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Zimbabwe is a landlocked African nation that had only acquired its independence in 1980. After Doomsday, Zimbabwe was slowly isolated from the outside war and became engulfed in civil war. Today, Zimbabwe is divided into two states: the Republic of Zimbabwe (North Zimbabwe) and the Federation of Zimbabwe (South Zimbabwe). Tensions remain high between the two nations who have never reconciled their post-Doomsday schism.
The first societies in Zimbabwe were formed after the Bantu migrations during the 9th century. In the following centuries, several significant civilizations would rise, including Great Zimbabwe from which modern Zimbabwe takes its name. The Kingdom of Zimbabwe was followed by the Kingdom of Mutapa, which was the first major civilization in the region to interact with the Europeans. After the collapse of Mutapa, the Rozwi Empire rose to power and drove the Portuguese from Zimbabwe, securing its independence for several centuries.
In the nineteenth century, the Mfecane destabilized the entire region as various tribes were forced to relocate. The Ndebele forced their way northward and conquered Zimbabwe from the declining Rozwi. During the Ndebele-era, the British began their encroachment into modern-day Zimbabwe. Led by the efforts of Cecil Rhodes's British South Africa Company, the British would slowly conquer the whole of Zimbabwe, which became the Southern Rhodesia colony in 1924.
After World War II, Africa was decolonizing, but Rhodesia fell under the rule of the white-minority Rhodesian Front. On November 11, 1965, Rhodesia declared its unilateral independence from Britain, which was only recognized by South Africa. A civil war between the Rhodesian Front and 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. In March 1978, the Rhodesian Front surrendered and the Internal Settlement established a multiracial democracy. Finally, Zimbabwe's independence was internationally recognized in 1980 with Robert Mugabe as its first president.
Since independence, the two major African political groups, the Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU) and Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU), had come to blows several times. ZAPU was largely Ndebele and operated in Matabeleland. ZANU was largely Shona and operated in the rest of the country. The military wings of each group, Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA) and Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA), fought each other during the Entumbane uprisings in November 1980 and February 1981. These uprisings led to the Gukurahundi (Shona: "the early rain which washes away the chaff before the spring rains") or the Matabeleland Massacres. Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, used the military, specifically the North Korean-trained 5th Brigade, to crush any resistance in Matabeleland. The Gukurahundi began in 1982, but was interrupted by Doomsday. Suddenly, most of the northern hemisphere was destroyed and along with it much of the world's trade and foreign aid. The disaster failed to halt the Gukurahundi, but it certainly caused great concern in Zimbabwe.
Before Doomsday, ZANU pioneered a multitude of economic reforms to strengthen the country. Having inherited the wealth and industry of Rhodesia, one of the most developed states in Africa, Zimbabwe was well on its way to further develop. Unfortunately, much of the wealth of the country was heavily concentrated in the country's White minority. After independence, some of the white community had begun to leave the country. However, Doomsday put an end to that, which enabled Zimbabwe to keep its most trained and educated citizens. To end the gap between White and Black Zimbabweans, government spending on education and health care dramatically increased. The government also implemented a wide range of new economic policies meant to shrink the wealth gap, such as minimum wage.
After Doomsday, the government was able to maintain these reforms, despite the collapsing global situation. Exports continued to Zambia, Botswana, Mozambique, and other southern African states, which was crucial to the regional food supply. Despite the global economic shocks, Doomsday, in some ways, helped Zimbabwe. Most of its foreign debt was gone, along with their lenders. White Zimbabweans were forced to stay in the country. This was largely due to the fact that they could not return to Europe, which was a primary destination for White Zimbabwean emigrants, nor could they reach South Africa because of the heavily patrolled border. After 1985, the South African Civil War made emigrating to the country a very unattractive prospect. Their presence contributed greatly to the development of a stronger private-sector, though some racial tensions remained. To defuse some of this tension, the Zimbabwean government introduced wide-ranging measures to promote racial equality throughout the country. Thanks in part to these reforms, any potential racial disruption was prevented and the White population was encouraged to remain in the country.
