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Republic of Zimbabwe


FLAG: The flag has seven equal horizontal stripes of green, yellow, red, black, red, yellow, and green. At the hoist is a white triangle, which contains a representation in yellow of the bird of Zimbabwe superimposed on a red star.

ANTHEM: God Bless Africa.

MONETARY UNIT: The Zimbabwe dollar (z$) is a paper currency of 100 cents. There are coins of 1, 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents and 1 dollar, and notes of 2, 5, 10, and 20 dollars. z$1 = us$0.00007 (or us$1 = z$15190.8) as of 2005. These are official exchange rates, non-official rates vary significantly

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is used.

HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; Independence Day, 18 April; Workers' Day, 1 May; Africa Day, 25 May; Heroes' Days, 1113 August; Christmas Day, 25 December; Boxing Day, 26 December. Movable holidays are Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter Monday, and Whitmonday.

TIME: 2 pm = noon GMT.


A landlocked country of south central Africa, Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) lies between the Zambezi River on then and the Limpopo River on the s. It has an area of 390,580 sq km (150,804 sq mi), with a length of 852 km (529 mi) wnwese and a width of 710 km (441 mi) nnessw. Comparatively, the area occupied by Zimbabwe is slightly larger than the state of Montana. Bounded on the n and e by Mozambique, on the s by the Republic of South Africa, on the sw by Botswana, and on the nw and n by Zambia, Zimbabwe has a total boundary length of 3,066 km (1,905 mi). Zimbabwe's capital city, Harare, is located in the northeast part of the country.


Most of Zimbabwe is rolling plateau, with over 75% of it lying between 600 and 1,500 m (2,0005,000 ft) above sea level, and almost all of it over 300 m (1,000 ft). The area of high plateau, known as the highveld, is some 650 km (400 mi) long by 80 km (50 mi) wide, and stretches northeast to southwest at 1,2001,675 m (4,0005,500 ft). This culminates in the northeast in the Inyanga mountains, reaching the country's highest point at Mt. Inyangani, 2,592 m (8,504 ft). On either side of the highveld is the middleveld, a plateau ranging from about 6001,200 m (2,0004,000 ft) in height. Below 610 m (2,000 ft) are areas making up the lowveld, wide and grassy plains in the basins of the Zambezi and the Limpopo.

The highveld is a central ridge forming the country's watershed, with streams flowing southeast to the Limpopo and Sabi rivers and northwest into the Zambezi. Only the largest of the many rivers have an all-year-round flow of water.


Altitude and relief greatly affect both temperature and rainfall in Zimbabwe. The higher areas in the east and the highveld receive more rainfall and are cooler than the lower areas. Temperatures on the highveld vary from 1213°c (5455°f) in winter to 24°c (75°f) in summer. On the lowveld the temperatures are usually 6°c (11°f) higher, and summer temperatures in the Zambezi and Limpopo valleys average between 3238°c (90100°f). Rainfall decreases from east to west. The eastern mountains receive more than 100 cm (40 in) annually, while Harare has 81 cm (32 in) and Bulawayo 61 cm (24 in). The south and southwest receive little rainfall. Seasonal shortages of water are common.

The summer rainy season lasts from November to March. It is followed by a transitional season, during which both rainfall and temperatures decrease. The cool, dry season follows, lasting from mid-May to mid-August. Finally, there is the warm, dry season, which lasts until the onset of the rains.


The country is mostly savanna, although the moist and mountainous east supports tropical evergreen and hardwood forests. Trees include teak and mahogany, knobthorn, msasa, and baobab. Among the numerous flowers and shrubs are hibiscus, spider lily, leonotus, cassia, tree wisteria, and dombeya. There are over 4,400 species of plants throughout the country.

Mammals include elephant, lion, buffalo, hippopotamus, rhinoceros, gorilla, chimpanzee, baboon, okapi, giraffe, kudu, duiker, eland, sable, gemsbok, waterbuck, zebra, warthog, lynx, aardvark, porcupine, fox, badger, otter, hare, bat, shrew, and scaly anteater. There are at least 270 species of mammal in the country.

Snakes and lizards abound. The largest lizard, the water monitor, is found in many rivers, as are several species of crocodile. About 500 species of birds include the ant-thrush, barbet, beeeater, bishop bird, bulbul, bush-warbler, drongo, emerald cuckoo, grouse, gray lourie, and pheasant.


Among the most serious of Zimbabwe's environmental problems is erosion of its agricultural lands and deforestation. By 1992, deforestation was progressing at the rate of 70,000100,000 ha per year, or about 1.5% of the nation's forestland. This same rate of deforestation was reported to the year 2000. The confinement of large segments of the population to relatively unproductive lands before independence put severe pressure on these lands, a substantial portion of which may have been irreversibly damaged.

Zimbabwe's air is polluted by vehicle and industrial emissions, while water pollution results from mining and the use of fertilizers. Zimbabwe's cities produce 0.5 million tons of solid waste per year. The nation has been estimated to have the highest DDT concentrations in the world in its agricultural produce.

According to a 2006 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), the number of threatened species included 8 types of mammals, 10 species of birds, 6 species of amphibians, 2 species of invertebrates, and 17 species of plants. Zimbabwe has about half of the world's population of black rhinoceroses, an endangered species. Rare or threatened species include the cape vulture, black-cheeked lovebird, and brown hyena. For protection, the government has adopted a policy of shooting poachers on sight.


The population of Zimbabwe in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 13,010,000, which placed it at number 68 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 3% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 40% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 98 males for every 100 females in the country. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for 20052010 was expected to be 1.1%. The projected population for the year 2025 was 14,430,000. The population density was 33 per sq km (86 per sq mi).

The UN estimated that 34% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and that urban areas were growing at an annual rate of 1.48%. The capital city, Harare, had a population of 1,469,000 in that year. Other large cities and their estimated populations included Bulawayo, 676,000; Chitungwiza, 321,782; Gweru, 137,000; Kwekwe, 88,000; Kadoma, 67,750; and Masvingo, 60,000.

The prevalence of HIV/AIDS has had a significant impact on the population of Zimbabwe. The UN estimated that 33.9% of adults between the ages of 1549 were living with HIV/AIDS in 2001. The AIDS epidemic causes higher death and infant mortality rates, and lowers life expectancy.


By early 1987, about 110,000 whites were estimated to have remained in Zimbabwe, about half the number since independence in 1980. There were also about 25,000 Coloured (of mixed race) and 10,000 Asians. Some 1.5 million people who had left for neighboring states during the civil war returned after independence, putting considerable strain on the new nation. In addition, by the end of 1992, famine and civil war in Mozambique had driven an estimated 136,600 Mozambicans into Zimbabwe. Between 1992 and 1996, 241,000 Mozambican refugees repatriated from Zimbabwe. As of 1999, Zimbabwe was hosting some 1,200 refugees, the majority of whom were from Somalia, Ethiopia, and countries in the Great Lakes region.

In the early 1990s, there were about 25,000 Zimbabwe-born whites and 14,000 Zimbabwe-born blacks living in South Africa. As of 1999, there was still a small but steady flow of Zimbabweans into South Africa and Botswana in search of better paid employment.

In 2000 there were 656,000 migrants living in Zimbabwe, including refugees. By 2004, there were 6,884 refugees and no asylum seekers. In that same year over 7,000 Zimbabweans sought asylum in South Africa, the United Kingdom, Germany, and the United States. The net migration rate in 2005 was estimated as zero migrants per 1,000 population. The government views the migration levels as satisfactory.


Africans make up 98% of the total population in Zimbabwe and are mainly related to the two major Bantu-speaking groups, the Shona (about 82% of the population) and the Ndebele (about 14%). Of the former group, the Korekore predominate in the north; the Zezuru are in the center around Harare; the Karanga are in the south; the Ndau and Manyika in the east; the Kalanga in the west; the Rozwi are spread throughout the country. The various clans of the Ndebele, more recent immigrants from the south, occupy the area around Bulawayo and Gwanda. Other groups account for 11% of the African populace and include the Tonga near Kariba Lake, and the Sotho, Venda, and Hlengwe along the southern border.

Whites make up 1% of the non-African population. Europeans are almost entirely either immigrants from the United Kingdom or South Africa or their descendants; those from South Africa include a substantial number of South African Dutch (Afrikaner) descent. There are small groups of Portuguese, Italians, and other Europeans. Asians and peoples of mixed ancestry make up the remaining 1%.


The Shona speak dialects of the same Bantu language, Shona. There are six major dialects: Karanga, Zezuru, Korekore, Manyika, Ndau, and Kalanga. The Ndebele speak modified versions of Ndebele (or Sindebele), which belongs to the Nguni group of southeast Bantu languages.

English, the official language, is spoken by most Europeans and by an increasing number of Africans.


Historically, Christianity, brought into the region by Portuguese traders and Jesuit priests in the late 1500s, has been the dominant religion of the nation. About 6070% of the total population belong to various Christian denominations, with the largest being Roman Catholic (between 1727% of the population). Certain regions of the country have traditional links to specific denominations, based on "areas of interest," which were created by missionaries from groups such as the Catholics, Methodists, Anglicans, Dutch Reformed, and the Salvation Army. As a result, individuals will often claim adherence to their local denomination.

There is a small Muslim community, estimated at less than 1% of the population. They are primarily immigrants from South Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa. There are also small numbers of Greek Orthodox, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and atheists.

A good number of indigenous churches have developed from the mainstream Christian churches. The Zimbabwe Assembly of God, a branch of the Assemblies of God Church, adheres strictly to Christian tenets and opposes incorporation of traditional practices and beliefs. Other groups such as the Seven Apostles, provide a mixture of traditional religious practices with Christianity. An organization known as Fambidzano formed in the mid-1970s to serve as a support coalition of indigenous churches. One of the goals of the organization is to provide continuing theological and biblical education for church leaders.

Belief in and practice of traditional religions is thought to be quite widespread, as it is sometimes practiced in conjunction with other established belief systems. The belief in and respect for traditional healers resulted in the organization of the Zimbabwe National African Traditional Healers' Association (ZINATHA), which provides licensing and regulation of healers.

In response to widespread belief in and fear of witchcraft, the government has initiated the Witchcraft Suppression Act (WSA), which prohibits the practice of witchcraft, but also calls for prosecution of those falsely accusing others of the practice or engaging in witch hunts. The act has helped protect those, particularly women, who have been falsely accused of witchcraft. However, members of ZINATHA are seeking an amendment to the law that would redefine certain terms. The Act defines witchcraft as "the use of charms and any other means or devices adopted in the practice of sorcery." The proposed amendment would refocus the law to prohibit any practices that are intended to cause harm.

Though relations between religious groups are generally amicable, some tensions exist between Christians and practitioners of traditional religions. In particular, Christian churches oppose traditional practices that allow polygamy and refuse the use of modern medicine. Some tension exists between the government and indigenous religions which refuse to participate in public health and vaccination programs because of religious beliefs in healing through prayer alone. The Zimbabwe Council of Churches, the Heads of Denominations, and the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe are ecumenical groups that promote interfaith dialogue and cooperation, while offering forums for discussion of social and political issues.


In 2004, the National Railways of Zimbabwe, a public corporation, operated 3,077 km (1,912 mi) of rail lines (all of it narrow gauge), of which 313 km (194 mi) were electrified. Rail links exist with Zambia, Mozambique, Botswana, and the Republic of South Africa. Electrification of the railroads was begun following independence. There were 18,338 km (11,395 mi) of road in 2002, of which 8,692 km (5,401 mi) were classified as paved. In 2003, there were 401,007 registered motor vehicles, including 347,007 passenger cars and 54,000 commercial vehicles.

The Mazoe and Zambezi rivers are used for transporting chrome ore from Harare to Mozambique. Important ports and harbors are at Binga and Kariba.

In 2004, there were an estimated 404 airports, but only 17 of which had paved runways as of 2005. Zimbabwe operates domestic, regional, and European flights. Harare and Bulawayo are the principal airports. In 1997, total scheduled traffic included 938 million passenger-km (583 million passenger-mi) and 153 million freight ton-km (95 million freight ton-mi) of flight. Zimbabwe's passenger airline is Air Zimbabwe, and its international cargo airline is Affretair. In 2003, about 201,000 passengers were carried on scheduled domestic and international airline flights.


Evidence of Stone Age cultures dating back 100,000 years has been found, and it is thought that the San people, now living mostly in the Kalahari Desert, are the descendants of Zimbabwe's original inhabitants. The remains of ironworking cultures that date back to ad 300 have been discovered. Little is known of the early iron-workers, but it is believed that they were farmers, herdsmen, and hunters who lived in small groups. They put pressure on the San by gradually taking over the land. With the arrival of the Bantu-speaking Shona from the north between the 10th and 11th centuries ad, the San were driven out or killed, and the early ironworkers were incorporated into the invading groups. The Shona gradually developed gold and ivory trade with the coast, and by the mid-15th century had established a strong empire, with its capital at the ancient city of Zimbabwe. This empire, known as Munhumutapa, split by the end of the century, the southern part becoming the Urozwi Empire, which flourished for two centuries.

By the time the British began arriving in the mid-19th century, the Shona people had long been subjected to slave raids. The once-powerful Urozwi Empire had been destroyed in the 1830s by the Ndebele, who, under Mzilikaze, had fled from the Zulus in South Africa. David Livingstone, a Scottish missionary and explorer, was chiefly responsible for opening the whole region to European penetration. His explorations in the 1850s focused public attention on Central Africa, and his reports on the slave trade stimulated missionary activity. In 1858, after visiting Mzilikaze, Robert Moffat, Livingstone's father-in-law, established Inyati Mission, the first permanent European settlement in what is now Zimbabwe.

To forestall Portuguese and Boer expansion, both the British government and Cecil Rhodes actively sought to acquire territory. Rhodes, whose fortune had been made through diamond mining in South Africa, became especially active in gaining mineral rights and in sending settlers into Matabeleland (the area occupied by the Ndebele people) and Mashonaland (the area occupied by the Shona people). In 1888, Lobengula, king of the Ndebele, accepted a treaty with Great Britain and granted to Charles Rudd, one of Rhodes's agents, exclusive mineral rights to the lands he controlled. Gold was already known to exist in Mashonaland, so, with the grant of rights, Rhodes was able to obtain a royal charter for his British South Africa Company (BSAC) in 1889. The BSAC sent a group of settlers with a force of European police into Mashonaland, where they founded the town of Salisbury (now Harare). Rhodes gained the right to dispose of land to settlers (a right he was already exercising de facto). With the defeat of the Ndebele and the Shona between 1893 and 1897, Europeans were guaranteed unimpeded settlement. The name Rhodesia was common usage by 1895.

Under BSAC administration, British settlement continued, but conflicts arose between the settlers and the company. In 1923, Southern Rhodesia was annexed to the crown; its African inhabitants thereby became British subjects, and the colony received its basic constitution. Ten years later, the BSAC ceded its mineral rights to the territory's government for £2 million.

After the onset of self-government, the major issue in Southern Rhodesia was the relationship between the European settlers and the African population. The British government, besides controlling the colony's foreign affairs, retained certain powers to safeguard the rights of Africans. In 1930, however, Southern Rhodesia adopted a land apportionment act that was accepted by the British government. Under this measure, about half the total land area, including all the mining and industrial regions and all the areas served by railroads or roads, was reserved for Europeans. Most of the rest was designated as Tribal Trust Land, native purchase land, or unassigned land. Later acts firmly entrenched the policy of dividing land on a racial basis.

In 1953, the Central African Federation was formed, consisting of the three British territories of Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia), Nyasaland (now Malawi), and Southern Rhodesia, with each territory retaining its original constitutional status. In 1962, in spite of the opposition of the federal prime minister, Sir Roy Welensky, Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia withdrew from the federation with British approval. The federation disbanded in 1963. Southern Rhodesia, although legally still a colony, sought an independent course under the name of Rhodesia.

Political agitation in Rhodesia increased after the United Kingdom's granting of independence to Malawi and Zambia. The white-settler government demanded formalization of independence, which it claimed had been in effect since 1923. The African nationalists also demanded independence, but under conditions of universal franchise and African majority rule. The British government refused to yield to settler demands without amendments to the colony's constitution, including a graduated extension of the franchise leading to eventual African rule. Negotiations repeatedly broke down, and on 5 November 1965, Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith declared a state of emergency. On 11 November, the Smith government issued a unilateral declaration of independence (since known as UDI). The British government viewed UDI as illegal and imposed limited economic sanctions, but these measures did not bring about the desired results. In December, the UN Security Council passed a resolution calling for selective mandatory sanctions against Rhodesia. Further attempts at a negotiated settlement ended in failure. In a referendum held on 20 June 1969, the Rhodesian electorate92% whiteapproved the establishment of a republic.

The British governor-general, Sir Humphrey Gibbs, resigned on 24 June 1969. The Legislative Council passed the constitution bill in November, and Rhodesia declared itself a republic on 2 March 1970. The United Kingdom called the declaration illegal, and 11 countries closed their consulates in Rhodesia. The UN Security Council called on member states not to recognize any acts by the illegal regime and condemned Portugal and South Africa for maintaining relations with Rhodesia.

Problems in Rhodesia deepened after UDI, largely as a result of regional and international political pressure, African nationalist demands, and African guerrilla activities. Members of the African National Council (ANC), an African nationalist group, were increasingly subjected to persecution and arrest. Nevertheless, guerrilla activity continued. The principal African nationalist groups, besides the ANC, were the Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU), and the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU).

A meeting took place in Geneva in October 1976 between the British and Smith governments and four African nationalist groups. Prominent at the meeting were Joshua Nkomo, the leader of ZAPU; Robert Mugabe, leader of ZANU; Bishop Abel Muzorewa of the ANC; and the Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole, former leader of ZANU. Nkomo and Mugabe had previously formed an alliance, the Patriotic Front. The conference was unable to find the basis for a national settlement; but on 3 March 1978, the Smith regime signed an internal agreement with Muzorewa, Sithole, and other leaders, providing for qualified majority rule and universal suffrage. Although Bishop Muzorewa, whose party won a majority in the elections of April 1979, became the first black prime minister of the country (now renamed Zimbabwe-Rhodesia), the Patriotic Front continued fighting.

Meanwhile, the British government had begun new consultations on the conflict, and at the Commonwealth of Nations Conference in Lusaka, Zambia, in August 1979, committed itself to seeking a settlement. Negotiations that began at Lancaster House, in England, on 10 September resulted in an agreement, by 21 December, on a new, democratic constitution, democratic elections, and independence. On 10 December, the Zimbabwe-Rhodesian parliament had dissolved itself, and the country reverted to formal colonial status during the transition period before independence. That month, sanctions were lifted and a cease-fire declared. Following elections held in February, Robert Mugabe became the first prime minister and formed a coalition government that included Joshua Nkomo. The independent nation of Zimbabwe was proclaimed on 18 April 1980, and the new parliament opened on 14 May 1980.

Independence and Factionalism

Following independence, Zimbabwe initially made significant economic and social progress, but internal dissent became increasingly evident. The long-simmering rivalry erupted between Mugabe's dominant ZANU-Patriotic Front Party, which represented the majority Shona ethnic groups, and Nkomo's ZAPU, which had the support of the minority Ndebele. A major point of contention was Mugabe's intention to make Zimbabwe a oneparty state. Mugabe ousted Nkomo from the cabinet in February 1982 after the discovery of arms caches that were alleged to be part of a ZAPU-led coup attempt. On 8 March 1983, Nkomo went into exile, but returned to Parliament in August.

Meanwhile, internal security worsened, especially in Matabeleland, where Nkomo supporters resorted to terrorism. The government responded by jailing suspected dissidents, using emergency powers dating from the period of white rule, and by military campaigns against the terrorists. The government's Fifth Brigade, trained by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and loyal to Mugabe, was accused of numerous atrocities against civilians in Matabeleland during 1983. By early 1984, it was reported that many residents in Matabeleland were starving as a result of the military's interruption of food supplies to the area.

Armed dissidents continued to operate in Matabeleland until 1987, and food supplies in the area continued to be inadequate. A round of particularly brutal killingsmen, women, and childrenoccurred late in the year. The violence abated after the two largest political parties, ZANU and ZAPU, agreed to merge in December 1987.

A growing problem, however, was the political instability of Zimbabwe's neighbors to the south and east. In 1986, South African forces raided the premises of the South African black-liberation African National Congress in Harare, and 10,000 Zimbabwean troops were deployed in Mozambique, seeking to keep antigovernment forces in that country from severing Zimbabwe's rail, road, and oil-pipeline links with the port of Beira in Mozambique. Although Beira is the closest port to landlocked Zimbabwe, because of the guerrilla war in Mozambique about 85% of Zimbabwe's foreign trade was passing through South Africa instead.

Despite its reputed commitment to socialism, the Mugabe government was slow to dismantle the socioeconomic structures of the old Rhodesia. Until 1990, the government's hands were tied by the Lancaster House accords. Private property, most particularly large white-owned estates, could not be confiscated without fair market compensation. Nevertheless, economic progress was solid and Zimbabwe seemed to have come to terms with its settler minority. There was only modest resettlement of the landless (52,000 out of 162,000 landless families from 1980 to 1990) and when white farmers were bought out, black politicians often benefited. Some 4,000 white farmers owned more than one-third of the best land.

In March 1992, a controversial Land Acquisition Act was passed calling for the government to purchase half of the mostly white-owned commercial farming land at below-market prices, without the right of appeal, in order to redistribute land to black peasants. However, the government continued to move slowly and not until April 1993 was it announced that 70 farms, totaling 470,000 acres, would be purchased. Unease among whites grew, as did fear of unemployment, already at around 40%. Economic conditions also threatened to derail the Economic Structural Adjustment Program (ESAP) designed by the IMF and the World Bank. ESAP pressed for a market-driven economy, reduction of the civil service, and an end to price controls and commodity subsidies.

Meanwhile, in the March 1990 elections, Mugabe was reelected with 78.3% of the vote. The Zimbabwe Unity Movement (ZUM) candidate, Tekere, received about 21.7% of the vote. For parliament, ZANU-PF got 117 seats; ZUM, 2 seats; and ZANU-Ndonga, 1 seat. There was a sharp drop in voter participation, and the election was marred by restrictions on opposition activity and open intimidation of opposition voters. At first, Mugabe insisted that the results were a mandate to establish a one-party state. In 1991, however, growing opposition abroad and domestically, even within ZANU-PF, forced him to postpone his plans. Sensing an erosion of political support, Mugabe restricted human and political rights, weakened the Bill of Rights, placed checks on the judiciary, and tampered with voters' rolls and opposition party financing. The government also suspended the investigation into the 198287 Matabeleland Crisis, a decision that prompted a November 1993 reprimand by the Organization of African Unity (OAU)'s Human Rights Commission.

As the economy sputtered, political opposition grew. In January 1992, Sithole returned from seven years of self-imposed exile in the United States. In July, Ian Smith chaired a meeting of Rhodesian-era parties seeking to form a coalition in opposition to Mugabe. Sithole and his ZANU-Ndonga Party, the United African National Congress, the largely white Conservative Alliance, and Edgar Tekere's ZUM were included. Students, church leaders, trade unionists, and the media began to speak out. In May 1992 a new pressure group, the Forum for Democratic Reform, was launched in preparation for the 1995 elections. Parliamentary and presidential elections in 1995 and 1996 though officially won by ZANU-PF, were discredited by opposition boycotts and low voter turnout. Then in 1997, a homegrown pro-democracy coalition was launched from the constituency for constitutional reformthe National Constitutional Assembly (NCA). The birth of the NCA dovetailed with the growing radicalization of the Zimbabwe Confederation of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and its transformation from a collective bargaining agent for organized urban industrial labor into a broad-based political opposition movement representing a wide spectrum of civil society, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). The official launch of the MDC at Rufaro Stadium on 11 September 1999 was followed by the first Congress at which Morgan Tsvangirai was elected president, and Gibson Sibanda his deputy. NCA supporters embraced the MDC as a vehicle for implementing the new constitution should the government be amenable to it.

The MDC's first test came in February 2000 at a national referendum for constitutional changes strongly pro-regime. On 1213 February, voters soundly rejected the proposals much to the chagrin of the ruling party. The results signaled that ZANU-PF was not invincible, and they catapulted Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC into a leading position heading into the 2425 June parliamentary elections. Again threatened, Mugabe cracked down on the opposition. In the run-up to and aftermath of the elections, 34 people were killed, including Tsvangirai's driver and a poll worker who were killed in a gasoline-bomb attack. Officially, but without the sanction of international observers, ZANU-PF claimed 62 of 120 elective seats in the House of Assembly, with the MDC taking 57 seats with a turnout of 60% of eligible voters.

The credibility the regime was further damaged in the 911 March 2002 presidential polls, the conduct of which was declared fraudulent by the opposition andwith the exception of the African Union (AU) and Southern African Development Community (SADC)by the international community. Officially, Mugabe garnered 53.8% of the vote to 40.2% for Tsvangirai while others claimed 6.0%. The government prevented as many voters as possible in urban districts favorable to the MDC from registering, reduced the number of urban polling stations by 50% over the 2000 elections, added 664 rural polling stations, conducted a state media barrage, and intimidated the opposition. By some reports, 31 people were killed in January and February and 366 tortured. The opposition mounted a legal challenge to the results while the Commonwealth suspended Zimbabwe for one year.

By 2003, the country faced multiple crises. Owing to negative impacts of land grabbing, squatting, and repossessions of large white farms under the government's fast-track land reform program, some 400,000 jobs had been lost in commercial agriculture. Combined with a 90% loss in productivity in large-scale farming since the 1990s, some 5.5 million people in a population of 11.6 million were in need of food aid. Inflation had reached 228% and a fuel crisis threatened the nation. Strikes crippled production, prompting ever more severe repression by the government. More than 30% of the adult population was infected with the AIDS virus.

Given the devastating social impact of these issues, internal and diplomatic pressures were mounting for Mugabe to abandon his survival strategy in favor of a quick and clean exit strategy. One such move afoot was to offer the MDC a form of transitional government in exchange for cooperation in amending the constitution to allow a managed presidential succession and immunity from prosecution for the president and his followers in their retirement. However, there was a reluctance on the part of Tsvangirai's supporters to offer amnesty to a regime that had committed in excess of 550,000 cases of human rights violations ranging from murder, abduction, and rape to arson.

Tsvangirai was arrested and charged with treason in June 2003; he already had an outstanding treason charge from 2002 for attempting to assassinate Mugabe. In October 2004, Tsvangirai was acquitted of the 2002 treason charge. In August 2005, prosecutors dropped the remaining treason charges against Tsvangirai.

In a parliamentary election held in March 2005, the ZANUPF party won two-thirds of the vote. The opposition claimed the election was rigged, but the MDC won almost all urban seats in the second election in a row. From May to July of that year, tens of thousands of shanty dwellings and illegal street stalls were destroyed as part of a government clean-up program ("Operation Murambatsvina""Drive Out Rubbish"). In some cases the police forced people to knock down their own homes. In other cases, trucks and bulldozers moved in. The United Nations estimated the program left approximately 700,000 people homeless. The government's policy of moving city dwellers to rural areas only worsened the already dire consequences of food shortages. The main opposition to Mugabe's rule came from urban areas.


Under the constitution of 18 April 1980, independent Zimbabwe had a bicameral parliament consisting of a house of assembly with 100 members, 20 of whom were elected by white voters, and 80 by persons on the common voters' roll, which included all voters except whites. The upper house, or senate, had 40 members, 14 of whom were chosen by the 80 assembly members elected from the common roll, 10 by the 20 white assembly members, 10 by the council of chiefs, and 6 nominated by the president on the advice of the prime minister. The racial basis of parliament could not be amended until 1987 unless by unanimous vote of parliament; amendment afterward needed only a 70% vote of the assembly. During the first 10 years of independence, the declaration of rights in the constitution could be amended only by a unanimous vote of the assembly; amendment of other clauses required a 70% majority. In August 1987, as soon as the constitution allowed, the separate representation for whites in parliament was abolished and the 20 seats were temporarily filled by representatives selected by the other 80 members.

After the 1990 elections, the two houses of parliament were merged into a single chamber of 150 members120 elected by popular vote serving for five years, 10 traditional chiefs, 8 provincial governors, and 12 members appointed by the president. A constitutional change created an executive presidency and abolished the office of prime minister. ZANU leader Robert Mugabe assumed the presidency on 1 December 1987. Amidst controversy, he was reelected in March 1990, March 1996, and March 2002.

There is universal suffrage from age 18. The next presidential elections were scheduled for March 2008.


The Rhodesian Front Party, which dominated politics from its formation in March 1962 until the establishment of majority rule in 1979, advocated racial separation, division of land on a racial basis, and the protection of the Rhodesian whites. The party won all 20 Assembly seats reserved for whites in both the 1979 and 1980 elections, and in 1981, it changed its name to the Republican Front Party (RFP). Ian Smith, who served (196479) as prime minister, remained as party leader until his suspension from parliament in 1987. He was succeeded by Mark Partridge. The name of the party had previously been changed again to the Conservative Alliance Zimbabwe (CAZ). The CAZ won 15 of the 20 seats allotted to whites in the 1985 elections.

The principal black parties in Zimbabwean politics originated in the struggle for independence along ethnic lines. The Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU) was formed in December 1961 and led by Joshua Nkomo. It was split in July 1963 by the creation of the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU), led by the Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole, and later by Robert Mugabe. ZAPU's constituency was eventually reduced to the Ndebele minority, while ZANU gained wide support among the Shona ethnic group. Both ZAPU and ZANU took up arms against the government and in 1976 allied themselves in the Patriotic Front (PF).

After Bishop Abel Muzorewa accepted the Smith government's proposal for an internal constitutional settlement in 1978, his followers, now known as the United African National Council (UANC), emerged as the major party. In elections on 1721 April 1979, the UANC captured a majority of 51 seats in the new Assembly, and Muzorewa became the nation's first black prime minister. The elections, however, were boycotted by the PF, which continued its armed opposition to the government.

Under British auspices, a new constitutional settlement obtained PF approval in 1979, and the elections of 2729 February 1980 were contested by nine parties, including ZANU-Patriotic Front, led by Robert Mugabe, and ZAPU (which registered under the name Popular Front). Of the 80 Assembly seats elected from the common rolls, ZANU-Patriotic Front took 57, Popular Front (or ZAPU) 20, and UNAC 3. In the July 1985 elections, ZANUPF won 63 seats, PF-ZAPU, 15. After much enmity and bitterness during most of the 1980s, ZAPU and ZANU finally agreed to merge in late 1987 under the name of ZANU-PF and the merger was consummated in December 1989.

President Mugabe declared his intention to make Zimbabwe a one-party state by 1990. He regarded his party's victory in the 1990 elections as a mandate to proceed with his plans to establish ZANU-PF as the only legal party. He was soon turned away from that scheme by strong pressure from creditor governments abroad and a chorus of opposition domestically, including from within ZANU-PF. Zimbabwe got caught up in the general press throughout tropical Africa for greater decentralization of power and competitive party politics.

New parties began to emerge in the late 1980s and early 1990s in preparation for the expected elections in 1995. Tekere's Zimbabwe Unity Movement (ZUM) contested the 1990 elections with some success. The UANC merged with ZUM in January 1994. In January, longtime Mugabe rival Sithole returned from exile and created his own party, also using the ZANU rubric of ZANUN donga or sometimes ZANU-Sithole.

In March 1993, former Chief Justice Enoch Dumbutshena launched the Forum Party, an outgrowth of the pressure group, Forum for Democratic Reform. The Democratic Party emerged from a split within ZUM.

In 1996 elections for Executive President, Robert Mugabe, the longtime ruler of Zimbabwe, won 93% of the vote, while his party, the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, won 98% of the available seats in elections held a year earlier. However, in both elections it was widely accepted that the result had been predetermined. The Zimbabwe government made little pretense of conducting a free and fair election.

Parliamentary elections were scheduled for April 2000, but were postponed until June. Two new strong political parties were formed to challenge Mugabe's ZANU-PF. The United Democratic Front (UDF) party was launched by Lupi Mushayakarara, former Rhodesian leader Ian Smith, Abel Muzorewa, and Ndabaningi Sithole, a pack of leaders that Mugabe dismissed as "ghosts of the past." A more formidable opponent emerged in the form of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) led by Morgan Tsvangirai. The MDC successfully campaigned against a government sponsored draft constitution in the national referendum held in February 2000 with the government securing 45% of the national referendum votes against 55% for the opposition. The opposition argued that the draft constitution further entrenched executive rule allowing Mugabe to dissolve cabinet and parliament, and to rule by decree. Led by the MDC, opposition parties won nearly half of the seats in the House of Assembly in the June 2000 elections.

Parliamentary elections were held on 31 March 2005. ZANUPF won 78 of 150 seats, or 59.6% of the vote. The MDC won 41 seats, or 39.5% of the vote. One seat was secured by an independent candidate. The elections were not marked by violence as in the past, but the opposition claimed the elections were fraudulent. Human rights groups said that hundreds of thousands of "ghost voters" appeared on the electoral role. Other parties functioning in Zimbabwe were the National Alliance for Good Government (NAGG), the International Socialist Organization, the Shalom Reform Zimbabwe Party, and the Zimbabwe Labour Party. The next parliamentary elections were scheduled for 2010.

Challenges to the continued success of the MDC included leadership, credibility on the streets, articulation of position on contentious issues, and resource base. It remained to be seen whether the MDC could transform itself in a sustainable way from a broad-based civic movement opposed to Mugabe into an organized political entity representing and voicing the interests of a defined constituency all the while contesting power.


Each of the eight provinces of Zimbabwe is administered by a provincial commissioner appointed by the central government. Local services are provided by city, town, and rural councils. The Ministry of Local Government, Rural and Urban Planning is charged with ensuring the establishment of local authorities where necessary and local adherence to legislation. In addition to the eight provinces, two cities have provincial status: Harare and Bulawayo.


The legal system is based on Roman-Dutch law and has been influenced by the system of South Africa. A four-member Supreme Court, headed by the chief justice, has original jurisdiction over alleged violations of fundamental rights guaranteed in the constitution and appellate jurisdiction over other matters. There is a High Court consisting of general and appellate divisions. Below the High Court are regional magistrate's courts with civil jurisdiction and magistrate's courts with both civil and criminal jurisdiction. Before independence, separate African courts had jurisdiction over cases involving traditional law and custom. Beginning in 1981, these courts were integrated into the national system.

The chief justice of the High Court is appointed by the president upon recommendation of the Judicial Service Commission. The Commission also advises the president on the appointment of the other judges.

In 1990 the Customary Law and Local Courts Act established a unitary court system made up of headmen's courts, chiefs' courts, magisterial courts, the High Court, and the Supreme Court. Under this system, customary law cases can be appealed through all levels to the Supreme Court.

The constitution provides for the right to a fair trial and the judiciary rigorously enforces this right. However, under Mugabe, the judiciary's reputation for independence from the executive branch has been compromised as the executive has refashioned the courts to conform with its dictates. Nevertheless, the High Court has ruled in favor in several of the MDC's elections petitions alleging violence and intimidation that obstructed the election process.


Regular armed forces numbered 29,000 active personnel in 2005. The Army had an estimated 25,000 troops including a Presidential Guard. Armaments included 40 main battle tanks, most of which were listed as nonoperational, and 242 artillery pieces. The Air Force had 4,000 personnel with 50 combat capable aircraft, that included 13 fighters and 1 fighter ground attack aircraft. The service also had six attack helicopters. Paramilitary forces included the Zimbabwe Republic Police Force, with 19,500 members, and the Police Support Unit with 2,300 members. In 2005, the defense budget totaled $255 million.


Zimbabwe became a United Nations member on 25 August 1980 and belongs to ECA and several nonregional specialized agencies, such as the World Bank, the FAO, IAEA, UNESCO, UNIDO, and the WHO. It is also a member of the African Development Bank, the Commonwealth of Nations, the ACP Group, G-15, G-77, the African Union, the WTO, COMESA, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and the Preferential Trade Association (PTA) for eastern and southern Africa. Zimbabwe is part of the Nonaligned Movement.

In environmental cooperation, Zimbabwe is part of the Convention on Biological Diversity, CITES, the Montréal Protocol, and the UN Conventions on the Law of the Sea, Climate Change, and Desertification.


