Know your Sadc member countries: Zimbabwe

16 Jun, 2024 - 00:06 0 Views
Know your Sadc member countries: Zimbabwe President Mnangagwa

ZIMBABWE is one of the nine founding members of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) formerly known as the Southern African Development Coordinating Conference (SADCC) which was formed on April 1, 1980 in Lusaka, Zambia.

The organisation transformed from a Coordinating Conference into a Development Community (Sadc) on August 17, 1992, in Windhoek, Namibia when the Declaration and Treaty was signed at the Summit of Heads of State and Government giving the organisation a legal character.

The main objectives of the regional bloc are to achieve development, peace, security and economic growth as well as to alleviate poverty, enhance the standard and quality of life of the people of Southern Africa and to support the socially disadvantaged through regional integration built on democratic principles and equitable sustainable development.

Zimbabwe background

The name Zimbabwe is derived from the Shona language, dzimba dzemabwe, meaning houses of stone or stone buildings, today symbolised by the Great Zimbabwe Ruins near the present-day town of Masvingo. It is a landlocked country with a population of 16 million people from diverse ethnic backgrounds.

Zimbabwe has a rich history, not only of achievement, innovation, co-operation and economic prosperity, but also of conflict, trials and tribulations that reflects the dynamism of its peoples. Many scholars, past and present, have enhanced our knowledge of the Zimbabwean past through their works. Particularly important in our understanding of the pre-colonial State of Zimbabwe have been the works of archaeologists, linguists, historians, oral traditions and records of 16th century Portuguese traders who interacted with central and southern Africa during that time.

In the late 1880s, Zimbabwe was colonised by the British under the British South Africa Company (BSAC) following the 1884 Berlin West Africa Conference that partitioned Africa among European countries.

Politics

The Zimbabwean President is Cde Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, a veteran of the country’s armed struggle. President Mnangagwa was one of the early combatants of the country’s war of liberation having received military training in Egypt and China. He was later arrested after blowing a train locomotive in then Fort Victoria now Masvingo. He underwent severe torture at the hands of Rhodesians and escaped the death penalty on a technicality.

Ruling Party: Zanu-PF

Population: 16,6 million

Capital City: Harare 

Languages:

These include Chewa, Chibarwe, English, Kalanga, Koisan, Nambya, Ndau, Ndebele, Shangani, Shona, Sotho, Tonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, and sign language.

Total area coverage- 390 757 km2

Pre-colonial Period in Zimbabwe

The pre-colonial period in Zimbabwe is characterised by a rich history of human habitation, trade and the rise of indigenous African civilisations. Archaeological evidence suggests that humans have inhabited Zimbabwe for thousands of years, with Stone-Age implements, cave paintings, arrowheads, pottery and pebble tools found in various areas of the country.

One of the most significant sites from the pre-colonial period is the Great Zimbabwe ruins, located near Masvingo. These stone structures were built between the 9th and 13th centuries AD by indigenous Africans who had established trading contacts with commercial centres on Africa’s south-eastern coast.

The Great Zimbabwe ruins are considered a testament to the advanced civilisation that existed during that time. The pre-colonial period in Zimbabwe also saw the rise and fall of various kingdoms and states such as Mutapa State, a Shona state, which held power in the region.

Overall, the pre-colonial period in Zimbabwe was marked by cultural flourishing, the construction of impressive stone fortresses and extensive trade networks that extended across the Indian Ocean.

The ruins of Great Zimbabwe and other archaeological evidence provide insights into the advanced technology, social structures and economic activities of the time.

Colonial penetration

Zimbabwe has a complex history of colonialism and its impact on the country’s development. The British South Africa Company (BSAC) began its activities in the region in the 1880s, leading to the colonial era in Southern Rhodesia.

The colonial period brought significant changes to Zimbabwe, including the establishment of colonial rule, the exploitation of resources and the imposition of British cultural and political systems. During the colonial era, Zimbabwe experienced the penetration of British colonial culture, institutions and systems.

