new nation requires of every one of us to be a new man, with a new mind, a new heart and a new spirit. Our new mind must have a new vision and our new hearts a new love that spurns hate, and a new spirit that must unite and not divide. . . Our majority rule could easily turn into inhuman rule if we oppressed, persecuted or harassed those who do not look or think like the majority of us. Democracy is never mob-rule. It is and should remain disciplined rule requiring compliance with the law and social rules. Our independence must thus not be construed as an instrument vesting individuals or groups with the right to harass and intimidate others into acting against their will. It is not the right to negate the freedom of others to think and act, as they desire.”

Clockwise: A young Mugabe, then 56, cheers to the crowd soon after being sworn in as the country's first black Prime Minister. Women dance in celebration of Zimbabwe's attainment of independence. The Independence celebrations at Rufaro Stadium on the night of 17 April 1980.

Clockwise: A young Mugabe, then 56, cheers to the crowd soon after being sworn in as the country’s first black Prime Minister. Women dance in celebration of Zimbabwe’s attainment of independence. The Independence celebrations at Rufaro Stadium on the night of 17 April 1980.

In 1982 Mugabe sacked the then Home Affairs Minister and leader of Zapu Joshua Nkomo from government, accusing him of preparing to overthrow the government. A year later Nkomo was to flee the country to a self-imposed exile to London after illegally crossing the Botswana frontier disguised as a woman, claiming that his life was in danger and that he was going to look for “solutions” to Zimbabwean problems abroad.

Below is his interview in exile.

It was during the height of Mugabe’s fallout with Nkomo that the North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade branch of the army was deployed under the pretext of going to crush a rebellion by pro-Nkomo ex-guerrillas in Midlands and Matabeleland provinces. Under the operation, known as Gukurahundi (the early rain which washes away the chaff before the spring rains), it is reported that an estimated 20,000 unarmed civilians died in the hands of the government forces. Senior Zapu officials, Dumiso Dabengwa, and Lookout Masuku were charged with treason and were detained without trial for four years.

In 1987 Mugabe and Nkomo merged their parties to form Zanu-PF, ending the violence in Matabeleland. In the same year Mugabe changed the constitution and became executive president, a post that gave him sweeping powers that he was to use to change the constitution and sway government in favour of his party

Mugabe and Nkomo sign the unity pact in 1987

Mugabe and Nkomo sign the unity pact in 1987

The 90s saw the Mugabe government instituting policies that led to the country’s economy declining dramatically. Policies such as the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (ESAP), the deployment of Zimbabwean soldiers to help Laurent Kabila in the DRC war, and the dishing out of heavy perks to liberation war veterans led to a virtual collapse of the economy. This led to high unemployment levels, company shutdowns and hyper-infaltion of the country’s currency. Riots and strikes became the order of the day, necessitating the rise of opposition to government in the form of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions led by Morgan Tsvangirai who was to form the Movement for Democratic Change to challenge Mugabe.The crisis reached its peak when Mugabe’s supporters started grabbing white owned farms in 2000.

From Left: The MDC was formed in 1999 in response to the masses discontent over Zanu PF policies. 2 Zanu PF supporters  took over white owned farms in 2000

From Left: The MDC was formed in 1999 in response to the masses discontent over Zanu PF policies. 2 Zanu PF supporters took over white owned farms in 2000

The turn of the new millennium witnessed continued economic decline and government repression. Thousands fled the country and the value of the Zimbabwean Dollar was further weakened by an economy that was burdened by low agricultural and industrial production. Companies closed down, supermarket shelves went empty , fuel stations ran dry, schools lost teachers and hospitals could not restock medicines. Zimbabwe went from being the bread basket of Southern Africa to being a basket case.
To add to the ordinary citizens woes, government embarked on a large-scale campaign to forcibly clear slum areas across the country. The campaign started in 2005 and the United Nations estimates that at least 700,000 people were directly affected through loss of their homes or sources of livelihood.

Zimbabweans skip the border to South Africa at the height of the country's economic meltdown

Zimbabweans skip the border to South Africa at the height of the country’s economic meltdown

From left: Empty shelves and fuel queues became the order of the day

From left: Empty shelves and fuel queues became the order of the day

Due to hyperinflation, the ZImbawean dollar became virtually worthless

Due to hyperinflation, the ZImbawean dollar became virtually worthless

The situation in the country became so desperate that people in gold rich areas began to exchange the mineral for basic commodities. See video below

In 2008, the country held elections in which Tsvangirai and his party were ahead of Mugabe’s Zanu PF, which led to a power sharing arrangement with Tsvangirai becoming Prime Minister and Mugabe remaining as president.