Zimbabwe has developed one of the most diverse economies in Africa. It has abundant agricultural and mineral resources and a well-developed industrial sector and infrastructure. Average annual growth during the first postindependence decade was 2.9%, but grew at an annual negative growth rate (i.e. declined) of 7.2% between 2001 and 2005 with a peak of -10.6% in 2003. Problems abound, with an annual average inflation rate of 246% between 2001 and 2005 and the unemployment rate above 70% in 2002. It is estimated that over 70% of Zimbabwe's population currently lives below the poverty line. A small white elite continues to dominate economic resources, but repatriation of white farms caused the flight of white capital in 2000, and by 2003, the land reform program had created chaos and violence. Inflation seriously threatened the gold mining and tobacco industries.

The government remained committed to the 199195 Economic Structural Adjustment Program (ESAP), despite severe hardships the Program caused average Zimbabweans. Central to this program was the reduction of the civil service by 25% with some 32,000 jobs eliminated by 1994. Although Zimbabwe recovered from the effects of the devastating 199192 drought, which caused a decline of between 8% and 9% in the GDP, thousands remained chronically dependent on food support. During 200005 period, many of Zimbabwe's population struggled to afford basic commodities as inflation rose. The African Development Bank and the IMF granted loans to Zimbabwe in 1999 and 2000, but Zimbabwe's external debt had already risen to $5 billion in 2001 and is currently estimated to be $5.2 billion. Civil unrest threatens the ruling government of Robert Mugabe. High budget deficits, inflation, and the HIV/AIDS pandemic prevent economic stability. As of 2002, the IMF's program with Zimbabwe remained suspended because the country was not complying with the IMF's conditions, and Zimbabwe had not made payments to the IMF since 2001. The World Bank also suspended programs in 2000 due to Zimbabwe's falling into arrears on payments. Mugabe's greater exercise of control over the economy did not portend well for the future. In its April 2005 World Economic Outlook, the IMF projected that real GDP in Zimbabwe would contract by 1.6% in 2005 and that growth would be stagnant in 2006. The fall in GDP in 2005 represented the seventh consecutive year of decline. GDP in 2005 was 40% lower than in 1998 and it is projected that in 2010 it will be 57% lower than in 1998.


The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2005 Zimbabwe's gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $28.4 billion. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange based on current dollars. The per capita GDP was estimated at $1,900. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at -4%. The average inflation rate in 2005 was 266.8%. It was estimated that agriculture accounted for 17.9% of GDP, industry 24.3%, and services 57.9%.

Foreign aid receipts amounted to $186 million or about $14 per capita.

The World Bank reports that in 2003 household consumption in Zimbabwe totaled $12.87 billion or about $982 per capita based on a GDP of $17.8 billion, measured in current dollars rather than PPP. Household consumption includes expenditures of individuals, households, and nongovernmental organizations on goods and services, excluding purchases of dwellings. It was estimated that for the period 1990 to 2003 household consumption grew at an average annual rate of 0.4%. Approximately 20% of household consumption was spent on food, 21% on fuel, 3% on health care, and 15% on education. It was estimated that in 2004 about 80% of the population had incomes below the poverty line.


In 2005, Zimbabwe's labor force was estimated at 3.94 million. As of 1996 (the latest year for which data was available), 66% of the workforce was engaged in agriculture, 24% in services, and 10% in industry. Growing unemployment remains a serious problem as new jobs fail to keep pace with the number of new job seekers. The unemployment rate in 2004 was estimated at 60%.

In 1981, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) was formed as an umbrella organization for all trade unions and to promote the formation of a single trade union for each industry. As of 2002, about 25% of the salaried workforce were members of the 31 unions which formed the ZCTU. Spontaneous strikes and lockouts are banned. Government-mandated worker committees carry out many functions performed by unions elsewhere, and annual wage increases are mandated for all workers.

Since independence, a priority of the government's wage policy has been reduction of the huge variation in earnings among workers, partly by increasing minimum wages and by controlling increases in higher wage brackets. The monthly minimum wage in 2002 ranged from about us$14 for agricultural workers to us$30 in the manufacturing sector. Although children under the age of 15 are legally banned from employment, child labor is widespread in all aspects of the economy. Workplace safety and health continue to be problems. There are no general standards for the safety of the work environment. The government sets standards and enforces them on an inconsistent basis.


In 2003, Zimbabwe had 3.3 million hectares (8.3 million acres) of arable land, covering 8.7% of the country's total land area. Most of what is now central Zimbabwe was sparsely populated when Europeans first settled into the region, gradually transforming the bush into fertile farmland. Since 2000, government policy changes have led to the seizure of 4,000 white-owned farms, and many who lost land have emigrated elsewhere in Africa or overseas. In 2003, agriculture accounted for 17% of GDP and 23% of exports.

In April 2000, some 35,000 guerilla veterans of Mugabe's Bush War revolution began expropriating hundreds of white-owned farms, frequently assaulting and occasionally murdering farmers. The farmland occupation cost millions of dollars in crop damage. Mugabe had promised to give each landless veteran z$50,000 as well as a monthly pension, but there was no money in the budget for it. Zimbabwe's High Court ordered police to evict the squatters from white farms, but the order was not enforced. Mugabe gave an implied approval of the confiscation by publicly declaring all white Zimbabweans as enemies of the state. The mainly white Commercial Farmers Union of Zimbabwe had been willing to negotiate redistribution of much of the farmland owned by whites, but Mugabe and the ruling ZANU-PF party were reluctant to settle. Previous land confiscations ordered by Mugabe have typically resulted in farmland left fallow or under the control of corrupt government officials. Crop production during 200204 fell by almost 25% compared with 19992001.

Since 1991, Zimbabwean agriculture has undergone a fundamental transition away from artificial producer and consumer prices, which were set far below world market levels. Many commercial farms changed from corn, cotton, and oilseed production to tobacco and horticultural activities because the government refused to permit producer prices to keep pace with rising input prices. About 63% of the economically active population was engaged in agriculture in 2000.

In the early 1990s, drought severely affected the output of every crop except tobacco. Corn, wheat, cotton, oilseed, coffee, and sugar outputs all declined by at least 75%. Tobacco production in 2004 was 80,000 tons. Corn production in 2004 totaled only 1,000,000 tons, down from 2,609,200 tons in 1996. In 2004, cotton production totaled 100,000 tons. Marketed production figures of other crops in 2004 were wheat, 80,000; sorghum, 80,000; soybeans, 93,000; peanuts, 150,000; coffee, 9,000; and sunflower seeds, 5,000. Rice, potatoes, tea, and pyrethrum are also grown.


In 2005, some 5,400,000 head of cattle, 2,970,000 goats, 610,000 sheep, 610,000 hogs, 112,000 donkeys, and 28,000 horses were held. Chickens numbered about 23 million. Livestock raising is an important industry, which has been helped by increased diversification initiated after 1965. In 2005, beef production totaled 96,700 tons; pork, 27,500 tons; and goat meat, 12,800 tons. Fresh milk production from cows totaled 248,000 tons.


There is some commercial fishing on Kariba Lake. Rural Zimbabweans fish the smaller lakes and rivers. The total catch in 2003 was estimated at 15,600 tons, with dagaas accounting for 67%.


About 49% of Zimbabwe's land area is estimated to be forest, but this classification included scattered tree savanna and considerable areas of grassland likely to be reforested in the foreseeable future. Forestry is gaining importance in Zimbabwe. There are hardwood forests in the western part of the country and in the Victoria Falls area. About 100,000 tons of teak, mahogany, and mukwa (kiaat) are cut annually. Roundwood production totaled 9.1 million cu m (321 million cu ft) in 2004, with about 89% used as fuel wood. Sawn wood production that year was 397,000 cu m (14 million cu ft). Softwood afforestation projects have been undertaken in the eastern districts to supply local needs heretofore met by imports; however, the loss of woodlands may be as high as 1.5% per year.


Zimbabwe's chief minerals were coal, gold, copper, nickel and clays. Zimbabwe was a world leader in the production of lithium minerals, chrysotile asbestos, and ferrochromium, with more than half of the world's known chromium reserves. Zimbabwe was self-sufficient in most minerals, producing 35 commodities mainly from small-scale mines. The total value of mineral production totaled $804.3 million in 2003. Employment however in the mining and quarrying sector has declined between 1998 and 2002, dropping from 61,000 to 43,000 in 2002. The fall may be attributed to economic conditions that have forced many smaller mining operations to shutdown between 2000 and 2003. However, another 100,000 to 300,000 were thought to be employed in the panning for gold. Of total exports of $1.23 billion in 2003, mineral and manufactured metal exports accounted for $492.3 million, up from $426.6 million in 2002.

Gold production peaked in 1999 at 27,666 kg, but government policies caused a more than 50% drop to 12,564 kg in 2003. As a result, gold exports also fell, from $236.1 million in 1998 to $137.4 million in 2003. Gold historically had been a major export.

Although several major metals saw production increases in 2003, most of the other minerals saw production declines ranging from 5% to more than 60% in 2003. Among the reasons for the decline were: general domestic economic conditions compounded by the state-sanctioned expropriation of commercial farmlands which threatened to spill over to the mining sector, and the high incidence of HIV/AIDS25% of the 1549-year-old population was infectedadded substantially to the mining sector's labor costs, through absenteeism, lost productivity, medical treatment, and skill replacement.

Output of other major minerals in 2003 included chromite (gross weight), 637,099 metric tons, down from 749,339 metric tons; asbestos, 147,000 tons, down from 168,000 in 2002; mine copper concentrate (metal content), 2,767 metric tons, up from 2,502 metric tons in 2002; mined nickel, 11,600 metric tons (estimated), up from 8,092 metric tons; lithium minerals (gross weight), 12,131 metric tons, down from 33,172 metric tons in 2002; black granite, 47,007 metric tons, down from 408,550 metric tons in 2002; iron ore (metal content), 184,000 tons, up from 136,000 in 2002; and marketable phosphate rock concentrate, 95,496 metric tons, down from 107,854 metric tons in 2002. The Madziwa nickel mine was closed down in 2000, the Mhangura Copper Mines were near depletion, and Munyati Copper Mines Ltd. suspended operations in 2000, following its abandoned sale. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, copper replaced gold and asbestos as the most valuable mineral, but its production has not kept pace with other minerals. Zimbabwe in 2003 also produced palladium, platinum, rhodium, selenium, silver, barite, hydraulic cement, clays (including montmorillonite bentonite and fire clay), emerald, feldspar, graphite, kyanite, limestone, magnesite, mica, nitrogen, rough quartz, sulfur, talc, and vermiculite. National PGM metal production grew in 2003 to an estimated 8,418 kg, up from 4,729 kg in 2002. No antimony, lead, zinc, diamonds, or iron oxide pigments were produced in 2003.

Gold panning was legal, but, by the Gold Trade Act, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe had a monopoly on purchasing and exporting of all gold and silver produced in the country. The revised code also permitted unlimited foreign exchange to companies that exported more than 75% of their production, and mining companies were allowed to keep 5% of their export earnings, to buy imported raw materials. Coal deposits in the Hwange area were substantial.

Excess government intervention in the economy and in staterun industries has been a major contributor to the growing number of closed mines and suspended projects, undermining the ability of the mining sector to generate more than 25% of export earnings. The government has been making efforts to privatize its interests in the energy, mining, and rail sectors, and to loosen its foreign exchange rules. Although the short-term outlook was not favorable, the natural resource endowment and a well-developed infrastructure remained in place.


Zimbabwe relies heavily on hydroelectricity and coal for its energy needs. Wood is also important.

With no proven oil reserves or refining capacity, the country's demand for refined oil is met by imports. In 2002, imports of refined petroleum products averaged 21,560 barrels per day, of which distillates accounted for 11,490 barrels per day and gasoline 5,680 barrels per day. Demand for refined products averaged 22,330 barrels per day in that same year. A pipeline from the Mozambique port of Beira to Mutare provides the majority of Zimbabwe's refined petroleum and diesel oil; the rest comes from South Africa.

Coal reserves in Zimbabwe were estimated at about 809 million tons at the beginning of 1998. Production in 2002 totaled 4,068,000 short million tons, with much of that amount going to the coal-fired Hwange plant for electricity production. Imports of coal totaled 43,000 short tons that year.

Electrical production is shared with Zambia. In 2002, Zimbabwe produced 8.279 billion kWh of electricity, of which 54% was from fossil fuels and 46% from hydropower. Consumption of electricity in 2002 was 11.394 billion kWh. Installed capacity in 2002 was 1.961 million kW, of which 61.5% of capacity came from conventional thermal plants.


Zimbabwe has a substantial and diverse manufacturing base, which is partly a legacy of the international sanctions imposed over the five years prior to independence. Industry accounted for only 14% of GDP in 2001, however. Manufacturing was at its lowest level in 15 years in 2001 due to civil unrest. Food and beverages, minerals processing, chemical and petroleum products, and textiles account for the majority of the value added by manufacturing. Lower levels of consumer demand because of high prices have affected producers of many household goods, clothing, footwear, drink, and tobacco products.

The Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Corporation (ZISCO) was operating at 30% in 1996, and supplied 60% of local need. The Zimchem chemical refinery processes a range of chemical products. Cement is produced in large quantities. Zimbabwe also has a substantial cotton and textile industry. The textiles industry has lost some 17,000 jobs in recent years to foreign competition from South Africa, which used subsidies, export incentives, and tariff protection to support its textiles industry. The gold mining industry faced collapse and closure in 2000 because of a lack of foreign exchange. Gold output dropped by half in that year, and 46,000 jobs were in peril. The tobacco industry was also in danger of foreclosure due to farm repatriation. As of 2005, the dire condition of the economy (a severely problematic balance of payments situation, devaluation of the currency, desperate foreign currency shortage, high inflation, very high interest rates, a fall in exports, and fuel shortages) was damaging the operations and viability of the manufacturing, construction, and mining sectors, in addition to agriculture.


Much of Zimbabwe's research effort is directed at improvements in agriculture. The government's budget for agricultural research is administered by the Agricultural Research Council which is headquartered in Harare and operates seven research institutes, eight research and experiment stations, and the National Herbarium and Botanic Garden. In Harare, at the Blair Research Laboratory, simple, innovative technologies are being developed to improve Zimbabwe's water supply and sewage disposal. Other research organizations, all in Harare, include the Geological Survey of Zimbabwe, the Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, and the Public Health Laboratory. The National University of Science and Technology, founded in 1990 at Bulawayo, has faculties of industrial technology and applied sciences. The University of Zimbabwe, founded in 1955 at Harare, has faculties of agriculture, engineering, medicine, science, and veterinary science. Degrees in agriculture and polytechnic studies are offered by seven colleges. In 198797, science and engineering students accounted for 24% of college and university enrollments. In 2002, high technology exports were valued at $21 million, or 3% of all manufactured exports.


Harare and Bulawayo are the country's principal distribution centers. They are linked by rail and road to smaller towns that serve as centers for their immediate rural areas. Head offices of most of the large companies are in one or the other of the two cities. There are supermarkets and department stores in Harare as well as few newer shopping centers offering a wider variety of goods. Many products are locally produced. Kwe Kwe serves as a processing and distribution center for livestock, tobacco, steel, and chrome. Mutare is a regional trading center. A chaotic, controversial land reform program and uncontrolled inflation have hindered the domestic trade and economy.

Business hours are generally from 8 am to 5 pm Monday through Saturday. Banks are open from 8:30 am to 2 pm Monday through Friday, except on Wednesday, when they close at noon. Saturday banking hours are from 8:30 to 11 am.


Due to violence in 2000, the annual tobacco auction that usually provides 30% of Zimbabwe's foreign exchange earnings had less than 20% of its normal sales volume and sold bales at prices 15% lower than usual. Unmanufactured tobacco from Zimbabwe (30% of total exports) typically accounts for about 11% of the world's export market in that category.

Gold had been the second-largest export commodity, but gold revenues were down by almost 50% in 2000 due to high inflation rates in Zimbabwe and low world market prices for gold. Other important exports include cotton (9.2%), iron and steel (9.2%), sugar (4.7%), and nickel (4.4%).

In 2005 the principal exports in terms of monetary revenues were as follows: gold ($366 million), tobacco ($227 million), ferro-alloys ($185 million), and platinum ($121 million). During the same year the principal imports were as follows: fuels ($413 million), chemicals ($401.3 million), machinery ($271.4 million), and manufactured goods ($268.7 million).


Zimbabwe's imports grew by an average of 11% between 1988 and 1998, reflecting a relaxation of import controls and the inflow of capital goods needed for investment, but declined rapidly after 1998. The rapid rise of the current account deficit since 1989 was caused primarily by the surge in imports from the creation of the

Country Exports Imports Balance
World 2,327.4 2,466.7 -139.3
South Africa 431.4 1,297.8 -866.4
Switzerland-Liechtenstein 303.7 19.5 284.2
Zambia 215.6 21.5 194.1
United Kingdom 140.4 120.7 19.7
Japan 122.3 72.5 49.8
Malawi 120.1 120.1
Germany 109.6 134.3 -24.7
United States 104.7 87.0 17.7
Netherlands 89.8 21.4 68.4
Spain 70.5 10.0 60.5
() data not available or not significant.
Current Account -424.9
   Balance on goods 157.6
     Imports -1,803.5
     Exports 1,961.1
   Balance on services -328.5
   Balance on income -293.7
   Current transfers 39.6
Capital Account 284.4
Financial Account -25.5
   Direct investment abroad
   Direct investment in Zimbabwe
   Portfolio investment assets
   Portfolio investment liabilities
   Financial derivatives
   Other investment assets
   Other investment liabilities
Net Errors and Omissions 80.2
Reserves and Related Items 85.8
() data not available or not significant.

Open General Import License (OGIL) list of items possible for importation without first obtaining a foreign exchange allocation from the government. With huge pent-up demand and future uncertainty about the program, importers rushed to take advantage of the opportunity, often hoarding several years' supply of items, which caused the trade deficit to balloon. After 1997, the amount of imports leveled off, and dropped rapidly in 1998. Due to the government's disastrous land reform programs, the commercial sector, as the traditional source of exports and foreign exchange, has suffered considerably.

The Economist Intelligence Unit reported that in 2005 the purchasing power parity of Zimbabwe's exports was $1.686 billion while imports totaled $2.053 billion resulting in a trade surplus of $367 million.


Zimbabwe has a relatively well-developed financial sector, in sub-Saharan Africa, second only to that of South Africa. The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) administers all monetary and exchange controls and is the sole bank of issue. The Zimbabwe Development Bank was established in 1983 as a development finance institution.

Five commercial banks and 10 merchant banks operate in Zimbabwe. Commercial banks include Barclays, Standard Chartered, Stanbic, the Zimbabwe Banking Corporation, and the Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe. Merchant banks include the Merchant bank of Central Africa, First Merchant Bank, Standard Chartered Merchant Bank, Syfrets Merchant Bank, National Merchant Bank of Zimbabwe. Commercial banks are obliged to maintain a statutory deposit ratio of 20%. The Post Office Savings Bank is an important savings institution. High inflation rates in the late 1990s prompted the government to print $250 million worth of Zimbabwean dollars in order to keep the state running, instead of depreciating the currency itself.

The International Monetary Fund reports that in 2001, currency and demand depositsan aggregate commonly known as M1were equal to $2.4 billion. In that same year, M2an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits, small time deposits, and money market mutual fundswas $3.3 billion. The money market rate, the rate at which financial institutions lend to one another in the short term, was 21.52%. The discount rate, the interest rate at which the central bank lends to financial institutions in the short term, was 57.2%.

The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE), with floors in Harare, deals in government securities and the securities of many privately owned companies. The stock exchange opened in 1946. Until 1993, it was insignificant as a source of new capital, but the government allowed foreign investment through the ZSE, and by September 1995 the net foreign inflow exceeded us$125 million. In 1997, the value of shares traded more than doubled, but in 1998, there was an 88% decline in the value of shares traded because of social unrest and high interest rates. 2001 proved to be a banner year, however, with market capitalization at a soaring all-time high of just under $8 billion, and trading valued at $1.5 billion. The ZSE Industrial Index was up 158% for the year, at 46,351.9, despite the severe economic slowdown caused by President Robert Mugabe's policies. As of 2004, a total of 79 companies were listed on the ZSE, which had a market capitalization of $1.941 billion. In that same year, the ZSE Industrial index rose 173.3% from the previous year to 1,097,492.5. Trading value in 2004 totaled $136 million.


Insurance companies must be registered with and licensed by the Registrar of Insurance, make security deposits with the treasury, file annual financial reports, and observe other government regulations. Principal types of insurance written are life, fire, automobile, employers' liability, and accident. Automobile third-party liability is compulsory. There were some 50 insurance companies doing business in Zimbabwe in the mid-1980s.

In 1996, insurance companies continued to complain about the persistence of regulations that they considered to be inappropriate in the liberalized environment. Two foreign-owned insurance companies were reported to be holding out against government localization requirements against which a deadline of 1 August 1993, for 51% local shareholding had been set. The requirement on insurance companies and pension funds to invest 55% in government securities was also felt to be too high. In 2003, the value of all direct insurance premiums written totaled $482 million, of which life insurance premiums accounted for $277 million. NicozDiamond was the country's top nonlife insurer in 2003, with gross written nonlife premiums of $195 million. In 2002, Old Mutual was the leading life insurer, with gross written life insurance premiums of $144.3 million.


Zimbabwe derives its principal revenues from income taxes, sales tax, customs and excise duties, and interest, dividends, and profits. Principal categories of expenditure are education, defense, debt service, and agriculture. Budgets for the 1970s and the 1980s were generally in deficit. Escalating fiscal deficits in the 1980s led to the implementation early in 1991 of an extensive reform program, which focused on fiscal deficit reduction and monetary reforms. A

Revenue and Grants 30,539.8 100.0%
   Tax revenue 26,913.9 88.1%
   Social contributions 839 2.7%
   Grants 456 1.5%
   Other revenue 2,330.9 7.6%
Expenditures 36,454.4 100.0%
   General public services 9,118.7 25.0%
   Defense 2,584.4 7.1%
   Public order and safety 2,249 6.2%
   Economic affairs 2,462.4 6.8%
   Environmental protection
   Housing and community amenities 1,591.1 4.4%
   Health 2,957.4 8.1%
   Recreational, culture, and religion 25.2 0.1%
   Education 8,820.3 24.2%
   Social protection 6,645.9 18.2%
() data not available or not significant.

severe drought in 1992, however, set back the program; the deficit rose to more than 10% of GDP in 1993, and 15% of GDP in 2000. In 1999, an estimated one-third of the total budget was spent on troops sent to the Congo. Pay raises from 60% up to 90% were given to the civil service and the army.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that in 2005 Zimbabwe's central government took in revenues of approximately us$1.4 billion and had expenditures of us$1.9 billion. Revenues minus expenditures totaled approximately -us$496 million. Public debt in 2005 amounted to 30.1% of GDP. Total external debt was us$5.17 billion.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that in 1997, the most recent year for which it had data, central government revenues were z$30,539.8 million and expenditures were z$36,454.4 million. The value of revenues in US dollars was us$36,314 million and expenditures us$43,346 million, based on a official exchange rate for 1997 of us$1 = z$0.841 as reported by the IMF. Government outlays by function were as follows: general public services, 25.0%; defense, 7.1%; public order and safety, 6.2%; economic affairs, 6.8%; housing and community amenities, 4.4%; health, 8.1%; recreation, culture, and religion, 0.1%; education, 24.2%; and social protection, 18.2%.


The corporate tax rate as of 2005 was 30% plus a 3% AIDS levy, down from a flat rate of 36.8%. A 5% levy is imposed on the net profits of banking institutions. New projects or enterprises in designated growth point area are taxed at 15% for five years. Other tax concessions are available for export manufacturers. Dividends paid to a Zimbabwean company are not taxable, but dividends paid to a foreign company are subject to 15% withholding if the company is stock exchange-listed, and 20% otherwise. Listed securities are exempt from capital gains tax, which is otherwise 20%. Withholding rates may be reduced or eliminated in double taxation agreements. Zimbabwe has tax treaties with at least 12 countries, including the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Canada, South Africa, Poland, Malaysia, Bulgaria, and Mauritius.

The primary tax on individuals is an income tax, which is based on a graduated scale of rates: 0%, 20%, 25%, 30%, 35%, and 40%.

As of 2005, Zimbabwe had a value-added tax (VAT) with a standard rate of 15%, which was applied to most goods and services. Exempt from the VAT were rail or road passenger transport, financial, medical, educational and training services, long-term residential leases, tobacco, and fuel. Exports are zero-rated, as are prescribed drugs and tourist services. Tobacco sold on the auction floor is subject to a 1.5% levy. There are excise duties on alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, and tobacco. Other taxes include a betting tax, and stamp, transfer, and estate duties.


Zimbabwe uses the GATT system of tariff codes. Imports are subject to duty, import tax, and surtax. Capital goods are exempt from all three. Duties mostly range between 15% and 20% but can go as high as 60%. The surtax is 10% and sales tax is charged to the importer as the end-user. The customs duty for textiles is 5% and the duty for clothes is 15%.

Zimbabwe is a member of the 14-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC), which was formed to promote "regional integration," and the 22-nation Preferential Trade Area (PTA) of Eastern and Southern Africa, which provides reduced duties on trade between member countries.


From independence in 1980 until 1991, the government was very defensive toward foreign investment, subjecting each proposal to careful scrutiny and requiring foreign investors to get permission from the Foreign Investment Center for the development of any new enterprise in Zimbabwe. Enterprises could be 100% foreign owned, especially in priority areas, but there was (and is) in effect a strong preference for joint ventures with at least 30% local participation.

In 1991 there was some revision of the regulations but the emphasis on indigenization remained at least as strong as the emphasis on the need to attract foreign investment. There is a long list of reserved sectors, but priority areas are offered a schedule of tax and tariff exemptions and incentives. Incentives are aimed at encouraging capital investments, the transfer of technology, the utilization of local raw materials, the development of rural areas, the use of labor-intensive methods, and the hiring of local personnel. Industries geared toward exporting that meet EPZ requirements receive tax holidays and customs free trade. In 1992, as part of a structural reform program under the IMF's Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility (ESAF), the Zimbabwe Investment Centre (ZIC) was established as a one-stop shop for investment approval. In 1995, disbursements under the ESAF program were suspended for failure to meet IMF targets, and in 1996, the government substituted a second plan, the Zimbabwe Program for Economic and Social Transformation (ZIMPREST), whose operations investors have found much less satisfactory. By the late 1990s, political turbulence and the government's defiance of the IMF had greatly increased investor risk, and brought foreign direct investment flows to a standstill.

Foreign investment has played a crucial role in Zimbabwe's development. In 1998, foreign direct investment (FDI) in Zimbabwe totaled over $444 million; by 2001, FDI in-flow had fallen to $5.4 million. In the last three years (200305) FDI has all but dried up, as the government's focus on political objectives at substantial cost to the economy continue and a return to better policies and practices seems no closer. At the end of the 1970s, foreigners owned an estimated 7080% of listed corporations. Today, offshore ownership of shares on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange has fallen to approximately 25%.

There has been a comparable decline in foreign portfolio investment, reflected in the transformation of Zimbabwe's capital account balance, from a surplus in 1995 equal to 7.1% of GDP to a deficit in 2002 equal to 6.5% of GDP. The lack of foreign currency in the country has made investment even less attractive because of the near-impossibility of converting earnings out of the rapidly depreciating local currency, which the government in many cases restricts. The suspension of IMF funding, with its negative implications about the credit-worthiness of the country, has limited most business transactions to a cash basis. The situation was worsened in June 2003, when the IMF suspended Zimbabwe's voting rights in the organization for failure to make effective efforts to repay arrears of about $305 million to the fund. Zimbabwe's total arrears increased from $700 million at the end of 2001 to $1.5 billion at the end of 2002. Somewhat ironically, the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE), founded in 1896 and open to foreign investment since 1993, has been the bestor second-best-performing emerging market stock exchange since 1999, propelled by inflation rates that in 2003 were reaching 300%.

Most foreign investment in Zimbabwe has roots in the colonial era, such as the mining conglomerate Anglo-American of Zimbabwe (AMZIM), and the timber company Lonrho, long the country's two largest investors. In 2001 Lonrho sold its timber holdings in Zimbabwe to Brotherhood Holdings Ltd. for a cash payment of $275 million. AMZIM, after selling off a number of subsidiaries, announced in June 2003 that it was relocating its headquarters to South Africa. Government policy allows squatters to take over, at times forcefully, white-owned commercial farms. When Zimbabwe was Rhodesia, white farmers, constituting less than 1% of the population, controlled over one-third of the land. Under Zimbabwe's investment regime investments in agriculture were discouraged and underutilized land was subject to fair-value purchase by the government for redistribution to family farmers. This policy primarily affected the 50% of the 11 million ha of agricultural estates created prior to independence. The United States provided some funding for a land-for-purchase program from 1980 to 1997, but by 1998 the government had rejected this gradualist approach as too slow. By 2003, over 4,000 white-owned farms had been taken against the will of the owners.


A three-year transitional development plan was adopted for 198285. It called for investments in the public sector and assumed an average net growth rate of 8% per year. Manufacturing was to receive 23% of total investment, transport 14%, and agriculture 13%. Total investment fell 30% short of this goal. The Five-Year Development Plan for 198690 called for an annual growth rate of 5.1%, some 60% from public-sector investment and 40% from foreign sources. Education, defense, and debt service were the largest categories of government spending. During the 1990s, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) supported Zimbabwe's balance of payments, but in 1999 President Robert Mugabe declared that he would sever ties with the development fund. The president was not willing to "save" the economy under a structural adjustment plan because it would have effectively bankrupted the government. In 2000, economic development slid backwards as inflation spiraled, industries died, and agricultural production fell; but in terms of leveling the distribution of wealth between blacks and whites, it was a red-letter year.

Mugabe's radical land reform program, poor management of the economy, and interference with the judiciary have combined to prevent further investment and development. Shortages of food, fuel, and foreign exchange marked the early 2000s. The IMF adopted a declaration of noncooperation for Zimbabwe in 2002 and suspended its technical assistance to the country, due to the nonpayment of arrears. In 2003, the IMF suspended Zimbabwe's voting and related rights. That year, inflation stood at 385%, and economic and social conditions had deteriorated, including a rise in unemployment and poverty, and a worsening of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the country. In February 2003, the government launched a National Economic Revival Program (NERP) designed to stabilize the economy. The Economist Intelligence Unit notes that since no fundamental changes in economic policy are expected, the economic collapse of recent years is expected to continue and real GDP is forecast to contract by 4.2% in 2006 and 1.5% in 2007. Inflation is forecast to remain firmly in triple digits as monetary policy will remain loose and the government will struggle to rein in spending, and because of ongoing food and foreign-exchange shortages and high world oil prices.


The social insurance system, instituted in 1993, has been updated in 2001, 2002, and 2003. All employed persons between the ages of 16 and 64 who are citizens or residents of Zimbabwe are covered. Old age pensions, disability, and survivorship benefits are provided under the program. Workers' compensation is available to all private-sector employees except domestic workers; government employees are covered under a state plan.

In 1993, a social security system was introduced providing old age, disability, and survivor's pensions. The program covers all employees between the ages of 16 and 65. Retirement is normally allowed at age 60. Free health care is provided for low-income families (about 75% of the population). Maternity benefits provide 70% of regular earnings for 90 days. Workers compensation insurance is provided for private sector employees. The State Disability Act provides coverage to public sector employees.

Domestic violence and abuse is common, and is on the rise due to economic stress and high unemployment. As of 2004, there was no legislation addressing domestic abuse, and officials often condone wife beating. Despite some legislative advances, women are bound by traditional customs which are discriminatory in areas of property ownership and inheritance. Sexual harassment in the workplace is prevalent. Rape, including politically motivated assaults, remain a huge and underreported problem. There are hundreds of thousands of orphans due to the large number of deaths from HIV/AIDS. Education is not compulsory, and schooling is not free.

There are numerous reports of human rights violations. Abuses included police killings, beatings, and torture, violation of privacy rights, and persecution of journalists. The government has generally failed to take action against those responsible for human rights abuses.


All health services are the responsibility of the Ministry of Health, which covers 50% of total health care expenditures provided by local authorities (with Ministry of Health grants), mission churches (also with grants), and industrial organizations and private services. The government has declared its intention to provide free medical services for all. Prior to independence, facilities for Africans were free, but these were greatly inferior to those available to Europeans. Zimbabwe has been focusing on building and/or upgrading rural health care centers and district hospitals and expanding rural health programs, such as immunization, control of diarrheal diseases, training of health care workers, and improving the supply and affordability of essential drugs. The local pharmaceutical industry is well developed. The Ministry of National Supplies operates the Government Medical Stores, which procures goods on behalf of the Ministry of Health. There were four tiers of health care delivery in Zimbabwe: 56 rural hospitals and 927 health centers (public and private) providing preventive and curative services; 55 district hospitals; 8 provincial and 4 general hospitals; and 5 central hospitals located in major cities. As of 2004, there were an estimated 6 physicians and 54 nurses per 100,000 people. About 85% of the population had access to health care services. An estimated 85% of the population had access to safe drinking water and 68% had adequate sanitation.

As of 2002, the crude birth rate and overall mortality rate were estimated at, respectively, 24.6 and 24 per 1,000 people. About 54% of married women (ages 15 to 49) were using contraception. The fertility rate was 3.8 births per woman. Infant mortality was 52.34 per 1,000 live births in the same year, and life expectancy was only 39.13 years in 2005. Maternal mortality rates were high with an estimated 695 per 100,000 live births and the disease pattern for mothers and children was one of mainly preventable diseases. The government of Zimbabwe paid for 80% of the routine immunizations. The immunization rates for children under five were as follows: diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus, 78%; polio, 79%; measles, 73%; and tuberculosis, 82% in 1994.

Guinea worm incidence has decreased from 1,570 cases in 1991 to 257 in 1995. Commonly reported diseases were malaria and measles. Tuberculosis continues to be a major health problem. Local campaigns are under way to control schistosomiasis, which affects a large percentage of the African population. An estimated 16% of children under five years old were considered malnourished.

The AIDS epidemic is among the worst in the world. The HIV/AIDS prevalence was 24.60 per 100 adults in 2003, the fourth highest in the world. As of 2004, there were approximately 1,800,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in the country. There were an estimated 170,000 deaths from AIDS in 2003. Demographic surveys project that AIDS may increase child mortality rates nearly threefold by the year 2010 in Zimbabwe.


In rural areas, Africans live in villages and on farms in housing that is mainly of brick or mud and stick construction with thatch or metal roofs. The villages are usually small (except for the massive protected villages), with fewer than 100 inhabitants. Urban housing is generally of brick. According to the latest available information for 198088, total housing units numbered two million, with 4.2 people per dwelling. In 2000, the housing deficit was estimated at over one million units. In 2001, about 3.4% of the urban population lived in slums.

The Zimbabwe National Association of Housing Cooperatives (ZINAHCO) is an umbrella organization of over 1,000 national housing cooperatives. The organization was established as a means of providing advice to member groups on dealing with local and national authorities and to offer training in building techniques. In 2003, ZINAHCO was working to change urban building standards which dictate that hook-ups to public services must be in place before an owner may begin to build a home. The Cooperatives argue that for many of the urban poor living in slum shacks, it is more appropriate to first allow for the construction of permanent structures with communal utility services. Residents can then install utilities at a later date, as they can afford to do so.


A unitary system of education under the Ministry of Education has replaced the dual system of separate educational facilities for Africans and non-Africans formerly maintained by the Rhodesian government. Education is free and compulsory for seven years between the ages of 6 and 13. Secondary education lasts for six years (four years lower and two years upper). The government has developed a strong vocational school and apprenticeship system.

Primary school enrollment in 2003 was estimated at about 80% of age-eligible students. The same year, secondary school enrollment was about 38% of age-eligible students. It is estimated that about 80.6% of all students complete their primary education. The student-to-teacher ratio for primary school was at about 39:1 in 2003; the ratio for secondary school was about 22:1. In 2003, private schools accounted for about 86.9% of primary school enrollment and 71.3% of secondary enrollment.

