Zimbabwe - Tips

Zimbabwe Bureau of African Affairs
July 2007

Background Note: Zimbabwe

Rainbow forms over water at Victoria
Falls, Zimbabwe, March 23, 1997. [©
AP Images]

Flag of Zimbabwe is seven equal horizontal bands of green, yellow, red,
black, red, yellow, and green; white isosceles triangle edged in black with
base on hoist side has yellow bird and red star.


Republic of Zimbabwe

Area: 390,580 sq. km. (150,760 sq. mi.), slightly larger than Montana.
Cities: Capital--Harare (pronounced Ha-RAR-e), pop. 1.5 million. Other towns
--Bulawayo, Chitungwiza, Mutare, Gweru, Kwekwe, Masvingo, Marondera.
Terrain: Desert and savanna.
Climate: Mostly subtropical.

Nationality: Noun and adjective--Zimbabwean (sing.), Zimbabweans (pl.).
Population (2003 est.): 12.5 million.
Annual growth rate (2003 est.): 0.83%. (Note: the population growth rate is
depressed by an HIV/AIDS adult prevalence rate estimated to be 18% and a high
level of net emigration.)
Ethnic groups: Shona 71%, Ndebele 16%, other African 11%, white 1%, mixed and
Asian 1%.
Religions: Christianity 75%, offshoot Christian sects, animist, and Muslim.
Languages: English (official), Shona, Sindebele.
Education: Attendance--mandatory for primary level. Adult literacy--90.5%
(2004 est.).
Health: Infant mortality rate--51.7/1,000 (2006 est.). Life expectancy--men
37 (2006), women 34 (2006).
Work force (2006 est.): 900,000 in formal sector.

Type: Parliamentary.
Constitution: December 21, 1979.
Independence: April 18, 1980.
Branches: Executive--President (chief of state and head of government),
Cabinet. Legislative--In the 150-seat House of Assembly, 120 seats are
popularly elected and 30 are directly appointed by the president or selected
through a process strongly influenced by him. In the 66 seat Senate, 50 seats
are popularly elected, 6 are directly appointed by the president, 8 chiefs
are elected from the 8 rural provinces (excluding the metropolitan
provinces), and 2 are the president and vice president of the Council of
Chiefs. Judicial--High Court, Court of Appeal, local and customary courts.
Administrative subdivisions: Town Councils and District Councils.
Main political parties: Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front
(ZANU-PF); Movement for Democratic Change (MDC); United People's Party (UPP).

GDP (2005 est.): U.S. $3.2 billion.
Real GDP growth rate (2005): -5.3%.
Real per capita GDP (2005): U.S. $520.
Avg. inflation rate: 3,714% (year-to-year, April 2007, by official accounts).
Natural resources: Deposits of more than 40 minerals including ferrochrome,
gold, silver, platinum, copper, asbestos; 19 million hectares of forest
Agriculture (15% of GDP): Types of crops and livestock--corn, cotton,
tobacco, wheat, coffee, tea, sugarcane, peanuts, cattle, sheep, goats, pigs.
Industry: manufacturing, public administration, commerce, mining, transport
and communication.
Trade (2006): U.S. exports--U.S. $47.58 million. U.S. imports--U.S. $103.28
million. Partners (2000 est.)--South Africa 22%, U.K. 10%, Germany 9%, U.S.
8%. Total imports (2004)--U.S. $1,989 million: most of these imports were
construction and agricultural machinery, transportation equipment, data
processing equipment and software, industrial machinery, pharmaceuticals,
fertilizers, and general manufactured products. Major suppliers--South Africa
34%, U.K. 10.8%, Germany 7.3%, U.S. 6%.

Primarily of the Bantu group of south and central Africa, the black
Zimbabweans are divided into two major language groups, which are subdivided
into several ethnic groups. The Mashona (Shona speakers), who constitute
about 75% of the population, have lived in the area the longest and are the
majority language group. The Matabele (Sindebele speakers), representing
about 20% of the population and centered in the southwest around Bulawayo,
arrived within the last 150 years. An offshoot of the South African Zulu
group, they maintained control over the Mashona until the white occupation of
Rhodesia in 1890.