After Doomsday, clashes between ZANU and ZAPU continued as Zimbabwe was slowly cut off from the rest of the world. Neighboring Mozambique was engulfed in a worsening civil war. To the south, South Africa slowly dissolved as the ANC, and other black nationalist movements, fought the collapsing apartheid government. Only Zambia to the north and Botswana to the west remained stable. The leader of the ZAPU, Joshua Nkomo, had fled to exile in London, and the ZAPU came to be led by Lookout Masuku and Dumiso Dabengwa. What began as fairly small clashes and a largely one-sided conflict expanded into a full blown civil war when ZIPRA launched full-scale assaults against government forces throughout Matabeleland in southwest Zimbabwe and largely withdrew from the Harare government in 1985. Despite the difficulty of resupply from the outside world, the ZANU-controlled Zimbabwe maintained the upper hand, thanks to its greater supplies and better trained forces, through 1987.
By 1987, lack of foreign resupply and struggling economy was taking a toll on the Zimbabwean government and enabled ZAPU to slowly gain the upper hand. In May 1987, ZIPRA forces were finally apply to expel the Zimbabwean National Army from northern Bulawayo, the de facto capital of Matabeleland. By mid-1988, ZANU-controlled forces were mostly evicted from Matabeleland North, except for the North and South Binga and Nkayi districts. ZIPRA was also able to gain control of Ndebele inhabited areas in the Mwenzi West district of Masvingo Province.
After four years of civil war, both sides were exhausted from fighting and were faced with major economic and food security issues. The fighting slowed to occasional raids and border clashes as a the border between the two sides became a reality. In the north, the ZANU-controlled, and largely Shona, Republic of Zimbabwe remained in control of a majority of the country. To the south, the ZAPU-controlled, and largely Nbedele, formed a parallel government in Bulawayo, the Federation of Zimbabwe. Commonly, the two countries came to be commonly known as North and South Zimbabwe.
After the war, North Zimbabwe lost much of its southern territory. The loss of population and resources led to an additional dip in economic growth, but the government was able to manage the recovery. Luckily, most of the fightin occured in South Zimbabwe, sparing North Zimbabwe from the major costs of reconstruction. Total North Zimbabwean casualties were about 300,000. Government spending on defense and infrastructure during the war led to the faster development of Zimbabwe's highways and railroads. Many border areas faced significant damage during the war, however, the total amount of damage, compared to the country at large, was minimal. Nonetheless, the need for reconstruction ignited a temporary construction boom. The government continued to maintain a strong military after the war, but ensured that economic stability continued.
The Regent's War
The second round of fighting was sparked by the sudden assassination of President Mugabe of North Zimbabwe. North Zimbabwe, which was now led by Simon Muzenda, immediately blamed the assassination on the South and began mobilizing against them. While the South continued to deny the allegations, they had also begun to mobilize their own forces. Clashes between the two forces began in November 1991, though no significant amounts of territory were exchanged. The two forces quickly reached a stalemate when every gain made by either side proved to be temporary. However, thanks to their superior numbers, North Zimbabwe was able to push the border back several km on several fronts. After a year of fighting, a new border was established and active fighting slowly ended. The Regent's War was a much more focused, smaller-scale war, which is why it resulted in the relatively low 17,500 casualties for North Zimbabwe.
The Quiet Years
After The Regent's War, no significant conflicts occurred between North and South Zimbabwe. Beyond Zimbabwe, the affairs of surviving states was improving and new states were arising from the ashes of the old. As a result, the 1990s were good years for southern Africa. Zimbabwe's neighbors continued to demand their exports, however, the current economic model was skewed against exports. Recognizing a need to remedy the situation, both for Zimbabwe and the region, government controls and protectionist measures were scaled back in order to promote the growth of exports. Soon, the government committed itself to a market-based growth model and began the slow transition towards a market economy. Some government controls remained in place to prevent any sudden economic shocks. The transition was interrupted by droughts, and corresponding drops in economic growth in 1992, 1993, and 1995, but food supplies were more than adequate for the country. During the mid-1990s, foreign energy imports from the Gulf States through various Tanganyikan states helped alleviate North Zimbabwe's energy difficulties and contributed to increased economic growth. By 1997, the transition was complete and, despite some growing pains, the economic outlook seemed promising.
A Rising Opposition
Despite the strength of the economy, opposition was growing both within ZANU and the general population. Corruption was a growing problem that the government largely ignored. Several major scandals in recent years had damaged the public's view of the government as well. The main issue was the failed 2000 constitutional amendment that would have dramatically increased the government's power and weakened democracy. While the Zimbabwean government has never been heavily democratic, its strong performance managed to keep it in power with little opposition. Now, several civil society groups, trade unions, and others were standing in opposition to them. The embattled president, Simon Muzenda, was now facing a major challenge from a new opposition group, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Led by Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC was slowly gaining support in the country and planned to compete in the elections against the sitting president and ZANC.