The University of Zimbabwe provides higher education on a multiracial basis. Other universities include the National University of Science and Technology and the Africa University, which is sponsored by the United Methodist church. In 2003, it was estimated that about 4% of the tertiary age population were enrolled in tertiary education programs. The adult literacy rate for 2004 was estimated at about 90%, with 93.8% for men and 86.3% for women.

As of 2003, public expenditure on education was estimated at 4.7% of GDP.


The National Free Library of Zimbabwe was founded in 1943 in Bulawayo as a national lending library and center for interlibrary loans. It has over 100,000 volumes. The Bulawayo Public Library holds about 100,000 volumes and operates a mobile library service. Other libraries include the Harare City Library, with 200,000 volumes and the Turner Memorial Library in Mutare. The National Archives of Zimbabwe, located in Harare, receives a copy of every book published in Zimbabwe, as does the Bulawayo Public Library. The library at the University of Zimbabwe is the largest in the country, with 500,000 volumes in the main library and branches. The Parliament of Zimbabwe holds a collection of 115,000 volumes.

The Zimbabwe Museum of Natural History (1901) at Bulawayo has geologic, ethnographic, historical, and zoological collections. A Railway Museum is also located in Bulawayo. Located in Harare are the Zimbabwe Museum of Human Sciences, with archaeological, historical, zoological, and other collections, the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, which displays works of national, regional, and European art, and the Queen Victoria Museum. There is a military museum in Gweru and a children's museum in Marondera.


The Ministry of Information, Posts, and Telecommunications provides telephone, telegraph, and postal services. In 2003, there were an estimated 26 mainline telephones for every 1,000 people; about 131,000 people were on a waiting list for telephone service installation. The same year, there were approximately 32 mobile phones in use for every 1,000 people.

The state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation controls all domestic broadcasting of television and radio. In total there were 7 AM and 20 FM radio stations in 1998. In 1997, there were 16 television stations. In 2003, there were an estimated 362 radios and 56 television sets for every 1,000 people. The same year, there were 52.7 personal computers for every 1,000 people and 43 of every 1,000 people had access to the Internet. There were seven secure Internet servers in the country in 2004.

There are a number of independent and government-owned newspapers in the country. The Herald (2002 circulation, 122,166) and the Chronicle (74,032) are owned by the Mass Media Trust (MMT), a holding company affiliated with the ZANU-PF. Though circulation figures were not available at this printing, The Daily News, an independent publication, is reported to have the largest circulation in the country. Major independent weeklies include The Financial Gazette, The Independent, and The Standard.

The constitution provides for free expression, but allows for legal limitations in the name of defense, public safety, public order, state economic interest, public morality, and public health. There is said to be a high degree of self-censorship employed by the media, though an increasingly independent press is sometimes critical of the government.


The government encourages the development of agricultural and other cooperatives, which are seen as a means of improving the subsistence economy. The Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce has many branches. The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe is located in Harare. The Africa regional office of Consumers International is in Harare.

The National Arts Council of Zimbabwe is based in Harare. The Zimbabwe Medical Association and the Zimbabwe Scientific Association serve as both professional associations and educational/research organizations. The Wildlife Society of Zimbabwe is an educational and activist group for conservation and environmental issues.

National youth organizations include Youth for Christ, Junior Chamber, the Zimbabwe National Students Union, Zimbabwe Student Christian Movement, the Boy Scouts Association of Zimbabwe, The Girl Guides Association of Zimbabwe, and YMCA/YWCA. There are sports associations promoting amateur competition for athletes of all ages in a wide variety of pastimes, including softball, baseball, badminton, and track and field.

The Zimbabwe Association for Human Rights was established in 1994. Active groups for women's rights and social development include the Kunwana Women Association, the Musasa Project, the Zimbabwe Association of University Women, and the Zimbabwe Women's Bureau. Amnesty International, Habitat for Humanity, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, UNICEF, and the Red Cross have national chapters.


Tourist attractions include Victoria Falls and the Kariba Dam on the Zambezi River, numerous wildlife sanctuaries and game reserves, including Hwange National Park, the eastern highlands, the Matobo Hills, and the Zimbabwe ruins near Masvingo. There are safari areas in the Zambezi Valley below the Kariba Dam and at Tuli. Resort, camping, and fishing facilities are also available. South African visitors still account for the largest share of the tourist trade. Political progress in South Africa brightens the outlook for tourism in Zimbabwe. A passport, visa, onward/return ticket, and sufficient funds are required for travel to Zimbabwe. Precautions against typhoid, malaria, and hepatitis are recommended.

In 2001, approximately 2,067,864 tourists visited Zimbabwe. Tourism receipts for 2003 totaled us$44 million. In that year there were 5,766 hotel rooms with 12,053 beds and a 38% occupancy rate. The average length of stay was three nights.

According to 2005 US Department of State estimates, the cost of staying in Harare was us$301 per day, and at Victoria Falls, us$411 per day.


The country's former name, Rhodesia, was derived from Cecil John Rhodes (18531902), whose company administered the area during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Lobengula (183394), king of the Ndebele, whose grant of the minerals concession in his territory to Rhodes in 1888 led to European settlement, headed an unsuccessful rebellion of his people against the settlers in 1893. Prominent African nationalist leaders are Joshua Nkomo (191799), leader of ZAPU; Bishop Abel Muzorewa (b.1925) of the United Methodist Church, who became the nation's first black prime minister in 1979; and ZANU leader Robert Gabriel Mugabe (b.1924), who became prime minister after independence and later first executive president; he has been head of state since 1980. Ian Smith (b.1919) was prime minister from 1964 to 1979. Many of the early works of the British novelist Doris Lessing (b.1919) are set in the Rhodesia where she grew up.


Zimbabwe has no territories or colonies.


Harmon, Daniel E. Southeast Africa: 1880 to the Present: Reclaiming a Region of Natural Wealth. Philadelphia, Penn.: Chelsea House Publishers, 2002.

Masters, William A. Government and Agriculture in Zimbabwe. Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 1994.

Meldrum, Andrew. Where We Have Hope: A Memoir of Zimbabwe. London, Eng.: John Murray, 2004.

Owomoyela, Oyekan. Culture and Customs of Zimbabwe. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2002.

Renwick, Robin. Unconventional Diplomacy in Southern Africa. New York: St. Martin's, 1997.

Rotberg, Robert I. Ending Autocracy, Enabling Democracy: The Tribulations of Southern Africa, 19602000. Cambridge, Mass.: World Peace Foundation, 2002.

Rubert, Steven C. and R. Kent Rasmussen. Historical Dictionary of Zimbabwe. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow, 2001.

Sheehan, Sean. Zimbabwe. 2nd ed. Tarrytown, N.Y.: Benchmark Books/Marshall Cavendish, 2004.

Zeilig, Leo and David Seddon. A Political and Economic Dictionary of Africa. Philadelphia: Routledge/Taylor and Francis, 2005.

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Republic of Zimbabwe

Major Cities:
Harare, Bulawayo

Other Cities:
Gweru, Hwange, Kadoma, Kwe Kwe, Masvingo, Mutare, Nyanda


This chapter was adapted from the Department of State Post Report 2000 for Zimbabwe. Supplemental material has been added to increase coverage of minor cities, facts have been updated, and some material has been condensed. Readers are encouraged to visit the Department of State's web site at for the most recent information available on travel to this country.


The word "Zimbabwe" derives from the Shona dzimba dza mabwe (house of stones). It has been written that one of the most striking features of Zimbabwe is the depth of its historical roots; that the past of Zimbabwe can be followed, through both traditions and documents, as a continuous story for five centuries.

With more than a passing resemblance to a magazine's best-of issue cover, Zimbabwe is a beautiful country to visit. The cities are bright and well-organized havens; the hinterlands are positively bursting with gorgeousness, both four-legged and furry, wild and winged, spiky and splashy.

Bantu-speaking farmers were the first occupants of the Great Zimbabwe site in the south of the country. As early as the 11th century, some foundations and stonework were in place, and the settlement, generally regarded as the nascent Shona society, became the trading capital of the wealthiest and most powerful society in southeastern Africa. In the 19th century European gold seekers and ivory hunters were moving into Shona territory. The best known of these was Cecil John Rhodes who envisioned a corridor of British-style "civilization." Sanctioned by Queen Victoria, white settlers swarmed in, and by 1911 there were some 24,000 settlers.

Ian Smith became Rhodesian President in 1964 and began pressing for independence. When he realized that Britain's conditions for cutting the tether would not be accepted by Rhodesia's whites, he made a Unilateral Declaration of Independence, which the UN declared illegal. Increasingly fierce guerilla warfare ensued and whites began to abandon their homes and farms. Smith was forced to call a general nonracial election and finally had to hand over leadership. In 1980 Zimbabwe joined the ranks of Africa's independent nations.

In Zimbabwe traditional arts include pottery, basketry, textiles, jewelry, and carving. Shona sculpture, a melding of African folklore with European artistic training, has been evolving over the past few decades.

Music has always been an important part of cultural life. Traditional musical instruments include the marimba, a richly toned wooden xylophone, and the mbira, a device more commonly known as a thumb piano.

English is the official language of Zimbabwe, but it is a first language for only about 2% of the population. The rest of the people are native speakers of Bantu languages, the two most prominent of which are Shona and Sindebele.

As one of the world's newest nations, Zimbabwe offers the rare combination of an exciting and evolving political and social scene and, in its capital of Harare, a pleasant living environment.



Harare is a pleasant city located in the north-central part of Zimbabwe. It is the seat of government and the country's cultural, transportation, and communications center. Harare was first established by British settlers in the 1890s and has a modern downtown and numerous attractive residential neighborhoods. The brilliant colors of the flowering trees contrast sharply with the city's modern architecture. Since independence, residential suburbs have become fully integrated, although a large percentage of the black population still reside in a number of surrounding high density suburbs.

Harare proper has several major hotels of international standard, a national art gallery/museum, 12 movie theaters, a choice of good restaurants, and a few nightclubs. Extensive parks and sports and recreational facilities, including thoroughbred racing, tennis, golf, trail riding, horseback riding lessons, squash, and swimming are available. Entertaining is often done in homes or private clubs. A car is essential, as residential areas are spread out. Religious services are available for Catholic, Jewish, Protestant, and other denominations. Hobby, art, theater, dance, and musical groups are active.

Supermarkets and department stores provide shopping facilities comparable to a small American city, though with a much more limited selection of goods. Most necessities are locally produced and usually available. A wide variety of products are now available on the market. New and diversified shopping centers have been built in the northern suburbs, thereby decreasing the need for people residing in those areas to shop in the city center.


Both electricity and water are generally reliable in Harare, although the local electricity company may occasionally practice a brief period of load shedding. Most houses have generators. All electrical current is 220, 50 cycles. Adapter plugs (to the Zimbabwean three square prongs) can be purchased locally. All appliances provided are electric, including cooking ranges. Most appliances can be purchased locally, but prices are considerably higher and quality often lower than comparable equipment in the U.S.


Over the last couple of years Zimbabwe has seen tremendous changes with regard to the quantity and quality of items stocked in local stores. However, over the past two years, prices have more than doubled. There are local cheeses and you can buy processed cheese from South Africa. Cottage cheese, cream cheese, yogurt, and sour and fresh cream taste a bit different, but work well in recipes.

Most spices and basic gravy mixes and food colors are available (not pure essences though), as are French and English mustards, and Heinz Ketchup. Hellmans Mayonnaise and Miracle Whip are now in most stores. You can get pickles though they don't taste like their American counterparts; Greek olives, bottled salad dressings are available (not as many varieties, and you cannot find Ranch). Vegetable oil is available as is olive oil. Occasionally, you can buy extra virgin olive oil, but if you use it a lot, bring it. Plain rice is plentiful; most baking products are available locally (baking powder, cream of tartar, baking soda, dry yeast, cooking chocolate and cocoa), however, you may find that they do not always taste exactly like U.S. brands. Supermarkets now carry Duncan Hines Cake Mixes. Most varieties of nuts are available (some expensive), but pecans and macadamias are locally grown and inexpensive. Local and imported cereals are available.

Tuna is available in brine and oil. Juices are available in boxes in a variety of brands. Most are quite good. Some Mexican and Chinese products are available, but expensive. Dry pastas are plentiful. Canned tomatoes, puree, and paste are available, but not tomato sauce. Canned kidney beans and other canned vegetables are available as well.

Formula and baby food are available, but you may not be able to find a special. Jars of baby food are available, but expensive (US $1 a jar). Zimbabwe makes and imports baby cereals-compared to the U.S. there is not so much variety and the quality is not as good.

Good meats, vegetables and fruits are in abundance. Fresh fish, including some varieties of frozen freshwater and deep sea, is also available.

Local wines and beer, and imported wines, beers and spirits are available in Harare shops.

Several brands of local cigarettes are produced. Pipe and chewing tobacco are not available.

There is no cat litter in Zimbabwe, so owners should bring a large supply. Pet food is available, but inferior.


Fashionable, Western-style clothing is popular in Harare with very little traditional African dress in evidence. Sweaters, jackets, and light coats are needed in June, July, and August, when the evening temperatures can drop below 40 °F. Since homes are not centrally heated, flannels and bathrobes are needed. Virtually all clothing products can be purchased locally, but style, quality, and prices differ from those in the U.S.

Evening wear is similar to that worn in the U.S. Men wear a suit or sport jacket.

Women tend to dress less casually here. Jeans, shorts, and T-shirts are reserved for home wear. Dresses and skirts are worn to the office more often than slacks. Pantyhose are available, but quality varies.

Supplies and Services

Both electricity and water are generally reliable in Harare, although the local electricity company may occasionally practice a brief period of load shedding.

Locally produced varieties of most household and personal supplies can be bought in Harare at moderate prices, though quality is often inferior to U.S.-or European-produced goods. U.S.-made items are not available. Hair care products are expensive and some items are not available, although an appointment at the hairdresser for a shampoo and dry is only US$3-$5.

Most basic services are available at a reasonable price in Harare. These include dry-cleaning, tailoring, hair and beauty treatment, shoe repair, and most small appliance repairs.

Domestic Help

Wages for domestic help are relatively low. The average wage for domestics (most of whom reside in staff quarters adjacent to the house) is US $50 a month, plus "rations." Rations vary from home to home. Many employers pay domestics cash in lieu of food supplies; others provide meat, tea, bread, sugar, cornmeal, toilet paper, and soap.

Employers are not required to pay social security or government contributions of any kind for domestic employees, but must respect minimum wages set by the Zimbabwean Government for domestic employees. Many enroll their domestic employees in a local health program.

Religious Activities

Harare's religious community encompasses virtually all major denominations. Services are in English and Shona, as well as in other languages. Consult the local newspaper for details of church services.


Because of Harare's moderate climate, outdoor sports opportunities abound. Local clubs play cricket, rugby, softball, and soccer. Golf courses and tennis courts (and instruction in both) are plentiful. Horseback riding is another recreational opportunity in Harare. Serious riders may consider bringing their own saddle and tack and can lease a horse at a local stable for a very reasonable rate.

Bring your own equipment, as local varieties are expensive and frequently unavailable. Tennis balls in particular are expensive.

Touring and Outdoor Activities

Zimbabwe has some of the most beautiful scenery in Africa. Lake Chivero Game Park, a 30-minute drive from Harare, offers fair game viewing in a relaxed atmosphere on a weekend afternoon. Also within a 30-minute drive from the city are the Ewanrigg Botanical Gardens with 24 hectares of landscaped gardens, a large collection of cactus, and many exotic trees; the Lion and Cheetah Park; a snake park; and the Larvon Bird Gardens, in which are 400 species of local and exotic birds.

Several attractions within a 2-3 hour drive afford pleasant weekends. The Eastern Highlands (Nyanga, Troutbeck, Vumba) offer beautiful and serene surroundings and diverse recreational opportunities. The choice of accommodation is wide, ranging from self-contained cabins in the National Parks to a five-star hotel complete with a casino in Nyanga.

Destinations within the country for long weekends or short vacations are numerous. The Zimbabwe Ruins, described as "one of Africa's greatest mysteries," are fascinating, and a tour to this area is a must for any visitor to the country. Hwange National Game Park is Zimbabwe's largest game sanctuary, covering some 14,620 square kilometers (larger than Connecticut). Safari vehicles are designed to offer maximum opportunity to photograph and view the large variety of animals that abound there. Victoria Falls have been described as one of the seven natural wonders of the world. They are 1,690 meters in width and their mean height is 92 meters; their greatest recorded flow was 160 million gallons per minute; the gorges were cut over millions of years by the raging waters of the Zambezi River.

A leisurely cruise on Lake Kariba is very relaxing. The lake is the home of the tigerfish, the supreme challenge for any angler; and a sundowner cruise, which takes place in the cool of the evening, is a good way to unwind.

Other destinations include Lake Kyle, Chimanimani Mountains, Bumi Hills, and Spurwing and Fothergill Islands.

An elaborate network of roads is well paved and reasonable and attractive package tours are available by air. One can choose between a "full board" rate (all meals and transportation paid) or a "bed and breakfast" rate, which allows the traveler to choose how to spend leisure time.

Hunting and fishing trips are plentiful and fruitful in Zimbabwe, though hunting licenses for big game are expensive. Facilities for camping, hiking, and boating are good and readily accessible.

No restrictions are imposed on travel in Zimbabwe except in some parts of the Matabeleland area (south), and the extreme eastern border with Mozambique. However, the unpredicatablity of fuel supplies makes travelling outside of Harare more restrictive.


First-run films are shown at Harare's many movie theaters. The films arrive about 2 months behind their release in the U.S. and can be censored. The local theater group, REPS, performs regularly. Several international special attractions also come to Harare each year, namely theater groups, comedy shows, and special fairs. The annual Harare Show is a week long festival that provides interesting exhibits and attractions. Symphony, ballet, and choral societies give occasional performances.

There are numerous video clubs in the Harare area, but the tapes are VHSm British PAL system, and therefore require a multisystem television and VCR.

Social Activities

Social life among the American community is generally casual, with most informal entertaining done at home, either around meals or cocktails or during an afternoon "braai" (cookout).

The American Women's Club, an active society composed primarily of private American citizens resident in Zimbabwe, sponsors dinners and other social events.

An informal crafts group meets occasionally to share ideas, plan field trips, and work on crafts projects.

Charitable organizations are abundant in Harare, including the SPCA, hospital aid societies, and local orphanages. These organizations provide excellent opportunities to meet Zimbabweans and other foreigners.


Bulawayo, 240 miles southwest of Harare, is the second largest city in Zimbabwe, with a population of close to 414,000. It is the chief town of Matabeleland, and a rail and commercial center for the vast surrounding area. The city was founded toward the end of the last century, and has grown dramatically in size and importance. Breweries and flour mills are important industries here. Automobiles, tires, building materials, furniture, televisions, and textiles are produced here. Gold and coal deposits have been found close by. The good air, rail, and bus services are constantly expanding, and the city has many hotels and a variety of restaurants.

Nearby tourists attractions are the Khami Ruins, and the Rhodes tomb in the Rhodes Matopos National Park. A National Museum is located in the city.

Bulawayo has been the scene of intense dissident activity during the past 25 years. Joshua Nkomo, the guerrilla leader who helped free his country from white-minority rule, lives in a suburb south of the city.


GWERU , which was called Gwelo until 1982, is in the southwest. Several industries are located in Gweru. Dairy products, footwear, textiles, and building materials are produced here. It is a mining center with a population over 120,000.

HWANGE (formerly called Wankie) is in far western Zimbabwe, about 300 miles west of Harare. Its 39,200 residents depend on coal mining for their economic base. Nearby Hwange National Park and local safari areas add tourism to the economy. The city was founded about 1900 and named after a local chief, Whanga.

KADOMA (formerly called Gatooma) was named for nearby Kadoma Hill, in the central region, 75 miles southwest of Harare. It is a vital farming center, with both an agricultural research station and cotton pest research agency located in the city. Kadoma's population is about 44,600.

KWE KWE (formerly called Que Que) is situated in the center of the country, halfway between Harare and Bulawayo. It is an important processing and distribution point for products such as rails, chrome, and steel, as well as livestock and tobacco. Cotton textiles are manufactured near Kwe Kwe and nickel and pyrites are mined nearby. Cotton textiles are manufactured near Kwe Kwe and nickel and pyrites are mined nearby. Approximately 47,600 people live in Kwe Kwe.

MASVINGO , located near the Macheke and Mshangashe rivers, is a tourist center for the Kyle National Park, and the Great Zimbabwe ruins. Asbestos and gold are mined near the city. Masvingo is linked by road with Harare and Pretoria, South Africa.

MUTARE (formerly called Umtali) is a city of 85,000 in northeast Zimbabwe, on the Mozambique border. Great fields of tobacco are grown in the area. Gold, silver, copper, lead, and iron deposits are found throughout the adjoining region, for which Mutare is the trading center. Several industries are located here among them oil refining, automobile assembly, textiles, clothing, and leather goods manufacturing. Tourism in the nearby national parks is an important economic asset.

The city of NYANDA now uses a local name but, for 92 years, it was Fort Victoria, named in honor of the woman who was then England's queen. Located in an area of gold mines 190 miles south of Harare, it has a resident population of 25,000. Nyanda is noted especially for its proximity to the famed Zimbabwe ruins.


Geography and Climate

Zimbabwe is a landlocked country between the Zambezi and Limpopo Rivers of south-central Africa. Elevations range from below 2,000 feet in the river basins to over 7,000 feet in the Eastern Highlands. Harare and most population centers are located on the highveld, a savanna-covered plateau, some 4,000-5,000 feet above sea level.

Zimbabwe covers 150,000 square miles, about the size of Montana. It is bounded by Zambia on the north, Mozambique on the east, Botswana on the west, and South Africa on the south. The landscape varies from flat and rolling ranges, to farmland and mountains, all marked by granite outcroppings. Points of geographical and scenic interest include the magnificent Victoria Falls and man-made Lake Kariba on the Zambezi River; the mountainous Eastern Highlands along the Mozambique border; and the historically important ruins of Great Zimbabwe, the capital of the ancient civilization of Zimbabwe, located near Masvingo; and a number of game parks.

The climate on the central plateau is moderate in all seasons with warm days and cool nights. Homes do not have central heating or air-conditioning, although room heaters and fireplaces are used on winter nights (May-August). Annual rainfall averages about 28 inches on the highveld, more in the Eastern Highlands, and much less in the lowveld of the southeast and the Zambezi Valley. The sun shines nearly every day, even at the height of the warm rainy season (November-March). In Harare, the average low temperature in winter is 45°F at night, though frost occasionally occurs. The average daily temperature in summer is 75°F, with temperatures seldom surpassing 90°F.


Zimbabwe's population was 12.4 million in mid-1998 and has been growing at an annual rate of 3.1%. The population is 87% African. Of that group, some 71% belong to Shona-speaking tribes. The largest

Shona subgroups are the Karanga, the Zezuru, and the Manyika. The remaining 16% of the black population is Ndebelea tribe of Zulu origin inhabiting the southern and western part of Zimbabwe-or Kalanga, Deme, San, Shangaan, Swana, Tonga, and Venda. Whites, mainly of South African, British, and European ancestry, number about 70,000. Asians, of Indian ancestry, and Coloreds, people of mixed European-African origin, number about 30,000.

English is the official language. Shona and Sindebele are spoken in their respective areas. The literacy rate is estimated at 85%. A large majority of the population is formally or nominally Christian. Thousands of Zimbabweans have earned university degrees in their own country or in the U.S., U.K., or Europe, giving the country one of the most highly educated populations of any African state.

The Harare metropolitan area has a population of more than 1.6 million, including the municipality of Chitungwiza, which has an estimated population of between 350,000 and 800,000. Other major cities are Bulawayo (790,000), Mutare (170,000) Gweru (160,000), and Kwe Kwe (100,000). Most Zimbabweans live in communal lands, areas formally reserved for African settlement and covering nearly half the nation's territory. Some 40% of the population live in urban areas. Communal lands tend to be overcrowded and overgrazed, and inhabitants rely heavily on subsistence agriculture. About 4,000 mostly white-owned commercial farms occupy much of the nation's most productive land and produce half of Zimbabwe's staple food crop, white corn, and the main export crops: tobacco, cotton, sugar, tea, and coffee. As a result, Zimbabwe possesses one of the highest inequality ratios in all of sub-Saharan Africa. Resettlement of blacks on government-purchased commercial farmland is a high priority of the administration, but the question of land distribution remains highly controversial.

Public Institutions

The Republic of Zimbabwe became independent on April 18, 1980, after a guerrilla war against the white colonial government that had announced its Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) from the U.K. in 1965, in an effort to avoid the tide of majority rule which was then sweeping through Africa.

The African majority had fiercely resisted UDI, as it forestalled achievement of self-rule, and the first incidents of armed opposition against Prime Minister Ian Smith's regime began in the late 1960s, continuing at a low level through the early 1970s. The fall of the Portuguese Empire in 1974 led to the creation of an independent Mozambique in 1975. The outlawed Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU), which had been in exile in distant Tanzania, was then permitted to operate from adjacent Mozambique, while the rival Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU) continued its guerrilla operations from Zambia, resulting in an increase in the general level of fighting.

Various attempts at ending the "Rhodesian problem" through negotiation failed, as did the attempt to create a state under the joint rule of Ian Smith and Bishop Abel Muzorewa, known as "Zimbabwe-Rhodesia." A joint conference held at Lancaster House in London under British auspices between September and December 1979 led to agreement by Smith, Muzorewa, ZANU leader Robert Mugabe, ZAPU leader Joshua Nkomo, and other factional leaders on a constitution and a plan which provided for a brief return to British rule, general elections open to all parties, and ultimate independence.

In the elections of late February 1980, which were monitored by international observers and considered to have been free and fair, Mugabe's ZANU-Patriotic Front won 57 of the seats in the 100-member House of Assembly; Nkomo's Patriotic Front-ZAPU won 20; Bishop Muzorewa's United African National Council (UNAC) won 3; and Ian Smith's Rhodesian Front (RF) won all 20 seats reserved for whites. Robert Mugabe was selected to be the country's first Prime Minister.

Once in office, Mugabe pursued a policy of national reconciliation with the country's small, but economically influential white community. He set up a government of national unity which included PFZAPU and some whites. Normally blessed by good rains and spurred by international aid and pent-up demands resulting from the 15 years of U.N.-imposed sanctions, the economy was very healthy and the internal political situation was positive in the first year of independence. However, the euphoria of independence wore off as the Government came to grips with the myriad of problems involved in running a country. Serious political differences developed between ZANUPF and PF-ZAPU as the result of strife between excombatants of the two former guerrilla armies and the discovery of illegal arms that were cached on PF-ZAPU properties. As a result, Mugabe fired Nkomo and several of his close aides from the cabinet in 1981. A low level security problem-marked by serious human rights abuses by both the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) and the "dissidents" continued in the Ndebele-populated provinces of Matabeleland, where Nkomo's party was the strongest, until 1987. That year, ZANU-PF and PF-ZAPU agreed to unite; the parliamentary seats reserved for whites were abolished, and Prime Minister Mugabe became executive president, initially for a 3-year term. However, ethnic tension and the failure to redress the human rights issues remain an underlying point of stress in the so-called Unity Accords. ZANU-PFs dominance of Zimbabwe politics was confirmed again in 1990, when Mugabe was elected to a full 6-year term as President and led his party to victory in that year's Parliamentary elections for a new 150-member unicameral Parliament, consisting of 120 elected seats, 10 chiefs elected by their peers, 8 provincial governors, an attorney general, and 12 non-constituency MPs appointed by Mugabe, and a speaker of Parliament elected by parliament. Mugabe was re-elected to the presidency in 1996.

The constitution provides for protection of fundamental human rights as well as the independence of the judiciary. The central government is responsible for making and implementing policies on health, education, and social welfare throughout the country; however, city councils in the urban areas and rural councils in the countryside have increasing powers as the country implements a policy of decentralization and the central government's resource base shrinks. The civil service is set up along British lines; a nationwide police force is controlled from national headquarters in Harare.

The Government repealed the 25-year-old state of emergency in 1990. It announced plans to repeal the repressive Law and Order Maintenance Act (LOMA), but has since backtracked on these plans. Also in 1990, the ZANU-PF Central Committee formally abandoned the one party state, and other political parties were allowed to operate. In 2000 there were approximately 35 opposition parties. ZANU-PF also relaxed its Marxist/Socialist policies during the 1990s and has generally allowed the private sector to operate freely. Economic liberalization has been slow, however, and the Government still controls a wide array of inefficient and money-losing parastatals that continue to drain Government resources.

In 1999, leaders of the country's powerful labor union confederation, The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), formed the country's first major opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Capitalizing on a sluggish economy and growing dissatisfaction with the Government, the MDC quickly became the first serious challenge to the ruling ZANU-PE In February 2000, the voters defeated the Government's proposed new constitution in the first electoral setback for the Government since independence, Veterans of Zimbabwe's liberation struggle and other ZANU-PF supporters embarked on a campaign of political violence designed to intimidate supporters of the opposition. Despite the intimidation campaign, the MDC won 57 of the 120 contested seats in June 2000 parliamentary elections-another setback for ZANU-PE which previously held 117 of the contested seats.

Zimbabwe is replete with civic and charitable organizations including the Red Cross, the Jairos Jiri Association and St. Giles Association (for the physically handicapped), the St. John's Ambulance Corps, Rotary. Island Hospice, Masons, Soroptomists, and numerous missionary organizations that welcome volunteer assistance.

The country enjoys a number of relatively strong nongovernmental organizations, including civil society organizations. human rights groups, and welfare organizations. Examples of civil society organizations which focus on good governance. accountability, and human rights include: Zim Rights, Transparency International. Amani Trust, Legal Resources Foundation. Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, Women's Action Group, Zimbabwe Women Lawyers' Association, and the National Constitutional Assembly.

Foreign Relations

Nearly 4,000 Zimbabweans studied in the U.S. during the UDI period. Now scattered throughout senior levels of both government and the private sector, they represent a substantial reservoir of good will toward the U.S.

The U.S., which played a behind-the scenes role during the Lancaster House Conference, extended official diplomatic recognition to the new government immediately after independence, and a resident Embassy was established in Harare or Zimbabwe's Independence Day, April 18. 1980. The first U.S. Ambassador arrived and presented his credentials in June 1980, Until the arrival in 1983 of a resident Ambassador in Washington, Zimbabwe's relations with the U.S. were handled by its Ambassador to the United Nations (U.N.) in New York.

At the Zimbabwe Conference on Reconstruction and Development (ZIMCORD) held in Harare in 1981, the U.S. Government pledged US $225 million over 3 years as the U.S. contribution to Zimbabwe's development needs. This goal was more than met; from independence to September 1998, the U.S. provided more than $720 million in economic and development assistance to Zimbabwe, making it the largest bilateral aid donor. In addition, most of this assistance was in the form of direct grants and was used to help rebuild schools and clinics, train agricultural experts, build low cost housing, and get the national economy-suffering from the war and sanctions-back on its feet.

Agency for International Development (AID) assistance to Zimbabwe in the 1990s has focused on agriculture/food security, education, family planning, HIV/AIDS prevention, private sector development, low-income housing, micro-enterprise funding and democracy and governance programs, and emergency food aid.

Bilateral relations are generally good. A series of undiplomatic statements by the Zimbabwe Government led to a suspension of most U.S. aid in 1986, but aid resumed in 1988. The collapse of the Communist regimes in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union led Zimbabwean leaders to reexamine their world view, and Zimbabwe and the U.S. cooperated very closely during the former's latest tenure on the U.N. Security Council, 1991-92.

President Mugabe visited Washington informally in September 1980, and on official working visits in September 1983, July 1991, and in 1995, meeting with Presidents Carter, Reagan, Bush, and Clinton respectively. He also led the Zimbabwean delegation to the U.N. in 1980, 1984, and 1991. Then Vice President, George Bush, visited Harare in November 1982 on a trip to several African countries.

Diplomatic relations with the West again soured in 1997 when President Mugabe announced plans to seize white owned farms without providing compensation. An agreement was reached between the Government and donors in 1998, whereby donors would provide funding to much needed land reform. The process broke down in 2000 when the Government again announced plans to seize white owned farms for the resettlement of landless Blacks in a "fast-track" resettlement program. The Government's program was implemented by war veterans occupying more than 1,000 farms. Many Western donors withdrew part or all of their aid until the Government took steps to restore law and order in the land reform process.

Historically, Zimbabwe's closest links have been with the U.K.; however, in the past 3 years, this relationship has been very strained. Britain has provided substantial aid as the result of a pledge made at ZIMCORD. A British Military Advisory and Training Team assisting the Zimbabwe Army. British investment in Zimbabwe remains the largest of any single nation. As with the U.S., thousands of Zimbabweans studied in the U.K., and private links remain close; however, official relations at times are strained.

Other West European countries have also forged close ties with Zimbabwe. The Scandinavian countries share certain philosophical affinities and have provided much assistance as have France, Canada, and the Federal Republic of Germany. Portugal and Greece maintain links partly because of the sizable Portuguese and Greek communities in the country. Similar historical ties have led to the establishment of close relations with India and Pakistan, and to a lesser extent, with Bangladesh.

Zimbabwe maintains diplomatic relations with virtually every African country, although some ties are closer than others. African nations with embassies in Harare are Algeria, Angola, Botswana, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Libya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, the Sudan, Tanzania, Tunisia, Zambia, and DRC.

Because of its "birth by armed guerilla warfare," Zimbabwe developed and maintains close ties with a number of revolutionary states and organizations. Among these are the People's Republic of China, Cuba, the People's Democratic Republic of Korea, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Yugoslavia, and the Palestinian Liberation Organization.

Shortly after attaining independence, Zimbabwe was welcomed into the world community of nations and granted membership in many international organizations. Chief among these is the United Nations, which Zimbabwe joined just before the General Assembly convened in September 1980. In honor of its newest state, Africa chose Zimbabwe to hold one of its seats in the Security Council, which it did for the biennium 1983-84 and again in 1991-92. Zimbabwe participates in many bodies within the U.N. system. It is also a member of the Organization of African Unity, the Non-Aligned Movement, the Commonwealth, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund.

Arts, Science, and Education

Zimbabwe's cultural life is diverse, with ample opportunities for foreigners to study, appreciate, and participate in both Western and African traditions.

The National Gallery of Zimbabwe offers a small collection of European art and a collection and workshop for African sculpture, mostly impressionistic soapstone works. The Queen Victoria Museum in Harare, located next to the College of Music, has ethnographic, geological, and natural history displays. The National Archives also has excellent permanent displays. The National Museum of Bulawayo has very good displays of Zimbabwe's wildlife and history. Harare and Bulawayo have several private art galleries which show interesting work.

Amateur theater groups welcome new participants. Professional or semi-professional theatrical performances are continually available. There are several choral groups and a few small orchestral ensembles. Several cinemas offer films (mostly American and British) a few months after their first run in the U.S. Video shops rent tapes of feature films, and there are occasional dance performances Zimbabwean, modern, and classical-by local groups. Performances by Zimbabwean popular musicians are numerous and inexpensive.

Performances by non-Zimbabwean artists and groups-whether of music, dance, or drama-are relatively rare.

There are scientific, cultural, hobby related, and artistic societies, with frequent meetings open to spectators and prospective members.

Several subscription libraries in Harare offer a fair selection of reading material. A decent selection of new books is available in local bookstores.

The University of Zimbabwe is an important force in the community, and its courses, lectures, and library are open to foreign students. Universal primary education remains one of the state's goals. The government currently estimates that there are more than 2.5 million children in school in Zimbabwe, up from about 800,000 at independence. Educational opportunities have greatly increased, but unfortunately so has unemployment.

Commerce and Industry

At independence, Zimbabwe inherited one of the strongest and most complete industrial and financial infrastructures in sub-Saharan Africa, as well as rich mineral resources and a strong agricultural base. Most urban infrastructure is comparable to that in rural areas of the U.S., although much of it suffers from decades of insufficient investment and lack of maintenance. However, cellular service providers are rapidly filling the gap, albeit at much higher rates. Erratic electrical power is another periodic problem area.

