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The Federation of Zimbabwe, commonly known as South Zimbabwe, is an independent state that split from the Republic of Zimbabwe following the Zimbabwean Civil War. It was formed from the Zimbabwean African People's Union after they were ejected from the Zimbabwean government during the Gukurahundi.
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.
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-controled 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-controled 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. By the end of the war, South Zimbabwe had nearly 350,000 military and civilian casualties. In the north, the ZANU-controled, and largely Shona, Republic of Zimbabwe remained in control of a majority of the country. To the south, the ZAPU-controled, 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.
A New Government
After the civil war, ZAPU settled and officially founded a rival government for the territory they controlled, the Federation of Zimbabwe. While the lands South Zimbabwe controled were largely Nbedele, the government continued to claim legitimacy over the whole of Zimbabwe and, in the beginning, played down ethnic differences between the two rival governments. Led by Lookout Masuku and Dumiso Dabengwa, the new nation quickly set about preparing itself for future conflicts with their northern neighbor and preparing themselves to retake control of the whole of Zimbabwe, which they assumed would occur quickly. As a result of these preparations, the South Zimbabwean government soon devolved into a de facto oligarchy with Lookout Masuku, Dumiso Dabengwa, and a handful of other top personnel leading the country. While North Zimbabwe maintained an authoritarian government, South Zimbabwe surpassed them in the undemocraticness of their government. Thankfully, wide popular support made large-scale repression unnecessary, though the lack of democracy was of major concern to some segments of the population and foreign observers. Nonetheless, South Zimbabwe was able to gain the support of their western neighbor and revolutionary benefactor, Botswana, though official recognition was not forthcoming due in large part to Botswana's isolationist policy. The new leadership set about fortifying the border, enlarging the army, and engaging in much needed economic investment.
After the war, South Zimbabwe had many years of rebuilding ahead of it. Most of the fighting occurred in South Zimbabwean territory. Several major population centers, including Bulawayo, were devastated by urban warfare and the North Zimbabwean occupation. Much of the northern countryside was destroyed in the fighting. Refugees from North Zimbabwe and the border areas also had to be relocated. No major development occured during the war due to the guerrilla nature of the South Zimbabwean forces and the lack of proper administrative control of their provinces. Once the war ended, the South Zimbabwean government immediately began a massive rebuilding program that focused on restoring urban areas and providing housing to refugees. Within three years, Bulawayo and other major urban areas were largely restored and vast cheap housing blocks were built on the outskirts of cities for refugees. Agricultural production remained low for a number of years and did not reach pre-independence levels until the late-1990s.
The Regent's War
The second round of fighting was sparked by the sudden assassination of President Mugabe of North Zimbabwe. North Zimbabwe, 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. South Zimbabwe had nearly 30,000 casualties by the end of the war.
A Worsening Dynamic
After the Regent's War, South Zimbabwe emerged defeated, though with minimal territorial loss. Unlike the Civil War, the damage was largely limited to border areas. However, the war strained South Zimbabwe's limited agricultural resources and caused a minor famine, which caused the government to become increasingly unpopular. In response to this, the government cracked down harshly on the more vocal portions of the population, located largely in Matabeleland North. Slowly as the 1990s progressed, the political situation worsened as the government became more repressive, though the nation remained stable. Throughout this decade, the economy also continued to grow, but at a slower rate than North Zimbabwe and was edging towards stagnation. Emulating their northern brethern, South Zimbabwe maintained positive relations with their White population in order to assure their loyalty to improve their education system and provide the skilled labor needed for industrial production.
In 2001, the government became increasingly concerned with popular resentment towards their policies. In an attempt to redirect popular anger, the South Zimbabwean government instituted a land reform program meant to redistribute land from White Zimbabweans to Black Zimbabweans. However, in effect, the program served only to strip Whites of their land and give it to the government and their supporters, though the program did have significant popular support. As the government began seizing White land, White Zimbabweans began to flee to the only place they could -- North Zimbabwe. More than half of the White population fled the country as a result of the land reform. While Black Zimbabweans did gain the land and popular attention was redirected, it stripped the country of the most skilled portion of its labor force and caused major economic damage. By 2005, the country's economic prospects were fading and growth eventually ended. A period of stagnation in 2007 led to a recession in 2008 followed by a full-blown depression in 2010. The worsening economic situation has caused the government to lose much of its support, to which it's responded with increased repression. Several separate, and largely nationalist driven, opposition groups have risen to challenge the government, though they are being severely repressed.
GovernmentSouth Zimbabwe is a representative presidential democracy. The President is the head and chief of state and leads the executive branch. They are also commmander-in-chief of the armed forces. The Cabinet is appointed by the President, but approved by the Parliament. The South Zimbabwean Parliament is a unicameral legislature with the power to write and pass laws and advise the President. In practice, it is more of a rubber stamp for the President's policies.
The country is divided into three federal states: Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South, and Bulawayo. Each state is divided into federal districts, which compose the voting blocs for Parliament. There are 24 federal districts.
Before the civil war, South Zimbabwe was a productive and growing part of the whole Zimbabwean economy. Immediately after independence, South Zimbabwe was able to maintain its own economic strength, but its growth was slower than North Zimbabwe's. Energy problems, from the fuel embargo imposed by North Zimbabwe, caused repeated economic drops, though periodically North Zimbabwe would allow shipment to come through. By the early 2000s, land reform destroyed the agricultural sector, the basis of the South Zimbabwean economy, which led to a severe economic decline. The economic disaster in South Zimbabwe has led to increased refugees from the country and increasingly grim growth prospects. However, the newly discovered Hwange-Gwayi coal and gas belt could represent a new source of cash and investment for the nation, if it is ever developed.
South Zimbabwe has a population of 3.5 million people. Africans compose roughly 97% of the population in both countries. The remaining 4% of the population is composed of Asians and White Zimbabwean. White Zimbabweans compose 0.9% 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. After the land reforms, an increased number of Whites fled the country, mostly to North Zimbabwe.
Like in North Zimbabwe, HIV/AIDS has become a significant health problem for the nation. However, their greater isolation and poor relations with the international community have prevented the amount of foreign aid that North Zimbabwe receives. As a result, its infection rate, 24.2%, is significantly higher than their northern neighbor's.
The South Zimbabwean military, composed of the Federation Army and Air Force, is descended from the pre-independence Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA) and elements of the Rhodesian Security Forces (RSA) located in South 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 neighboring states.
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 assasaination 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.