This included the introduction of British governance structures, economic systems and social norms. The colonial government implemented policies that favoured British settlers and marginalised the indigenous population.

The BSAC, under the leadership of Cecil John Rhodes, played a significant role in the colonisation of Zimbabwe.

The impact of colonialism on Zimbabwe was far-reaching. It led to the dispossession of land from indigenous communities, the exploitation of natural resources and the imposition of British cultural norms and values. The colonial government also implemented policies that restricted the rights and freedoms of the indigenous population, leading to social and economic inequalities.

Fight for independence

Zimbabwe’s fight for independence was a significant historical event that involved various struggles and key milestones. The liberation war in Zimbabwe, also known as the Second Chimurenga, lasted from 1965 to 1980. It was a fight against the racist system of colonial rule and for the establishment of an independent Zimbabwe.

Liberation war

The armed struggle culminated in the Lancaster House Conference in 1979, which in turn resulted in the February 1980 general elections that ultimately led to independence on 18 April 1980. The main fighting armies of Zimbabwe’s armed struggle were ZPRA under ZAPU and ZANLA under ZANU. The first highlights of the armed struggle were the famed Battle of Chinhoyi when ZANLA guerrillas engaged Rhodesia National Army soldiers and the 1967 Wankie Campaign which pitied Rhodesian soldiers against an alliance of ZIPRA and Umkhonto we Sizwe forces. The Rhodesians carried out both air and ground attacks on mainly ZANU and ZAPU refugee camps in Mozambique and Zambia respectively. Some of these brutalities involved the covert poisoning of guerrilla sources of water and food supplies. Civilians were not spared either. There was the anthrax poisoning of livestock and the movement of thousands of rural villagers into concentration camps euphemistically called “protected villages,” among other atrocities. Equally, the nationalist armies attacked white farmers in their isolated homesteads, assaulted centres of colonial power and blew up infrastructure. The war also had a serious gender dimension. Women, particularly rural women, made heroic sacrifices in the war. The escalating cost of the war, the breakdown of civil administration, a collapsing economy, a failed Internal Settlement and increased pressure from allies all forced Smith to concede to the general elections that brought about majority rule.

 The war thus ended with the signing of the Lancaster House Agreement that resulted in national elections overwhelmingly won by Robert Mugabe’s ZANU (PF) party.

Lancaster House Constitutional Conference

The Lancaster House Constitutional Conference, held in 1979, was a crucial event in the fight for Zimbabwe’s independence. The conference brought together representatives from various parties involved in the conflict, including the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) and the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU). The conference resulted in the peace modalities that led to the February 1980 general elections and ultimately the independence of Zimbabwe on April 18, 1980.

Land issue and independence

The issue of land played a significant role in the liberation war and became a popular national grievance. The Zimbabwe Government decided to address this issue by embarking on the land reform exercise after Britain reneged on the issue of compensation agreed on at Lancaster.

This decision was aimed at rectifying historical injustices and addressing the imbalances created by colonial rule.

Culture

A rich tapestry of history and tradition

Zimbabwean culture is a vibrant and diverse tapestry that reflects the country’s rich history and traditions. From its ancient roots to its modern-day expressions, Zimbabwean culture encompasses a wide-range of practices, beliefs, and customs.

One of the most iconic symbols of Zimbabwean culture is Great Zimbabwe, an architectural marvel that served as the nerve centre of an influential pre-colonial state. The imposing stone walls of Great Zimbabwe stand as a testament to the cultural legacy of early Zimbabwe, flourishing between the 11th and 15th centuries.

Resilience and transformation

Zimbabwe’s history is a story of resilience, endurance, and transformation. From its pre-colonial prosperity to the trials of colonialism and the eventual tumult of independence, Zimbabwe has experienced significant historical events that have shaped its culture.