Zimbabwe has been one of the few countries in sub-Saharan Africa able to consistently feed itself, although it is subject to periodic droughts with devastating effects (not just to the economy, but people, too). Locally produced fruits and vegetables, meats, dairy products, and processed fruits are usually available. Subsistence agriculture still provides the livelihood for a majority of Zimbabwe's farmers. Corn, called maize in Zimbabwe, is the staple crop. Export crops include tobacco, cotton, sugar, horticultural products, coffee, and tea.

Manufacturing is developed, largely as the result of international trade sanctions imposed during the UDI period. Privately owned factories grew to supply many consumer goods, although a large percentage of these businesses grew inefficient over the decades as they remained highly protected from import competition as the Government of Zimbabwe pursued an import substitution economic growth model. The largest industries are iron, steel, metal products, food processing, chemicals, textiles, clothing, furniture and plastic goods. Tourism is very important as a foreign currency earner for the country.

Zimbabwe is endowed with rich mineral resources. Mining is largely in the hands of multinational companies. Exports of gold, asbestos, chrome, coal, nickel, and copper are foreign exchange earners. No commercial deposits of petroleum have been discovered, although the country is richly endowed with coal-bed methane gas that has yet to be exploited.

The Government is currently attempting a reorientation of the Zimbabwe economy, moving from the state-controlled socialist paradigm it espoused during the 1980s toward a more market-based, private sector-oriented model. The Government of Zimbabwe expressed an intent to attract foreign investment to complement what domestic business can generate and is in the process of liberalizing and eventually reducing many of the restrictions that served to deter investment in the past. It has decontrolled many prices and moved to eliminate the losses of several large parastatal companies. South Africa is still the predominant trading partner, though trade with Europe, Japan, the U.S., and neighboring African countries is considerable.

The giant Kariba Hydroelectric Dam on the Zambezi River, supplemented by several thermal generators and a coal-fired thermal plant recently established at Hwange supply the country's electric power. Without petroleum of its own, the country must depend on imports of gasoline and diesel for all transport needs. To stretch imported supplies, gasoline is blended 85/15 with locally produced ethanol.

Zimbabwe's inflation rate at year-end 1999 was more than 55%. The per capita income is about US $350. The country experienced rapid devaluation of the local dollar vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar in 19972000. The official exchange rate as of November 2000: US $1 = Z$55.



Traffic moves on the left, British fashion, but although U.S. standard left-hand-drive cars can be used, they are not recommended for safety reasons.

Valid U.S. or foreign drivers licenses are acceptable for use in Zimbabwe, provided there is a photograph on the license.

Local auto insurance is required. All customary forms of automobile insurance are available. All Americans must purchase at least "third-party extended" insurance, which covers damage to other vehicles and injury to parties not in the insured car. The cost is minimal, less than US $50 per year per vehicle. Comprehensive and collision insurance is highly recommended.

Parts are generally, but not always, available for domestically assembled vehicles. Delivery of parts from South Africa for other makes can take several weeks. Fuel shortages have become endemic since January 2000, with supplies sporadic and unpredictable. Gasoline, when available, at current exchange rates, costs about US $3.00/gallon. This results in limited vehicular mobility.


Taxis are readily available and inexpensive, but not up to U.S. standards. They are found at special stands in town and are available on call in the suburbs. Bus service within Harare is available, but buses are usually crowded and service does not always keep to schedule.

A very good network of paved roads stretches across the countryside. Buses and passenger trains serve the larger towns. Air Zimbabwe and/or Zimbabwe Express run daily flights linking Harare, Bulawayo, Kariba, Victoria Falls, and other towns. An express bus service operates between Harare, Bulawayo, and Mutare.


International flights connect Zimbabwe with London, Amsterdam, Athens, Frankfurt, Lisbon, and Vienna in Europe; with Australia; and with numerous regional African cities. Other destinations are within easy reach via connections in neighboring African countries. Flights to and from Europe are generally over-booked and can be extremely difficult to reserve during the school holidays-December-January, April-May, and August-September.

In addition to Air Zimbabwe, the national airline, Harare is also served by British Airways, South African Airways, Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airways, Egypt Air, Ghana Airways, and Air Tanzania. There are also flights via regional African airlines.


Telephone and Telegraph

Harare's telephone system is being upgraded, but it is not always reliable, especially during the rainy season. Fortunately, several mobile phone companies have recently entered the market and service is beginning to improve. Calls made from a home phone that are not operator-assisted are charged by the unit. This includes local and long distance direct-dial calls, and unless a call is booked through an operator, which is more expensive, the individual charges are not listed on the phone bill.

A satellite ground station began operation in 1985, and direct dialing out of Zimbabwe is sometimes easier than reaching a local number. It is cheaper to call from the U.S. to Zimbabwe than vice-versa. Zimbabwe has direct telex and telegraph service through London to most countries. Internet service providers are available in Zimbabwe.


International airmail between Zimbabwe and the U.S. takes 5-21 days; sea mail sometimes takes several months.

Radio and TV

Radio and TV in Zimbabwe are government owned. The state TV system broadcasts from about 4 pm until 11:30 pm on two channels that feature a variety of shows, including many older British and American series. Some residents have opted for satellite TV and subscribe to the South African entertainment channel MNet which offers several movie channels, ESPN, CNN, BBC, MTV, VH-1, Cartoon Network, cooking stations, Discovery Channel, and more. The television system used in Zimbabwe is British PAL. A television set purchased in the U.S. will not work in Zimbabwe, except when used to play NTSC videotapes. Radio Zimbabwe transmits on two AM and four FM channels in Shona, Ndebele and English from early morning to late evening. One FM station broadcasts 24 hours daily. Shortwave reception for U.S. Armed Forces Radio, VOA, and BBC is generally good with the aid of an external antenna.

There are also numerous local video rental clubs around Harare, although the quality of the videos is sometimes somewhat less than that of U.S. videos. A multisystem or PAL system TV and VCR are necessary to play local tapes.

Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals

There are two daily newspapers, at least three weekly and two Sunday papers in Harare, in addition to numerous local magazines on a variety of subjects. A limited selection of international publications is available. U.S. magazines found in bookstores include Newsweek and Time. Others magazines are available, but expensive. Ordering them via pouch is advisable. Bookstores carry a fair selection of popular British and American fiction and nonfiction, but prices are high. Secondhand bookstores offer reasonable prices. The selection of children's books is very limited.

Health and Medicine

Medical Facilities

There are three adequate hospitals; one opened in December 1998. There are good clinicians in most of the medical specialty areas. Laboratory, diagnostic imaging, and blood transfusions services are of good standards. Pharmacies are adequately stocked, and medicines that are not available in Zimbabwe can usually be purchased from South Africa. However, the unavailability of foreign exchange has made purchasing of certain medicines uncertain. The trauma clinics and road/air evacuation standards in Harare continue to improve. Medical evacuation is usually to South Africa.

However, adequate private medical care outside Harare is sparse. Government medical facilities are declining throughout the country.

Community Health

Public health standards are quite high in low-density urban suburbs. However, it varies throughout the high-density and rural areas. Public boards are responsible for, and stringent in setting standards for meats and produce available locally. Water in major cities is generally safe to drink. Sewage treatment is advanced, as are virtually all sanitation controls.

HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and bilharzia are at epidemic levels throughout the nation.

Preventive Measures

Malaria continues to be a problem in regions outside Harare. Adjunctive measures for prevention of malaria are strongly recommended. Mefloquine or Doxycyline are the prophylaxis regimes of choice because of the high incidence of chloroquine-resistant malaria.

No particular safeguards are necessary in food preparation. Fruits and vegetables are washed thoroughly with tap water. Drinking water should be boiled and/or filtered as a precaution.

Most lakes and standing bodies of water are infested with bilharzia. Swimming and wading in them is ill advised.

Individuals with asthma or allergies may be adversely affected due to the great variety of year-round pollens and dry and wet seasons.


Passage, Customs and Duties

A passport, return ticket, and adequate funds are required. U.S. citizens traveling to Zimbabwe for tourism, business and transit can obtain a visa at the airports and border ports-of-entry, or in advance by contacting the Embassy of Zimbabwe in Washington, D.C. U.S. citizens who intend to work in Zimbabwe as journalists must apply for accreditation with the Zimbabwean embassy at least one month in advance of planned travel. It is no longer possible to seek accreditation within Zimbabwe at the Ministry of Information. Journalists attempting to enter Zimbabwe without proper advance accreditation may be denied admission or deported.

There is a non-waivable airport departure tax of 20 dollars (US) by all U.S. citizens, including holders of official and diplomatic passports.

Travelers should obtain the latest travel and visa information from the Embassy of Zimbabwe, 1608 New Hampshire Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20009; telephone (202) 332-7100. Overseas, inquiries should be made at the nearest Zimbabwean embassy or consulate. Upon arrival in Zimbabwe, travelers should keep all travel documents readily available, as well as a list of residences or hotels where they will stay while in Zimbabwe.

Most Americans in Harare travel through Europe and then to Johannesburg, in South Africa. British Airways, KLM, and Lufthansa no longer fly non-stop to Harare. An overnight rest stop is permitted and recommended in Europe to break up two consecutive all-night flights.

If you arrive between May and August, include in accompanying baggage warm clothes for chilly evenings. Unaccompanied airfreight from the U.S. can take 1-3 months.

Currency control restrictions are tight in Zimbabwe, and frequent arrests are made of those dealing in the export of Zimbabwean or foreign currency. Declare to customs officials the amount of cash in all currencies you are carrying. No more than Z$2,000 may be imported or exported.

Americans living in or visiting Zimbabwe are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Zimbabwe and obtain updated information on travel and security within Zimbabwe. Americans may register on-line by accessing our web site at http://USEmbassy.State.Gov/Zimbabwe, then access the consular/American citizen page to complete the registration on-line. The U.S. Embassy is located at 172 Herbert Chitepo Avenue, Harare, telephone (263-4) 250-593/4, after hours telephone (263-4) 250-595, fax (263-4) 722-618 and 796-488. The mailing address is P.O. Box 3340, Harare. The e-mail address is [email protected]. American citizen service hours are from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 8:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Fridays, except U.S. and Zimbabwean holidays.


No quarantine period is required for cats and dogs in Zimbabwe. Birds can be imported, but the paperwork takes some time to complete. Import permits for all animals are required and can be obtained by writing directly to the Ministry of Agriculture at the following address: The Ministry of Agriculture Ngungunya Building, 1 Borrowdale Road P/Bag 7701 Causeway Harare, Zimbabwe.

Transiting South Africa with a pet can be problematic. It is easier to travel through Europe.

Veterinary services are quite adequate with a simple consultation costing about Z$500 (about US $7.50). Dogs and cats are dipped for fleas and ticks regularly during summer (October to April). A rabies vaccination is required prior to arrival and it is advisable to have a parvo and hepatitis shot as well. Government of Zimbabwe Customs also requires a veterinary certificate stating the animal is in good health. Bring all grooming aids and anything special that your animal requires, as well as any special foods or medicine. Pet foods are available, but cat litter is not. There is a kennel club, a feline club, and a bird club in Harare and dog and cat shows are held throughout the year.

Licenses are required for both cats and dogs. Unspayed females are Z$20, and males and spayed females are Z$10.

Firearms and Ammunition

U.S. citizens who are bringing weapons and ammunition into Zimbabwe for purposes of hunting should contact the Embassy of Zimbabwe in Washington, D.C. to find out what permits are required. (Please check the Entry Requirements section for the address and telephone number for the Embassy of Zimbabwe.) Some Americans traveling in Zimbabwe have come under added scrutiny from immigration and police officials in the wake of the March 1999 arrest of three American citizens at Harare International Airport, who were allegedly in possession of undeclared assault weapons. Travelers are advised to make sure that all of the necessary documentation is in order before departing the United States. The weapons also must be cleared through U.S. Customs to ensure their expeditious re-entry into the United States at the conclusion of one's trip.

Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures

The local currency is the Zimbabwe dollar (Z$). US $1 equals about Z$55 (as of November 2000). However, this rate is extremely volatile at this time.

Barclays, Standard Chartered, and Zimbank provide commercial banking services. Zimbabwe uses metric measurements.


These titles are provided as a general indication of material published on this country.

American University. Area Handbook for Zimbabwe. U.S. Government Printing Office: Washington, D.C., 1983.

Banana, Canaan. Turmoil and Tenacity, Zimbabwe 1890-1990. College Press: Harare, Zimbabwe, 1990.

Banana, Canaan. The Woman of My Imagination. Mambo Press: Zimbabwe, 1980.

Blake, Robert. A History of Rhodesia. Methuen: London, 1977.

Caute, David. Under the Skin-The Death of White Rhodesia. Penguin Books: London & New York, 1983.

Chinodya, Shimmer. Harvest of Thorns (novel). Baobab Press: 1989.

Clarke, D.G. Foreign Companies and International Investment in Zimbabwe. Mambo Press: Zimbabwe, 1980.

Couzens, Tim, Editor. Zimbabwe-The Search for Common Ground Since 1890. Bailey's Nat Print: Harare, 1992.

Dangarembga, Tsitsi. Nervous Conditions (novel). Zimbabwe Publishing House: Zimbabwe, 1990.

Herbest, Jeffrey. State Politics in Zimbabwe. University of California Press: 1990.

Lessing, Doris. African Laughter Four Visits to Zimbabwe. Harper Collins: New York, 1992.

Martin, David and Johnson, Phyllis. The Struggle for Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe Publishing House: Zimbabwe, 1981.

McRae, Barbara and Pinchuk, Tony. Zimbabwe and Botswana-The Rough Guide. London, Rough Guides/Penguin: 1992.

Moyo, Jonathan N. Voting for Democracy, Electoral Politics in Zimbabwe. University of Zimbabwe Publications: Harare, Zimbabwe, 1992.

Mugabe, Robert. Our Struggle for Liberation. Mambo Press: Zimbabwe, 1982.

Mungoshi, Charles. Waiting for the Rain (novel). Zimbabwe Publishing House: 1975.

Nkomo, Joshua. The Story of My Life. McMillan: London, 1984.

Smith, David and Colin Simpson. Mugabe. Spehre Books: 1981

Spectrum Guide to Zimbabwe. Camerapix Publications International: Nairobi, 1992.

Todd, Judith. An Act of Treason-Rhodesia 1965. Songmaus: London, 1982.

Vambe, Lawrence. An Ill-Fated People of Zimbabwe Before and After Rhodes. University of Pittsburgh Press: Pitts burgh, 1972.

Vambe, Lawrence. Rhodesia to Zimbabwe. William Heineman: London.


Jan.1 New Year's Day

Mar.(2nd Mon) Commonwealth Day

Mar/Apr. Holy Saturday*

Mar/Apr. Easter*

Mar/Apr. Easter Monday*

Apr. 18 Independence Day

May 1 Worker's Day

May 25 Africa Day

Aug. 11 Heroes' Day

Aug. 12 Defense Forces Day

Dec. 25 Christmas Day

Dec. 26 Boxing Day


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Basic Data
Official Country Name: Republic of Zimbabwe
Region: Africa
Population: 11,342,521
Language(s): English, Shona, Sindebele (Ndebele)
Literacy Rate: 85%
Number of Primary Schools: 4,706
Compulsory Schooling: 8 years
Public Expenditure on Education: 7.1%
Educational Enrollment: Primary: 2,507,098
  Secondary: 847,296
  Higher: 46,673
Educational Enrollment Rate: Primary: 113%
  Secondary: 49%
  Higher: 7%
Teachers: Primary: 64,538
  Secondary: 30,482
Student-Teacher Ratio: Primary: 39:1
  Secondary: 27:1
Female Enrollment Rate: Primary: 111%
  Secondary: 45%
  Higher: 4%

History & Background

Zimbabwe is a republic with an area of 390,759 sq. km. (150,873 sq. mls.) and a population, based on the year 2000 estimates, of approximately 11.5 million that consists of the following ethnic groups: Karanga, Zezuru, Manyika, Ndau, Korekore (known collectively as Shona, 71 percent) and Ndebele (16 percent), as well as white (1 percent), Asian and mixed (1 percent) and other (11 percent). In terms of the age structure, 39.64 percent are between 0 and 14 years (female, 2,222,277; male, 2,274,128), 56.82 percent are 15 to 64 years (female, 3,192,888; male, 3,251,860) and 3.54 percent are 65 years or older (female, 197,340; male 204,028). The major indigenous languages are Shona and Ndebele, with English serving as the commercial language. Zimbabwe is land locked and bordered by Mozambique on the east, South Africa on the south, Botswana to the southeast, Angola and the Republic of Congo to the northwest, and Zambia on the north. Reports on unemployment vary from 35 to 60 percent.

The Shona and Ndebele people lost their land and many human rights during the European partition of Africa, as the native groups were separately subjugated by British settlers in 1890. Further colonial repression was inflicted upon them collectively after their defeat during the 1893 war of liberation (Chimurenga War I), the first unified Shona-Ndebele war of resistance against colonialism. Subsequently, the British settlers named the country Southern Rhodesia, after Cecil John Rhodes, and introduced a system of separate development for blacks and whites that was enforced through a racist educational system. Missionaries introduced formal education before colonialism in 1867, when they opened the first missionary school. This early missionary education mostly catered to the sons of chiefs.

The government's Education Ordinance of 1899 provided grants-in-aid for mission schools, and some enrolled African students. Colonial education philosophy, content, structure, and administration for Africans, which began in the twentieth century with the enactment of the Native Education Ordinance of 1907, continued for 20 years until Zimbabwean independence. The act instituted guidelines for establishing four-year private elementary schools and was accompanied by school construction land grants. The education program was very restrictive, combining religious instruction, basic industrial technical training, and academics. For the first 40-year colonial period, the major players in the development of African education were the missionaries, who operated the schools, and the Africans themselves, who contributed to building the schools, providing school supplies, and purchasing textbooks. Other than state policy making, the government's role entailed extending financial aid just to cover teacher salaries.

Zimbabwe achieved colonial status in 1923. Soon after, the British government began to transform its role in African education by establishing the Department of Native Education in 1927 and subsequently passing the Education Act of 1929. The act 1) allowed poor students to work for their tuition after school hours and during vacations; 2) extended grants-in-aid to schools for students with disabilities; and 3) introduced African teacher training. It is important to note, however, that colonial administrators did not intend to educate the Africans to the extent that they would challenge the oppressive colonial rule and compete with whites (Kawewe 1986). Thus, the government of Godfrey Huggins used the worldwide Great Depression as an excuse to oppose and eliminate all other educational facilities for Africans except for elementary education, leading to a drastic decline in enrollment that reached 100,000 fewer students in 1929.

After World War II, a 10-year education plan for the period 1947 to 1956 was established that resulted in a considerable expansion in primary education. Enrollment shot up to 164,000 when government policies began to change, and during that period, the first secondary school for Africans, Goromonzi, was actually built near Salisbury, (now Harare). Previously, Africans had acquired secondary and higher education from South Africa's black mine schools and overseas. Those few graduates of foreign programs then filled the only two positions available to blacks: clergyman or teacher. After Goromonzi opened, various missionary organizations followed suit and opened their own secondary schools, which enrolled approximately 600 students by 1949. The Kerr Commission appointed by the government to reassess the thorny issue of African education made progressive recommendations that were never implemented.

Constitutional & Legal Foundations

In 1953, under the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, African education re-emerged as a sensitive issue. Godfrey Huggins' successor, Garfield Todd, was a strong supporter of African education and implemented several progressive policies for blacks before being ousted in 1958. However, the settler government that followed Todd did not abandon his progressive policies, using them as part of its political strategy so as not to alienate the British Colonial Office, which would have jeopardized independence negotiations. The federation even lied to further its cause by offering educational statistics that showed that 86 percent of school-age children were in primary school, when in fact the accurate figure was 60 percent.

In 1956, another Five-Year Plan was implemented. It called for five years of education for children up to age 14 in rural areas, an annual rural elementary school increase of 60 pupils, and eight years of schooling for urban children, not over 14 years old when reaching standard four. These restrictions forced many parents to forge birth certificates by altering their children's ages and birthplaces so that their children could gain admission into a school. In 1980, the Zimbabwean government acknowledged that many young people's education had been interrupted by the liberation war and by racist policies and thus refused to implement any such barriers to education.

Government education planning emphasized separate education rather than the provision of equal education between Africans and white settlers, as shown in the Native Education Act of 1959. In 1964 and 1965, Ian Smith's government was at the center of the country's unilateral declaration of independence, which changed the education administrative structure by creating a unified Ministry of Education. The ministry retained the separate divisions for blacks and Europeans, coloureds (interracial persons), and Asians. A new plan calling for compulsory education for all Africans was unsuccessful, as the government's ambitious plan was doomed to failure by a budget allocation of only 2 percent of the GNP for education. It was expected that any needed additional funds would come from private sources and voluntary organizations, but that did not happen.

White settlers launched many efforts to become independent, which lead to the development of a constitution in 1961. Four years later, the settlers' government issued a unilateral declaration of independence. The protracted Chimurenga II War followed the declaration and lasted from 1966 to 1979. Britain and the international community levied sanctions against Rhodesia, which set in motion a chain of sweeping sociopolitical events, such as the Lancaster House Conference Agreement. That agreement culminated in a new constitution on December 21, 1979, and full independence for the newly named Zimbabwe in 1980. In the first decade following independence, Zimbabwe experienced a period of economic development. Since the early 1990s, however, it has suffered through a time of major economic deterioration that was worsened by the adoption of economic structural adjustment programs.

Education and workforce policies that existed during the colonial era were essentially designed to ensure the existence of cheap and unskilled African labor. This was accomplished in two ways. First, colonial governments left education essentially in the hands of Christian missions, and second, the educational system that was offered was not technically or vocationally oriented. These two characteristics contributed to the present social, economic, and political problems in Zimbabwe. The colonial educational system has been criticized for being too literary and too classical to be useful. In 1978 the Ministry of Education and Culture combined its former divisions of European, African, Coloured, and Asian education into one structure and endorsed that structure in the Education Act of 1979, thus establishing a nonracial educational policy a year before independence.

Despite attaining independence and two decades of development efforts, Zimbabwe has retained and expanded educational and sociopolitical infrastructures that were inherited from the colonial era. Once independent, Zimbabwe's education philosophy entailed a humanistic approach that emphasized promoting national development; a wider participatory process; sociopolitical, economic, and technology changes; and the overall culture of the nation. This was necessary for the moral, educational and material advancement of the majority of its population, as well as for the citizens to obtain equality, dignity, justice and liberty.

Educational SystemOverview

Compulsory Education: The 1979 Education Act, which has undergone various amendments, defines aims and objectives, structures, and types of school programs, as well as evaluation and assessment procedures and ongoing scheduling. Although the act originally abolished compulsory education, the government of Zimbabwe reinstated compulsory universal primary education for every school-age child. However there was never any mechanism in place to enforce that policy particularly in remote rural areas that are home to the majority of Zimbabwe's residents. Even without enforcement, the policy led to large increases in enrollment, increases that were so large, in fact, that at the end of the policy's first six years, the secondary, tertiary and higher educational systems, as well as the labor market, were stretched past capacity. The result was a shortage of available spaces and strict competition for the few that were in the secondary schools. Enrollment levels in primary education remain high in present times, which uses up a large share of the education budget.

Independent Zimbabwe has made great strides in racial integration in schools, with the exception of a few private institutions. Private schools continue to receive government subsidies, while former European schools continue to charge fees and are zoned only in certain geographic areas. These schools mainly cater to the children of elite families who can afford to pay high fees.

Enrollment: The 1979 Education Act was amended to change the standard model of education from 8+4+2+4 (eight years in primary school, four years in secondary school, two years in high school, and four years in university) to a new model of 7+4+2+4. It reduced elementary primary education by one year, with other time periods remaining the same. The primary focus of elementary and high school education is to enhance the united nonracial and egalitarian society that accepts critical thinking and has a curriculum that features a combination of ideology, science, technology, and mathematics. However, the inherited education systemwhich still uses British-oriented examination boardsretains a highly academic and elitist curriculum and also continues to feature a restrictive selection process that determines who enters higher education and excels beyond.

The education system is exam-oriented, with automatic promotion from one grade to the next in a seven-year elementary education cycle that concludes with a national school leaving examination. While primary and Junior Certificate exams are constructed and administered locally, the Zimbabwe Ministry of Education and Culture, in conjunction with the University of Cambridge local examination syndicate, develops "O-" (University of Cambridge Ordinary level) and "A-" (University of Cambridge advanced) level exams.

Academic Year & Language of Instruction: The Zimbabwean school year runs from January to December, with approximately 188 days spent in school. The academic calendar for tertiary education and higher generally runs from March to December. The primary and official medium of instruction is English (even though the use of vernacular is permitted in early primary education), and students also learn at least one of the two major native languages.

Curriculum Development: Zimbabwe's curriculum is centralized and is determined by subject panels of teachers, education officers, and representatives from the teachers' association, universities, churches, and other stakeholder groups. The Curriculum Development Unit within the Ministry of Education and Culture coordinates the subject panels. Elementary school curriculum includes mathematics, English, agricultural and environmental science, physical education, social studies, moral and religious education, music, craft and art, and the indigenous languages (Ndebele and Shona). Indigenous tribal languages of the Kalanga, Tonga, Shangaan, Venda, and Nambya are taught during the first three years of elementary education within their communities.

Whereas one primary school teacher is assigned to teach all subjects in a class, in high school, there are various experts specializing in particular subjects. There is a compulsory core curriculum for secondary education up to O-level consisting of English, mathematics, and science. After the core courses, students take electives, as time allows. At A-level, the curriculum is more specialized, as students choose either the sciences or humanities. Within either track, a student and various schools can freely make any combination of three subjects. However, depending on the school timetable, combinations of subjects across tracks is possible. Some secondary schools teach foreign languages such as Afrikaans and French. The Curriculum Development Unit (CDU) and private publishing companies prepare learning materials and textbooks. However, the CDU concentrates more on education quality control than material development. Schools have discretionary powers to select appropriate materials within the CDU-recommended and approved materials. There is increased and improved Internet use in distance education, particularly in tertiary and higher education.

Beginning with the 1990s, there has been an increased emphasis on creating research-based curriculum development and on improving teacher-effective use of materials. Making educational material more userfriendly and affordable is a challenge for this millennium. There has been ongoing research into and evaluation of education endeavors. Initially, evaluation efforts were carried out by the government and various stakeholders, such as the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Swedish International Development agency (SIDA). Thus the Ministry of Policy Planning and Evaluation Unit assessed whether resources were available to expand educational facilities and implemented the expansion in a timely and effective manner, overseeing construction and the provision of adequate instructional materials and teaching staff. Similarly the donors were concerned about the capacity of the ministry to implement its ambitious educational programs and to ensure that the donors' money was utilized just as it had been allocated.

Since the end of the 1980s, there have been various evaluative studies on learning achievement and on the efficacy of foreign donor interventions in improving teaching and learning; on the appropriateness of the curricula; on gender issues; on teacher motivation; and on the impact of untrained teachers on students' performance. Since the 1990s, the World Bank has commissioned research and evaluative studies on factors associated with learning achievements. Zimbabwe's universities have also undertaken research on these issues. In addition, the Research Council of Zimbabwe engages in research as a development tool and makes its findings available to scholars and policy-makers. Projects funded in that manner include UNICEF's primary-teacher-training distance education program, as well as a multipurpose program expanding and monitoring childhood development and survival. Dissemination and evaluation of appropriate technology use for promoting program objectives is ongoing.

Preprimary & Primary Education

Generally, the children of well-to-do urbanites attend preschool between the ages of three and seven. Preschool education in rural areas is scarce and irregular, even though establishing preschool facilities has been part of the government's initiatives. While the local communities assume the major responsibility of operating preschools, the government's involvement entails training, management and supervision, and paying small allowances to teachers.

A shortage of amenities has led to poor building conditions and a lack of furniture for school children to sit on in many schools. The enrollment rate of girls is in decline in some remote districts. Teachers are often underpaid, and in some cases they are not paid for several months. This trend has frustrated teachers and caused a lot of them to seek alternative, well-paying jobs or even leave for other nations, thus reducing the number of trained teachers.

Public schools are coeducational. There are generally five hours of in-class instruction and three hours of structured out-of-class activities. In 1990, there were approximately 2.1 million students enrolled in a total of 4,559 primary schools. While primary education has been free since independence was achieved in 1992, sliding-scale tuition fees were introduced as a cost-recovery measure to cater to different socioeconomic groups; disadvantaged rural communal areas were exempt from such fees. The urban council districts have a better infrastructure than the rural ones, with the commercial farming and mining areas not as well provided. Parents in disadvantaged rural areas do not pay fees, but they contribute to education by volunteering to work in various school projects. Between 1980 and the 1990s, Zimbabwe experienced tremendous growth in indigenous enrollment in primary schools (grades 1 through 7). In 1994, for example, 76 percent of the Zimbabwean population had acquired fifth grade education. Figures from the Zimbabwe Central Statistical Office (1997) indicate that in 1993, the number of pupils attending primary and secondary schools was equivalent to 86 percent of children in the relevant age group (male 90 percent, female 81 percent). The number of primary schools rose from 2,411 at independence in 1980 to 4,633 in 1995.

The government created facilities and school-level structures at district, provincial, and national levels for children with disabilities. The schools are either separate for students with severe disabilities, or integrated into the mainstream schools and classes for those with less severe physical or mental challenges. A major limitation to integration has been the lack of trained teachers. However, integration has started to improve, as the teachers' colleges are increasingly training special education teachers. Some churches and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) cater to students with various disabilities.

Secondary Education

Zimbabwe's secondary school system entails six years divided in three stages (2+2+2). Students earn the Zimbabwean Junior and Cambridge "O-" and "A-" level certificates at the end of each two-year study period and meet qualification standards for entry into the next level. The system of "bottlenecking" eliminates many students from entering the next level if they fail the national qualifying exam or do not pass enough subjects. The "O-" level offers the most studies in a secondary school system that offers approximately 120 subject areas. "O-" and "A-" levels do not necessarily offer the same subjects. The major subjects are English (which is also the medium of instruction), Shona, Sindebele, French, Portuguese, Spanish, biology, history, mathematics, economics, economic history, ancient history, chemistry, physics, and computing science. Additionally, students can choose to participate in extracurricular activities such as netball, tennis, soccer, basketball, gymnastics, rugby and athletics.

Earning appropriate scores on "O-" level exams qualifies a student to either enter the university or enroll in A-level, which is exclusively designed as preparation for university education. Government secondary schools are coeducational, with only church schools being single sex. Secondary boarding schools are more popular because of their increased success rate in general examinations. Because of cultural practices that devalue the education of girls, more boys than girls are in high school. The school year is the same as that of elementary education, but with eight hours of study.

Depending on the type of school, fees are charged for secondary school education. Whether the school is government or private, urban or rural, boarding or day school, determines the fee. Private schools are the most expensive. Although the government policy is that no child should be denied an education because his or her parents are too poor to pay, in reality parents are responsible for paying most of the secondary school tuition and other activity fees. Foreign students also attend the secondary schools, including the children of international ambassadorial staff, visiting scholars, refugees, and expatriates. Declining economic conditions, which were exacerbated by military expenditures accrued by intervening in neighboring wars, have depleted the government's resources for subsidizing the education of poor children.

Between 1980 and 1992, Zimbabwe's secondary enrollment increased by 87 percent. The Zimbabwe Central Statistical Office indicated that secondary enrollment in 1997 was equivalent to 44 percent of the appropriate age-cohort (male, 49 percent; female, 39 percent). The number of secondary schools also increased from 177 in 1980 to 1,535 in 1995.

Higher Education

Many students pursue tertiary education in teachers' training colleges and over 300 technical training institutions. Up until 1956, when the University College of Salisbury (University of Zimbabwe) was established, higher education was sought outside the country. As of 2001, there were 11 universities in the nation, both state-run and privately owned. Some former colleges have been transformed into universities. While the average stay at the university is four years, many colleges and technical institutions provide training that ranges from one year to three years. Depending on the program, the minimum entry requirements for the universities are five O-levels or at least A-level passes in two subjects, including English. Admission into a university or college is highly competitive. In 1997 there were 46,495 students attending institutions of higher education. Universities offer various diplomas at both the undergraduate and the graduate level in fields such as agriculture, sociology, social work, medicine, commerce, arts, English, education, engineering, science, law, veterinary science, and social studies.

The Zimbabwean government plays a major role in higher education by influencing policy, funding, establishing programs, and determining curricula, especially in agricultural, teachers', and polytechnic colleges, which are operated through the government's administrative structure. The government approves or establishes schools and colleges and influences or determines who teaches in them. University councils, through university senates and faculty boards, govern their campuses, but the University of Zimbabwe traditionally monitors the quality of higher education throughout the country and approves syllabi for polytechnics and teachers' colleges. The University of Zimbabwe and a teacher's association started in 1950, the Associate College Center, supervise teacher education through a program that has been extended to cover only degree programs at polytechnics. Universities assume multiple roles concerning education, research, supervision, and extension course. The extension and supervisory roles are fairly nontraditional ones in which universities regularly offer courses to the general public in various areas of expertise. The courses include solar energy, gardening, and so forth. While the teachers' colleges have strong ties to their major employerthe governmentagricultural and polytechnic colleges traditionally have strong ties with the farming industry and manufacturing, trade, and commerce respectively. Many universities have ties with all sectors, and most have a variation of a joint industry-university committee that caters to both the workforce and program needs of industry and the university.

Although foreign students are found in all faculties, the majority of them are found in engineering, veterinary science, and medicine. Universities select teaching faculty through selection boards chaired by the vicechancellor or pro-vice-chancellor, the dean, the deputy dean, and the chairperson of the department in question. Graduate study is provided by many of the universities in Zimbabwe. These are classified into those that provide coursework and a thesis program leading to master's degrees in arts, science, or business, and those that provide research-only degrees, such as doctoral degrees (which are called D.Phil. degrees). Admission requirements for master's programs are an undergraduate degree in a specified area, and the doctoral admission requirements are an earned master's in a particular area of specialization. Master's degrees take from one to three years, while doctoral degrees take a minimum of two to three years, depending on whether a student is part-time or full-time.

Vocational Education: Polytechnic and technical institutions represent another major sector of higher education. Because of the stagnant economy's inability to absorb new workers since the 1980s, and because of general unemployment, there has been a greater need to impart and expand technical, vocational, accounting, and management skills education in secondary schools and through tertiary education. Thus business and technical education was introduced at secondary school level as an extension of the general education curriculum, with subject kits distributed to schools lacking in workshop facilities. Each school has different specialties, such as automotive, civil, building, electrical, mechanical, or production engineering; agriculture; printing; graphic arts; teaching; business education; technology; science; mass communications; library and information science; computer science; hotel management; commerce, and adult education. Each school's main purpose is to equip graduates with effective job skills to create a trained workforce comprised of individuals eager to help the economy by working or starting a small business.

Administration, Finance, & Educational Research

The Zimbabwean government plays a dominant role in shaping policy and administering and financing education, even though local district councils and voluntary organizations such as churches privately own the majority of schools. It assumes the primary responsibility for administering education through the Ministry of Education and Culture, which is in charge of primary and secondary education; and the Ministry of Higher Education, which is responsible for tertiary education. These ministries are complemented by the Department of National Scholarships in the President's Office. The Ministry of Education and Culture also pays teachers and allocates government school buildings, as well as instructional materials, and it appoints public and private school teachers. The ministry's support for private schools is in the form of building grants and tuition assistance that is channeled through the appropriate committees and authorities. Subject panels define a centralized curriculum.

While the majority of teachers are civil servants, private schools can hire additional teachers in order to improve the teacher-student ratios, and such practices are common, especially among the private schools that serve the children of elite whites and blacks. Administration, supervision, and staffing are decentralized on the regional, district, and local school levels. Most schools are privately owned by individuals, local government, churches, and committees and boards. The district councils administer the communal lands where the majority of Zimbabweans live and attend school.

With the exception of some teacher-training, secretarial, and commercial colleges and universities, the government runs most tertiary education institutions and it also hires and pays lecturers. Universities are autonomous, with some operating entirely on government funding, while others have a combination of government and private funding, with the government retaining substantial power and influence.

