Alternate History

Zimbabwe (1983: Doomsday)

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Timeline: 1983: Doomsday

OTL equivalent: Zimbabwe
Flag of Zimbabwe Coat of arms of Zimbabwe
Flag Coat of Arms
Anthem "Blessed be the land of Zimbabwe"
(and largest city)

Zimbabwe, officially the Republic of Zimbabwe, is a landlocked country in southern Africa. Having survived Doomsday unharmed; due to good governance it has grown to become the most stable nation in this region of Africa, and a model for other countries in maintaining peace between blacks and whites in a nation.



Zimbabwe, in 1983, was a mostly stable country controlled by the Zimbabwe African National Union, with Robert Mugabe as Prime Minister. Having only become an independent country four years before the event of Doomsday, it was relatively stable and was growing steadily as demand for its exports increased internationally, while domestically there was high unrest in the largely Ndebele regions where a few hundred disgruntled former Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA) combatants were waging armed banditry against the civilians in Matabeleland, to which the Fifth Brigade responding by killing civilians. Such unrest was beginning to threaten Zimbabwe's stable growth, which had steadily been growing since the elections in 1980.

However, with the onset of Doomsday, Zimbabwe faced the loss of its international markets as most countries in the northern hemisphere was wiped out. Fighting on both sides in what would come to be known as Gukurahundi ground to a halt as party leaders became at a loss of what to do next. Within the next few months countries all around Zimbabwe suffered high unrest and/or collapsed, and it became clear to all the major parties in the nation that there would need to be discussions to ensure the unrest in the nation did not lead onto civil war. As a result, on May 14, 1984, the Zimbabwe African National Union and Zimbabwe African People's Union came together to discuss a compromise. Both parties' main supporters had been destroyed in the engulfing fire of Doomsday, removing any international support they enjoyed and loss of international markets meant that domestic stability was more important than ever.


Almost immediately there were disagreements between both parties. Joshua Nkomo believed it would be more beneficial to the nation to have two parties which could help to counter-balance each other while Robert Mugabe had made it clear be believed two fellow socialist parties should come together to ensure further ethnic violence in the country did not take place. This point remained a cause for heated debate, until Nkomo finally agree to merge both parties to form the Patriotic Front. However, Nkomo was able to secure greater power for individual provinces, which allowed for the Ndebele to have greater power in their day to day running of their lives. The result was looked upon favourably, and Nkomo's popularity increased, while he took the position of Deputy Prime Minister. Other points were agreed on relatively easily, such as entering discussions with all parties over a constitutional convention along with outlawing all paramilitary groups to ensure the stability of the nation and the creation of a strong judiciary system to make sure corruption did not become a major problem.

With the creation of the Patriotic Front in the Unity Agreement of 1984, new laws were able to be passed through parliament with ease. Anti-corruption laws were signed into place by 1985 and a minimum wage was established for those in the education and legislative sectors, allowing for the safeguarding of workers in education and law. The government also put into place laws supporting the creation of a better health care system, in the hopes of preventing outbreaks of diseases such as cholera. However, the main focus was shifting economic focus into a more domestic role to make sure the economy did not collapse in the volatile state the world was in for a couple of years after Doomsday, and to ensure that Zimbabwe managed to get through the drought of the following years with no major impact.

Constitutional Convention

With the country stable by 1985, elections were called as the nation once again took to the voting booths to vote for the governing party. With the two largest parties from the previous elections united under the Patriotic Front, it was clear from the outset that the Patriotic Front was going to win the election. In their promises to the people, they had announced a constitutional convention would take place to engage with the white population of Zimbabwe and discuss things such as land ownership and representation in parliament. With this announcement, many whites in Zimbabwe grew worried and began to feel as if they would soon get sidelined from a country they could not leave.

However, things were not as one sided as they seemed. After elections in 1980, it soon became clear to many that the Rhodesian Front, which re-branded itself into the Conservative Alliance of Zimbabwe following Doomsday, that focusing on mainly white politics would not be enough and a much more bi-racial move was required to keep the party involved in politics. While unity talks had been ongoing between ZANU and ZAPU, the RF had been running its own talks of party unity with Muzorewa's United African National Council after remaining party members urged Ian Smith to reconsider his stance following the catastrophic events of Doomsday. Following discussions, both parties agreed to merge and form the United Conservative Alliance of Zimbabwe, often referred to the Conservative Alliance, which would come to contest the election between the 1st and 2nd of July.

Although the Patriotic Front won 67 seats, the Conservative Alliance still managed to pick up 13 seats in the common roll, a surprisingly good performance considering both major parties from the previous election had united into one. However the party only managed to take nine of the 20 white roll seats, mainly due to Muzorewa becoming the face of the new party and Ian Smith seemingly sidelined, leading to a loss of trust in white voting areas. The Conservative Alliance became the new opposition party, yet many white voters believed they would never be properly represented by the party.

