How was Harare Zimbabwe founded

Domestic conflicts

Locardia Shayamunda

Locardia Shayamunda is a PhD student at the University of Freiburg i.Br. It examines the strategies of smallholders in dealing with crises. Before that, she worked as a consultant for various development projects and organizations (e.g. Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD) and Misereor Southern Africa).

After the overthrow of long-term president Robert Mugabe and the rise of his deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa to power in 2017, Zimbabwe is still in a deep crisis. ZANU PF controls the state with a hard hand. The population suffers from the socio-economic situation and massive human rights violations.

Police arrest and mistreat protesters in Harare, Aug. 16, 2019. Security forces and youth units of the ruling ZANU PF party do not shy away from intimidating, arresting, kidnapping and torturing demonstrators. (& copy picture-alliance / AP, Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

Current conflict situation

Despite the promises made by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, the government is doing little to reshape the heavily clientelist political and economic system and eradicate rampant corruption (BTI, 2020). The deteriorating socio-economic conditions repeatedly lead to protests and strikes. Security forces and youth units of the ruling ZANU PF party do not shy away from intimidating, arresting, kidnapping and torturing demonstrators. Members of the political opposition, civil society activists as well as critical journalists and artists who are accused of subversion are particularly affected. More than 50 activists were kidnapped in 2019.

Even elected officials from the largest opposition alliance, the MDC Alliance [1], are not spared. Vice-chairman and MP Tendai Biti and MP Job Sikhala were arrested. He is accused of calling for protest actions. In addition, the ZANU-PF government uses the state apparatus, including the police and the judiciary, to fuel the power struggle within the opposition between the MDC Alliance and a split. Due to a court decision, the splinter party MDC-T can continue to use the same name as the largest force in the MDC Alliance.

The Covid19 pandemic is a welcome excuse for the government to further restrict democratic freedoms and persecute political opponents. For example, the prominent government critic and journalist Hopewell Chin'ono has already been arrested several times for "inciting violence". In the spring of 2020, his revelations of $ 60 million in the acquisition of protective equipment for medical personnel had resulted in the dismissal of the Minister of Health. [2]

Due to the "need to investigate the role of security forces actors in human rights abuses", the EU extended its arms embargo and the freezing of the assets of the state-owned company Zimbabwe Defense Industries on February 19, 2021. The UK had already imposed sanctions on four security apparatus commanders on February 1, 2021 for cracking down on anti-government protesters since 2017, including banning travel and freezing assets. [3]

In the face of the wave of repression, the Zimbabwean Church has broken its silence. The pastoral letter of the Catholic bishops on the situation in Zimbabwe of August 14, 2020 complains about the government's lack of commitment to reforms and criticizes the arbitrary arrests and the suppression of the protests. The government - according to the bishops - regards anyone who disagrees as an enemy. In addition, corruption in the country has reached alarming proportions. [4]
Situation in Zimbabwe 2008: Land Use and Violence
Here you can find the map as a high-resolution PDF file License: cc by-nc-nd / 3.0 / de / (mr-kartographie)

Causes and Background

The crisis in Zimbabwe has three levels: (1) the conflict between the formerly ruling white settler oligarchy and the black political elite that controls the ruling ZANU PF party and the state; (2) the power struggle between the ZANU-PF government and the political opposition; and (3) the clashes between the corrupt black upper class and the vast majority of the population, who are at the mercy of poor governance, the socio-economic crisis and the pillaging of the public Kassen suffers.

The conflict between the formerly ruling white settler oligarchy and the black political elite has flared up again and again since independence in 1980. After the farms controlled by the white upper class with the best agricultural land (Moyo 2000) had remained untouched for a long time, then President Mugabe initiated a violent expropriation in 2000 with the aim of redistributing the land to the new political and military elite. His plan was to get back on the political offensive after the defeat in the constitutional referendum in February 2000 against the MDC. Liberation struggle veterans supported by ZANU-PF evicted white farmers from their property. They were accused of supporting the opposition party. As a result, the UK and the EU imposed sanctions and travel restrictions on leading party officials and government officials.