The total amount spent on education averaged 15 percent of the annual national budgets between 1980 and 1991, increasing to 17.7 percent in 1990 and 1991. This investment in education reflected the government's commitment to workforce development, as Z$1,410,224,000 (US$213,044,080) went to schools and Z$218,091,000 (US$32,947,245) went to tertiary education. With the rate determined by type of school, all secondary education institutions charge fees. In private elementary and secondary schools, parents pay building fees to supplement government building grants. Thus in addition to paying teachers' salaries, and building grants, the government also makes tuition contributions depending on grade and level of education.

In Zimbabwe, there are obvious regional disparities in personal and class income, wealth, and standard of livingall of which are related to illiteracy. The budget of the Ministry of Education and Culture increased considerably, about from Z$3.1 million in 1993-1994 to just over Z$3.3 million million in 1994-1995. The allocation for education also increased from almost Z$4.0 million in 1995-1996 to almost Z$4.5 million in 1996-1997. In total, the Ministry of Education and Culture was allocated 27.6 percent of the 1996-1997 national budget. With the inclusion of the Ministry of Higher Education, the total allocation for education amounted to nearly Z$5.5 million, or 34 percent, of expenditures in 1996-1997. In contrast the Defense Ministry received only a little more than Z$1.5 million in 1993-1994. This amount was increased to approximately Z$2.1 million in 1994-1995, and then further increased to almost Z$2.4 million in 1996-1997, representing 11 percent of national expenditures for that fiscal year.

The increase in the percentage of the national budget that was allocated to education in a given year has been somewhat reflected in the literacy rate and the index of education and human development. For example, education received just over Z$1.5 million in 1993-1994. This amount was increased to a little more than Z$2.1 million in 1994-1995, and further increased to almost Z$2.4 million a year later. At the same time, the adult literacy rate increased from 56 percent in 1970 to 86 percent in 1995. Education as percentage of gross national product increased from 6.6 percent in 1980 to 8.3 percent in 1995 in Zimbabwe. Between 1988 and 1995, the increase in secondary and technical schools was 1.7 percent of total enrollment across Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe's gross enrollment ratio increased from 41 percent in 1980 to 68 percent in 1995. Generally, enrollment in natural and applied sciences in 1995 was 25 percent. It is also interesting to note that as a percentage of Zimbabwe's total workforce, the population of women in 1995 was 44 percent.

Nonformal Education

Nonformal education in Zimbabwe includes instruction provided outside of the regular educational schools and often includes correspondence courses, adult literacy campaigns, night school, and study groups. Residents who take advantage of nonformal education opportunities include those who are unable to access the formal educational system for various reasons. Generally the programs used are similar to those offered in a formal education setting, and they cover elementary education all the way up to tertiary education. Many people are unable to pursue further study due to marriage, pregnancy, or rural living conditions, while those who dropped out of school may find that they prefer nonformal education. That is especially true for dropouts who live in or near cities, where the infrastructure exists to promote further education, such as the availability of electricity to home study at night.

Although the national government is involved in nonformal education, municipal governments, churches, and other private sector NGOs carry out the bulk of the responsibility. Health education, cooking, and art are often taught to women in the afternoons in various centers throughout the country, especially in the cities.

Zimbabwe's literacy campaigns have yielded negligible results (Grainger). Literacy, particularly for Zimbabwean women and girls, is important not only because it narrows the gap between the type of educational opportunities men have and those women have, but also because it has been shown to improve women's health and to create sustainable economic and social development. Education increases women's productivity, which provides a direct contribution to the economy. More significantly, education increases a woman's self-esteem and her economic and political power, improves health and nutrition awareness, and reduces child birth and death rates and leads to improved child immunization.

Teaching Profession

The largest sector of higher education is teacher education colleges, which are situated mostly in urban centers, much like technical colleges. The teacher education colleges offer instruction in numerous subjects, such as languages, arts, mathematics, social sciences, sciences, and commercial and other technical fields. While each college has a unique curriculum, there are certain areas where the curriculum is standardized such as science, mathematics, English, Shona/Ndebele, and professional foundations. Whereas some colleges train both primary and secondary school teachers, some specialize in training just one level. Because of the special relationship that exists between the University of Zimbabwe and teachertraining colleges, the diplomas that are granted are university certificates.

In general, the Ministry of Higher Education administers technical and teachers' colleges, with teachers' colleges having a somewhat differing status, as the awarding of diploma certificates illustrates. Teachers' colleges follow the standard administrative structure of government colleges, but unlike technical colleges, they have an academic board, which is called the Associate College Centre academic board. This board comprises all college principals, representatives from the Ministry of Higher Education's Teacher Education section, and university representatives. The board is charged with the responsibility of monitoring all academic programs in the colleges. Technical college administrative structure comprises three bodies. The first is a college advisory council (CAC), which advises the principal on how to run the institution smoothly. Members are appointed by the Minister of Higher Education to advise the principal and help meet commerce and industry workforce needs. The second body is the college administration (CA), which is the administrative organ of the college; it includes the principal, the registrar, and the deputy and assistant registrars. The final group is The College Board of Studies Committee (CBSC), which is chaired by the college principal and is responsible for monitoring academic programs as well as overall administration. Senior administrators of the college join the principal on the board.

As school enrollments grew, the number of teachers grew as well. There were 28,500 primary school teachers in 1980, which increased to 58,200 in 1989. During that same period, secondary school teachers increased by 3,730 teachers, to a total of 25,030 in 1989. The number of untrained teachers increased from 3 percent to 49 percent during the same period. This problem was more pronounced in rural areas and in the fields of science, practical technology, and mathematics. The high turnover of teachers from rural areas and the lack of adequate salaries was exacerbated by cuts in social spending that were precipitated by economic structural adjustments in the 1990s, all of which combined to create a severely distressed situation among rural education institutions. The problem of high teacher turnover first experienced in the 1980s and 1990s continues into the new millennium. Officially the student-teacher ratio is 30:1 in elementary schools, decreasing to 20:1 in forms one through four, and decreasing even further in forms five and six. However, in reality, the ratios are much higher. While the government pays teachers' salaries as civil servants, private schools pay for extra teachers through school management committees.


Since Zimbabwe achieved independence, dramatic developments have taken place in all aspects of the country's education system. There were exponential enrollment figures at all levels, leading to the expansion of existing buildings, as well as the establishment of new elementary, secondary, and tertiary education institutions. The primary curricula became a mechanism by which important functional skills in health, interpersonal relationships, and environmental sustainability were imparted in addition to the traditional math, reading, and writing skills. Innovative methodologies such as science kits and the use of the Internet in education were introduced. These efforts democratized the educational system, allowing more students to have access to various subjects. The improvements in teacher training through multimedia approachesin addition to face-to-face instructionhave facilitated the reduction of untrained teachers and personnel.

Despite those gains, persistent challenges still remain. The failure to attract and retain teachers in rural areas where the bulk of the population lives remains perhaps the most important consideration at the start of the twenty-first century. As more and more people leave school only to immediately fill the unemployment ranks due to downsizing and retrenchment driven by poor economic policies, many people will look to the rural areas where they can work the land. Many of the unemployed are trained in agriculture and environmental studies, but they are unable to purchase or own land in an area that is free from civil strife. Sustaining both the quantity and the quality of education in an economy that has been adversely affected by economic globalization remains a constant concern. The absence of adequate resources and egalitarian access to quality education will continue to be a challenge to educators and government officials. Many schools still lack an adequate infrastructure, such as library resources, workshops, classrooms and laboratories, textbooks, supplementary reading materials, and reference products. In particular, the absence of state-of-theart library resources continues to be a challenge for most tertiary education institutions.


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Kawewe, S. M. "Planning for Education for Social Development in Zimbabwe: An Assessment of Zimbabwe's Students and Lecturers Concerning Their Perception of the University's Curriculum in Terms of Providing Skills Necessary to Carry Out National Reconstruction Tasks." Ph.D. diss., St. Louis University, 1985 Abstract in Dissertation Abstracts International 47 (1986): 315A.

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Saliwe M. Kawewe

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Republic of Zimbabwe



The Republic of Zimbabwe is a landlocked country in southern Africa, covering an area of 390,757 square kilometers (150,872 square miles), of which land occupies 386,670 square kilometers (1,929 square miles), and water occupies 3,910 square kilometers (1,509 square miles). Zimbabwe is bounded on the north and northwest by Zambia (797 kilometers), southwest by Botswana (813 kilometers), Mozambique (1,231 kilometers) on the east, South Africa (225 kilometers) on the south, and Namibia's Caprivi Strip touches its western border at the intersection with Zambia. The country is slightly larger than Montana.

Zimbabwe sits astride the high plateaus between the Zambezi and Limpopo rivers, its main drainage systems. Much of the country is elevated, 21 percent being more than 1,200 meters (3,937 feet) above sea level. The topography consists of 4 relief regions. The high veld (an open, grassy expanse) rises above 1,200 meters and extends across the country from the northeast narrowing towards the southwest. The middle veld, lying between 900 and 1,200 meters (2,953 and 3,937 feet) above sea level, flanks the high-veld, mostly extending towards the northwest. The low veld stands below 900 meters (2,953 feet) and occupies the Zambezi basin in the north and the more extensive Limpopo and Sabi-Lundi basins in the south and southeast. The eastern highlands have a distinctive mountainous character, rising above 1,800 meters (5,906 feet), and include Mount Inyangani (sometimes called simply Inyangani), standing at 2,592 meters (8,504 feet) above sea level.


The census of 1992 indicated a population of 10.41 million, and by mid-2000 the estimate was 11.34 million. The population has been growing at a rate estimated at 2.6 percent a year from 1990 to date, and this implies a fertility rate of 3.8 children per woman. The population is youthful, with only 3.5 percent over the age of 65, 39.6 percent in the 0 to 14 age group, and 56.8 percent in the 15 to 64 age group.

The country's population is diverse and was estimated in the mid-1980s to includebesides the indigenous peoplesome 223,000 people of European descent as well as 37,000 Asians and people of mixed ethnic backgroundsall of them the legacy of the colonial era. The indigenous people accounted for more than 98 percent of the population in the mid-1997 estimates, and were comprised mostly of 2 broad ethnic or linguistic groups: the Ndebele and Shona. The Shona comprised 71 percent and Ndebele 16 percent of the population in 1997. There are, in addition, several other minor ethnic groups such as the Hlengwe, Sena, Sotho, Tonga, and Venda who constituted the other 11 percent. English, Shona, and Sindebele are the official languages universally taught in schools.

Urban growth has been rapid in recent years. Over the 1982-92 period, the population of Harare, the capital, is reported to have almost doubled from 656,000 to 1,189,103, while that of Bulawayo, the second-largest city, increased from 413,800 to 621,742 over the same period. The urban poor, operating within the highly competitive informal sector are now a large and increasing part of the urban social structure.


Since independence, Zimbabwe's primary goal has been redressing the socio-economic imbalances and restructuring the economy while maintaining growth and avoiding alienating its white population, whose skills are of vital importance to its economy. Unlike many countries in post-independent sub-Saharan Africa, Zimbabwe did not tread the nationalization path, rather choosing to purchase shares in various enterprises.

Zimbabwe has a relatively diversified economy with good infrastructure , strong manufacturing and agricultural sectors, a vigorous financial services sector, and extensive mining. Agriculture, which in 1997 contributed 28 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), is the mainstay of the economy and a major determining factor in its growth. It is diversified and well-developed in terms of food production, cash crops , and livestock. Its growth, however, has been erratic since independence in 1980. Periods of rapid economic growth have been interrupted by agricultural slumps caused largely by drought in 1992, when about 80 percent of the maize crop and an estimated 1.7 million cattle were lost, and another drought in 1995.

Zimbabwe's mining sector is diversified, currently producing over 40 different minerals. These include gold, platinum, nickel, coal, copper, silver, emeralds, graphite, granite, cobalt, quartz, kaolin, and mica. Gold is the primary source of revenue in the mining sector.

Zimbabwe produces a wide variety of manufactured goods for both local and export markets. Manufacturing is centered in the 2 major urban centers, Harare and Bulawayo. Developed within a protectionist policy , the sector enjoyed certain tariff barriers in the period from 1965 to 1979. It faced stiff competition, mostly from South Africa, after 1990 when the barriers were progressively removed.

One of the most pressing issues affecting the Zimbabwean economy concerns land redistribution. Due to costs and delays in sourcing financing, Zimbabwe has been behind schedule in the redistribution of land to landless rural families as promised in the war of liberation. This culminated in the 1999-2000 land crisis in the runup to the 2000 elections, when war veterans began occupying white-owned farms. This precipitated a crisis in the farming sector that is yet to be resolved.

The export position has been generally strong, with trade surpluses recorded in most years except during the droughts of 1992 and 1995. Government policy aims to encourage foreign investment and expand exportsa policy it has pursued since the 1990 structural adjustment programs (SAP). However, export-led growth, the reduction of government budget deficits , and low levels of inflation have proved to be elusive goals. Real GDP grew at an average annual rate of 3.6 percent between 1980 and 1990, but halved to 1.8 percent annually between 1990 and 1997. By 1995, GDP was shrinking at-0.7 percent, but by 1996 the economy was growing again at a 7.6 percent growth rate. But in 2000 and 2001, the output of the economy is thought to have contracted once more, and living standards have fallen markedly. Inflation was high through the 1990s, averaging 22.4 percent annually between 1990 and 1997, ranging from a peak of 42 percent in 1992 to a low of 19 percent in 1997. In 1999, with the political crisis, inflation had risen to 166 percent a year and currently continues to be very high.


Zimbabwe is a former British colony; it was known as Southern Rhodesia during British rule, and was established in 1890. Gold discoveries sparked an influx of white farmers, mostly from Britain and South Africa. The most powerful of the gold seekers was Cecil Rhodes (after whom Rhodesia was named), the eccentric owner of the De Beers mining company, which he had bought for its diamond concessions in Africa. The massive migration of white Europeans and land acquisition by these groups produced economic and political consequences still reverberating in the country more than a century later.

In 1953, Southern Rhodesia was united by the British government with Northern Rhodesia (present-day Zambia) and Nyasaland (present-day Malawi) into a Central African Federation, against opposition from Africans in all 3 regions. Due to the strength of African opposition in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, the Federation was disbanded in 1963. Whites in Southern Rhodesia formed the Rhodesia Front (RF), dedicated to upholding white rule and demanding full independence from the United Kingdom and the retention of the existing minority-rule constitution. Prime Minister Ian Smith introduced a Uni-lateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) in November 1965 and renamed the territory "Rhodesia."

African nationalist opposition had split in 1963 into 2 resistance groups: the Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU), led by Joshua Nkomo, and the breakaway Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU), led by Rev. Ndabaningi Sithole and later Robert Mugabe. Repressive measures by the Smith government galvanized ZAPU and ZANU into a guerilla (non-conventional, stealthy) war to overthrow it. ZAPU's operations, based in Zambia and backed by the Soviet Union, were mainly confined to majority Ndebele areas. ZANU, on the other hand, linked with the People's Republic of China and a guerilla group fighting the Portuguese in Mozambique. They concentrated on infiltration and rural mobilization in Shona-speaking areas in the northeast, and later in eastern and central areas of the country.

From 1976, a common struggle was waged under the banner of the Patriotic Front (PF), an uneasy alliance of ZAPU and ZANU, backed by neighboring African states. This struggle, coupled with international economic sanctions (with the exception of South Africa), led to declining white morale, forcing the Smith regime into the 1979 "Internal Settlement"a multi-racial government under the leadership of Bishop Abel Muzorewa, a Methodist minister and black nationalist. This paved the way for all parties to the conflict to participate in talks which led to the February 1980 elections and the emergence of the independent state of Zimbabwe on 18 April 1980.

In the elections, Mugabe's ZANU-PF won 57 of the 80 "common-roll" (reserved for black Africans) seats in the house, receiving 63 percent of the vote. Nkomo's ZAPU-PF won 20 and Bishop Muzorewa's United African National Council (UANC) won 3 seats. Mugabe's ZANU has retained power in Zimbabwe ever since.

The constitution of the Republic of Zimbabwe took effect at independence. Amendments to the constitution must have the approval of two-thirds of the members of the House of Assembly, the country's unicameral (single chamber) parliament. The executive president (Mugabe) is both head of state and head of the government, as is the U.S. president. The House of Assembly has 150 members, of whom 120 are directly elected by universal adult suffrage, 12 are nominated by the president, 10 are traditional chiefs, and 8 are provincial governors.

In 1997, government expenditure was 36 percent of GDP, which is high by African standards. Government revenue was 31 percent of GDP, and the budget deficit was 5.1 percent of GDP, significantly above the International Monetary Fund (IMF) guideline of 3 percent. Subsequently, the deficit has been substantially above this level, the money supply has expanded rapidly, and the rate of inflation has accelerated.

Corporate tax rates are moderate at 37.5 percent, although the government discriminates against foreign corporations by imposing an additional 8.4 percent. Most government revenue is raised from taxes on income, profits, and capital gains (45 percent). Taxes on goods and services generated 26 percent of revenue, trade taxes on exports and imports garnered 19 percent, and other nontax income (mainly licenses and surpluses of state-owned enterprises) accounted for 9 percent.


Zimbabwe is a landlocked country with a well-developed road network that was comprised in 1996 of 18,338 kilometers (11,395 miles) of roads, of which 8,692 (5,401 miles) are paved. The closest seaport is Beira in Mozambique.

Zimbabwe has a direct railway link with Zambia, which connects it to the Tanzanian port of Dar es Salaam through the Tazara railway. The railway system also connects Zimbabwe to the Mozambican ports of Beira and Maputo as well as 2 South African ports. It comprises 2,759 kilometers (1,714 miles) of track, of which 313 kilometers (194 miles) is electrified. Another link is planned between Beitbridge and Bulawayo, the second largest city in Zimbabwe. The National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ), which operates the rail service, is under reform in preparation for privatization .

Zimbabwe has 2 state-controlled airlinesthe passenger carrier Air Zimbabwe and freight carrier Affretairwhich are experiencing financial difficulties resulting from poor management and political interference.This has enabled a private company, Zimbabwe Express Airlines, to emerge and capture a substantial share of the market. A new international airport is being built at Harare.

Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) has the sole responsibility for power generation and distribution. The search for national energy self-sufficiency in the early 1980s led to an emphasis on coal and other thermoelectric projects (78 percent of supply) and the hydroelectric power from the Kariba dam (22 percent). Although the second stage of the Hwange thermal power station, commissioned in 1987, raised the total capacity to 2,071 megawatts (mw), supply has failed to keep up with demand, leading to imports from Mozambique and South Africa. All oil and gas is imported. A pipeline from Port Beira in Mozambique to Mutare which was built before the 1965 declaration of independence did not become operational until 1982, and was extended to Harare only in 1993. Ethanol, produced since 1980 from sugarcane, is blended with gasoline for domestic sale. Imports of fuel are monopolized by the National Oil Corporation of Zimbabwe (Noczim), which has been mired in scandals and run at a loss for several years, partly due to lack of authority to raise prices in line with the depreciation of the Zimbabwe dollar.

Zimbabwe's domestic communication system consists of microwave radio relay links, land lines, radiotelephone communication stations, fixed wireless local loop installations, and a substantial mobile cellular phone network. Internet connection is available in Harare and planned for all major towns and for some of the smaller ones. International communication is through satellite earth stations including 2 Intelsat and 2 international digital gateway exchanges (in Harare and Gweru).

Zimbabwe's telephone system was once one of the best in Africa, but now suffers from poor maintenance with more than 100,000 outstanding requests for connection despite an equally large number of installed but unused lines. The Posts and Telecommunications Corporation

Country Newspapers Radios TV Sets a Cable subscribers a Mobile Phones a Fax Machines a Personal Computers a Internet Hosts b Internet Users b
1996 1997 1998 1998 1998 1998 1998 1999 1999
Zimbabwe 19 93 30 N/A 4 N/A 9.0 1.19 20
United States 215 2,146 847 244.3 256 78.4 458.6 1,508.77 74,100
South Africa 32 317 125 N/A 56 3.5 47.4 33.36 1,820
Dem. Rep. of Congo 3 375 135 N/A 0 N/A N/A 0.00 1
aData are from International Telecommunication Union, World Telecommunication Development Report 1999 and are per 1,000 people.
bData are from the Internet Software Consortium ( and are per 10,000 people.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

(PTC), despite investing heavily in the digitization of its network using fiber-optic technology, has failed to satisfy demand. By 1997 there were 212,000 telephone lines in use. In addition, there are about 20,000 fixed telephones with wireless local loop connections. There were 70,000 mobile cellular phones in 1999. The PTC has since lost its monopoly rights to cellular phone operators such as Eocene, which won the right to establish a cellular phone network in 1997 after more than 4 years of legal battles.

Zimbabwe has a well-diversified media. The press is relatively free but dominated by the state-controlled Zimbabwe Newspapers, which operates 2 dailies, the Herald and Bulawayo Chronicles, as well as their sister papers, the Sunday Mail and the Sunday News. Since 1999, when the Daily News, backed by investors from the United Kingdom and South Africa, was launched, the market share of Zimbabwe Newspapers has been significantly reduced. Other independent papers include weeklies such as the Financial Gazette, the Zimbabwe Independent, and the Standard, which mainly serve as opposition voices and are highly critical of the government. A number of monthlies including Motto, Horizon, and Parade are estimated to have a readership approaching 1 million each.

Radio and television are run by the state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), but variety is provided by channels from South Africa. In 1998, however, journalists critical of the government were removed and the state-controlled media have since largely provided government propaganda. In the wake of the outbreak of the land-reform crisis, which the independent media blamed on the government for instigating in the run-up to the 2000 elections, the government has announced plans to curtail the rights of the independent press.


Zimbabwe's economy is well-developed, consisting of diversified sectors such as manufacturing, commercial farming, productive small-scale family farming, and exploitation of various mineral resources. Agriculture generated about 88 percent of GDP in 1997, one-third of which came from communal farmers, and mining was about 13 percent of GDP. These 2 sectors generally determine the state of health of the economy because of their impact on export revenue. Agriculture alone employs about 66 percent of the total labor force . Tobacco and gold, followed by tourism receipts, dominate export earnings. Although manufacturing's relative importance has declined over the years, it is still a significant sector, contributing about 18 percent of GDP in 1998. The services sector has risen in significance, contributing more than 58 percent of GDP in 1998, mostly as a result of increased spending on education and health, and an expansion of tourism in the 1980s. The latest figures the CIA World Factbook released were for 1997 and estimated agriculture at 28 percent, industry at 32 percent, and services at 40 percent of GDP.


Zimbabwe has a well-developed and diversified agricultural sector, producing food crops, cash crops, and livestock. Although agriculture accounted for only 28 percent of GDP in 1998, it engaged about 66 percent of the labor force in 1996. Some 27 percent of formal sector employment was in the agriculture sector in 1997. Agriculture's share of GDP has been fluctuating from 17 percent in 1985, 12 percent in 1990, 14 percent in 1996, and 28 percent in 1998, depending on the impact of drought and the level world prices for export crops.

Zimbabwe produces much of its own food, except in years where drought affects maize and wheat production. The staple food crop is maize, and other cereal crops include barley, millet, sorghum, and wheat. In spite of the high concentration of arable farmland in the commercial sector, smallholder production share of agricultural output rose from 9 percent in 1983 to 25 percent in 1988, and 50 percent in 1990. Tobacco is the largest export crop (23 percent of merchandise exports in 1997) and Zimbabwe is among the world's biggest exporters. The other main exports are sugar and cotton and in years of surplus maize is exported. Horticulture is growing rapidly and Zimbabwe is now the world's third-largest exporter of roses.

Zimbabwe is one of a few sub-Saharan African countries allowed to export beef to the European Union. Exports began in 1985; however, Zimbabwe could not keep up with its quota, and exports have dwindled over the years. Total exports were 9,500 metric tons in 1996. Sheep, goats, pigs, and poultry are also extensively farmed. About half the country's timber is produced by the Forestry Commission. Rough-sawn timber is exported to Botswana and South Africa. High quality timber is exported mainly to the United Kingdom. In 1994, Zimbabwe's forestry sector produced 29,000 cubic meters of non-coniferous sawn wood, 3,000 cubic meters of non-coniferous sawn logs and veneer logs, and 1.8 million cubic meters of industrial round wood.


In 1998, Zimbabwe was the world's thirteenth-largest producer of gold, which is the country's biggest mineral export. Mining contributed 13 percent of GDP in 1997 and generated US$900 million of export revenue in 1995 (amounting to 45 percent of total value of exports), up from US$623 million in the previous year. About 90 percent of mining production is exported. In 1997, gold constituted 14 percent of the value of exports, followed by ferro-alloys at 7 percent, then nickel, and asbestos. Coal is mined for domestic power generation as well as for export, iron ore to supply the steel industry, and phosphate rock for fertilizer production.

Mineral deposits are dispersed throughout the country, but it is the Great Dyke, which runs for hundreds of kilometers from northeast to southwest, that contains the most extensive concentration of mineral deposits. In the 1980s, the state tried unsuccessfully to wrest control of mining from the main mining companies. Anglo-American Corporation controlled nickel and chrome mining, Rio Tinto Zimbabwe mined nickel and gold, Turner and Newall concentrated on asbestos, Lonrho on gold and copper, and Ashanti Goldfields mined gold. In an effort to control transfer pricing , all minerals except gold are required to be marketed through the state's Zimbabwe Minerals Marketing Corporation, but this organization's future has recently been questioned.

Zimbabwe has one of the largest, most diversified, and integrated manufacturing sectors in sub-Saharan Africa, partly due to import substitution policies implemented after the 1965 declaration of independence. The Zimbabwe Steel Corporation (Zisco) is the only full-fledged sub-Saharan Africa steel producer outside South Africa, producing from its Kwekwe plant alone more than 700,000 metric tons annually. Other major industries include Zimbabwe Alloys, which produces ferro-chrome for export; a number of heavy engineering companies working for the mining industry and railways; Dunlop Zimbabwe which makes tires and tubes; car and truck assembly plants; a large pulp and paper firm; and several plastics companies. The removal of protective measures under the 1990 Enhanced Structural Adjustment Program (ESAP) has caused manufacturing's output to contract and its share of GDP to decline to about 18 percent in 1997 from around 25 percent in the 1970s. However, about 40 percent of Zimbabwe's exports are classified as manufactured products, and the recent decline in the value of the Zimbabwe dollar will serve to make Zimbabwean manufactures more competitive at home and overseas.

Although several new buildings have been erected in Harare in recent years, the construction industry has been depressed since the boom of the early 1970s, and its share of GDP has fallen from 5 percent in the 1970s to 3 percent in 1997 as a result of a virtual freeze on large-scale developments. On the other hand, employment in the sector has increased by more than 50 percent to about 80,000 as construction of low-cost, labor-intensive dwellings for Africans has expanded.


The central bank, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), acts as banker to the government, issues currency and government loans, controls foreign reserves, serves as lender of last resort to commercial banks, and handles revenue from gold exports. The RBZ is also responsible for banking sector supervision, although it lacks the necessary legislative framework and statutory power to monitor banks adequately. The Ministry of Finance is responsible for issuing banking licenses.

Zimbabwe has a growing tourism industry, and hunting safaris in particular have expanded in recent years. The government favors upmarket tourism, especially ecotourism and safari holidays. There are a number of world-class hotels in the country, including the historic Victoria Falls Hotel. The total number of visitors has grown at an annual rate of 20 percent since 1990 when there were about 635,000, to over 2 million visitors in 1998. Tourism generated an estimated US$125 million in 1998, making it the third-largest foreign exchange earner after tobacco and gold. But the continuing political unrest and violence has hurt the tourism industry, with the number of overseas visitors plunging 35 percent during the first 6 months of 2000 compared to the same period in 1999.

The distribution sector features a large number of South African retail chains. As a result of import substitution policies, these companies rely on domestic suppliers of processed food, clothing, furniture, and light consumer goods .


Exports of goods and services grew by about 6.3 percent a year between 1965 and 1997, and manufactured exports accounted for more than 32 percent of total merchandise exports in 1997. Zimbabwe's export partners vary significantly from year to year. In 1996, the most important were South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, and Swaziland (38 percent of imports and 12 percent of exports)all members of the Southern African Customs Union. The United Kingdom was also an important trading partner (9 percent of imports and 12 percent of exports), as was Japan (5 percent of imports and 6 percent of exports), Germany (6 percent of imports), and the United States (5 percent of imports). Zimbabwe's membership in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) has, in theory, provided access to new markets in regional trade. In practice, however, Zimbabwean exporters have been somewhat disappointed due to constraints in foreign exchange availability with the potential partners. The historic change of government in South Africa has enabled investment and trade between

Trade (expressed in billions of US$): Zimbabwe
Exports Imports
1975 .932 .932
1980 1.415 1.448
1985 1.113 .896
1990 1.726 1.847
1995 2.119 2.660
1998 N/A N/A
SOURCE: International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999.
Exchange rates: Zimbabwe
Zimbabwean dollars (Z$) per US$1
Jan 2001 54.9451
2000 43.2900
1999 38.3142
1998 21.4133
1997 11.8906
1996 9.9206
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].

the 2 countries, but the overall result has been that South Africa has taken an even larger share of Zimbabwe's domestic market following the recent increase in trade liberalization .


Before 1994, the value of the Zimbabwe dollar was determined by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) on the basis of a trade-weighted basket of foreign currencies. Although there were large devaluations in 1982, 1991, and 1993, high domestic inflation frequently caused monthly adjustments of 1 to 2 percent. As part of the 1990 Enhanced Structural Adjustment Program (ESAP), the Zimbabwe dollar was floated, allowing companies to retain export earnings in foreign currencies, and restrictions were removed on holding the currency abroad and on investing on the Zimbabwe stock exchange. However, the RBZ reserves the right to intervene in the foreign exchange market (buying the Zimbabwe dollar when its price begins to fall, and selling when its price rises) to maintain a stable exchange rate . However, the price of the Zimbabwe dollar has been subject to a falling trend, and the RBZ has been unable to stabilize the exchange rate because it has lacked the foreign exchange to make purchases. The Zimbabwe dollar has lost considerable ground against the U.S. dollar since independence, depreciating from an average rate of Z$0.64=US$1 in 1980 to Z$38.15=US$1 in 1999. This depreciation has worsened since November 1997, owing to economic and political instability that prompted a run on the currency, depreciating it to Z$55.05=US$1 by mid-2001.


It was estimated in 1991 that 14 percent of the population was below the U.S. dollar-a-day poverty line (this line is based on the income required to provide the absolute minimum nutrition, clothing, and shelter). This means that 16 percent of children under age 5 are mal-nourished (the figure is 1 percent for the United States) and life expectancy is 53 years (in the United States it is

GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1998
Zimbabwe 686 638 662 706 703
United States 19,364 21,529 23,200 25,363 29,683
South Africa 4,574 4,620 4,229 4,113 3,918
Dem. Rep. of Congo 392 313 293 247 127
SOURCE: United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.
Distribution of Income or Consumption by Percentage Share: Zimbabwe
Lowest 10% 1.8
Lowest 20% 4.0
Second 20% 6.3
Third 20% 10.0
Fourth 20% 17.4
Highest 20% 62.3
Highest 10% 46.9
Survey year: 1990-91
Note: This information refers to expenditure shares by percentiles of the population and is ranked by per capita expenditure.
SOURCE: 2000 World Development Indicators [CD-ROM].

77 years). Estimates in 1999 suggest that the deteriorating economic conditions, particularly the disruption of agriculture by the violent occupation of farms by landless Zimbabweans, has increased the dollar-a-day poverty level to 60 percent of the population. Most of those in poverty are in the rural areas, relying on small-scale agriculture for their livelihoods. They suffer because of poor land, inadequate rainfall, and insufficient income to purchase good seeds, fertilizer, or farm machinery. With the economic deterioration, increasing numbers of urban dwellers are finding themselves in poverty. There is a huge income distribution disparity. In 1990, the poorest 10 percent of the population received 1.8 percent of total income, while the richest 10 percent received 46.9 percent.

The national social security authority had about 840,000 employed persons registered with it in 1995. Subsistence farmers and informally employed people do not participate in pension, sickness benefits, or other formal welfare schemes, but rely on traditional community support structures.


Since independence in 1980, the government has tried unsuccessfully to reduce the wide income gap between the rich and poor in Zimbabwe. The Minimum Wage Act of 1980 established a minimum wage of Z$85 (US$133) per month for workers who qualified under the Industrial Conciliation Act, and Z$67 (US$105) for others in industry. Minimum wages were set at Z$58 (US$91) per month for mine workers and Z$30 (US$47) per month for agricultural and domestic workers. In 1982, minimum wages were again raised.

Although minimum wages were subsequently raised several times after independence and real wages rose significantly between 1980 and 1982, they have fallen since. Attempts were made in the 1980s to introduce wage controls, but these were widely circumvented by private industry. The landscape has since changed and collective bargaining now appears to be the norm, although tight regulation of the right to strike action has provoked workers to engage in wildcat (a strike not officially sanctioned by a union) actions. Since 1997, however, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has gained prominence, organizing successful strikes against new taxes and levies in 1997-98 and pushing for an increase in the minimum salary to Z$2,000 per month (about US$36 at current exchange rates).

Growth in employment was considerably slower than the population's increase after independence. In the late 1980s, about 40,000 jobs a year were being created, enough to accommodate only 20 percent of young people who had left school to find work. The percentage of total population formally employed fell from 18 percent in 1965 to 11 percent in 1997. There have also been major

Household Consumption in PPP Terms
Country All food Clothing and footwear Fuel and power a Health care b Education b Transport & Communications Other
Zimbabwe 20 10 21 3 15 9 22
United States 13 9 9 4 6 8 51
South Africa N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Dem. Rep. of Congo N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Data represent percentage of consumption in PPP terms.
a Excludes energy used for transport.
b Includes government and private expenditures.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

sectoral shifts in employment since independence, with employment rising particularly rapidly in the education, health, and other services, while the number of people working in manufacturing has declined.


1890. Southern Rhodesia becomes a British colony.

1953. Britain unites Southern Rhodesia with Northern Rhodesia (present-day Zambia) and Nyasaland (presentday Malawi) into a Central African Federation (CAF), which is opposed by Africans in all 3 territories.

1962. Whites in Southern Rhodesia hostile to British softening of stance towards CAF vote into office the newly formed Rhodesian Front (RF), dedicated to upholding white rule and demanding full independence from the United Kingdom.

1963. British government recognizes African hostility to federation and concedes independence of territories, breaking up the federation. African Nationalist opposition splits into the Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU), led by Joshua Nkomo, and the breakaway Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU), led by the Rev. Ndabaningi Sithole and subsequently by Robert Mugabe.

1965. Ian Smith is appointed leader of the RF and prime minister of Southern Rhodesia. Smith implements a Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI), renaming the country "Rhodesia."

1976. African opposition launches combined struggle against the Smith regime, backed by neighboring African states (excluding South Africa).

1979. Smith regime develops an internal settlement under which the black-led government of Bishop Abel Muzorewa is instituted.

1980. Democratic elections give Mugabe's ZANU-PF a majority in the house, Nkomo's ZAPU-PF wins 20 seats, and Muzorewa's United African National Congress (UANC) wins 3 seats.

1982. All ZAPU-PF members of cabinet dismissed from government. Dissidents from ZAPU's former guerrilla army and others perpetrate numerous indiscriminate acts of violence.

1984. Army unit is accused of atrocities against civilians.

1985. The RF is reconstituted as Conservative Alliance of Zimbabwe (CAZ). First general elections are held in the summer.

1987. The reservation of 20 white seats in Parliament and 10 in the Senate is abolished.

1988. Mugabe and Nkomo sign agreement to merge ZANU-PF and ZAPU-PF into ZANU-PF with a commitment to establish a 1-party state with a Marxist -Leninist doctrine. Open public and parliamentary criticism of corrupt government officials mounts as unemployment and inflation rise. Plans to establish a 1-party state result in student protests.

1988. House votes to abolish upper chamber of parliament, the Senate. The single chamber is enlarged from 100 to 150 seats.