Mugabe did good on his promise, and in mid-1987 he invited major white business leaders and politicians as well as other parties in a constitutional convention. The aim was to create a fairer constitution for all peoples of Zimbabwe, and end white monopoly over land control while ensuring the white population was not antagonised. Having come from a nationalistic background, it was important to him that blacks received a more fair share of the resources of their own country and thus discussions soon began over land control and parliamentary representation among other issues. In what was to take over three months, the details of the new constitution were ironed out along with a political agreement with the white representatives. As a result of it, the following were put into place: 

  • White landowners will be reduced to 35% of Zimbabwe's total farmland, with the rest coming under the control of the government to be subsequently allocated and sold, but as a result will enjoy utilities at no cost until 2000 due to land reallocation.
  • White farmers will enjoy tax exemptions for two generations in the following process; current landholder, and their heir, but are non-applicable to any land purchased after the exchanges, and aren't transferred.
  • White roll will be removed from future elections, with all MPs competing on the common role, however no less than 15% of MPs have to be white, and 15% of cabinet posts must be held by white MPs, until the size of the cabinet and commons are altered.
  • White experts are involved in land reform program to ensure that new farms don't fail and the maximum number of successful farms can be established, while subsidies are provided for whites trying to start new businesses.

The move was unpopular with whites in Zimbabwe, and many felt forced into something they wanted no part over. Yet most understood the necessity of such actions and although disliking the move, mostly supported it. It would also allow for the creation of a future entrepreneurial class in Zimbabwe, spearheaded by white businesses initially.

Refugee Crisis

While the politics of Zimbabwe seemed to have stabilised by the late 1980s, it borders were much more volatile. To the south of it, South Africa had descended into chaos by 1985 and a large number of migrants began to flow into the country, including a significant number of whites from areas such as Durban (around 40,000) which had descended into civil war between local factions. Whites also came from Mozambique - which too had collapsed, with over 50,000 whites and Portuguese creoles reported to have entered Zimbabwe - the complete white population of Mozambique. More than 100,000 blacks also entered the country, and it soon became clear to the government that border controls would need to be established to ensure Zimbabwe was not overrun by refugees. By 1986, the military had been ordered to forcibly turn back any trying to get into the nation, with permission given to fire is necessary. Almost draconian border controls were seen as a necessity in a nation barely managing stability after Doomsday and it was supported by all fronts. 

Refugee camps for the white population were established in regions such as Salisbury, a predominantly white region, and many refugees soon became employed or bought some farmland in a bid to earn money and keep their families fed. Camps for blacks were established in cities such as Harare, and many camp sites would go on to become slums as they city expanded in the coming years. The influx of refugees forced the nation to feed more mouths, especially in the first few years as Zimbabwe experienced a nuclear summer on top of the ongoing drought, but also allowed for cheap labour in various construction projects. As rain patterns stabilised and Zimbabwe experienced the return of regular rainfall, the impact of the refugees was negated and food production began to return to normal levels.

Change in Governance

Although Mugabe and the Patriotic Front handled the post-Doomsday situation well, there was growing resentment in whites over the fact that they were seemingly being sidelined. This was coupled with the fact that for most blacks in the nation socialist programs had not greatly impacted them. Popular opinion was shifting against Mugabe as businesses began to feel that not enough was being done to encourage trading. The Conservative Alliance saw its chance and once again Ian Smith became the leader of the party. Having worked hard to gain respect within the black majority population, he was seen as a strong alternative to Mugabe and the Patriotic Front. He managed to regain support of almost all white MPs that had become estranged from his party in previous years, and as the elections of 1990 arrived, he managed to lead his party into the elections with a good shot at victory.

In what would come to be known as the closest and most polarised election in the history of Zimbabwe, both the Patriotic Front and Conservative Alliance went into the elections with strong support. Booths were open for three days from the 21st to the 23rd of March due to the high turnout of the voters - calculated to be around 82%. Most newspapers in the country stated that although the Conservative Alliance had managed to garner large support in the black population due their biracial focus, Mugabe's Patriotic Front would clinch it.

Thus, when the Conservative Alliance won the elections with 51 seats out of the 100 in parliament, shock waves were sent throughout Zimbabwe. The Patriotic Front faced a reduction in support, losing 20 seats in parliament and only managing 47 seats in parliament, with smaller parties taking the two seats. Ian Smith was seen waving triumphantly to the crowds as he attended his swearing in ceremony and once again took the position of Prime Minister of Zimbabwe. An initial wave of anti-white sentiment followed Ian Smith's election fearing a move back to white rule, but following his cabinet announcement containing only the required 15% of cabinet positions held by whites, this sentiment slowly died to be followed by an acceptance of Smith's claims to be working only for the betterment of Zimbabwe.

Smith led Zimbabwe out of a self imposed isloation as the nation began to try to establish communication with survivor states in South Africa. Contact had been somewhat maintained with Zimbabwe's neighbours and some trading had even taken place, yet there was no major trade links with any border country. Smith began to change that, looking to open up new routes and markets to sell Zimbabwe's main produce of crops and help Zimbabwean economy expand.


Zimbabwe is a Westminster-styled parliamentary system.




International Relations

Zimbabwe maintains a healthy relationship with most of its neighbours.

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