More than half of white Zimbabweans, primarily of English origin, arrived in
Zimbabwe after World War II. Afrikaners from South Africa and other European
minorities, including Portuguese from Mozambique, also are present. Until the
mid-1970s, there were about 1,000 white immigrants per year, but from 1976 to
1985 a steady emigration resulted in a loss of more than 150,000, leaving
about 100,000 in 1992. Renewed white emigration in the late 1990s and early
2000s reduced the white population to less than 50,000. English, the official
language, is spoken by the white population and understood, if not always
used, by more than half of the black population.

The literacy rate is estimated at 90.5%. Primary and secondary schools were
segregated until 1979 when racial restrictions were removed. Since
independence, the educational system had been systematically enlarged by the
Zimbabwean Government, which is committed to providing free public education
to all citizens on an equal basis. As of the late 1970s, some 50% of the
African children (5-19 years old) were listed officially as attending rural
schools. Today, most African children attend primary school. Primary through
post-secondary enrollment has expanded from 1 million to about 2.9 million
since independence. About 40% of the rural primary schools were destroyed
during the Rhodesian conflict, which delayed improvement of the rural
education system. Higher education, offered at the University of Zimbabwe in
Harare, the new National University of Science and Technology in Bulawayo,
the new Africa (Methodist) University in Mutare, fourteen teacher-training
colleges, and twelve polytechnical institutes and industrial training
centers, are being expanded with assistance from several donor countries.

Early History
Archaeologists have found Stone-Age implements and pebble tools in several
areas of Zimbabwe, a suggestion of human habitation for many centuries, and
the ruins of stone buildings provide evidence of early civilization. The most
impressive of these sites is the "Great Zimbabwe" ruins, after which the
country is named, located near Masvingo. Evidence suggests that these stone
structures were built between the 9th and 13th centuries A.D. by indigenous
Africans who had established trading contacts with commercial centers on
Africa's southeastern coast.

In the 16th century, the Portuguese were the first Europeans to attempt
colonization of south-central Africa, but the hinterland lay virtually
untouched by Europeans until the arrival of explorers, missionaries, ivory
hunters, and traders some 300 years later. Meanwhile, mass migrations of
indigenous peoples took place. Successive waves of more highly developed
Bantu peoples from equatorial regions supplanted the original inhabitants and
are the ancestors of the region's Africans today.

British Settlement and Administration
In 1888, Cecil Rhodes obtained a concession for mineral rights from local
chiefs. Later that year, the area that became Southern and Northern Rhodesia
was proclaimed a British sphere of influence. The British South Africa
Company was chartered in 1889, and the settlement of Salisbury (now Harare,
the capital) was established in 1890. In 1895, the territory was formally
named Rhodesia after Cecil Rhodes under the British South Africa Company's

Following the abrogation of the company's charter in 1923, Southern
Rhodesia's white settlements were given the choice of being incorporated into
the Union of South Africa or becoming a separate entity within the British
Empire. The settlers rejected incorporation, and Southern Rhodesia was
formally annexed by the United Kingdom that year. Until 1980, Rhodesia was an
internally self-governing colony with its own legislature, civil service,
armed forces, and police. Although Rhodesia was never administered directly
from London, the United Kingdom always retained the right to intervene in the
affairs of the colony, particularly in matters affecting Africans.

After 1923, European immigrants concentrated on developing Rhodesia's rich
mineral resources and agricultural potential. The settlers' demand for more
land led in 1934 to the passage of the first of a series of land
apportionment acts that reserved certain areas for Europeans.

In September 1953, Southern Rhodesia was joined in a multiracial Central
African Federation with the British protectorate of Northern Rhodesia and
Nyasaland in an effort to pool resources and markets. Although the federation
flourished economically, the African population, who feared they would not be
able to achieve self-government with the federal structure dominated by White
Southern Rhodesians, opposed it. The federation was dissolved at the end of
1963 after much crisis and turmoil, and Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland
became the independent states of Zambia and Malawi in 1964.

Unilateral Declaration Of Independence (UDI)
The European electorate in Rhodesia, however, showed little willingness to
accede to African demands for increased political participation and
progressively replaced more moderate party leaders. In April 1964, Prime
Minister Winston Field, accused of not moving rapidly enough to obtain
independence from the United Kingdom, was replaced by his deputy, Ian Smith.
Prime Minster Smith led his Rhodesian Front Party to an overwhelming victory
in the 1965 elections, winning all 50 of the first roll seats and
demoralizing the more moderate European opposition.

