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« Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #54 of 54: Zambia | Main

August 13, 2006

Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #54+ of 54+: Zimbabwe

by Ozodi Thomas Osuji, Ph.D. (Seatle, Washington) ---
Flag of Zimbabwe

Formal Name: Republic of Zimbabwe.

Term for Citizens: Zimbabweans.

Capital: Harare. Population: 1, 868, 000.

Independence: Achieved: April 1980.

Major Cities: Harare, Bulawayo.


Zimbabwe is in South Africa. It is bordered by Zambia, South Africa, Botswana, and Mozambique. Zimbabwe encompasses 150, 804 square miles. Savanna (highveld) runs northeast to Southwest, through the center of the country. The climate is subtropical with warm rainy season (November through March) and dry winter (May through August). Parts of eastern highlands receive more than 1200 millimeters of rain annually; two thirds of the country receives less than 800 millimeters of rain annually.


Zimbabwe’s population is estimated at 12,891, 000.

Ethnic Groups: The two main ethnic groups in Zimbabwe are the Shona 75%, and Ndebele16%, and Whites 5%.

Languages: The official language is English, but Shona is widely spoken.

Religion: Christians 30%, the rest of the population are affiliated with indigenous African religions.

Education: Universal free primary education. There is substantial increase in secondary education but limited university education. Literacy rate is estimated at 90.7%.

Economy: Agriculture plays a dominant role in the economy. White farmers dominate Zimbabwe’s commercial agriculture. Manufacturing is developing rapidly. GDP estimated: $27 billion; Per Capita GDP: $2, 400. Monetary Unit: Zimbabwe Dollar.

History and Government:

The two main African ethnic groups that lived in what was dubbed Rhodesia were the Shonas and Ndebeles. South Africa, under Cecil Rhodes took over the area in 1897. The British took over in 1923. In 1965, the white minority in Rhodesia declared unilateral independence for the country and tried to rule it in apartheid South African style. Africans formed parties and a guerrilla war against the minority, Ian Smith government ensued. In 1980 Africans gained freedom from white rule and Robert Mugabe came to power as the prime minister. A change in the constitution made him president. He is still in office. The president is elected for six-year term of office. He appoints the prime minister from the leading party in parliament. The prime minister runs the government on the day-to-day basis. Parliament is bicameral, House of Assembly and Senate. The country is divided into eight provinces but the provinces lack administrative powers and the government is highly centralized. Since its independence, one party and one president have ruled Zimbabwe. President Robert Mugabe and his Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front have ruled the country. Zimbabwe, like South Africa, has a large white settler community. The later own most of the choice agricultural lands. At present Mugabe is making efforts to expropriate some of that land from White persons and give them to African farmers. This has led to high tension in the country and to Mugabe employing more and more authoritarian means of governance.


The original people who lived in what is now called Zimbabwe were Khoisans/Bushmen. Bantus migrated to the area during the great Bantu expansion.

In 1888 the British adventurer, Cecil Rhodes, obtained mining rights in what came to be called Southern Rhodesia (after his surname) and thereafter Britain declared the area a protectorate.

Fearing that Britain might give Africans independence, the white settler community under its leader, Ian Smith, declared unilaterally independence in 1965. When all efforts to persuade them to rescind their measures failed, African nationalists went to the bush and the war for intendance started.

Robert Mugabe’s forces and Joshua Nkomo’s forces battled it out with the Rhodesian army. By 1979, it became clear that the guerillas were winning and Ian Smith and his gang brought the British back to rule and negotiate terms of independence for the African majority.

In 1980 Zimbabwe became independent and Robert Mugabe became the prime minister. He quickly got rid of his rival, Joshua Nkomo, and consolidated power in 1982. Mr. Mugabe is still in office in 2006.

Zimbabwe is divided into 8 provinces and two cities with provincial status, and the provinces are further subdivided into 59 districts and 1200 municipalities.

Mugabe finally decided to solve the land issue once and for all. Traditionally, whites had the farms and Africans worked for them. Africans wanted land. Mugabe finally redistributed the land, took it from whites and shared it among Africans, (his cronies). Whites left farming and the agricultural economy collapsed. Now Zimbabwe is a basket case on the verge of starvation.

The mining sector, too, was taken from whites and given to the Chinese, who allegedly gives Mugabe the means to prop himself in office.
Zimbabwe is on the verge of economic collapse unless something is done to change the course of affairs. Clearly, Mugabe was a good freedom fighter but a manager he is not. Zimbabwe needs professional managers to take over from the generation that fought for the country’s independence. The skills necessary for the two vocations are different.

Posted by Administrator at August 13, 2006 01:04 PM


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