1990. ZANU-PF Central Committee refuses to endorse a 1-party state.

1991. The Enhanced Structural Adjustment Program (ESAP) is adopted. The constitution is amended to restore corporal and capital punishment and deny recourse to the courts in cases of seizure of land by the government, amidst fierce criticism from the judiciary and human rights campaigners.

1992. In May, a non-party Forum for Democratic Reform (FDR), led by former Chief Justice Enoch Dumb-utshena and supported by some prominent Zimbabweans, is formed. Four parties form an informal alliance, the United Front (UF), with the aim of defeating the government at the 1995 general elections.

1993. In February, divisions appear in the UF alliance.

1994. Bishop Muzorewa returns to active politics and merges UANC with the Zimbabwe Unity Movement (ZUM). Later in the year, he founds a new opposition grouping, the United Parties (UP). Economic recession leads to widespread industrial unrest.

1995. The government wins the April general election, despite widespread discontent.

1996. Mugabe is returned to office with 93 percent of the votes cast in an election with a 32 percent voter turnout.

1997. Corruption becomes a prominent issue with allegations of official contracts being unfairly tendered and embezzlement of public resources to construct private homes for civil servants, ministers, and Mugabe's wife. In October, Mugabe announces acceleration of the national land resettlement program in an attempt to revive his declining popularity.

1998. Unprecedented food riots erupt in most of the country's urban areas in response to rises in the price of the staple food, maize meal. In April, government officials are reported to have misused funds intended to assist veterans of the struggle for independence. A new party, Zimbabwe Union of Democrats (ZUD), is launched with Margaret Dongo as leader. The opposition protests the government's decision to send troops to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

1999. In July Mugabe acknowledges existence of corruption within the government. Joshua Nkomo dies at age 81. In September, Morgan Tsvangarai joins other prominent citizens in establishing the Movement for Democratic Change. Tsvangarai calls for electoral reform prior to 2000 parliamentary elections. World Bank and other donors suspend financial assistance.

2000. After delays in implementing a land reform program with compensation for white farmers, the government encourages war veterans to occupy farms, and considerable violence erupts. Elections are contested in which ZANU-PF wins 62 seats, the Movement for Democratic Change 57 seats, and ZANU-Ndonga 1 seat.


Zimbabwe faces a wide variety of political and economic problems. The agricultural sector has been dealt a severe blow through the land occupation by war veterans frustrated by 20 years of delay in receiving land allotments for their military service. However, the government-sanctioned violent takeover of many white-owned farms has all but destroyed Mugabe's international reputation along with Zimbabwe's agricultural output. Thus, it is unlikely there will be a resolution to the conflict while Mugabe remains in power, particularly since the international community will withold funds for an orderly transfer with compensation for the white farmers until he is gone. For now, the economic prospect is bleak, with a steady attrition of white farmers and falling agricultural output, and exports provoking crises as food and fuel fall into short supply. Tourism has virtually ceased, incomes are plummeting, and inflation is likely to continue at hyper-inflation levels. With a change in government, there will be a challenge in consolidating earlier progress in developing a market-oriented economy. Support from the IMF will resume once the government shows some determination in meeting budgetary targets.


Zimbabwe has no territories or colonies.


Economist Intelligence Unit. Country Profile: Zimbabwe. London: Economist Intelligence Unit, 2001.

Embassy of Zimbabwe.<>.Accessed October 2001.

Green, Richard, editor. Commonwealth Yearbook. London: HerMajesty's Stationery Office, 2000.

Hodd, M. "Zimbabwe." In The Economies of Africa. Aldershot:Dartmouth, 1991.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook 2000. <>. Accessed December 2000.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook 2001. <>. Accessed October 2001.

World Bank. World Bank Africa Database 2000. Washington DC: World Bank, 2000. "Zimbabwe's Troubled Tourist Industry."<>. Accessed September 2001.

"Zimbabwe." In Africa South of the Sahara. London: Europa Publications, 2000.

Allan C. K. Mukungu




Zimbabwe Dollar (Z$). Z$1 equals 100 cents. Coins are in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents and Z$1 and 2. Paper currency is in denominations of Z$2, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100.


Tobacco, gold, ferro-alloys, nickel, cotton, clothing, textiles, agricultural food crops.


Machinery, transport equipment, manufactured goods, chemicals, fuels.


US$28.2 billion (purchasing power parity, 2000 est.).


Exports: US$1.8 billion (f.o.b., 2000 est.). Imports: US$1.3 billion (f.o.b., 2000 est.).

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Basic Data

Official Country Name: Republic of Zimbabwe
Region (Map name): Africa
Population: 11,365,366
Language(s): English, Shona, Sindebele
Literacy rate: 85.0%
Area: 390,580 sq km
GDP: 7,392 (US$ millions)
Number of Television Stations: 16
Number of Television Sets: 370,000
Television Sets per 1,000: 32.6
Number of Satellite Subscribers: 32,000
Satellite Subscribers per 1,000: 2.8
Number of Radio Stations: 54
Number of Radio Receivers: 1,140,000
Radio Receivers per 1,000: 100.3
Number of Individuals with Computers: 160,000
Computers per 1,000: 14.1
Number of Individuals with Internet Access: 50,000
Internet Access per 1,000: 4.4

Background & General Characteristics

Zimbabwe is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. It is bordered by Zambia in the north, Mozambique in the east, Botswana in the west, and South Africa in the south. Many of its economic and transportation links are with these countries. Lack of its own ports and harbors forces Zimbabwe to rely on Mozambican and South African facilities; thus, its economy and politics have also been subject to ripple effects from its neighbors, especially South Africa and Mozambique. Outside South Africa, Zimbabwe boasts one of the most highly developed industrial infrastructures in sub-Saharan Africa.

Press freedom has had a long, tenuous existence in what today is known as Zimbabwe. The governments in power have often professed their commitment to press freedom. In reality, however, the communication media has suffered from contradictory tendencies, as political self-interest has too often ridden roughshod over the public's right to free and unfettered news and information. In the turbulent days before and during the Ian Smith regime, pre-publication censorship was commonplace. Since Rhodesia became the independent Zimbabwe on April 18, 1980, there has been no direct censorship. But there has been government control of the print and broadcast media. Editors have also engaged in self-censorship.

The Lancaster House Constitution of December 1979 became Zimbabwe's constitution when the country became independent from Britain in 1980. It is a Westminster-type document designed to promote multi-party democracy. The Declaration of Rights comes under Chapter 111 of the constitution. This section deals with the basic rights and freedoms of the individual, regardless of race, color, sex, political opinion, or place of origin. This includes the right to life, liberty, security of the person and protection under the law, and protection of the privacy of the home and other property.

Section 20 of the constitution guarantees freedom of expression; the right to receive, impart, and hold ideas and information without interference; and freedom from interference with correspondence. It is this part of the constitution that protects freedom of the mass media. Under normal circumstances, this provision seems to be a straightforward guarantee that Zimbabweans can receive, read, discuss, and share ideas, news, and information freely, without government control or interference. But this is not an unqualified right. For example, restrictions may be placed on the media, citizens, or on what is generally called civil society in the interests of defense, public safety, the economic interests of the state, public health, public morality, public order, or to protect the rights, freedoms, and reputations of other people or the private rights of persons involved in legal proceedings. Restrictions may also apply to protect or prevent the disclosure of confidential information or to maintain the authority and independence of the judicial system (courts, tribunals) or the House of Assembly.

A state of emergency, imposed in 1965 by the rebel Smith regime, did not lapse until July 25, 1990. It gave Prime Minister Robert Mugabe's post-independence government and its organs unlimited power to control the media and the citizens. It freely violated human rights. Government could, if it wanted, control what was published or broadcast. There was no appeal against such actions, which left the media largely cowed and controlled. Certain laws on the books, some inherited again from the minority Smith regime, such as the Law and Order (Maintenance) Act, also gave the government unlimited power over the media. Such laws gave the Zimbabwe police the power to allow or permit meetings or rallies. In reality, meetings of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) were always allowed. Opposition meetings were hardly ever permitted, thus violating the spirit of the constitution, which guaranteed freedom of assembly and association.

The story of the media in Zimbabwe cannot be separated from the history of the troubled country. When, on November 11, 1965, Smith and his white minority Rhodesian Front party unilaterally declared the country independent (UDI) this was the culmination of a struggle, which started in the late 1800s when white settlers arrived in that part of Africa, to impose permanent white minority rule. UDI was a calculated attempt to ensure perpetual white control at the expense of the black majority. Ironically, this would accelerate the advent of black majority government.

Formal white control began in the late 1880s when Cecil John Rhodes, the British adventurer after whom the country was at one time named, sent emissaries north from South Africa. Rhodes became a politician and mining magnate in South Africa. His people sought mining rights from local chiefs. They succeeded in tricking King Lobengula of Matabeleland to sign the Rudd Concession, which gave Rhodes exclusive mineral rights to an area that, according to their interpretation, covered Zambia and Zimbabwe (formerly Northern Rhodesia and Southern Rhodesia). This concession eventually was used to make the area part of the British Empire.

In 1923 British South Africa Company rule over the country ended. It was replaced by internal self-government for the white minority. Again, Africans were not consulted. Whites controlled the country, however, Britain retained control over foreign affairs and matters dealing with African affairs. In theory Britain could veto any legislation passed by the Rhodesian Legislative Assembly, if it was unfair to the African majority, but this power was never exercised. When successive Rhodesian legislatures steadily whittled away African rights, on land and other issues, there was no British veto.

In the 1960s the Southern Rhodesian whites pushed for independence, which would retain control in white hands. But, under mounting pressure by African nationalists, the British backed off. It was under these conditions that Smith undertook UDI, which placed the country under virtual international ostracism, led to economic sanctions and eventually forced the country's African nationalists to opt for guerrilla warfare as the only way to end minority rule. During this time the country's media systems suffered unparalleled restrictions, including outright censorship. More than 30,000 people, mostly blacks, would die before Zimbabwe's birth.

In Zimbabwe in the 2000s, the government-controlled media regularly attacked their privately owned counterparts. The foreign media and foreign journalists have not been immune. The government controls the country's only radio and television stations, using them for partisan political propaganda, while opposition political parties and non-governmental organizations are routinely denied access to the airwaves. They can be attacked on the airwaves but are denied an opportunity to respond. The government controls six newspapers two daily, two Sunday, and two weeklyall used as part of its arsenal for relentless, unanswered criticism and attacks against those who happen to hold political views differ from those of the ruling clique.

In addition, the government introduced a bill that seeks to prevent foreign journalists from being allowed to work in the country, and seeks the licensure and accreditation of domestic journalists for a year at a time, with the minister of information deciding who should/ should not be licensed and the government banning the media from publishing or broadcasting unauthorized Cabinet information.

Media History

Zimbabwe has some of the oldest newspapers in Africa. In June 1891, the Mashonaland and Zambesian Times, a hand-written paper described by one journalist as a "crude but readable cyclostyled sheet," was published. On October 20, 1892, The Rhodesia Herald replaced the Mashonaland and Zambesian Times as the country's major daily newspaper. The paper, since renamed The Herald, survives today as the country's oldest and biggest daily newspaper. But it has changed over the years. It was started by the Argus Company of South Africa. On October 12, 1894, the Argus Company chose to start a second newspaper, the Bulawayo Chronicle in Bulawayo, the country's second largest city. Today, these papers are the oldest in the country. The two papers supported the British South Africa Company in its quest to continue ruling Rhodesia.

The media in Rhodesia catered to the needs of the white settlers by ignoring news of interest to the African majority. Much of the early news was about events occurring in the metropolis, from politics to sports, while events on the African continent were ignored. The needs, aspirations, and hopes of the Africans were never published. However, news about crime by blacks was prominently covered. The media had not changed much by the time the country achieved its independence. Coverage was still geared mainly towards white readers and advertisers, which was not surprising since all top Rhodesian printing and publishing newspaper executives in Rhodesia were white, as were all the editors, copy editors, almost all of the reporters, and most of the advertising and circulation executives, which had important implications for the media at independence.

The media is important because it informs, educates, and entertains. It also fosters a common culture or propagates the ideas and theories of the country's political, economic, educated, ruling, cultural, and social elite. The media also allows those in power the ability to control what the media reports or what the masses will or will not now. Under ideal conditions, they can also provide twoway communication between rulers and their subjects. Thus, it seemed almost inevitable that the Mugabe government would move fast and decisively to acquire the means to control the electronic and print media. It was easy to take over the electronic media because under Rhodesian laws the broadcast outlets were already under government control. The Smith regime had been appointing the board of governors who oversaw the broadcast authority. Although in theory the electronic media were autonomous, in reality the Smith regime exercised effective political control, including guidelines that required that the African opposition be denied on-air access. The Rhodesia Broadcasting Corporation (RBC) was part of the Smith regime's propaganda machinery. After UDI, legislation was passed by the Rhodesian parliament imposing a fine of up to $1,500 or 2 years in prison on anyone who permitted any hostile broadcast to be heard in public. Pro-apartheid Radio South Africa replaced the British Broadcasting Corporation as the main source of external news. Smith himself admitted that radio was one of the most powerful tools in the ongoing "war for men's minds."

In a related development, author Julie Frederikse found a confidential RBC memo, dated August 28, 1978, signed by T. W. Louw, RBC's director of news, which listed a number of organizations that could not be mentioned by Rhodesian radio and television staff. These included, ZAPU (Zimbabwe African People's Union), ZANU (Zimbabwe African National Union), the Patriotic Front (an alliance of ZAPU and ZANU), the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANU's guerrilla wing), the Zimbabwe People's Liberation Army (ZAPU's military wing), and the Zimbabwe People's Army.

The Mugabe government learned its lesson well. It has continued its control of the electronic media, with the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, acting as a subsidiary of the government by denying access to the airwaves to opposition political groups, while giving the government and the ruling party unfettered access to the broadcast media. Even access to advertising on the electronic media is controlled. Government activities and pronouncements from the Mugabe (who has been in power since 1980) government are prominently featured on radio and television, while government opponents are hardly featured, except negatively or when being attacked. Pronouncements from President Mugabe usually lead radio and television news broadcasts, even when they involve nothing more than mundane events.

In reviewing the results of the 2002 presidential election, the Media Monitoring Project in Zimbabwe concluded that about 90 percent of all election stories carried on Zimbabwe television were about Mugabe or ZANU, or they were pro-government. There was no effort at balance or fairness. Additionally, even after the courts ordered the government to end its monopoly control over the broadcast media, no private individual or company was issued a license to launch radio or television stations that would compete with the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation.

Influential Newspapers

The state-controlled Herald and Chronicle, the Sunday Mail and Sunday News, and the weekly Manica Post and Kwaedza/Umthunya are used regularly to propagate government and ruling party policies and propaganda and to attack government opponents, both domestic and foreign. Government opponents are rarely featured in the state-controlled print media, except in a negative manner or when reporting news of their arrests or when they are attacked by government officials or their surrogates. During the 2002 election Mugabe was pitted in spirited contests against Morgan Tsangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC); the only publicity for the Mugabe opponent was found in the privately owned Daily News, now the country's leading daily newspaper; in the weekly, privately owned Independent and Financial Gazette ; and in the privately owned Sunday Standard. These publications regularly use their editorial pages to denounce the government and their news pages are often filled with critical stories and comments. The state media regularly returns the fire, but, unlike the state media, the private media also carries some stories critical of opposition groups. The state print and broadcast media never carries anything critical of the government.

The Daily News is the most influential newspaper in the country. It boasts a circulation of more than 100,000 and growing, despite having its printing press destroyed. It is seen as the voice of those who oppose Zimbabwe's government, although it is careful not to be seen as blatantly anti-Mugabe or pro-MDC. It also is under relentless attack by ZANU and its supporters. The Herald, once the most influential newspaper in the country, has seen its circulation drop from a peak of 132,000 to between 50,000 and 100,000. Some advertisers and readers boycott it because of the perception that it is blatantly and slavishly pro-Mugabe and pro-ZANU. The privately owned Financial Gazette has a readership between 50,000 and 100,000. The Independent, The Standard, andThe Sunday Mail also carry some weight, the first two among opposition groups and the latter as the govern-ment's chief weekly mouthpiece.


Under the colonial regime, there was censorship of the media and the entertainment industry. Movies, books, and newspapers were censored, forcing The Herald to resort to leaving blank spaces in its news columns in the 1960s to indicate where stories had been banned or censored. The present government has not gone that far, but it has appointed editors who follow government prescriptions; those who annoy the government are fired or moved elsewhere. Self-censorship also is commonplace among the state-owned media. Further, the minister of information has inordinate powers to appoint and fire editors and to punish those who violate government policy or fail to use the media to promote government policy and propaganda or who publicize the views of government officials.

State-Press Relations

Under the Smith regime, the broadcast media was under strict government control, but the regime did not try to take over the news media. Government broadcasters were under directives to refer to Mugabe and his guerrilla counterpart Joshua Nkomo as "terrorist leaders" or "leaders of terrorist organizations." Their political parties were similarly referred to as "terrorist" movements and their followers, especially the guerrilla fighters, were called "terrorists." Ironically, after independence, the Mugabe government used similar tactics by referring to its opponents as "bandits" and "terrorists."

The Mugabe government quickly appointed its own board of governors, many of whom had no media backgrounds, to oversee the renamed Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC). In 2002, ZBC ran the country's television and radio stations. Government funding from the Ministry of Information subsidizes the electronic media, which also depends on annual license fees that must be paid by all Zimbabwe residents who own or rent radio and television sets.

The Mugabe government also established the Zimbabwe Mass Media Trust (ZMMT) to set long and short-range policies for all the Zimbabwe media. Initially, the board set to oversee the ZMMT was a cross-section of Zimbabweans of all political and economic stripes. Over the years, however, the board has become increasingly politicaldominated by those with strong ZANU-PF connections.

Attitude toward Foreign Media

In the past, foreign journalists were welcome to work in Zimbabwe. This, however, has been changing. In early 2002, American journalist Andrew Meldrum, a longtime resident of Zimbabwe, was charged under the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) for publishing a false story about a man who had allegedly been beheaded by government supporters. After he was acquitted, the government moved to deport him. A court stayed the deportation. (Two Daily News journalists face charges under the AIPPA for the same story.) Several journalists have been denied permissions, visas, and work permits. A British Broadcasting Corporation journalist was deported last year. A number of South African journalists have also been arrested and forced to leave the country.

Sections of the AIPPA that apply to foreign and domestic journalists do not allow journalists to acquire and disseminate information. The AIPPA is being used to force the foreign media to employ Zimbabweans as journalists. Despite its innocuous sounding name, many independent and foreign journalists see the AIPPA as a thinly disguised attempt to control and intimidate them.

Broadcast Media

Zimbabwe has four main radio channels. Radio 1, broadcasting in English, is a general station that covers news and music, while Radio 2 and 3 are geared more toward African listeners. They also provide a mixture of music, news, and other entertainment. Radio 4 is the most innovative and is also the educational channel. With support and technical support from the German Friedrich-Ebert Foundation, Radio 4 is making its mark. In February 1992 the Germans handed it over to their Zimbabwean counterparts. It broadcasts 12 hours daily four hours are for grades one to the sixth year of high schoolon FM transmitters scattered across the country. In some areas, it has replaced scarce school materials to become the main source for learning. It has also been creative in seeking listener feedback; Radio 4 personnel venture into rural areas, armed with recorders, to tape and then broadcast listeners' responses to their programs, which is important in a country with a shortage of phones, even in the urban areas.

As of 1997, there were 16 television stations for only 370,000 television sets owned throughout Zimbabwe. Online access has started to bloom with six Internet service providers and 30,000 users as of 1999.


The future is not very bright for Zimbabwe's media. The government seems determined to retain its strangle-hold on the six newspapers in the Zimpapers stable. Without a change of government or ideology, Zimpapers, ZIANA, and ZBC are likely to remain instruments of government propaganda, dependent on government subsidies for their survival. It is unlikely that Mugabe or ZANU would agree to allow the state-owned print and broadcast media to break from state control. The Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) allows the government to license and accredit journalists. Those who violate its provisions, mainly in the private media or among foreign journalists, face fines and up to 2 years in prison. So far, 12 journalists have been charged under the AIPPA, many charged with publishing false information. None of them have been from the state media, even though opponents have accused state journalists of publishing false information.

The private media has struggled to survive under difficult conditions. Generally, all private forms have been vibrant. They have been critical of the government and the state media. They have tried to play a watchdog role by holding the government accountable for its actions. They have published stories that the state media dare not touch and have also been outlets for the views of those who oppose the Zimbabwe government. Whereas the government media has lost advertising and circulation revenue, the private media has increased circulation and advertising dollars. The AIPPA is, however, likely to make life more difficult for the private media and private journalists, as well as for the foreign media.


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Kumbula, Tendayi. "Press Freedom in Zimbabwe." In Press Freedom and Communication in Africa, eds. Festus Eribo and William Jong-Ebot. Africa World Press, Inc., 1997.

Liebenow, J. Gus. African Politics: Crises and Challenges. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1986.

Martin, Phyllis M., and Patrick O'Meara, eds. Africa. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1986.

Merrill, John C. Global Journalism: A Survey of the World's NewsMedia. New York and London: Longman, 1991.

Muzorewa, Abel T. Rise Up & Walk. Nashville: Abingdon, 1978.

Mytton, Graham. Mass Communication in Africa. London: Edward Arnold, 1983.

Nordenstreng, Kaarle, and Lauri Hannikainen. The Mass Media Declaration of UNESCO. Norwood, New Jersey: Ablex Publishing Corp., 1984.

Ochs, Martin. The African Press. The American University in Cairo, 1986.

Press Freedom in Zimbabwe. Harare, Zimbabwe: The Willie Musarurwa Memorial Trust, 1993.

Rusike, E. T. M. The Politics of the Mass Media. Harare, Zimbabwe: Roblaw Publishers (Pvt) Ltd., 1990.

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TendayiS Kumbula

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Zimbabwe (country, Africa)

Zimbabwe (zim´bäbwā), formerly Rhodesia, officially Republic of Zimbabwe, republic (2005 est. pop. 12,747,000), 150,803 sq mi (390,580 sq km), S central Africa. It is bordered on the north by Zambia, on the northeast and east by Mozambique, on the south by South Africa, and on the southwest and west by Botswana. Harare (formerly Salisbury) is the capital and largest city.

Land and People

The terrain is mainly a plateau of four regions. The highveld, above 4,000 ft (1,219 m), crosses the country from southwest to northeast. On each side of it lies the middleveld, 3,000 to 4,000 ft (914–1,219 m) high, and beyond it the lowveld, at elevations below 3,000 ft (914 m). The fourth region, the Eastern Highlands, is a narrow, mountainous belt along the Mozambique border, where the highest point in Zimbabwe, Mt. Inyangani (8,503 ft/2,592 m), stands. Zimbabwe has an extensive national park system, including Hwange and Victoria Falls, both in the west. Rainfall varies from about 70 in. (178 cm) in the Highlands to less than 25 in. (64 cm) in the south. In addition to Harare, other cities include Bulawayo, Chitungwiza, Gweru, and Mutare.

Some 82% of the population belong to the Shona ethnic group, while 14% are Ndebele. There are small minorities of mixed and Asian descent. Since independence in 1980, the European population of Zimbabwe has fallen to under 100,000. Zimbabwe's official language is English, with Shona and Ndebele being the predominant African languages. About half the population practices a blend of Christian and indigenous religions; the balance of the people are split nearly evenly between the two.


Zimbabwe's economy is basically agricultural. The formerly strong commercial farming sector was thrown into disarray with the expropriation of white-owned farms that began in 2000, and the replacement of large efficient farms with smaller ones worked by inexperienced farmers. Formerly an exporter of foodstuffs, Zimbabwe now must import grains, but the small farmers have reversed some of the losses that occurred in the tobacco crop. Corn is the chief food source, and cotton and tobacco the principal cash crops. Other products include wheat, coffee, sugarcane, and peanuts. There are also tea plantations in the country; dairying is important in the highveld. Sheep, goats and pigs are raised.

Forests in SE Zimbabwe yield valuable hardwoods, including teak and mahogany. The country is endowed with a wide variety of mineral resources. There is extensive mining (coal, gold, platinum, copper, nickel, tin, clay, chromium ore, and iron ore), and significant diamond deposits were discoverd in the 21st cent. Among Zimbabwe's industrial products are steel, wood products, chemicals, fertilizer, clothing and footwear, foodstuffs, and beverages. Most of Zimbabwe's power is generated by a hydroelectric station at Kariba Dam on the Zambezi River.

The country has good road and rail networks and domestic and international air service. The main exports are cotton, tobacco, gold, ferroalloys, textiles, and clothing. Imports include machinery, transportation equipment, manufactured goods, chemicals, and fuels. South Africa is by far the largest trading partner, followed by China, Japan, and Zambia.


Zimbabwe is governed under the 2013 constitution. The president, who is both head of state and head of government, is popularly elected for a five-year term and may serve two terms. There is a bicameral Parliament. The 80-seat Senate, which was reestablished in 2005, has 60 elected members, 18 traditional tribal chiefs, and two representatives for persons with disabilities. The National Assembly has 210 members, all of whom are elected, but 60 additional seats are reserved for women in the first two Parliaments elected under the 2013 constitution. Members in each body serve five year terms. Administratively, Zimbabwe is divided into eight provinces and two cities (Bulawayo and Harare) with provincial status.


Early History to British Control

There are a number of Iron Age sites in Zimbabwe, with artifacts dating from c.AD 180. These early cultures were supplanted by Bantu-speaking peoples, who migrated into the area after the 5th cent. The ruins at Zimbabwe date from the 12th to the 15th cent. In the early 16th cent., the Portuguese made contact with Shona-dominated states and developed a trade in gold and other items. During the 1830s, the Shona-speaking people were subjected to Ndebele invaders, who forced them to pay tribute. British and Boer traders and hunters moved into the area, and the London Missionary Society established a mission to the Ndebele in 1861.

In 1889 the British South Africa Company, organized by Cecil Rhodes, obtained a charter to promote commerce and colonization in the region. Leander Starr Jameson, an associate of Rhodes, led a column of South African and British pioneers deep into the interior, where they founded (1890) Fort Salisbury. Fighting in 1893 resulted in the defeat of the Ndebele and the takeover of their territory by Rhodes's company. Both the Ndebele and the Shona staged unsuccessful revolts against the British in 1896–97. The settlers pressed the company for political rights, and in 1914 the British government renewed the company's charter on the condition that self-government be granted to the settlers by 1924.

Rhodesia, Independence, and White Supremacy

In late 1922, settlers voted in a referendum to reject proposals for incorporation into the Union of South Africa, electing instead to make Rhodesia a self-governing colony under the British Crown—a status that became effective on Sept. 12, 1923. In 1953, Southern Rhodesia became a member of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland (see Rhodesia and Nyasaland, Federation of), despite African objections to a European-dominated federal structure.

In the early 1960s, a new constitution was adopted that provided for limited African political participation; however, the Africans remained unappeased. In 1963 the federation broke up as African majority governments assumed control in Northern Rhodesia and in Nyasaland (renamed Zambia and Malawi respectively). After the federation's demise, conservative trends hardened in Southern Rhodesia (which now became known simply as Rhodesia).

The government of staunch conservative Ian Smith, who had become Rhodesian prime minister in 1964, proclaimed a unilateral declaration of independence on Nov. 11, 1965. Britain called the proclamation an act of rebellion but refused to reestablish control by force. When negotiations in 1966 failed to produce an agreement, Britain requested UN economic sanctions against Rhodesia. In 1969, Rhodesia voted to become a republic as of Mar. 2, 1970. In 1971, Britain and Rhodesia reached an accord that provided for gradually increased African political participation, but without any guarantee of eventual black majority rule. However, after a British commission's hearings revealed widespread African opposition to the terms, Britain refused to recognize Rhodesian independence on the basis of the accord.

Nationalist Struggles

Two nationalist organizations, the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) led by Robert Mugabe and the Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU) led by Joshua Nkomo, operating from bases in Mozambique and Zambia, respectively, carried out guerrilla warfare campaigns against the white government throughout the 1970s. Smith appealed to right-wing politicians in the United States and Britain in a failed attempt to gain recognition for his government. In 1978, an "internal settlement" negotiated among Smith and three black leaders led to an interim coalition government. In 1979, a white-only referendum approved a new constitution and renamed the country Zimbabwe-Rhodesia. Bishop Abel T. Muzorewa's coalition, the United African National Council, won the parliamentary elections. However, Muzorewa soon lost credibility as he sought aid from South Africa.

Self-Rule in Zimbabwe

Later in 1979, under pressure from Britain, an agreement was reached to provide for a legally independent, democratically governed Zimbabwe. A new constitution was established, and a cease-fire was implemented; Britain agreed to finance a voluntary land-redistribution program. The country reverted to British colonial rule until the transition to self-rule was complete. In the elections of Apr., 1980, Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF (Patriotic Front) party won by a comfortable margin, and he became prime minister of the Republic of Zimbabwe when independence was achieved on Apr. 18, 1980. More than 25,000 people had been killed in the struggle for independence.

In 1982, Mugabe ousted Nkomo from his cabinet and launched a campaign against supposed dissidents in the Matabeleland region, which was a stronghold of ZAPU support. Political repression, human-rights abuses, mass murders, and property burnings followed during a five-year campaign. A peace accord was finally negotiated in 1987, resulting in ZAPU's merger (1988) into the ZANU-PF and Nkomo's return to the government.

Mugabe was elected president in 1987 and reelected in 1990 and 1996. Once committed to Marxist principles, the ZANU-PF officially abandoned Marxism and with it controversial plans for a one-party state in 1991. A 1992 Land Acquisition Act intended to facilitate the redistribution of farmland from whites, who owned 70% of the land, to black farmers provoked strong protest from the white-dominated Commercial Farmers Union; implementation was also impeded by lack of government funds. In the multiparty parliamentary elections of 1995, which were boycotted by some parties, ZANU-PF won nearly all the seats against a weak and fragmented opposition.

In the 1990s, Mugabe's government was faced with high rates of inflation and unemployment, which continued into the next century. In addition, by 1997 one quarter of the population of Zimbabwe had been infected by HIV, the AIDS virus. The government's dispatch of troops in support of the Kabila regime in the Congo (Kinshasa) placed an added burden on national finances beginning in 1998. By the end of the 1990s, some two thirds to three quarters of the population was living in poverty. In the June, 2000, parliamentary elections, a new opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), won 57 of the 120 elected seats with strong support from urban voters; ZANU-PF won 62 seats. The electoral setback ended the governing party's ability to unilaterally amend the constitution.

Land redistribution reemerged as a issue beginning in 1999. In 1998, Britain and other Western nations had agreed to help finance further land redistribution, but donors balked when Zimbabwe unilaterally announced an expansion of the land-reform program. A draft constitution that would have increased Mugabe's powers and permitted uncompensated seizure of white-owned farms was rejected in a Feb., 2000, referendum, but the government pressed forward with its land-redistribution agenda. The issue became increasingly divisive, as Mugabe exploited it for political gain and black squatters attacked white farmers. The constitution was amended to permit uncompensated seizure of farms, but the supreme court twice declared the government's land reform program illegal in part, rulings that Mugabe ignored. Mugabe supporters subsequently sought to intimidate the judiciary and succeeded in forcing the chief justice from office in Mar., 2001.

The government also pursued a policy of intimidating and harassing Mugabe's political opponents and the free press. The presidential election of Mar., 2002, in which Mugabe was reelected with 56% of the vote, was marred by violence and restrictions on the opposition and was widely criticized, although the Organization of African Unity termed the vote "free and fair." Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was accused, prior to the election, of the plotting to kill Mugabe, and following the election he was tried but ultimately (Oct., 2004) acquitted. The Commonwealth of Nations suspended Zimbabwe for a year after the 2002 election.

Food shortages due to drought and the agricultural disruption caused by the seizure of white-owned farms led Mugabe to proclaim a state of disaster in April. In August the government ordered 2,900 white farmers to leave their farms, but more than half did not comply, and the police began arresting those who did not. By 2002 some 600 white farmers remained (out of a pre-redistribution total of 4,500; only 200 commercial farmers remained in 2005), mainly on smaller holdings. Political conditions remained unsettled in 2003, as opposition leaders called strikes in protest against Mugabe's rule and the government and its allies responded with arrests and small-scale violence. The economic situation was also bleak, with the country experiencing ongoing contraction and inflation that reached 600% in 2003.

In Jan., 2004, a banking scandal that involved corruption charges against a senior ZANU-PF official precipitated a run on several banks, and the following month Mugabe announced the establishment of an anticorruption ministry. A rift emerged in the ruling party in Jan., 2005, when a number of younger ZANU-PF officials were suspended after they opposed Mugabe's choice for second vice president. The dissension over the post, which is seen as a stepping-stone to the presidency, was regarded as a power struggle over who might succeed the president in 2008.

In the Mar., 2005, parliamentary elections ZANU-PF secured 78 seats, enough (with the 30 appointed by the president) to give it a two-thirds majority and the ability to unilaterally amend the constitution. The opposition MDC denounced the results as fraudulent, and accused the government of ballot stuffing based on large discrepancies between initial and final counts in rural districts. Most international observers also regarded the elections as unfair, although the Southern African Development Community endorsed the results. The country's economic situation remained difficult, and in May, 2005, the currency was devalved by 45%; Zimbabwe subsequently suffered from pronounced fuel shortages. In 2006, a government survey revealed that Zimbabwean living standards had dropped 150% from 1996 to 2005.

In May–July, 2005, the government began demolished illegal shantytowns and markets in Harare and other areas, displacing hundreds of thousands and further disrupting the economy. The move appeared intended to disperse Zimbabwe's urban poor, a group that has strongly supported Mugabe's opponents, The action was widely denounced as a violation of human rights and even provoked defections from the governing party.

In Sept., 2005, Mugabe signed constitutional amendments that reinstituted a national senate (abolished in 1987) and that nationalized all land, converting any ownership rights into leases. The amendments also ended the right of landowners to challenge government expropriation of land in the courts. Elections for the senate in November resulted in a victory for the government, but the MDC, which split over whether to field candidates, partially boycotted the vote, and the turnout was very low. The split in the MDC hardened into factions, each of which claimed control of the party. The early months of 2006 were marked by food shortages, which led to hyperinflation throughout the year; in Aug., 2006, the inflation forced the government to revalue its currency. In Dec., 2006, ZANU-PF proposed the "harmonization" of the parliamentary and presidential election schedules in 2010; the move was seen by the opposition as an excuse to extend Mugabe's term as president until 2010.

Continuing economic problems led to a series of strikes in Zimbabwe in early 2007, but a nationwide general strike in April had a low level of participation. In March a number of opposition leaders, including MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, were severely beaten and arrested by the police. These acts provoked widespread international condemnation, but neighboring African leaders, meeting in Tanzania, did not publicly criticize Mugabe and called for removing international sanctions on Zimbabwe. At the same time, Mugabe's party chose him as its candidate for the 2008 presidential election.

Exploding hyperinflation led in June, 2007, to government-ordered price cuts on basic goods, which had the effect of making those goods scarce. In September, Mugabe banned price and pay increases in a further unsuccessful attempt to control hyperinflation. The government also enacted a law requiring majority indigenous Zimbabwean ownership of all businesses, and moved to force the last white farmers off their land. By the end of 2007, the official annual inflation rate exceeded 24,000%, but independent estimates ranged as high as 150,000%.

Despite government attempts to arrange the electoral process in its favor, the Mar., 2008, elections were a victory for the opposition, especially the main faction of the MDC, which won a plurality of the seats in the House of Assembly, narrowly edging ZANU-PF; the opposition also won half the elected seats in the Senate. The presidential results were not released, but Tsvangirai claimed victory; independent observers estimated that he had beaten Mugabe but failed to win the more than 50% required for outright victory. The MDC went to court to force the release of the presidential result, but the High Court refused to do so. The government, meantime, maneuvered to retain power, calling upon black Zimbabweans to oust the last remaining white farmers from their farms, challenging the results of a large number of parliamentary elections, and publicly describing Tsvangirai as treasonous.