Although prepared to grant independence to Rhodesia, the United Kingdom
insisted that the authorities at Salisbury first demonstrate their intention
to move toward eventual majority rule. Desiring to keep their dominant
position, the white Rhodesians refused to give such assurances. On November
11, 1965, after lengthy and unsuccessful negotiations with the British
Government, Prime Minister Smith issued a Unilateral Declaration of
Independence (UDI) from the United Kingdom.

Post-UDI Events
The British Government considered the UDI unconstitutional and illegal but
made clear that it would not use force to oppose it. On November 12, 1965,
the United Nations also determined the Rhodesian Government and UDI to be
illegal and called on member states to refrain from assisting or recognizing
the Smith regime. The British Government imposed sanctions on Rhodesia and
requested other nations to do the same.

On December 16, 1966, the UN Security Council, for the first time in this
history, imposed mandatory economic sanctions on a state. Rhodesia's primary
exports including ferrochrome and tobacco, were placed on the selective
sanctions list, as were shipments of arms, aircraft, motor vehicles,
petroleum, and petroleum products to Rhodesia. On May 29, 1968, the Security
Council unanimously voted to broaden the sanctions by imposing an almost
total embargo on all trade with, investments in, or transfers of funds to
Rhodesia and imposed restrictions on air transport to the territory.

In the early 1970s, informal attempts at settlement were renewed between the
United Kingdom and the Rhodesian administration. Following the April 1974
coup in Portugal and the resulting shifts of power in Mozambique and Angola,
pressure on the Smith regime to negotiate a peaceful settlement increased. In
addition, sporadic antigovernment guerilla activity, which began in the late
1960s, increased dramatically after 1972, causing destruction, economic
dislocation, casualties, and a slump in white morale. In 1974, the major
African nationalists groups--the Zimbabwe African Peoples Union (ZAPU) and
the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU), which split away from ZAPU in
1963--were united into the "Patriotic Front" and combined their military
forces, at least nominally.

In 1976, because of a combination of embargo-related economic hardships, the
pressure of guerilla activity, independence and majority rule in the
neighboring former Portuguese territories, and a U.K.-U.S. diplomatic
initiative, the Smith government agreed in principle to majority rule and to
a meeting in Geneva with black nationalist leaders to negotiate a final
settlement of the conflict. Blacks represented at the Geneva meeting included
ZAPU leader Joshua Nkomo, ZANU leader Robert Mugabe, UANC chairman bishop
Abel Muzorewa, and former ZANU leader Rev. Nadabaningi Sithole. The meeting
failed to find a basis for agreement because of Smith's inflexibility and the
inability of the black leaders to form a common political front.

On September 1, 1977 a detailed Anglo-American plan was put forward with
proposals for majority rule, neutrally administered with pre-independence
elections, a democratic constitution and the formation of an integrated army.
Reactions were mixed, but no party rejected them. In the interim, on March 3,
1978, the Smith administration signed the "internal settlement" agreement in
Salisbury with Bishop Muzorewa, Rev. Sithole, and Chief Jeremiah Chirau. The
agreement provided for qualified majority rule and elections with universal
suffrage. Following elections in April 1979, in which his UANC party won a
majority, Bishop Muzorewa assumed office on June 1, becoming
"Zimbabwe-Rhodesia's" first black prime minister. However, the installation
of the new black majority government did not end the guerilla conflict that
had claimed more than 20,000 lives since 1972.

Shortly after British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's conservative
government took power in May 1979, the British began a new round of
consultations that culminated in an agreement among the Commonwealth
countries as the basis for fresh negotiations among the parties and the
British involving a new constitution, free elections and independence.

The British and the African parties began deliberations on a Rhodesian
settlement at Lancaster House in London on September 10, 1979. On December
10, 1979, in preparation for the transition under British authority to
officially recognized independence, the "Zimbabwe-Rhodesia" reverted de facto
to colonial status. On December 12, British Governor Lord Christopher Soames
arrived in Salisbury to reassert British authority over the colony. His
arrival signaled the end of the Rhodesian rebellion and the "internal
settlement," as well as the beginning of Zimbabwe's transition to
independence. The United Kingdom lifted all remaining sanctions against
Zimbabwe that day. The United States lifted sanctions effective December 16.