In the 2002 Presidential Elections, the MDC candidate lost. Following the election, the opposition accused the government of election rigging and fraud, but the results were maintained. Luckily for the MDC, the sitting President Simon Muzenda died suddenly on September 20, 2003, which left a sudden power vacuum in the ZANC leadership. In part due to this development, the MDC was able to win a majority in the lower house of the Zimbabwean Parliament in 2005. With a majority in the lower house, Morgan Tsvangirai became Prime Minister of Zimbabwe. Joice Mujuru, who had succeeded Muzenda as President and leader of ANC, accepted the victory of the MDC, representing a major shift in Zimbabwean democracy.
By 2008, the political contest between the MDC and ZANC had grown tremendously. Despite the initial proclamations by the President and the Prime Minister about the end of political repression, President Mujuru stepped up repression during 2008 in response to the MDC's growing popularity. In some areas, low-level mob violence broke out over the election. Unable to stop the surge of voter opposition, President Mujuru lost the 2008 Presidential Election to Morgan Tsvangirai. For the first time since independence, the ZANC had lost control of the presidency. While ZANC retains control of the Senate, the MDC controls the Presidency and the House of Assembly. President Tsvangirai has pledge to end political violence and repression in order to usher in a new era for Zimbabawe.
After the 2008 election of President Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe looked ready to enter a new era. New economic reforms were implemented in order to reverse the slowing growth of the past decade and integrate Zimbabwe into the reemerging global financial system. Political prisoners were released and repression slowly eased. The greatest gesture came in November 2010 when President Tsvangirai, for the first time in 25 years, visited South Zimbabwe. His visit was an unexpected event for the region and during his visit he formally apologized for the Gukurahundi. While the visit did represent a major development in North-South relations, South Zimbabwe has of yet to show any signs of reciprocation for his visit.
Zimbabwe is a semi-presidential republic, which has a parliamentary system of government. Under the constitutional changes in 2006, an upper chamber, the Senate, was reinstated. The House of Assembly is the lower chamber of Parliament. The House of Assembly is led by the leader of the majority party/coalition, who is also the Prime Minister. The President and Prime Minister share responsibilities in national governance. The President serves for a six-year term and is elected by a popular majority vote. The Prime Minister is elected by the members of the lower house and appointed by the President.
Despite the shocks of Doomsday, the North Zimbabwean economy was able to remain relatively stable after Doomsday, though the sudden loss of exports and energy imports caused a short recession. Thanks to the strength of the Zimbabwean agricultural sector, the nation was able to remain self-sufficient in terms of food production and exported surplus to neighboring African states. Fuel imports slowed dramatically immediately after Doomsday, but they were able to return to normal levels by 1994 thanks to imports from Nigeria and the Gulf States through the Tanganyikan states. Doomsday also had the unintended consequence of ending the "white flight" and kept White Zimbabweans, who were often the most skilled laborers, in the country. This, in combination with Zimbabwe's strong educational system, enabled the rise of a growing middle class and a slightly expanded manufacturing base. However, most of North Zimbabwe's economic growth was driven by its agricultural and service sectors.
While the Civil War caused the loss of some resources and devastated the border areas, the rest of the country was largely unaffected. The war also sparked the rise of a much larger native arms industry, which was built around small-scale manufacturers and general industrial capabilities, though during the same period lack of investment in education and agriculture caused minor declines in those areas. Most of the new industry in the country was the expansion of existing industry or in those industries were the technology needed was natively available. Low-tech, labor-intensive industry and home-based production experienced the greatest expansion, as technology for other expansion was largely inaccessible until the mid-1990s. Mining, another major sector of the North Zimbabwean economy, largely stagnated until the early 2000s because of the need for foreign investment. By the time of the Regent's War, the country's economic condition was significant enough to take up most of the government's time, but largely manageable. Throughout the 1990s, Zimbabwe enjoyed sustained economic growth, though droughts caused temporary declines in economic growth. Thanks to its secure borders, stable internal situation, and strong agricultural base, Zimbabwe was able to remain one of the stronger economies in southern Africa. In the 2000s, Zimbabwe has once again restarted exports to the wider world through South African survivor states, Tanganyikan states, and Mozambique. Using this new foreign capital, the Tsvangirai government hopes to purchase much needed foreign technical equipment to update and expand Zimbabwe's aging industrial and agricultural infrastructure.