The unity government, whose life ends this year, has largely been characterised by incessant power struggles and one of its few successes is the drafting of  a new constitution.
It is with this new constitution that the country is expected to move towards elections whose outcome will shape the future of the country.

24 Responses to Multimedia: Zimbabwe 33 years on

  1. Gumboreshumba April 18, 2013 at 9:05 am #

    Certainly our independence day is more than Mugabe. Poorly conceptualized article. Lets look forward with a positive mind. Independence day in Zimbabwe is about a nation aspiring for the greatest freedoms.

  2. Kudzai April 18, 2013 at 9:21 am #

    This article is a terrible representation of our nation and what this day is really about. I agree with Gumboreshuma. There are so many positives. Only anti-zimbabwe media would spend so much time composing an article full of negatives. This is no different than what the British and American media organizations feed their people with concerning our nation. Very disappointed in Newsday

    • donny April 18, 2013 at 10:57 am #

      Mugabe has turned Zimbabwe into his own personal piece of property that is why Zimbabweans despise everything.There is nothing that has escaped the infiltration of Zanu -pf its interference and deleterious policies in all aspects of life…even when one wants to escape..ZTV, ZIFA …Zimbabwean cricket…there is no escaping the ugly face of Zanu….i do not blame the journalist..painting a rosy picture is tantamount to being complicit….. If our politicians were professional and stopped interfering with our lives there would be something to smile about…….

      • Phunyukabemphethe April 18, 2013 at 12:22 pm #

        @donny

        Because many of you supported him for tribal reasons, when he was busy destroying the only strong opposition then, PF ZAPU, in order to establish a one-party state.

        Fats forward to 2013, the tribal onslaught is now directed at Welshman Ncube – once again its history repeating itself!!

        • donny April 18, 2013 at 3:55 pm #

          If Joshua Nkomo had been our president we would have been very far……Ncube did not play his cards right by trying to topple Morgan replacing him with that arrogant boy Mutambara….how should people who held on to hope and rallied behind Tsvangirayi do?…..Nkomo was a Stirling politician….Welsh man is rather devisive…and has concentrated his political base along tribal lines….Nkomo was revered by Zimbabweans across the tribal divide.I personally once worked in Bulawayo where i experienced first hand the consequences of being Shona….the question is would you blame me if I am skeptical of a party that is founded on tribal lines?…its just like believing SA’s DA is representative of all South Africans…..nothing can be further from the truth……..Morgan needs to team up with Welshman how ever to rid us of the surge of Zanu however….

        • Phunyukabemphethe April 18, 2013 at 8:53 pm #

          You are being dishonest. You saying all these things about Nkomo because he is no more.

          Visit the BBC news archives, the YouTube reports of the 1980s and listen to the nonsense Shonas were saying about Nkomo. You are just hiding behind a finger, most Shonas are tribalists to the core.

          There is no evidence of tribalism by Welshman Ncube, and nobody has ever produced any except to claim and shout tribalism, in order to justify their own anti-Ndebele tribalism. Faulse claims will never redeem you people, you are tribalists, thats all. Admit!!

    • Peter Macklyn April 18, 2013 at 5:20 pm #

      kudzai, What positives are there. Maybe if you are one of the fat cats you can celebrate but for us there is nothing but unhappiness. There is no freedom or freedom of speech in fact there is nothing not even water, electricity. So what are you celebrating and what can this newspaper publish that is on a positive note. We are a failed state and that’s that. Well done zpf.

  3. tadious April 18, 2013 at 9:51 am #

    THE REPORTERS ARE CORRECT THE TRUTH IS THE TRUTH IT SHALL SET US FREE GOOD ARTICLE HEY

  4. dusty April 18, 2013 at 10:12 am #

    Great article. This is what independence has given Zimbabwe – name on e good thing that has benefited Zimbabwe as a nation since Bob and his cronies were granted power by America, Britain and Europe – those same countries now tell to stay out of Zim. He didn’t have the same rhetoric in the 80’s when he was throwing his begging bowl around. Some things never change – own up and accept the mess and then it can be resolved, if you keep on trying to blame everyone else for your woes how far do you think you will get as a people. I am a Zimbabwean, but I am different from Kudzai and Gumbo…. whatever.

  5. dusty April 18, 2013 at 10:13 am #

    Great article. This is what independence has given Zimbabwe – name on e good thing that has benefited Zimbabwe as a nation since Bob and his cronies were granted power by America, Britain and Europe – those same countries now tell to stay out of Zim. He didn’t have the same rhetoric in the 80’s when he was throwing his begging bowl around. Some things never change – own up and accept the mess you or your forefathers created.

