Zimbabwe - Country history and economic development

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.

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