On December 21, after 3 months of hard bargaining, the parties signed an
agreement at Lancaster House calling for a cease-fire, new elections, a
transition period under British rule, and a new constitution implementing
majority rule while protecting minority rights. The agreement specified that
upon the granting of independence, the country's name would be Zimbabwe. The
same day, the UN Security Council endorsed the settlement agreement and
formally voted unanimously to call on member nations to remove sanctions.

During the transition period, nine political parties campaigned for the
February 27-29 pre-independence elections. The elections were supervised by
the British Government and monitored by hundreds of observers, most of whom
concluded that, under the prevailing circumstances, the elections were free
and fair and reflected the will of the people. Robert Mugabe's ZANU (PF)
party won an absolute majority and was asked to form Zimbabwe's first

In a series of public statements during the transition period, Prime Minister
Mugabe indicated that he was committed to a process of national
reconciliation and reconstruction as well as moderate socioeconomic change.
His priorities were to integrate the various armed forces, reestablish social
services and education in rural areas, and resettle the estimated one million
refugees and displaced persons. Mugabe also announced that his government
would begin investigating ways of reversing past discriminatory policies in
land distribution, education, employment, and wages.

Mugabe stated that Zimbabwe would follow a nonaligned foreign policy and
would pursue a pragmatic relationship with South Africa. He noted that while
Zimbabwe opposed apartheid and would support democratic change in South
Africa, it would not provide bases for anti-South African guerillas.

The British Government formally granted independence to Zimbabwe on April 18,
1980. Most nations recognized Zimbabwe following independence. The United
States was the first nation to open an embassy in Salisbury (Harare) on that
day. Parliament convened for the first time on May 13, 1980. Zimbabwe became
a member of the United Nations on August 25, 1980.

In seeking national reconciliation, Prime Minister Mugabe's first cabinet
comprised members of ZANU-PF, PF-ZAPU, and independent white members of
parliament (MPs) and senators. The government embarked on an ambitious
reconstruction and development program and instituted increases in minimum
wages. Land redistribution proceeded under four experimental models on land
that the government had purchased at market rates from willing sellers.

Zimbabwe Since Independence
Prime Minister Mugabe's policy of reconciliation was generally successful
during the country's first two years of independence, as the former political
and military opponents began to work together. Although additional blacks
were hired to fill new places in the civil service, there was no retribution
for those whites who had worked for the Smith regime. Smith and many of his
associates held seats in the parliament where they participated freely in
debates. Likewise, Joshua Nkomo, Mugabe's rival as leader of the nationalist
forces, was included in the first cabinet along with several other members of

Splits soon developed, however. In 1981, several MPs from Smith's party left
to sit as "independents," signifying that they did not automatically accept
his anti-government posture. More importantly, government security officials
discovered large caches of arms and ammunition on properties owned by ZAPU,
and Nkomo and his followers were accused of plotting to overthrow Mugabe's
government. Nkomo and his closest aides were expelled from the cabinet.

As a result of what they perceived as persecution of Nkomo (known as "Father
Zimbabwe") and of his party, PF-ZAPU supporters, some of them deserters from
the army, began a loosely organized and ill-defined campaign of dissidence
against the government. Centering primarily in Matabeleland, home of the
Ndebeles who were PF-ZAPU's main followers, this dissidence continued through
1987 and involved attacks on government personnel and installations, armed
banditry aimed at disrupting security and economic life in the rural areas,
and harassment of ZANU-PF members. Occasionally, some demanded that Nkomo and
his colleagues be reinstated in the cabinet. More frequently, however,
dissidents called for the return of farms and other properties seized from

Because of the unsettled security situation immediately after independence
and the continuing anti-government dissidence, the government kept in force a
"state of emergency," which was first declared before UDI. This gave
government authorities widespread powers under the "Law and Order Maintenance
Act," including the right to detain persons without charge.

In 1983-84, the government declared a curfew in areas of Matabeleland and
sent in the army in an attempt to suppress dissidents. Credible reports
surfaced of widespread violence and disregard for human rights by the
security forces during these operations, and the level of political tension
rose in the country as a result. The pacification campaign, known as the
"Gukuruhundi," or strong wind, resulted in as many as 20,000 civilian deaths.
Nkomo and his lieutenants repeatedly denied any connection with the
dissidents and called for an all-party conference to discuss the political
problems facing the country. In the 1985 elections, ZANU-PF increased its
majority, holding 67 of the 100 seats. ZANU-PF and PF-ZAPU agreed to unite in
December 1987, and the parties formally merged in December 1989.