  6. chikule April 18, 2013 at 10:29 am #

    great piece… Well researched and showing the things that state media will never at any point talk of..ie the var vet payments n’ how they affected the economy how the land reform left the pple and economy in a worse state of poverty than before..

    Its good as it outlines the failures of the Mugabe rule sins 1980.. It shows what he promised and never delivered.

  7. donny April 18, 2013 at 10:52 am #

    There is nothing to celebrate…when a quarter of the population who were and are skilled have fled Mugabe’s ruinous policies

  8. Lesly April 18, 2013 at 11:48 am #

    Nothing much 2 celebrate 2day,just some little indeps,the mugabes taking th steps of thos they are told our fathers they were against,even thos who participated in th war are afraid 2 chose wat they desire

  9. Phunyukabemphethe April 18, 2013 at 12:16 pm #

    Every time I attack Gukurahundis, their Gukurahundi party and its Gukurahundism, many of you want to shut me up simply because you don’t want to hear the word GUKURAHUNDI.To me this amounts to supporting them.

    According to your upbringing, Gukurahundi means Shona – that is why you don’t want to hear that word “GUKURAHUNDI”.

    Well, some of us in Mthwakazi will never allow ourselves to be dissuaded – because our understanding and upbringing says Gukurahundi means ZANU PF, its leader Gukurahundi Mugabe and all those who support it – it does not mean Shona.

    If you believe it means Shona people, that is your problem – your own funeral, not mine. Jabulani Sibanda is a Gukurahundi because he is a member of the Gukurahundi party ZANU PF, but he is not Shona. There are many such examples.

    If we allow ourselves to fall for your tricks, for fear of treading on sensitive Shona toes, this means allowing the Gukurahundis to go scot- free – this we will not allow.

    YOUR GUILTY CONSCIENCES WHENEVER YOU HEAR THE WORD “GUKURAHUNDI” ARE YOUR OWN PROBLEM, NOT MINE!

  10. mukoma April 18, 2013 at 12:56 pm #

    As far as I know, Pres Mugabe was not guerilla leader, he was a political leader while Tongogara was the guerilla leader.

    • Phunyukabemphethe April 18, 2013 at 1:34 pm #

      Correct. Guerilla leader comes from Gukurahundi worshippers who always seek to give credit to those not derving of it!

    • Peter Macklyn April 18, 2013 at 5:25 pm #

      Yes Mugs murdered him so he couldn’t be our new president. He would have done a much better job.

  11. Donkey April 18, 2013 at 12:58 pm #

    Apart from Free Education for all, there is absolutely nothing much to celebrate. #RebuildZimbabwe

  12. Phunyukabemphethe April 18, 2013 at 2:07 pm #

    When is the Gukurahundi dying?

  13. mapfupa-edu-achamuka April 18, 2013 at 2:45 pm #

    gukurahundi will die …or died?

  14. too late April 18, 2013 at 2:59 pm #

    Unfortunately our country is more dependent today than it was 30 years ago!
    We are dependent on someone else’s money
    About 2 million people are dependent on the west’s food aid
    We are dependent on the imports from South Africa and China
    We are dependent on the maize from Zambia

    Zimbabwe in dependence. A sad day today.

    • Phunyukabemphethe April 18, 2013 at 4:09 pm #

      All because of Gukurahundis.

  15. T one April 18, 2013 at 5:57 pm #

    This day is not about tsvangirai or Mugabe but its about our freedom for black rule… Let us set aside our differences & raise positive minds towards a common goal of a successful Zimbabwe.. Tho we can’t let this freedom reversed to oppression with people like Tsvangirai & his allies

  16. Chimbwa Mafirakureva April 18, 2013 at 10:34 pm #

    A well researched article. Those disputing will never see light at all. I believe the incoming President will try his best to bleach all these blemishes by Robert Mugabe. I dont mind any sane incumbent from either Zanu Pf or MdcT preferably Joyce Mujuru or Morgan Tsvangirai.A well researched article. Those disputing will never see light at all. I believe the incoming President will try his best to bleach all these blemishes by Robert Mugabe. I dont mind any sane incumbent from either Zanu Pf or MdcT preferably Joyce Mujuru or Morgan Tsvangirai.A well researched article. Those disputing will never see light at all. I believe the incoming President will try his best to bleach all these blemishes by Robert Mugabe. I dont mind any sane incumbent from either Zanu Pf or MdcT preferably Joyce Mujuru or Morgan Tsvangirai. I am an Mdc T supporter but I revere Joyce Mujuru for her non-violent approach. With Tsvangirai in power Zimbabwe will work again.

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