President Mnangagwa’s announcement in July 2020 that he would make compensation payments of US $ 3.5 billion to expropriated white farmers shows that the conflict is still virulent today. [5] Observers see this as a political move to win the support of Western states as well as international financial institutions and donors for the internationally isolated regime. In any case, the costs would have been borne by the vast majority of the population.

The power struggle between the ruling ZANU PF and the political opposition goes back to the rivalry between the liberation movements ZANU and ZAPU for political supremacy and control of the state after independence. As the representative of the largest ethnic group, the Shona, the ZANU finally gained the upper hand because, as the strongest political force and ruling party, it controlled the state apparatus, including the security sector (military, police, secret service). In the civil war (1983-1987) - some speak of a targeted punitive and extermination action against the ZAPU insurgents - more than 20,000 civilians were killed by the army. The massacres, which took place mainly in the provinces of Midlands and Matabeleland and which mainly fell victim to Ndebele, have gone down in history as "Gukurahundi" [6].

In 1987, an agreement was signed between Robert Mugabe (ZANU) and Joshua Nkomo (ZAPU) that ended the civil war. The two parties merged and were renamed ZANU PF. But the political and economic exclusion of the Ndebele is still a cause of the conflict today (Mzumara, 2012). In Matabeleland not only are unemployment and poverty higher than in other parts of the country, the Ndebele living there are also disadvantaged in the distribution of food aid. High administrative posts in the region are filled disproportionately by Shona, who often do not speak Ndebele. Mnangagwa is particularly distrustful among the Ndebele because, as head of the secret service in the 1980s, he was largely responsible for the massacres. [7]

The conflict between the black upper class and the vast majority of the population overshadows the entire recent history of the country. The primary goal of ZANU-PF is to maintain power through repression, co-optation and patronage. A sophisticated system of transferring land ownership, company shares and the distribution of the proceeds from state-owned companies to important actors is used for this purpose, in order to bind them to the president and the party leadership. The result is the amalgamation of state and party. The power structures are shielded by the security sector, which also relies on thugs from the ruling party, war veterans and youth militias.

As a result of wrong economic policy decisions and the self-enrichment of the ruling elites, Zimbabwe fell into a deep crisis in 2017. Rising prices, a foreign debt of 17 billion US dollars, an outdated infrastructure and the second largest informal sector in the world at over 60% combined with a low capacity utilization of the local industry (below 45%) brought the country to the brink of collapse. The supply of essential goods is not assured. According to UN figures, 5.3 million people were affected or threatened by hunger in 2018 (Mbae 2019).

The Covid19 pandemic hit a chronically underserved healthcare system that had not yet weathered the second largest cholera outbreak in the country's recent history. In addition, a typhus epidemic has been rampant since 2017, which has already claimed more than 17 deaths. More than 13% of the population are affected by HIV (Mbae 2019). In the past, executives have spent millions of dollars on their own medical treatments abroad, partly to blame for the devastating conditions in the Zimbabwean healthcare system. [8] This was money that Zimbabwe received from the international community for the fight against cholera, typhus and HIV, among other things. [9]

The deteriorating socio-economic conditions have been and are made worse by natural disasters such as droughts and cyclones. Around 270,000 people were affected by cyclone IDAI 2018 and around 340 died (Oxfam International: 2019).

Processing and solution approaches

After the narrow victory of Mnangagwa (50.8%) in the presidential elections in February 2018, the conflict between ZANU-PF and the MDC Alliance has intensified. The EU election observation mission criticized, among other things, the distortion of competition in favor of the ZANU-PF, the intimidation of voter groups and corruption and therefore refused to rate the elections as "free and fair" (European Union 2018; Müller 2019: 22). The chairman of the MDC Alliances, Nelson Chamisa, who won 44.39%, accused the government camp of fraud and does not recognize Mnangagwa's election. [10]

The Zimbabwean Church Council (ZCC) tries to mediate. The framework for the peace process is defined by the constitution, which was negotiated during the joint government of the ZANU-PF and the MDC and which was adopted by referendum in 2013. The cornerstones are the implementation of the rule of law and the separation of powers, the granting of freedom of the press, freedom of expression and freedom of demonstration, the coming to terms with the past with the establishment of a Commission for Peace and Reconciliation (NPRC), the enforcement of parliamentary control over the security sector and accelerated decentralization ( Niabeze 2015; Müller 2019: 26).