Widespread violence against Tsvangirai's supporters and threats against Tsvangirai himself led the opposition leader to withdraw from the runoff and seek refuge in the Dutch embassy. In June Mugabe won his sixth term as president in a widely denounced election in which many voters were intimidated into casting ballots for Mugabe. Zimbabwe's economy, meanwhile, continued to deteriorate, with inflation officially at 231 million% in July. In Aug., 2008, the country again revalued its currency as a result. A power-sharing agreement was reached between Mugabe and Tsvangirai in September, under which Tsvangirai would be prime minister, but further talks and progress stalled over the division of cabinet posts.

A cholera epidemic began in Aug., 2008; it also affected other S African nations but was aggravated in Zimbabwe by the collapse of the health and sanitation services. By May, 2009, when it ended in Zimbabwe, some 4,300 people had died there from the disease; 90% of the reported deaths from the regional epidemic occurred in Zimbabwe. In Nov., 2008, the regional South African Development Community (SADC) tribunal ruled that Zimbabwe's seizures of land from white farmers had been discriminatory and that those farmers who had sued could retain their farms. The government indicated that it would ignore the SADC ruling, and subsequently accelerated the seizure of the remaining white-owned farms; in June, 2009, the tribunal held the government in breach and contempt, and ordered the matter be reported to the next SADC summit. The SADC ruling subsequently was used in South Africa to sue for seizure of Zimbabwe-owned commercial property there in compensation for the seizure of white-owned farmland. Seizures of foreign-owned farms led to compensation judgments against the government by the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes.

Meanwhile, the power-sharing government was finally established in Feb., 2009, but Mugabe's resistance to cooperating with the opposition led to recurring tensions. In March there were signs that Zimbabwe's runaway inflation had slowed, largely due to the government's having tied the currency to the dollar and rand; also the currency had again been revalued. The next month, however, the Zimbabwean dollar was in effect abandoned, and replaced by the rand, U.S. dollar, euro, Botswanan pula, and British pound (additional currencies were adopted for use in 2014). Tsvangirai subsequently secured some $500 million in aid from various countries, but Western nations avoided providing aid directly to the government because of ongoing farm seizures and arrests of opposition activists; promises of loans worth $950 million were also obtained from China.

In July, 2009, a Kimberly Process review cited the government for violations of diamond mining standards (including the illegal mining and selling of diamonds by the military) in the Marange district and called for the government to comply with the standards. A year later, after another review failed in June, 2010, to reach a consensus on approving the diamonds for sale, limited diamond sales were approved by the World Diamond Council. In Nov., 2011, the ban on sales was lifted despite objections from human rights groups. Mugabe's opponents also objected, saying that diamond sales were enriching Mugabe and his close supporters at the expense of Zimbabwe.

The ongoing tensions within the government increased significantly in Oct., 2009, after a prominent MDC official was arrested and Tsvangirai and the MDC boycotted the unity government in response. The MDC returned to the cabinet in Nov., 2009, after regional talks and the appointment of South Africa's President Zuma as mediator, but the parties essentially remained stalemated in subsequent months, with the MDC continuing to charge Mugabe with violations of the power-sharing agreement. Additional mediation failed to resolve the situation, and intimidation and arrests of opposition parties and activists worsened in 2011.

Progess toward a new constitution proceeded slowly, but early in 2013 the main parties agreed on a final draft, which was overwhelming approved in a referendum in March. Subsequently, the European Union eased the sanctions it had imposed on the country. In June, the constitutional court ordered that new elections be held before the end of July. In the subsequent elections, Mugabe was reelected and ZANU-PF won a two-thirds majority in parliament. Tsvangirai accused the government of rigging the vote. Western nations said that there were serious irregularities, but African nations generally supported the result.

In late 2014 Vice President Joice Mujuru was accused of plotting against Mugabe, charges she denied, but Mugabe dismissed her and others in the cabinet who were accused of supporting her. Emmerson Mnangagwa, a long-time associate of Mugabe's who had himself been accused of plotting against the president a decade before, was appointed first vice president. Mugabe's wife, Grace, who was regarded as having helped engineer the changes, was appointed head of the ZANU-PF's women's league.


See L. H. Gann, A History of Southern Rhodesia: Early Days to 1934 (1969); G. Kay, Rhodesia: A Human Geography (1970); D. Martin and P. Johnson, The Struggle for Zimbabwe (1981); M. G. Schatzberg, ed., The Political Economy of Zimbabwe (1984); C. Stoneman and L. Cliffer, Zimbabwe (1988); J. Herbst, State Politics in Zimbabwe (1990); P. Godwin, The Fear: Robert Mugabe and the Martyrdom of Zimbabwe (2011).

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ALTERNATE NAMES: (Formerly) Rhodesians

LOCATION: Zimbabwe

POPULATION: 10.4 million

LANGUAGE: ChiShona; isiNdebele; English

RELIGION: Indigenous beliefs; Christianity; Islam


Zimbabwe is known for its rich tradition of stone sculpture and for its natural tourist attractions such as the Great Zimbabwe Falls and Victoria Falls. It was a British colony known as Rhodesia from 1896 until 1980. Before the British arrived, the country was made up of a number of separate kingdoms. The earliest people to inhabit the country were the San, sometimes called the Qoisan or Khoisan. They are also sometimes called "Bushmen," but this is an insulting name that was given to them by outsiders.

After the San, the Shona arrived. They built stone walls in the region around 1200 ad. The best-known of these walls survive today as the remains of two cities, Great Zimbabwe and Khami. The city of Great Zimbabwe prospered until the fifteenth century, and gave modern Zimbabwe its name.


Zimbabwe is in southern Africa. In 1992, the country's population was 10.4 million. Of these, 98 percent were African, and about 2 percent were European, Asian, and mixed-race. People of mixed race are sometimes called "colored persons."

Most of the good farm land is owned by the former European colonists (whites). Africans (blacks) cultivate poorer, overcrowded land. The industries in cities and towns are also mostly controlled by Europeans, Asians, and people of mixed race. Among Africans, those who live and work in the city are better off economically than those who live in the countryside.


The African population of Zimbabwe is made up of at least ten ethnic groups, each speaking a different language. The two largest are the Shona and Ndebele. The Shona people make up about 60 percent of the population. They are well known for their skill in working with iron, gold, and copper. The Ndebele people, recognized for their skill as military strategists before the arrival of the British, make up about 20 percent of the population. Most people speak at least two languages, including one of the three official languages: chiShona, isiNdebele, and English.

Even though there are many different groups, certain cultural practices or customs unite all Zimbabweans. One of the greatest experiences shared by all these groups was the war for independence. In 1980, the nation of Zimbabwe was born when the people won independence from the British.


Each ethnic group has its own heroes and heroines, legends, and myths. These stories record a group's origins, traditions, and history. Some of the ethnic heroes, such as Mbuya Nehanda, Kaguvi, and Lobengula, have become national symbols.


History has altered traditional African life. Because of colonization, most Zimbabwean families live in two worlds: the African and the European (or Western). However, in their daily lives, Zimbabweans blend these two. So, while ancestor worship is the most common religious practice, Christianity and Islam are also observed. In fact, about 75 percent of the population observes either Christianity or Islam.


A dozen public holidays are observed nationally. The most important national holidays are Independence Day (April 18), Heroes' Day (August 11), Workers' Day (May 1), Defense Forces' Day (August 12), and Africa Day (May 25). There are others that are observed by religious groups such as Muslims (followers of Islam) and Christians. There are no indigenous African holidays, but families may have special days in the year on which they remember their relatives who have died.


Most of the traditional rites of passage are being replaced with Western ones, such as Christian baptism and birthday parties. The old celebrations of birth and entry into adolescence have almost ended. A few groups still observe them, however; one such group is the amaFengu. They practice adolescent male circumcision in public to announce boys' graduation to manhood.

Marriage and burial are still conducted traditionally in many areas. Marriage is still a symbol of graduation into adulthood. Death and burial mark a person's passage into the world of the "living dead," that is, ancestors.


Each Zimbabwean ethnic group has its own greetings and visiting customs. In some groups elders begin greetings, while in others someone younger does. Some groups shake hands and some do not. Bowing one's head, and bending one's knees in a bow are followed by some groups but not others. Whenever a person visits another's home, the visitor has to humble himself or herself before the hostess or host. Gestures, including facial expressions, are also an important aspect of greetings.

Dating has been affected by European contact. Traditionally, most people will not date a stranger. To do so is thought to bring bad luck to a relationship. Another explanation is that people who do not know each other's family histories risk being involved in a relationship with a relative. However, these beliefs are changing today. Most young people meet and date in schools, colleges, and universities without meeting each other's family.


Not all Zimbabweans enjoy the same living conditions. Most rural families do not have tap water. Most of the roads in the rural areas are not well paved. Some rural areas are not served by any modern form of transportation. This situation worsens during the rainy season.

The whole country has inadequate health care, but the rural population is hardest hit. Some communities do not regularly have the services of a fully trained nurse, let alone a doctor. Medicines are always in short supply. Some of the most common diseases are malaria, bilharzia, sexually transmitted diseases, tetanus, cholera, polio, and typhoid.

In both the city and the country, there are local differences in the standard of living. In the city, the differences are based on a person's race, gender, and social and economic class. People of European origin, Asians, and people of mixed race enjoy the best standard of living. They are followed by upper class blacks, including business owners and intellectuals.

In cities, women are in the worst situation. They face employment discrimination and other sexist practices. In the country, some families are wealthier than others because of support from their children who work in the city. Others earn money from jobs such as teaching.


The family is the foundation of Zimbabwean society. Marriage is an important rite of passage and a sacred practice. Through marriages the living are connected with their ancestors. Gender roles are defined within the family.

Most ethnic groups have patriarchal (male-headed) families. In these, women play a subordinate role. They are expected to serve their husbands, work for them, and bear them children. However, women do have certain rights.

A typical family today is made up of a husband and wife and at least two children. Traditional families are big, including five or more children, plus grandparents and the children of relatives. Some men have more than one wife. It is not unusual to find a man with ten wives.

Zimbabwean families, especially in the rural parts of the country, keep animals. Most animals are not just pets but serve other purposes. For instance, cats are kept to kill pests such as mice and rats. Dogs are used for protection and for hunting.


Modern, Western-style clothing is the usual outfit in Zimbabwe. There are very few people who wear traditional clothes on a regular basis. Traditional dress include a headdress, a wraparound cloth, and ornaments such as earrings, necklaces, and bracelets. This is usually seen on ceremonial and state occasions such as Independence Day and Heroes' Day.


Sadze (Dumpling)


  • 2 pound of white corn meal or millet flour
  • Water


  1. Boil 4½ cups of water in a heavy saucepan.
  2. Mix half the flour with enough water to form a paste.
  3. Add this paste to the boiling water. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon to break up the lumps.
  4. Heat the mixture until it boils. Simmer, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes.
  5. Slowly stir in the remaining flour, stirring constantly. It will become difficult to stir, but it is important to stir constantly.
  6. Reduce the heat and continue cooking for about 5 more minutes.

To serve, wet a small bowl with cold water. Spoon some sadza into the bowl and roll it around until it forms a ball.


Zimbabwe's staple, or basic, food is called sadza. It is made of cornmeal and eaten with vegetables or meat (particularly beef and chicken). A recipe for sadza follows. Other traditional foods are milk, wild fruits, rice, green maize (corn on the cob), cucumbers, peanuts, beans, and home-brewed beer.

Since colonization, Zimbabweans have adopted some foods introduced by Europeans, especially sugar, bread, and tea. Most families usually have at least three meals: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. For breakfast people may eat porridge made of cornmeal or oatmeal, cereal, or bread and tea.

For lunch, people usually have sadza. A similar meal might be eaten for dinner. However, foreign foods such as macaroni and cheese and mashed potatoes are now part of the staple diet. In cities, workers get lunch and sometimes dinner from restaurants or take-out food stores.

There are taboos (restrictions) associated with certain types of foods. In some cultures, certain foods are eaten only when they are in season. For instance, the amaN-debele discourage the eating of corn on the cob outside its season. Most ethnic groups also discourage people from eating animal, plant, or other form of food that has their family name. For instance, if one's family name is Nkomo (meaning "cattle," "cows," or "oxen"), one is not supposed to eat beef. Young children are discouraged from eating eggs. When a woman is menstruating, she is not supposed to drink milk because it is believed that doing so might harm cows and calves.


Zimbabwe is one of the very fortunate countries in southern Africa to have basic education, especially for young people. While there are still some people who cannot read or write, most people have at least three years of elementary education. Education is seen as valuable since it can be the way to a good job. Parents are usually willing to spend money on the education of their children as an investment in the future. Children are a form of social security system; they are expected to look after their parents in old age.

The national adult literacy rate (the percentage of adults that can read and write) has been increasing since the early 1980s. Over three-fourths of all Zimbabweans are literate. The rate is higherover 90 percentin cities and towns. In rural areas, only about 70 percent of all people are literate. Everywhere, more men than women can read and write, and more men than women complete higher education levels.

University or college education brings pride to a family. Most Africans in the country believe in educating sons rather than daughters; when daughters marry, they take their family's resources to another family.


Zimbabwe has a very rich artistic tradition, including music, dance, fine arts and crafts, and literature. Traditionally, Africans passed on knowledge through music and dance. Music and dance were part of ceremonies and rites of passage; in many places, they still are. Culture is still passed on through praise songs (equivalent to poems), stories, and proverbs.


Traditionally, work is divided along gender lines. Most domestic work, such as cooking, brewing, and housekeeping, is performed by women. Men work outside the home tending cattle, hunting, and cultivating land. However, women also participate in farming. They usually do jobs that are considered "light," such as planting and cultivation.

These roles are changing, however. Men help with some of the roles that were once set aside for women, and women and girls now herd and milk cattle. The colonial government did not allow women, especially black women, to work outside the home. Despite these constraints, women found their way into cities to seek work. The independent government abolished labor discrimination against women. As a result, the number of women working in factories, corporate offices, and government positions increased. There is still much to be done, however, for womenas well as the dis abledto improve their situation.


The country's national sport is soccer. The Zimbabwe national soccer team is one of the rising soccer powerhouses in Africa. The team plays in the African Cup and World Cup competitions. There are even some Zimbabweans who play on European soccer teams, especially in Great Britain, Germany, and Belgium.

Other sports are track and field, golf, cricket, rugby, wrestling, boxing, netball (women's), tennis, and horse racing. Sports in Zimbabwe are organized and supported along racial lines. Soccer, boxing, wrestling, and track and field are popular among Africans. Europeans prefer golf, cricket, rugby, tennis, and horse racing. But people from either group can cross over to other sports that are not common in their community.

Before colonization, people played traditional games such as hide-and-seek. While herding cattle, boys often ran races or climbed upon and rode small bulls. They also played a type of stone game called intsoro or tsoro. Girls also had their own games such as nhoda, also a stone game.


Traditional forms of entertainment such as drinking, singing, and dancing have continued into modern society. Traditional ceremonies, state events, and rites of passage also serve as entertainment.

Children have their own forms of entertainment and hobbies. They watch television and listen to "top forty" radio. Most of the television programs, videotapes, and films come from Great Britain and the United States. As a result, young people dress like musicians and actors from these two countries and try to imitate their lifestyles. They also listen to local and regional pop artists, especially those from South Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Some of the local well-known musicians are Dorothy Masuka, Thomas Mapfumo, Lovemore Majaivana, the Bhundu Boys, and Andy Brown and Storm.

Two films known all over the world have come from Zimbabwe. One is Neria, a story about a woman whose property is about to be taken away from her by the relatives of her dead husband. The other is Jit, a romantic comedy about a young man who is torn between Western life and his ancestors.


Zimbabwe is well known for its folk arts, particularly stone sculpture and wood carving. Stone sculpture is a tradition of the Shona people. Mat making and related arts and crafts are popular among the Ndebele, Kalanga, and Nambya people.

Before British colonization, Zimbabweans made weapons, hoes, and other tools for their own use. Wild cotton and wild bark were used to weave mats, dresses, beehives, food containers, and water coolers. Baskets, storage containers, chairs, fish traps, carpets, and sleeping mats are still made from cane, reed, grass, sisal, and similar materials. They are made both for personal use and for sale.


In spite of the gains that Zimbabwe has made building a democratic society, much remains to be done. Soon after independence in the early 1980s, there was political instability in the southwestern part of the country. The government claimed it was caused by some political rebels. Government troops killed many civilians and violated other people's human rights in the region while trying to deal with the situation. This continued until 1988. It is estimated that more than 5,000 people were killed.

Another area of concern is the treatment of women. The present government has treated women improperly and arrested some women that it claimed were prostitutes. It has also taken away some of the gains that women had made since independence. Some of the laws that helped women gain some power and confidence are likely to be repealed, or taken away. One such law, the Legal Age of Majority Act, gave women the right to marry whomever they wanted, with or without their parents' approval.


Barnes-Svarney, Patricia L. Zimbabwe. Philadelphia, Penn.: Chelsea House, 1997.

Cheney, Patricia. The Land and People of Zimbabwe. New York: Lippincott, 1990.

Jacobsen, Karen. Zimbabwe. Chicago: Children's Press, 1990.

Lye, Keith. Take a Trip to Zimbabwe. New York: F. Watts, 1987.

McCrea, Barbara, and Tony Pinchuck. Zimbabwe and Botswana: The Rough Guide. Kent, England: Harrap Columbus, 1990.

Nkomo, Joshua. The Story of My Life. London, England: Mowbrays, 1984.

O'Toole, Thomas. Zimbabwe in Pictures. Minneapolis, Min.: Lerner Publications Co., 1988.

Sheehan, Sean. Zimbabwe. New York: Marshall Cavendish, 1993.

Spectrum Guide to Zimbabwe. Derbyshire, England: Moorland Publishing Co., Ltd, 1991.


ZimWeb. Embassy of Zimbabwe, Washington, DC. [Online] Available, June 6, 1997.

Interknowledge Corporation. [Online] Available, 1997.

Southern African Development Community. [Online] Available, 1998.

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Mapopo (Papaya) Candy........................................... 182
Roasted Butternut Squash ......................................... 182
Sadza ........................................................................ 183
Dovi (Peanut Butter Stew)......................................... 183
Cornmeal Cake ......................................................... 184
Zimbabwe Greens..................................................... 185
Rock Shandy ............................................................. 186


A landlocked country of south-central Africa, Zimbabwe (formerly known as Rhodesia) lies between the Zambezi River on the north and the Limpopo River on the south. It has an area of 390,580 square kilometers (150,804 square miles), slightly larger than the state of Montana. Most of Zimbabwe is rolling plateau, called veld. The highveld (or high plateau) stretches from southwest to northeast, ending in the Inyanga mountains. On either side of the highveld is the middleveld. The lowveld is made up of wide, grassy plains in the basins of the Zambezi and the Limpopo rivers. Among the most serious of Zimbabwe's environmental problems is erosion of its agricultural lands and expansion of the desert. Air and water pollution result from the combined effects of transportation vehicles, mining, fertilizers, and the cement industry.


Zimbabwe (zihm-BAHB-way) literally means "House of Stone." This name comes from the 800-year-old stone ruins left by the Shona people. The descendents of the Shona people make up 77 percent of the Zimbabwean population in the twenty-first century; the other 18 percent are Ndebele (eng-duh-BEH-leh).

By 1300, gold was discovered in the Zimbabwe area and the value of the land for farming was discovered. The Shona and Ndebele peoples alternately held power over the area until the Europeans arrived in the 1850s. The British gained control of the Zimbabwe area (then called Rhodesia) until 1923. As a result, food unadorned with spices, commonly associated with British cooking, infiltrated Zimbabwean cuisine with sugar, bread, and tea.

The Lipopo and Zambesi rivers outline the border of Zimbabwe and supply the soil with moisture and nutrients needed to grow crops. These crops, such as squash, corn, yams, pumpkins, peanuts, and mapopo (papaya), flourish during the summer and autumn months, but can be destroyed in the dry winter months. To preserve food for consumption during the winter months, Zimbabweans dry various produce and meats after the rainy season. Tiny dried fish called kapenta are a common snack. Another dried specialty is biltong, which is sun-dried, salted meat cut into strips similar to beef jerky. Beef or game, such as kudo and springbok (both members of the antelope family), may be used.

Mapopo (Papaya) Candy


  • 1 papaya (approximately 1 pound)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • Lemon peel, grated
  • ½ teaspoon mint, dried or fresh


  1. Peel the papaya and wash well. Slice into little strips.
  2. Place the papaya, mint, grated lemon and sugar over low heat until the sugar dissolves.
  3. Cook for 10 minutes, then set aside for half an hour.
  4. Reheat over medium heat until the mixture crystallizes.
  5. Remove from heat and, using a spoon and fork, mold into ball or stick shapes.

Roasted Butternut Squash


  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • Cinnamon, to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Remove the skin of the squash with a vegetable peeler, and cut into large chunks, discarding the seeds.
  3. Place the chunks onto a large piece of foil and place the butter on top.
  4. Bring up the edges of the foil around the squash and seal tightly.
  5. Place on cookie sheet and roast for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the squash is tender and lightly browned.
  6. Sprinkle cinnamon on top to taste.

Serves 4 to 6.


The cornmeal-based dietary staple of Zimbabwe is also the national dish, called sadza. Sadza to the Zimbabweans is like rice to the Chinese, or pasta to Italians. In fact, sadza re masikati, or "sadza of the afternoon" simply means lunch. Sadza re manheru, or "sadza of the evening" means dinner.Sadza is made from cornmeal or maize, and eaten with relish. Relish can be any kind of vegetable stew, but nyama, (meat), such as beef or chicken, is common among families who can afford it. Sadza is cooked slowly until thick, like porridge.

Other traditional foods are peanuts, beans, butternut squash, gem squash, green maize (or corn on the cob), and cucumbers. Avocados are plentiful and cheap. Bowara, or pumpkin leaves, can be eaten fresh and are commonly mixed into stews, like dovi (peanut butter stew).

Meat and game such as beef, springbok (African gazelle), kudu (large antelope), and goat are eaten, the larger game reserved for special occasions. At more expensive restaurants, crocodile tail, shoulder of impala (a type of antelope), and warthog may be on the menu.

During the summer, open-air markets sell dried mopane worms (spiny caterpillars) and flying ants by the pound. Both can be eaten fried and are said to taste chewy and salty. Flying ants fly in dense clouds around any source of light during the summer, and can be eaten live. The wings are torn off, then the bodies are eaten. The taste is considered slightly buttery.



  • 4 cups water
  • 2½ cups white cornmeal (regular cornmeal may be used)


  1. Bring 3 cups of the water to a boil in a large pot.
  2. Combine 1½ cups of the cornmeal with the remaining 1 cup water.
  3. Reduce heat to medium to low and add the cornmeal mixture to the boiling water, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Cook for about 5 minutes.
  4. Slowly adding the remaining 1 cup of cornmeal. When the mixture is very thick and starts to pull away from the sides of the pan, transfer to a serving bowl or plate.
  5. Use a wooden spoon to shape the mixture into a round shape.
  6. You may use wet hands to help shape the sadza.

Serves 4 to 6.

Dovi (Peanut Butter Stew)


  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 green bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 chicken, cut into pieces (may use skinless, boneless chicken if preferred)
  • 3 to 4 tomatoes
  • 6 Tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • ½ pound fresh spinach, or 1 package frozen spinach


  1. Cook onions with butter in a big stew pot until browned.
  2. Add garlic, salt, and seasonings.
  3. Stir, adding green peppers and chicken.
  4. Once the chicken is browned, add the tomatoes and mash them with a fork.
  5. Add 2 cups water and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Add half the peanut butter to the pot, lower heat, and continue to simmer.
  6. In a separate pan, cook the spinach. If using fresh spinach, wash the leaves, add about 2 Tablespoons of water to a saucepan with the spinach and heat over medium low until spinach leaves are limp and tender. If using frozen spinach, cook according to package directions.
  7. Add the rest of the peanut butter to the spinach and heat for 5 minutes.
  8. Serve the stew and the greens together.

Serves 6 to 8.

Cornmeal Cake


  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 4 cups milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten ¾ cup butter or margarine
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup sour cream


  1. Measure milk into a saucepan and bring just to a boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool for about 10 minutes.
  2. Add eggs, ½ cup butter or margarine, and sugar to the in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and remove from heat.
  3. Add cornmeal, stirring constantly to prevent lumps.
  4. Return to low heat and continue cooking for 20 minutes, or until thickened, stirring constantly to prevent sticking. Add vanilla extract and stir well.
  5. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  6. Melt remaining ¼ cup butter and pour into 8-inch cake pan. Swirl pan to coat bottom and sides.
  7. Pour cornmeal mixture into pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until cake is golden brown. Cake is done when a toothpick is inserted into the middle of the cake and it comes out clean.
  8. Remove cake from oven and cover top with sour cream.
  9. Return to oven for 15 minutes, or until top is bubbly and lightly browned.
  10. Serve cake while still warm.

Serve 12 to 16.


Meat or game is generally eaten on special occasions. The kind of meat provided by the host signifies the importance of the celebration. The bigger the occasion, the bigger the roast that is served. Christmas is an example of such an occasion.

Seventy-five percent of Zimbabweans are Christians, so Christmas is widely celebrated. Because Zimbabwe is in the southern hemisphere, Christmas overlaps with the festivities associated with the summer harvest, so many fresh vegetables such as leafy greens and young corn are eaten as well as the sadza staple. Starting weeks in advance, everyone begins to gather loaves of bread, jam, tea, and sugar for the Christmas dinner. Fresh fruit is also plentiful and accompanies the roast, which may be ox, goat, ostrich, kudu, or even warthog. The roast is sometimes prepared whole on a spit over an open fire when the feast is a village affair.

Zimbabwe Greens

Collard greens are not native to Zimbabwe, but are the most comparable to Zimbabwean greens.


  • 1 bunch collard greens, washed
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 5 green onions, sliced
  • 3 Tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • Salt, to taste


  1. Remove the tough stems, then shred the greens. Place in a saucepan with the water.
  2. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, just until the greens are crunchy-tender, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Place a strainer or colander over a large bowl and drain the greens, reserving the cooking liquid in the bowl.
  4. Return the greens to the saucepan and add the tomato and onions.
  5. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  6. Combine the peanut butter with ¾ cup of the cooking liquid reserved from the greens, then add to vegetables.
  7. Heat, stirring constantly, until greens have a creamy consistency, adding more reserved liquid or water if mixture seems too thick. Add salt to taste.

Serves 6 to 8.


Before eating a meal, a dish of water is placed on the dining table for diners to clean their hands. Rudyi is the Shona word for right hand, which means the "one used for eating." Even if a person is left-handed, it is considered impolite to eat with the left hand. Zimbabweans typically sit in a circle on the floor and eat food from one dish or bowl. The practice of sharing is the communal way of eating, so diners have to pace themselves accordingly while eating with others. Older children, learn to pace themselves at the same rate as their younger siblings so that they will not eat too much or too fast and everyone will have a fair share. Guests, however, are served instead of helping themselves. It is considered polite to leave a small amount of food on your plate to show that you have been more than sufficiently provided for.

In general, wooden plates and spoons are used along with Western utensils. In some rural areas, Zimbabweans eat with their fingers. When eating sadza, Zimbabweans clean their hands, then using their right hand, pinch off a chunk from the bowl and roll it into a ball in their palm. They dip the ball into relish and bite off a piece, then roll it again and continue the process.

Three meals are typically eaten a day. Breakfast is simple and may consist of sadza, porridge made from cornmeal or oatmeal, cereal or bread, and tea. Sometimes leftovers from the dinner before are eaten.

Lunch and dinner are simple as well. Sadza with relish is common, served with vegetables and meat, if available. Sour milk and sugar sometimes replace meat or vegetables with sadza. Rock shandy, a refreshing beverage, is a mix of lemonade, soda water, and bitters (made from herbs and other plant extracts and used to flavor drinks). Foreign food such as macaroni and cheese and mashed potatoes are now part of Zimbabwean staples.

Certain taboos are associated with Zimbabwean food. For instance, the Ndebele people discourage eating corn out of season. Many ethnic groups do not eat an animal, plant, or other forms of food that bears their family name. For example, if a family name is Nkomo (cattle: cow or oxen), they should not eat beef.

Rock Shandy


  • Ice
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon or lime juice
  • 3 dashes Angostura bitters (can be found in any supermarket)
  • Cold soda (sparkling) water


  1. Half fill a tall glass with ice.
  2. Add the lemon or lime juice and Angostura bitters.
  3. Fill the glass with sparkling water and serve.

Makes one serving.


About 39 percent of the population of Zimbabwe are classified as undernourished by the World Bank. This means they do not receive adequate nutrition in their diet. Of children under the age of five, about 16 percent are underweight, and more than one-fifth are stunted (short for their age).

In the early 1990s, drought severely affected the output of almost every crop, including wheat, cotton, oilseed, coffee, and sugar. In years with adequate rainfall, Zimbabwe is one of Africa's largest corn exporters; however, corn production only produced 1,418,000 tons in 1998, down from 2,609,000 tons in 1996. Despite the drop in production, Zimbabwe continues to grow a wide variety of crops to help feed its people. Nearly three-quarters of the population have access to safe drinking water, but only about half have adequate sanitation.



Hafner, Dorinda. A Taste of Africa. Hong Kong: Simon & Schuster, 1993.

Hultman, Tami. The Africa News Cookbook. New York: Hamilton Printing Company, 1986.

Isaacson, Rupert. Zimbabwe, Botswana & Namibia. London: Cadogan Books, PLC, 1998.

Pinchuck, Tony. The Rough Guide to Zimbabwe and Botswana. London: Viking Penguin, 1996.

Web Sites

The Citizens Network for Foreign Affairs (CNFA). [Online]. Available (accessed March 19, 2001).

Diane's Gourmet Corner. [Online]. Available (accessed March 19, 2001).

Just Think. [Online] Available (accessed March 19, 2001)

Lonely Planet. [Online] Available (accessed March 19, 2001).

New Africa. [Online] Available (accessed March 19, 2001)

Plan International. [Online]. Available (accessed March 19, 2001).

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Official name: Republic of Zimbabwe

Area: 390,580 square kilometers (150,804 square miles)

Highest point on mainland: Mount Inyangani (2,592 meters/8,504 feet)

Lowest point on land: Junction of the Runde and Save Rivers (162 meters/531 feet)

Hemispheres: Southern and Eastern

Time zone: 2 p.m. = noon GMT

Longest distances: 852 kilometers (529 miles) from west-northwest to east-southeast; 1,223 kilometers (710 miles) from north-northeast to south-southwest

Land boundaries: 3,066 kilometers (1,905 miles) total boundary length; Botswana 813 kilometers (505 miles); Mozambique 1,231 kilometers (765 miles); South Africa 225 kilometers (140 miles); Zambia 797 kilometers (495 miles)

Coastline: None

Territorial sea limits: None


Zimbabwe is a landlocked nation in southern Africa. At 390,580 square kilometers (150,804 square miles), it covers slightly more area than the state of Montana.


Zimbabwe has no territories or dependencies.


Temperatures in Zimbabwe are greatly affected by altitude and time of year. Average temperatures in the high altitudes are about 12°C (54°F) in the winter and about 24°C (75°F) in the summer. In the lower altitudes, temperatures are usually 6°C (11°F) higher than those measured in the higher altitude areas. The summer rainy season lasts from November to March. It is followed by a transitional season, during which both temperature and rainfall decrease. The cool dry season follows, usually lasting from mid-May to mid-August.

Finally, there is a warm, dry season, which lasts until the onset of the summer rains. Besides its effect on temperatures, altitude also affects the rainfall in Zimbabwe. The eastern mountainous regions receive more than 100 centimeters (40 inches) annually. By contrast, the capital city of Harare receives approximately 81 centimeters (32 inches) of rainfall per year. The southern and southwestern regions of the country receive even less rain.


The country's high plateau, an area of grass and woodlands known as the Highveld, ranges in width between 80 to 160 kilometers (50 and 100 miles) and extends across the center of the country from northeast to southwest for 643 kilometers (400 miles). It slopes gently downward from the central upland region through a Middleveld region to considerably lower plains areasthe Lowveld near the country's borders. The highest elevations are in the east near the border with Mozambique.


Zimbabwe is landlocked.


Although Zimbabwe has no natural lakes, its many dams have created numerous artificial lakes. The largest of these reservoirs is Lake Kariba, situated on the Zambezi River at the border with Zambia.


Three rivers, flowing east to the Indian Ocean via Mozambique, drain all of Zimbabwe except for a small southwestern region. Two of the major rivers originate outside Zimbabwethe Zambezi, along the Angola border, and the Limpopo, in South Africa. The headwaters of the Sabi, the third major river, are situated south of Harare on the eastern slopes of the Highveld.

The Zambezi River, which marks much of the northern border with Zambia, is the longest of all African rivers that flow to the Indian Ocean. Near the northwestern tip of Zimbabwe, the river drops over Victoria Falls, a cataract which is 106 meters (350 feet) high at its maximum and nearly 1.5 kilometers (1 mile) wide.


There are no deserts in Zimbabwe.


Much of Zimbabwe's plateau surface is savannah, a rolling plain covered with a mixture of grasses and open woodlands. The central Highveld varies from relatively smooth to rough, almost mountainous, terrain. The Middleveld consists of medium-altitude wooded grasslands, and the Lowveld is made up of wide grassy plains.


In north-central Zimbabwe, the broad expanse of Highveld breaks up into several groups of mountains. The eastern mountain complex is the highest in the country. Most peaks are between 1,828 and 2,368 meters (6,000 and 8,000 feet) in elevation; the loftiest, Mount Inyanganiat 2,592 meters (8,504 feet)is the tallest mountain in Zimbabwe. Another group of mountains extends north from Harare as the Umvukwe Range, which meets the Zambezi Escarpment in the far north.

Both the Highveld and Lowveld regions contain rocky hills and buttes known locally as kopjes (hills). The central high-altitude areas are marked by a massive extrusion of ancient lava, called the Great Dike Hills; this terrain extends from the northeast to the southwest for 482 kilometers (300 miles) and rises above the surrounding Highveld in a series of eroded ridges.


Some of southern Africa's deepest caves are located in Chimanimani, including the deepest, the Mawenge Mwena Cave (305 meters/1,000 feet). Zimbabwe's most extensive karst terrain is located near the town of Chinhoyi, site of the celebrated Chinhoyi Caves, with their deep underground "Sleeping Pool" that draws
many visitors. Near Victoria Falls, the Zambezi River narrows and flows through a series of steep gorges.


The plateaus of Zimbabwe are divided into three sections: the Highveld (high altitude), the Middleveld (medium altitude), and the Lowveld (low altitude). The Highveld stretches from the northeast to the southeast at elevations of 1,219 to 1,675 meters (4,000 to 5,500 feet), reaching Mount Inyangani in the far eastern part of the country. The Middleveld areas are located on both sides of the Highveld, and range from 600 to 1,200 meters (2,000 to 4,000 feet) in height. Below 600 meters (2,000 feet) are areas called the Lowveld. In the southeast the Lowveld, which in this region is generally considered to include the land below 914 meters (3,000 feet), extends from the edge of the Middleveld to the southern and southeastern borders, covering nearly one-fifth of Zimbabwe's territory. In the northwest and the north the Lowveld is divided into three major sections, partially separated by escarpments and local ranges of hills. These sections slope directly to the Zambezi River or to the shoreline of Lake Kariba.


Lake Kariba, which Zimbabwe shares with neighboring Zambia, is among the world's largest artificial lakes. The Kariba Dam, the construction of which created the lake, is 128 meters (420 feet) high and 579 meters (1,900 feet) long, making it one of the largest dams in the world.


The average flow rate over Victoria Falls is 1,090 cubic meters per second (38,000 cubic feet per second).



Fromentin, Eughne. Between Sea and Sahara: An Algerian Journal. Trans. by Blake Robinson. Athens: Ohio University Press, 1999.

McCrea, Barbara, and Tony Pinchuck. Zimbabwe: The Rough Guide. 3rd ed. London and New York: Rough Guides, 1997.

Ranger, Terence. Voices from the Rocks: Nature, Culture & History in the Matopos Hills of Zimbabwe. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999.

Web Sites

African Travel Gateway. (accessed April 17, 2003).