Amid the waves of modernisation and globalisation, there is a growing tidal wave of reviving traditional ceremonies that are seen as a means of rekindling cultural pride, fostering community unity, and safeguarding historical legacies.

Zimbabwean culture plays a significant role in shaping perceptions and attitudes towards artificial enhancements, such as make-up and skincare. Traditionally, the emphasis has been on natural beauty, with little significance given to artificial enhancements.

Cultural exchange and alliances

Zimbabwe’s cultural heritage is rich and diversified, with similarities to other cultures around the world. The country has hosted international conferences and events that aim to integrate art and culture into the local environment and establish global alliances and partnerships.

Economy

Agriculture plays a crucial role in the economy of Zimbabwe. It is a major source of employment, food, foreign exchange and raw materials for other sectors.

At its peak, the agricultural sector contributed a third of Zimbabwe’s gross domestic product (GDP). Agriculture employs nearly 70 percent of the economically active population.

The sector accounts for 60 percent of all raw materials used by the manufacturing sector and contributes about 45 percent of total export earnings.

Zimbabwe’s agriculture is divided into five natural regions, with the first three regions primarily used for crop production. Small-scale communal farms are responsible for producing most of the maize and staple food, while larger commercial farms focus on cash crops such as tobacco, paprika, fruits, flowers, and beef exports.

Tobacco is Zimbabwe’s leading agricultural export and one of its main sources of foreign exchange.

In 2017, tobacco farming accounted for 11% of Zimbabwe’s GDP, and 3 million people relied on tobacco for their livelihood.

The agricultural sector has a significant impact on Zimbabwe’s economy. In 2021, the country experienced a rebound in its economy, with a GDP growth of 5.8% after contracting by 6.2% in 2020.

This growth was largely attributed to a good agricultural season, slow inflation, and favourable trade laws. The surplus in agricultural production benefited the economy greatly.

Additionally, the industrial production and exports of Zimbabwe were commendable, further contributing to the country’s economic growth.

Tourism

Zimbabwe’s natural wonders, including the Victoria Falls and the Hwange National Park, attract tourists from around the world. The country takes immense pride in its cultural heritage, celebrating its diverse ethnic groups and traditional customs. Zimbabwe’s vibrant arts and crafts industry contributes to the region’s cultural exchange and tourism sector.

Zimbabwe is home to several natural attractions that draw tourists from around the world. One of the most famous attractions is the mighty Victoria Falls, which is one of the largest waterfalls in the world.Other natural attractions include the Matobo Hills, Hwange National Park, Mana Pools, Gonarezhou National Park, and Lake Kariba.

Zimbabwe is rich in wildlife, making it a popular destination for safari enthusiasts. Visitors can spot a wide variety of animals, including elephants, lions, rhinos, giraffes, and many more. Hwange National Park and Mana Pools are particularly renowned for their wildlife.

Zimbabwe also boasts several historical and cultural sites that offer a glimpse into the country’s past. The Great Zimbabwe National Monument is a Unesco World Heritage site and is one of the most important archaeological sites in Africa. It showcases the ruins of an ancient city and provides insights into the country’s rich history.

The tourism sector in Zimbabwe has been growing in recent years. In 2022, tourist arrivals to Zimbabwe rose by 174 percent compared to the previous year, with most visitors coming from within Africa. The recovery in overseas markets following the end of Covid-19 lockdowns contributed to this growth. The tourism sector generated $911 million in 2022, a significant increase from $397 million in 2021.

Zimbabwe has made efforts to improve safety and stability in the country, making it a relatively safe destination for tourists. Most of the country’s top attractions are located outside the main cities and are very safe.

Zimbabwe has received international recognition as a top tourism destination. Bloomberg listed Zimbabwe among the top 24 destinations to visit in a given year, highlighting attractions like the Zambezi River and Mana Pools. The best time to visit Zimbabwe is between June and November when wildlife gathers around the Zambezi River. – Zimbabwe Government website.

 

 

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