North Zimbabwe has experienced chronic energy shortages for a number of years. The Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) and its subsidiaries run the entire Zimbabwean electrical grid and its power plants. ZESA operates several power plants across the country.
- Harare Thermal Power Station (coal fired)
- Bulawayo Thermal Power Station (coal fired)
- Munyati Thermal Power Station (coal fired)
- Kariba hydropower station
For a number of years, electrical demand has outstripped the supply. In 2005, a contract was signed with a Brazilian company to construct a new coal-fire power in Gokwe North, Midlands Province. Later in the same year, a contract was signed with a Qatari comapny to build a petroleum plant in Mutare.
North Zimbabwe has substantial coal reserves, though until recently many of these reserves were poorly utilized. With the new Gokwe North coal plant, the government hopes to take greater advantage of their coal resources in order to increase their energy independence. Currently, North Zimbabwe imports about 40% of their energy needs. In addition to coal, a new hydropower plant at Batoka Gorge is being planned with Zambia. Hopefully, these new projects, once operational, will end Zimbabwe's electricity shortages.
North Zimbabwe has a population of 11 million people. Africans compose roughly 95.4% of the population in both countries. The remaining 4.6% of the population is composed of Asians and White Zimbabwean. White Zimbabweans compose 2.7% of the population. Before Doomsday, much of the White population had begun to leave the country after the rise of a black-majority government, but Doomsday forced the majority of the population to remain in the region. Sustained government policies designed to reduce racial tensions have largely brought peace to racial relations in the country. After the rise of the MDC, government policies to promote racial equality were strengthened. After the South Zimbabwean land grabs, many White Zimbabweans fled northward to escape the increased racial tensions in the South.
HIV/AIDS is a fairly new disease that has spread slowly during the second half of the twentieth century. The first documented case of AIDS in Zimbabwe was found in 1986 and the rate of infection has slowly increased since then. North Zimbabwe did not recognize HIV/AIDS as a pandemic until 1992. Since then, Zimbabwe's health care industry has paid greater attention to the disease, though the lack of medical supplies did weaken their ability to combat it. By the mid-2000s, Zimbabwe was able to receive imported HIV/AIDS medication, which has resulted in the slow decline of HIV/AIDS in the country. Despite the imported medication, approximately 95,000 people die from HIV/AIDS related causes every year. Today, the HIV/AIDS prevalence rate is 20%.
The North Zimbabwean military, composed of the National Army and Air Force, grew from the pre-independence Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA) and elements of the Rhodesian Security Forces located in North Zimbabwe. The Rhodesian Security Forces were a largely white military force that had yet to be fully incorporated into the new Zimbabwean state at the outbreak of the civil war. While Rhodesian soldiers stayed out of the conflict, their forces were split based on where they were geographically located.
Most of the remaining heavy weaponry originates from the RSA and pre-Doomsday sources. However, newer small arms have been imported through Mozambique and various South African states. The North and South Zimbabwean Air Forces are equipped with aging warplanes, which have been kept in relatively good condition. Several new gunships have been imported in recent years through Mozambique.
North and South Zimbabwe have had tense relations ever since the end of the Zimbabwean Civil War in 1989. Immediately after the end of the war, a heavily defended border was formed between the two nations. Over the years, an increased number of fortifications have been built along the border in order to end. Despite the tension, trade and commerce has continued to exist between the two nations, though largely on a small and entirely privately-funded level. Tourism is one of the few industries that is free to cross the border at will, though tourists on both sides are subject to security checks. Relations between the two states have remained tension and a second round of fighting broke out in 1991 after the assassination of Robert Mugabe, which was blamed on the South. However, relations improved in 2010, when Morgan Tsvangirai, President of North Zimbabwe, issued an apology to the South for the Gukurahundi. While the apology led to a slight thaw in relations and revitalized trade between the two countries, strong tensions remain and a settlement between the two nations is not expected for some time.
North Zimbabwe maintains relations with most states in southern Africa. Despite their civil war, North Zimbabwe has maintained strong relations with Mozambique, North Zimbabwe's main access route to the sea and old revolutionary supporter. Zambia is also a close ally of North Zimbabwe with whom many trade deals have been signed over the years.