The MDC Alliance calls for the provisions of the constitution to be implemented consistently at last. In addition to democratization and economic reforms, she sees dealing with the past conflict and reforming the security sector as priorities.

The constitution stipulates the establishment of an independent National Commission for Peace and Reconciliation (NCPR) (Zimbabwe’s Constitution of 2013). Its five-year plan (2018-2022) contains, among other things, support measures for people affected by violence, the development of legislative proposals to prevent violence, the prevention of conflicts and the development of structures to secure the reconciliation process. [11] The government has also announced investigations into major events. These include the Gukurahundi massacre, the incidents of land expropriation in 2001/02 and the excesses of political violence between 2002 and 2008.

The implementation of security sector reform is not explicitly enshrined in the constitution, but it contains all the relevant provisions, including the control of the security forces by parliament and political accountability for their efforts, the prohibition of political partisanship and the exercise of office in the interests of any political party "as well as respect for the" fundamental rights and freedoms of every person "(Zimbabwe's Constitution of 2013; Nyabeze 2015: 18). In view of the enforcement of government, administration and ZANU-PF by former and active military members, the consistent separation between politics and the security apparatus would be one important first reform step (Müller 2019: 29/30).

But the government has so far refused to undertake any substantial reforms. As a signal to the international public, it has set up a "Dialogue of Political Actors" platform made up of selected representatives of the opposition. Nelson Chamisa, the leader of the MDC Alliance, however refused to take part in the "facade dialogue". Mnangagwa, like his predecessor Robert Mugabe, is not interested in a real peace process. There is a history of lip service in Zimbabwe to peace and reconciliation.

Beyond its democratization and reconciliation rhetoric, the government has embarked on a predominantly repressive course of conflict containment, as the arbitrary arrests, kidnappings and torture of all dissenting voices show. In 2019, for example, the Law on the Maintenance of Peace and Order (MOPA) was passed, which massively restricts freedom of assembly. In parliament, the ZANU-PF initiated the revision of 30 sections of the constitution. This gives the president more powers, which is likely to make democratic power-sharing and control even more difficult.

History of the conflict

In the first years of independence, Zimbabwe (formerly Southern Rhodesia) was still on the road to success. In view of the largely positive social and economic development (including agriculture and the education and health sectors), the first massive setbacks in democratic development abroad were not noticed. The massacre of the Ndebele had no consequences in the West, nor did the merger of the ZAPU with the ZANU-PF, enforced in 1987, which in fact sealed the one-party rule of the ZANU. The austerity policies implemented under pressure from the World Bank led to lower wages, rising unemployment and mass impoverishment. The rising civil society and the MDC increasingly mobilized against the Mugabe regime. The MDC, founded in 1999, is mainly recruited from the mostly younger and better educated urban middle class and from union members. Despite violent attempts at intimidation, the MDC won 57 of the 120 seats in parliament in the June 2000 elections.

President Mugabe responded to the defeat in 2000 with "land reform", in the course of which farms owned by the white minority were looted and expropriated, 350,000 farm workers were displaced and numerous farmers were killed. They were accused of supporting the opposition. This was followed by the decline of agriculture and the food sector, which in turn had a devastating effect on overall economic development. The former grain exporter Zimbabwe now lacked foreign currency, so that the supply of the population was no longer guaranteed. The gross national product fell by a good third by 2008, and the health and education sectors were on the verge of collapse

In 2009, the South African Development Community (SADC) and the South African government pushed for the MDC to be included in a coalition government with Mugabe as president and MDC chairman Morgan Tsvangirai as prime minister. In the following years, however, the political reforms regularly failed due to resistance from Mugabe and the ZANU PF. The long-standing ruling party continued to control the powerful security apparatus as well as the justice and interior ministries; Repression and human rights violations dominated everyday life.


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