Republic of Zimbabwe

Republic of Zimbabwe

The Republic of Zimbabwe, since the 11th century, has been the site of several organised states and kingdoms as well as a major route for migration and trade. The British South Africa Company of Cecil Rhodes first demarcated the present territory during the 1890s; it became the self-governing British colony of Southern Rhodesia in 1923. In 1965, the conservative white minority government unilaterally declared independence (UDI) as Rhodesia.

Robert Mugabe became Prime Minister of Zimbabwe in 1980, when his ZANU-PF party won the elections following the end of white minority rule; he was the President of Zimbabwe from 1987 until his resignation in 2017. Under Mugabe’s authoritarian regime, the state security apparatus dominated the country and was responsible for widespread human rights violations. Mugabe maintained the revolutionary socialist rhetoric of the Cold War era, blaming Zimbabwe’s economic woes on conspiring Western capitalist countries. Contemporary African political leaders were reluctant to criticise Mugabe, who was burnished by his anti-imperialist credentials, though Archbishop Desmond Tutu called him “a cartoon figure of an archetypal African dictator”. The country has been in economic decline since the 1990s, experiencing several crashes and hyperinflation along the way.

The state endured international isolation and a 15-year guerrilla war with black nationalist forces; this culminated in a peace agreement that established universal enfranchisement and de jure sovereignty as Zimbabwe in April 1980. Zimbabwe then joined the Commonwealth of Nations, from which it was suspended in 2002 for breaches of international law by its then-government, and from which it withdrew in December 2003.

On 15 November 2017, in the wake of over a year of protests against his government as well as Zimbabwe’s rapidly declining economy, Mugabe was placed under house arrest by the country’s national army in a coup d’état. On 19 November 2017, ZANU-PF sacked Robert Mugabe as party leader and appointed former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa in his place. On 21 November 2017, Mugabe tendered his resignation prior to impeachment proceedings being completed. On 30 July 2018 Zimbabwe held its general elections, which was won by the ZANU-PF party led by Emmerson Mnangagwa.

The sovereign state is a member of the United Nations, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union (AU), and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). 

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