Lonely Planet: Destination Zimbabwe. (accessed April 17, 2003).

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Country statistics


390,579sq km (150,873sq mi) 11,600,000

capital (population):

Harare (1,864,400)


Multi-party republic

ethnic groups:

Shona 71%, Ndebele 16%, other Bantu-speaking Africans 11%, Europeans 2%


English (official)


Protestant 35%, African traditional beliefs 29%, Roman Catholic 12%, Muslim 1%


Zimbabwe dollar = 100 cents

Republic in s central Africa. Zimbabwe is a landlocked country in s Africa. It consists mainly of a plateau, 900 to 1500m (2950 to 4900ft) high, between the Zambezi and Limpopo rivers. The principal land feature is the High Veld, a ridge running from ne to sw. Harare lies on the ne edge of the ridge. Bulawayo lies on the sw edge. The Middle Veld is the site of many large ranches. Below 900m (2950ft) is the Low Veld. Highlands lie on the e border with Mozambique.

Climate and Vegetation

The subtropical climate varies greatly according to altitude. The Low Veld is much warmer and drier than the High Veld. November to March is mainly hot and wet. Winter in Harare is dry but cold. Wooded savanna covers much of Zimbabwe. The Eastern Highlands and river valleys are forested. There are many tobacco plantations.

History and Politics

Bantu-speakers migrated to the region in ad 300. By 1200, the Shona established a kingdom in Mashonaland, e Zimbabwe. Great Zimbabwe was the capital of this advanced culture. Portugal formed trading links in the early 16th century. In 1837, the Ndebele displaced the Shona from w Zimbabwe, and formed Matabeleland. In 1855, David Livingstone made the first European discovery of Victoria Falls. In 1888, Matabeleland became a British Protectorate. In 1889, the British South Africa Company, under Cecil Rhodes, received a charter to exploit the region's mineral wealth. In 1896 the area became Southern Rhodesia. In 1923, it became a British Crown Colony. European settlers excluded Africans from the government and economy. In 1953, Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) and Nyasaland (Malawi) became a federation. In 1961, Joshua Nkomo formed the Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU). In 1963, the federation dissolved and Zambia and Malawi acquired African majority governments. Southern Rhodesia became simply Rhodesia. Robert Mugabe formed the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU). In 1964, the white nationalist leader Ian Smith became prime minister. Nkomo and Mugabe were imprisoned. In 1965, Smith made a unilateral declaration of independence (UDI) from Britain. The UN imposed economic sanctions. In 1969, Rhodesia became a republic. In 1974, Nkomo and Mugabe were released. Smith's refusal to adopt reforms intensified the guerrilla war between ZAPU and ZANU rebels and the Smith government aided by South Africa's apartheid regime.

The 1979 Lancaster House Agreement established a timetable for full independence. ZANU won a decisive victory in 1980 elections, and Robert Mugabe became prime minister. In 1982, Nkomo was dismissed from the cabinet. Mugabe was decisively re-elected in 1985. In 1987, ZANU and ZAPU merged. The post of prime minister was abolished as Mugabe became executive president. In 1988, Nkomo became vice president. Despite the formation of an opposition party, the Zimbabwe Unity Movement, Mugabe was easily re-elected in 1990. In 1991, ZANU-PF abandoned Marxism. In 1996, Mugabe was elected for a fourth term. In 2000, with Mugabe's tacit agreement, many white-owned farms were forcibly occupied by war veterans. ZANU-PF narrowly won the ensuing parliamentary elections. In 2002 Mugabe was re-elected, amid widespread claims of voter intimidation and electoral fraud, and Zimbabwe was suspended from the Commonwealth of Nations. In 2003, Mugabe withdrew Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth.


Zimbabwe is a low-income developing country (2000 GDP per capita US$2500). The post-independence emigration of most of the white population removed vital capital. Corruption tainted the government's redistribution of land to the African population via compulsory purchase schemes. Zimbabwe is the world's largest exporter of tobacco. Other cash crops include cotton, sugar, and beef. Maize is the main food crop. It has valuable mineral resources, and mining accounts for 20% of exports. Zimbabwe is the world's fourth-largest producer of asbestos and fifth-largest producer of chromium ore. It also mines gold and nickel. In 1990, the government began free-market reforms. The restructuring of the economy resulted in high unemployment. National debt remains an economic problem.

Political map

Physical map


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ZIMBABWE. A country of southern Africa and member of the COMMONWEALTH. Languages: English (official); the indigenous languages Shona and Ndebele, which may be used in the Senate. Zimbabwe, formerly the British colony of Southern Rhodesia, took its present form in 1980. English was introduced into the region toward the end of the 19c in colonial commerce (the ventures of Cecil Rhodes) and in missionary education. The English of Zimbabwe is non-rhotic. There is some blending of vowels into a five-vowel system and simplification of consonant structures, features shared with other varieties of East and South AFRICAN ENGLISH: ‘men’ the pronunciation of both man and men, ‘fit’ of both fit and feet. Syntactic structures are often attributable to transfer from local languages: He (has) grown up in my eyes I saw him grow up; when the rain is in the nose when the rainy season approaches. There are loans from local languages in the vocabulary, such as shimiyaan home-made liquor made from treacle, and muti medicine, as well as words of various origins common in southern Africa, such as kraal village, veld high open grassland, commando military unit, trek a journey (originally by ox-wagon). Local usages include headring a marker of elder or high status, love-muti a love charm, now-now girl a modern young woman. See EAST AFRICAN ENGLISH.

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Zimbabwe (ruined city, Zimbabwe)

Zimbabwe (zĬmbäb´wā) [Bantu,=stone houses], ruined city, SE Zimbabwe, near Masvingo (formerly Fort Victoria). It was discovered by European explorers c.1870, and some believed it the biblical Ophir, where King Solomon had his mines. From 1890 to 1900 some 100,000 gold mining claims were staked out there, but all proved barren. Modern archaeological evidence has shown that Zimbabwe was first occupied by the earliest Iron Age people in the 3d cent. It was abandoned sometime thereafter until it was reoccupied in the late 9th cent. or early 10th cent. The remaining ruins include a massive wall, constructed in the 11th cent., a strong fortress, nearby dwellings, and an elliptically shaped enclosure, commonly called the Temple. The buildings were once richly decorated with stone carvings and gold and copper ornaments. Archaeologists believe that the city was constructed by a local African culture with little outside influence.

See G. Caton-Thompson, The Zimbabwe Culture (1970).

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Culture Name


Alternative Names

Shona, Ndebele


Identification. Zimbabwe is named after Great Zimbabwe, the twelfth- to fifteenth-century stone-built capital of the Rozwi Shona dynasty. The name is thought to derive from dzimba dza mabwe ("great stone houses") or dzimba waye ("esteemed houses"). Cultural and religious traditions among the Shona, Ndebele and smaller groups of Tonga, Shangaan and Venda have similarities in regard to marriage practices and the belief in supernatural ancestors. All those groups called on the support of the spirit world in the struggle for independence, which was achieved in 1980. European culture and values indelibly shaped the urban and rural landscapes, particularly in terms of the use of space, and the structure and practice of government. Black Zimbabweans have assimilated more white Zimbabwean culture than vice versa. In these distinct cultures, which generally are referred to as African and European, the most obvious differences are economic. While the white minority lost political power after Independence, it has retained a disproportionate share of economic resources.

Location and Geography. Zimbabwe is in central southern Africa. Because of the impact of its colonial history on the nation's political, economic, and sociocultural life, it generally is identified more with southern Africa than with central Africa. A land-locked country of 242,700 square miles 390,580 square kilometers between the Zambezi River to the north and the Limpopo River to the south, it is bordered by Mozambique, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, and Zambia. Most of the country is a high to middle veld plateau with extensive areas of wooded savanna and a temperate climate; the low veld of the Limpopo and the Zambezi Valley is hotter and has less rain. On the Mozambique border, the only mountainous area, the Eastern Highlands, runs from Nyanga in the north to Chimanimani in the south. Rainfall is higher in the north of the Eastern Highlands and lower in the Zambezi Valley and the low veld.

The capital, Harare, is located in Mashonaland, which covers the eastern two-thirds of the country and is the area where most Shona-speaking people live. The second city, Bulawayo, is in Matabeleland in the west, where most Ndebele-speaking people live.

Demography. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the population is estimated to have been about six hundred thousand. The 1992 national census estimated it at over ten million, and with a growth rate of 3 percent, it is expected to be over twelve million in 2000. About 70 percent of the population lives in rural areas, and Harare and Bulawayo account for most of the approximately 30 percent in urban areas. The largest ethnic group is collectively known as the Shona and consists of the Manyika, Zezuru, Karanga, Korekore, Rozwi, and Ndau groups, which make up about seventy-six percent of the population. The second largest ethnic group is the Ndebele, consisting of the Ndebele and Kalanga groups, which constitute about 18 percent. Mashonaland, where most of the Shona live, is a collective term for the eastern two-thirds of the country, and most Ndebele live in the western third of Matabeleland. Other ethnic groups, each constituting 1 percent of the population, are the Batonga in the Zambezi Valley, the Shangaan or Hlengwe in the low veld, and the Venda on the border with South Africa. About 2 percent of the population is of non-African ethnic origin, mainly European and Asian.

In the twentieth century, there were three major changes in the demographic and settlement pattern. First, the acquisition of large tracts of land by white settlers for commercial agriculture, until shortly after World War II resulted in a situation in which half the land was owned by well under 1 percent of the population, with limited access to land for the vast majority of the rural population. Second, in the colonial period, the development of industry in towns and cities, particularly Harare and Bulawayo, required men seeking work to live in urban areas, leaving women and children in the rural areas. Although this gender imbalance in urban areas no longer exists, and there is more movement between urban and rural areas, de facto women heads of household are still common in rural areas. Most jobs continue to be found in urban areas and employment income rather than income from farming is the most important factor in the standard of living among smallholder families. The third major change has involved the age profile of the population. A sharp drop in mortality rates and longer life expectancy between 1960 and 1992 meant that almost sixty-three percent of the population sixteen to thirty-four years of age. The statistical impact of the AIDS epidemic on the population will not be clear until the next national census in 2002, but that disease is considered a major factor in higher maternal and infant mortality rates.

Linguistic Affiliation. All the national languages, with the exception of the official language, English, are Bantu, a branch of the Niger-Congo language family. Shona and Sindebele are the most widely spoken, and students are required to take at least one of those languages. The four main dialects of ShonaZezuru, Kalanga, Manyika, and Ndauhave a common vocabulary and similar tonal and grammatical features. The Ndebele in the nineteenth century were the first to use the name "Shona" to refer to the peoples they conquered; although the exact meaning of the term is unclear, it was probably derogatory. Later, white colonists extended the term to refer to all groups that spoke dialects officially recognized as Shona. One view of the dialects is that they resulted from differing missionary education policies in the nineteenth century. Sindebele is a click language of the Nguni group of Bantu languages; other members of this language group are Zulu and Xhosa, which are spoken mainly in South Africa; siSwati (Swaziland); and siTswana (Botswana). Other languages spoken in Zimbabwe are Tonga, Shangaan, and Venda, which are shared with large groups of Tonga in Zambia and Shangaan and Venda in South Africa.

Symbolism. The national flag and the Zimbabwe bird (the African fish eagle) are the most important symbolic representations of the nation. The Zimbabwe bird is superimposed on the flag, and while the flag symbolizes independence, the Zimbabwe bird represents continuity with the precolonial past. Internationally, particularly in the tourist sector, photographs of Victoria Falls, Great Zimbabwe, and wildlife are symbols of the national history and natural heritage.

History and Ethnic Relations

Emergence of the Nation. San (Bushmen) hunters are believed to have been the earliest inhabitants of the area that is now Zimbabwe. When Bantu-speaking peoples migrated from the north at the end of the second century, the San moved on or were absorbed rapidly into the farming and cattle-herding culture of the Bantu groups. Little is known about those early Bantu groups, but the present-day Shona can be traced to a group that moved into the area around 1200 c.e.

From the eleventh century, after commercial relations were established with Swahili traders on the Mozambique coast, until the fifteenth century, the Shona kingdom was one of southern Africa's wealthiest and most powerful societies. Its political and religious center was probably Great Zimbabwe, a city of ten thousand to twenty thousand people built between the twelfth and fourteenth centuries by the Rozvi dynasty. The city was constructed from granite, using highly developed stone-cutting and construction techniques. Historians are unsure about the reasons for its decline in the fifteenth century, but the human and livestock population might have outstripped available resources. Until 1905, when archaeological research proved that Great Zimbabwe was of Bantu origin, and then until independence in 1980, colonial explanations of the city's origins failed to consider that it could be of Bantu origin. The importance of Great Zimbabwe to the colonists, who referred to it as the Zimbabwe Ruins, was also the basis of its importance in the nationalist struggle for majority rule. Whereas the colonists denied its significance, the nationalist movement promoted it as sacred. According to Shona religion, the ancestors who built Great Zimbabwe still live there, and it therefore is a sacred site. Today Great Zimbabwe is one of the most potent symbols of the nations, and the Zimbabwe bird on the flag depicts one of the excavated soapstone sculptures of the fish eagle found at the site.

New dynasties followed the Rozvi of Great Zimbabwe, but the kingdom declined in importance. Although Swahili and later Portuguese traders tried to exploit internal differences in the kingdom, they never succeeded. The second significant encounter in the making of Zimbabwe was the Ndebele invasion of the early 1880s under the command of Mzlikazi, who established his capital at Inyati to the north of Bulawayo. He was succeeded by Lobengula, who shifted the capital to Bulawayo.

In 1888 Cecil John Rhodes tricked Lobengula into signing an agreement that opened the country to mining prospectors and other speculators. Rhodes then formed the British South Africa Company and organized the "Pioneer Column" and subsequently the first group of white settlers, who moved up from South Africa in search of gold and arable land. After defeating the Ndebele in battle and appropriating land in Mashonaland, the colonists founded Rhodesia in 1895. The first Chimurenga (war of liberation) occurred in 1896, when the Ndebele were joined by the Shona. The war was led by two spirit mediums, Nehanda and Kagubi, who were caught and executed and subsequently became powerful symbols in the second Chimurenga, which started in the mid-1960s.

After the establishment of a white legislative council 1899, white immigration increased, and in 1922 the white minority decided that the country would be self-governing (run by the British South Africa Company as a commercial enterprise) and independent of the government in South Africa. In 1923, the British South Africa Company handed the country over to the British Crown, and in 1930, the white minority passed the Land Apportionment Act, which barred blacks from legal access to the best land, simultaneously assuring a source of cheap labor. Between 1946 and 1960, the white population increased from 82,000 to 223,000, and this period witnessed economic expansion, including the construction of the Kariba Dam.

Organized resistance to white supremacy began in the 1920s, and in the absence of meaningful reform, radical active resistance started in the 1940s. By the early 1960s the two groups that were to lead the country to independence, the Zimbabwe African People's Union and the Zimbabwe African National Union, had been established. When Great Britain demanded that Rhodesia guarantee racial equality and put in place a plan for majority rule or face economic sanctions, the government declared a Unilateral Declaration of Independence in 1965. A guerrilla war followed that was characterized by political differences between resistance groups and among the white minority. It also was characterized by a close relationship between the guerrillas and spirit mediums. Embodying the ancestors, the spirit mediums represented a common past, untainted by colonialism, that could be drawn on to shape and legitimize a new national identity.

After the negotiation of a settlement at the Lancaster House Conference in 1979, the first multiparty general elections were held with complete adult suffrage in 1980. The Zimbabwe African National Unity party led by Robert Mugabe won the majority of seats and took over the government in April 1980. Seven years later, that party and the Zimbabwe Africa People's Union merged. While there are minor political parties, Zimbabwe has effectively been a one-party state.

National Identity. The adoption of the name "Zimbabwe" and citizens' identity as Zimbabweans, functioned as a symbol of continuity with the past. The common struggle of all groups was instrumental in forming a sense of national identity. Political tensions between the Ndebele and the Shona, which culminated when the army suppressed dissidence in 1983 and 1984 in the Matabeleland Massacres, have been contained by the state.

Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space

Urban centers are divided into areas of low and high housing density (formerly referred to as townships) for low-income families. The use of space therefore is closely correlated with socioeconomic status. High-density areas have been planned with water and power supplies. Little artistic emphasis has been placed on architecture, and with the exception of some well-maintained colonial buildings, especially in Harare and Bulawayo, buildings tend to be functional.

Mud and wattle or sun-dried bricks are used in house building in rural areas; well-off families may use concrete blocks. Traditionally, houses were round with thatch roofing, but an increasing number are square or rectangular with zinc sheet roofing, although kitchens are still built as roundavels (round thatched mud huts). The most marked use of space is in the kitchen, where a bench runs around the right side for men to sit on, while women sit on the floor on the left.

Areas of higher rainfall and therefore higher agricultural potential attracted a large number of white settlers at the end of the nineteenth century. That group appropriated land and established a self-governing colonial state and two systems of land use; one for smallholding subsistence farming and one for large-scale commercial production and speculation. Those systems have had different effects on the physical environment, giving rise to controversy about the causes and effects of overgrazing and erosion and raising issues of equity with respect to access to land. Population density is low in the commercial farming areas and relatively high in the smallholder areas and communal areas. Smallholdings are scattered because people prefer to have some bush between themselves and their neighbors. The term "village" is used to refer to an administrative area and does not imply the presence of a number of houses in a small area.

Another important influence on land use and the physical environment was the designation of protected areas as national parks or safari areas, covering about 13 percent of the land area. These areas are important to tourism and the national economy.

Food and Economy

Food in Daily Life. The major grain for consumption is maize, although in parts of the Zambezi Valley millet and sorghum are the principle grains. After grinding, the flour is cooked into a thick porridge that is eaten with green vegetables or meat. A wide range of green vegetables are grown in kitchen gardens and collected wild. They generally are prepared with onion and tomato and sometimes with groundnut (peanut) sauce. Bread is a staple in the urban diet but not as important in rural areas. Foods that are eaten seasonally include milk, boiled or roasted groundnuts, boiled or roasted maize, fruits, termites, and caterpillars. Dry land rice is grown in some parts of the country, but generally rice is not an everyday food.

A few food taboos with serious health consequences are still widely practiced. Traditionally eggs, were believed to cause infertility in women and therefore were avoided, but they are now widely consumed. The meat of one's clan totem was traditionally avoided; even today animals representing totems are rarely eaten.

Eating out is not common, even among men in the urban areas. Travelers purchase soft drinks and prepared food, such as fried cakes, potato chips, roasted maize, and sugarcane from vendors. A higher proportion of the white population regularly buys prepared meals and eats in restaurants.

Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. Roasted and stewed meat is the food of celebrations; an ox, cow, or goat may be slaughtered in the rural areas, depending on the significance of the event, and may be accompanied by rice. Beer made from millet usually is prepared by women, and roasted groundnuts are served on special occasions.

Basic Economy. Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy for over 70 percent of the population, although manufacturing accounts for about 25 percent of the gross national product (GDP) and is the most important macroeconomic sector. Economic decline began in the mid-1980s, when foreign demand for minerals dropped, and this situation was worsened by the impact of several droughts and structural adjustment polices that have had a disproportionate impact on the poor. Since the opening up of the South African economy in 1994, increased competition in export markets and the increased availability of South African goods in Zimbabwe have heightened macroeconomic concerns.

Until 1992, the country was self-sufficient in grain, and a massive increase in maize production by smallholders was a postindependence success story. However, since that time, annual grain production has not always met demand because of a decline in producer prices and an increase in the population.

The major crops grown by smallholders on the high and middle veld plateau are maize, sunflower, groundnuts, and cotton. In the Zambezi Valley more millet and sorghum are grown than maize, but only for subsistence, and cotton is the only major cash crop. The west and the low veld are predominantly cattle-raising areas. Self-sufficiency varies at the household level and depends on a variety of factors, including rainfall and the type of grain grown (maize or more drought-resistant millet and sorghum) and the availability of draft animals. To increase grain production for household consumption, the government and nongovernment organizations are encouraging farmers to grow more millet and sorghum. This is meeting with only limited success; most people prefer the taste of maize, and it is less labor-intensive to harvest and prepare for consumption.

Meeting grain deficits is dependent on cash income from the sale of cash crops (for example, groundnuts and cotton) or cash remittances from workers in the towns. There has been a steady movement of maize and goats from rural to urban areas.

The basic unit of currency is the Zimbabwe dollar.

Land Tenure and Property. Land distribution is highly skewed: freehold large-scale commercial farms that cover about 40 percent of the national territory are owned by a tiny fraction of the population, predominantly white. About half the population lives on holdings that are typically between five and fifty acres (two hectares and twenty hectares) in the communal and resettlement sectors, which cover about 40 percent of the country. Freehold small-scale commercial farms that were established as "native purchase areas" by the 1930 Land Apportionment Act cover approximately 4 percent of the country. Other major categories of land use are state-owned areas protected for their wildlife, flora and fauna (about 13 percent of the country), and forests, particularly in the Eastern Highlands.

Freehold land is privately owned, but communal land is vested in the president and allocated through rural district councils that grant consent for use according to customary law. In practice, chiefs have the right to allocate usufruct (rights to use the land) to married adult men; women have access to land only through their husbands. Resettlement areas were established after independence to increase black access to land, and land there is allocated by permit. Although women can obtain permits, most women in the resettlement areas secure access to land through their husbands. Freehold landowners are predominantly men; although women have rights to succession, inheritance by widows and daughters is rare. As with land, property is predominantly male-owned.

Commercial Activities. During the period of the Unilateral Declaration of Independence, the country developed a strong manufacturing base, and it continues to manufacture products ranging from household items to steel and engineering products for the construction industry and commercial agricultural products such as textiles and foodstuffs. The diversified economy provides a solid basis for sustained economic growth, but in recent years it has been underperforming.

Major Industries. Manufacturing is the largest single sector of the economy (23 percent of GDP), followed by agriculture and forestry (14 percent), distribution, hotels and restaurants (11 percent), and public administration (10 percent).

Trade. Major exports include tobacco, gold, ferroalloys, nickel, and asbestos. The main export destinations are Great Britain, South Africa, and Germany. South Africa is by the far the largest source of imports and machinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods, chemicals, petroleum products, and electricity are the largest imports.

Division of Labor. In the formal economy, jobs are assigned on the basis of education, skills, and experience; advertising and interviewing precede hiring. In the informal economy, most people work for themselves and pay workers on a cash basis.

Political Life

Government. Zimbabwe is a parliamentary democracy headed by a president. Although the president is elected by direct vote in advance of party elections and holds office for six years, the term during which a party can control the government is five years. Representative structures consist of a House of Assembly and a cabinet appointed by the president; at rural district level, there are elected councils. Each district is made of a number of wards, and wards are subdivided into villages. Each ward and village has a development committee that is responsible for promoting and supporting local development initiatives. Ten chiefs, traditional representatives elected by their peers, sit in the House of Assembly. Alongside the representative structure is the civil service (the administrative structure), the police, the military, permanent secretaries and other ministry staff, and provincial and district administration staff.

Military Activity. Military branches of the government are the Zimbabwe National Army, the Air Force of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Republic Police (including the Police Support Unit and the Paramilitary Police). About 1.8 million men aged between 15 and 49 are estimated fit for military service, and over 45,000 were serving in the army at the beginning of the twenty-first century.

Expenditure on military activities rose as a result of the country's involvement in the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, beginning in 1998. This was the army's first foreign military intervention since 1980.

Social Welfare and Change Programs

Social welfare programs provide assistance to the destitute and drought relief in the communal areas when there are poor harvests. Zimbabwe provided more relief in the drought of 1991 and 1992 than did international donors. Nongovernmental organizations and churches provide many services that the government cannot, such as rehabilitation of disabled persons and care in the community for the sick.

Nongovernmental Organizations and Other Associations

There are eight hundred to nine hundred organizations and associations that engage in activities ranging from advocacy work, to service delivery, to welfare. Membership organizations include farmer's unions, trade unions, and organizations of the disabled, and nonmembership organizations vary from development organizations to charities that provide welfare services. Many of these groups are closely linked with other southern African and international organizations. Church groups, burial societies, and savings and credit groups are the most common informal organizations in the community, and most people, particularly women, are members of at least one.

Gender Roles and Statuses

Division of Labor by Gender. The roles of men and women in farming are determined by a land tenure system in which men are allocated land in the communal areas and own most of the land in the commercial areas. Both men and women work the smallholdings in the communal areas, and women are responsible for domestic work. About 70 percent of women are smallholder farmers, compared with 35 percent of men. Commercial farmers rely on hired labor, both male and female. Only in the agricultural sector of the formal economy do women outnumber men; this includes commercial farms and agroprocessing activities.

Many enterprises in the informal sector are based on women's traditional economic activities, such as gardening, raising poultry, and baking, to supplement household income. The informal sector has grown considerably because of retrenchment in the formal sector and a decline in household income and is a crucial source of income for many households.

Men predominate as government representatives and civil servants, from the cabinet to the village and from ministries to district councils. About 15 percent of members of the House of Assembly are women. Political leadership is male-dominated, although there is a growing challenge to this system from organizations seeking to raise more women to influential decision-making positions.

The Relative Status of Women and Men. According to the constitution, men and women are equal. However, in terms of the law there are many areas where women are discriminated against, such as laws governing the conditions of part-time work, inheritance law, and the fact that brideprices (lobola ) are still allowed. In a recent setback for women's rights, in April 1999 the Supreme Court, in an inheritance dispute, ruled that women cannot be considered equal to men before the law because of African cultural norms. Precedence was given to customary law over the constitution on the basis of a clause in the constitution that allows for certain exceptions.

Marriage, Family, and Kinship

Marriage. Through marriage a family ensures its survival and continuation into the next generation. Shona, Ndebele, Shangaan, and Venda are patrilineal societies in which descent is through the male line and after marriage a women moves into her husband's home. The Tonga people are matrilineal, and the husband moves to the home area of his wife. Patrilocal or virilocal residence rarely applies in urban areas, but most urban families have a smallholding that is the rural home of the husband and wife.

Two types of marriage are recognized under the law. Customary marriages are potentially polygynous and legal for black Zimbabweans only and usually are dissolved only by death (divorce is rare). Civil marriages are monogamous and can be dissolved by death or divorce. Customary marriages are the more common form. Arranged marriages are rare, although families on both sides are heavily involved in marriage negotiations, which include deciding on the brideprice to be paid by the husband to the woman's family; thus, a wife and her children belong to the husband and are affiliated with his kin. Marriage gives women status and access to land, and unmarried men and women are rare. Polygyny is still widespread, although it is declining as land constraints and lower incomes are encouraging smaller households. Divorce is not common and carries a stigma, especially for women.

Domestic Unit. In rural areas the family unit is composed of the husband, the wife or wives, children, and members of the extended family. In urban areas, households are smaller, with a tendency toward a nuclear family of the husband, the wife, and children. In polygynous families, each wife has her own house and a share of a field. Households usually are defined in terms of a domestic unit of the wife, the children, and other dependents; therefore, a polygynous family and a wider extended family living together may consist of two or more households. The average household has 4.76 persons.

Authority is vested in men, and wisdom is vested in age. After marrying, a man assumes domestic authority as the household head, but in wider family affairs the elders are more influential. A woman also gains authority and respect with age, and newly married daughters-in-law take over much of the housework and help in the fields. Assistance continues after a daughter-in-law has established her own house nearby.

Inheritance. In customary marriages, all property rights during marriage or after divorce or death belong to the man. Disposition of the estate and guardianship of children are determined by male relatives of the husband. Women may retain property that is traditionally associated with their domestic role, such as kitchen utensils, and one of the implications of patrilocal residence that has carried into contemporary urban life is that immovable property is regarded as the man's property. Although changes in the law recognize a woman's contribution, it is difficult for a woman to claim rights to property in the face of family opposition. Wills are rare, although they override customary law. In civil marriages ended by divorce or death, wives and widows have the right to a share of the husband's estate, although the same difficulties apply.

Kin Groups. Relationships with maternal kin (or, in the case of the Tonga, paternal kin) are important; although contact may be infrequent, the relationship is normally a close one. Therefore, the wider kin group of an extended family can be very extensive.


Infant Care. The nurturing and socialization of infants are the responsibility of mothers and, in their temporary absence (for example, when they are working), a female relative. In customary practice orphans are the responsibility of the husband's relatives. A great deal of an infant's time is spent in the company of the mother, being carried on her back in the kitchen and sleeping with her at night. Socialization takes place mostly in the household through the mother and the extended family, and other children nearly always are around to play with an infant. Therefore, in addition to the strong caring bond between mother and child, other adults and older children develop bonds and assume responsibility in the absence of the mother.

Child Rearing and Education. An infant or child is seldom lonely, and being constantly surrounded by relatives lays the foundation for behavior in an adult life that is dependent on cooperation within the family. Children learn respect for their elders, which is considered a very important quality. From the age of about seven or eight, girls start to help in the house, and in rural areas boys of that age begin to learn to herd livestock. Children are encouraged to take on adult tasks from an early age.

Primary school starts when a child is seven, and after seven years there, a child who has passed the examinations may continue in secondary school for two, four or six years. Children walk to school, and a primary school may be a one-hour walk and a secondary school a longer walk. Walking to school and playing generally are not supervised closely by adults and are important ways in which children learn self-reliance. However, a child is usually dependent on the family economically and socially, and later as an adult the demands of urban life, particularly the reliance on cash to support a lifestyle, can lead to conflict with a rural family's need for cash and traditional values.

Higher Education. Higher education is valued as qualification for white-collar and professional occupations and is becoming increasingly important as an entry point to technically skilled employment. Families are proud of children who go on to receive further education, especially in the rural areas. There is no social stigma for the family of a child who was expected to enter college or university but failed to do so.


Religious Beliefs. In traditional religion, the spirit of a deceased person returns to the community and the deceased heads of extended families (the ancestors), have a powerful influence on family life. The spirit ancestors are usually only two or three generations back from the living generation and are the people who passed on the custom of honoring their ancestors and the traditions of the community. They are honored in ceremonies to celebrate a good harvest and in appeals to deal with misfortune. When a spirit becomes angry, it communicates through a medium, or a diviner diagnoses the anger and cause, and appeasement follows. Families seeking to avenge a death or enforce debt payment may consult diviner-healers (n'anga ). Witches are thought to have the power to raise angry spirits, and the anger of a spirit may or may not be justified in the view of the affected family.

Many Christians continue to believe in spirits and the power of witchcraft and seek spiritual guidance from both belief systems. The largest churches are the Roman Catholic and the Anglican, and the Apostolic Church is the largest independent church. Independent churches tend to interpret the Bible more in accordance with traditional values, and faith healing and savings organizations (for example, burial societies) feature strongly in their activities.

Death and the Afterlife. Customarily, the dead are buried close to home, and people in urban areas may bring the deceased back to rural areas for burial. Graves are prepared close to the family homestead and are both sacred and feared for their association with death and spirits. A diviner may be consulted to determine the cause of death and prescribe a ritual action; this is followed by ceremonies to settle the spirit and mark the end of mourning. After one year a final ceremony is held at which the spirit becomes a spirit guardian of the family. These ceremonies generally combine traditional and Christian practices.

Medicine and Health Care

Traditional and modern medicines are used, and a distinction is made between minor ailments and serious illnesses. This is done partly because of the belief that illness may have been inflicted by angry spirits (justifiably or through witchcraft). Therefore, treatment for a serious illness may include a consultation with a n'anga. Herbal remedies continue to be used widely for minor ailments, and n'anga are respected for their counseling skills, especially in treating psychological and psychiatric problems.

There is a health care system of clinics, district hospitals, and teaching hospitals in Harare and Bulawayo, although in recent years the service has been affected by financial constraints. There is also an association of registered traditional healers, the Zimbabwe National Traditional Healer's Association of N'anga, that includes spirit mediums in its membership.

Secular Celebrations

Independence Day is celebrated on 18 April, and Heroes Day on 11 August.

The Arts and Humanities

Support for the Arts. Artists are held in high regard. In Harare and Bulawayo and to a lesser extent in rural areas, there are many training centers. Some of those centers are self-run, started with the assistance of a patron; some are run by nongovernmental organizations; and some are cooperatives. The most famous is Tengenenge in Guruve District, which has produced many of the most famous Shona sculptors. The National Gallery in Harare, founded in 1954, has been instrumental in the promotion of art, especially sculpture. Competition is high, especially in the sculpture and women's traditional craft markets (baskets, mats, and pottery).

Literature. The first Shona novel was published in 1956, and the first Ndebele one in 1957. Since that time, especially after independence, there has been a burgeoning of Shona and Ndebele literature. Major themes are folklore, myths and legends (traditional oral literature), the preindependence experience and struggle, and living in a postindependent country. Internationally acclaimed novelists include Shimmer Chinyodya (Harvest of Thorns) Chenjerai Hove (Bones, Shadows), and Doris Lessing (the Martha Quest trilogy and her autobiographies), who is the most famous white writer. An international book fair is held in Harare every August.

Graphic Arts. Shona sculpture is internationally acclaimed and exhibited. Those works fetch thousands of dollars on the international market, particularly in Europe and the United States. Although this art form is referred to as Shona sculpture, it is not specific to the Shona. The themes are derived largely from African folklore and transformed into figurative, semiabstract, and minimalist works that use a variety of stone, including black serpentine.

Performance Arts. Traditionally inspired music is predominant in the arts and represents cultural continuity with the past. Based on the rhythms and melodies of the mbira (finger piano), the instrument associated with the ancestors, traditional music promoted a feeling of solidarity in the struggle for independence. Music groups were formed in urban areas, lyrics contained political messages, and the music scene promoted African rather than European figures. Since 1980, the number of cultural groups has increased and public performances have become common. The ready availability of radios has not replaced playing music (usually the mbira or drums) in the home. Thomas Mapfuma and the Blacks Unlimited group are the most well-known proponents of popular music heavily influenced by traditional music. Other influences on popular music include church music, gospel, Zairean rhumba, and South African mbaqanga and mbube. Black Umfolosi exemplifies the mbubu tradition of Nguni vocals and harmony sung a capella.

Older people have a greater affinity with traditional music, but all Zimbabwean music is influenced by the rhythms and melodies of the mbira. Western music is popular, and artists are influenced by it to varying degrees.

Several Zimbabwean films have been commercially successful, including Flame, Jit, Everyone's Child, and Neria. Flame has a political focus, and the other three have social themes.

The State of the Physical and Social Sciences

Before independence, black Zimbabwean college enrollment was low, particularly in technical colleges: the tendency was to find course places in universities and technical colleges outside the country, and in academic courses rather than in technical or vocational courses. The expansion of primary, secondary, and tertiary education with independence meant an expansion of the social sciences, in particular education. This was not matched by the same expansion in the scientific and technical fields of the physical sciences, engineering, and medicine. Therefore technical expertise and highly skilled labor has continued to be a constraint, and one which has at least in part been responsible for the white minority retaining a disproportionate share of economic resources.

There are two state-funded universities, the University of Zimbabwe in Harare and the National University of Science and Technology in Bulawayo. The University of Zimbabwe is the older university and it has an international track record in the physical and social sciences, particularly in the natural sciences and in the application of social science to agricultural and rural development, and ecology, and conservation projects. The National University of Science and Technology opened in 1991 and offers courses in applied science, commerce, and industrial technology. Two private universities have also recently been established: Africa University, funded by the United Methodist church in Mutare, and Catholic University in Harare. The Harare Polytechnic and technical colleges in major towns offer vocational and technical training courses.

Support from international donors has been provided to the applied social sciences, media and communication studies, the applied natural sciences, and biotechnology at the University of Zimbabwe.


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Ann Muir

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Zimbabweans are mainly related to the two major Bantu-speaking groups, the Shona (about 77 percent of the population) and the Ndebele (about 18 percent). Europeans in Zimbabwe are almost entirely either immigrants from the United Kingdom or South Africa or their descendants.

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Zimbabwe. See Rhodesia.

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Zimbabwe •Myfanwy • Malawi • Zimbabwe •Anhui • Dewi •kiwi, peewee, weewee •Conwy, Goronwy •soliloquy, ventriloquy •colloquy • obloquy

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