In October 1987, in accordance with the Lancaster House Accords, the
constitution was amended to end the separate roll for white voters and to
replace the whites whose reserved seats had been abolished; among the new
members were 15 whites in the Senate and House of Assembly. Elections in
March 1990 resulted in another overwhelming victory for Mugabe and his party,
which won 117 of the 120 election seats. However, voter turnout was only 54%,
and the campaign was not free and fair although the actual balloting was. Not
satisfied with a de facto one-party state, Mugabe called on the ZANU-PF
Central Committee to support the creation of a de jure one-party state in
September 1990 and lost. The state of emergency was lifted in July 1990.

After the remaining restrictions of the Lancaster House agreement expired on
April 18, 1990, the government embarked on a campaign of amending the
existing constitution. Both the judiciary and human rights advocates fiercely
criticized some of the first amendments, which were enacted in April 1991,
because they restored corporal and capital punishment and denied recourse to
the courts in cases of compulsory purchase of land by the government.

During the 1990s students, trade unionists and workers often demonstrated to
express their discontent with the government. Students protested in October
1990 against proposals for an increase in government control of universities
and again in May 1991 and May 1992, when they clashed with police. Trade
unionists and workers were also vocal critics of the government during this
time. In June 1992, police prevented trade unionists from holding
anti-government demonstrations. In 1994, there was widespread industrial
unrest. In August and September 1996, thousands of civil servants demanding
salary increases organized a national strike and in October and November of
the same year, nurses and junior doctors went on strike over salary issues.

In part through its control of the media, the huge parastatal sector of the
economy, and the security forces, the government has managed to keep
organized political opposition to a minimum through most of the 1990's.
Beginning in 1999, however, Zimbabwe has experienced a period of considerable
political and economic upheaval. Opposition to President Mugabe and the
ZANU-PF government has grown in recent years, in part due to worsening
economic and human rights conditions. The opposition is currently led by the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which was established in September

The MDC's first opportunity to test opposition to the Mugabe government came
in February 2000, when a referendum was held on a draft constitution proposed
by the government. Among its elements, the new constitution would have
permitted President Mugabe to seek two additional terms in office, granted
government officials immunity from prosecution, and authorized government
seizure of white-owned land. The referendum was handily defeated. Shortly
thereafter, the government, through a loosely organized group of war
veterans, sanctioned an aggressive land redistribution program often
characterized by forced expulsion of white farmers and violence against both
farmers and farm employees.

Parliamentary elections held in June 2000 were marred by localized violence,
and claims of electoral irregularities and government intimidation of
opposition supporters. Nonetheless, the MDC succeeded in capturing 57 of 120
seats in the National Assembly.

The March 2002 presidential election was preceded by months of intensive
violence and intimidation against MDC supporters, and more than 50 people,
mostly opposition supporters, were killed. President Mugabe was declared the
winner over challenger Morgan Tsvangirai by a 56-to-42 percent margin. Most
international observers condemned the election as seriously flawed--the
pre-election environment was neither free nor fair, and the election itself
was marred by significant fraud and rigging--but regional opinions were
mixed. Soon after the election, the MDC filed a petition challenging Mugabe's
victory, citing flaws in electoral laws, electoral irregularities and
pre-election violence. As of the end of 2004, the case had not yet been

As a result of this election, the United States, the EU, and other European
countries imposed travel restrictions against senior Zimbabwean officials and
embargoed the sale of arms to Zimbabwe. The U.S. and the EU also froze the
financial assets of selected ruling party officials. The Commonwealth
suspended Zimbabwe from council meetings for one year after its election
observer team found the election neither free nor fair. At the mid-term
suspension review in March 2003, the three-country committee charged with
deciding Zimbabwe's fate decided to continue the suspension until the next
Commonwealth meeting in December 2003. At this meeting, despite vigorous
campaigning by South Africa, Zimbabwe was not invited to attend the meeting
and the Commonwealth decided to continue with the suspension. Immediately
after this, Mugabe withdrew Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth.

Since the presidential election, the political climate has remained tense and
intensely polarized. Violence escalated in the run up to rural council
elections in September 2002 and various parliamentary by-elections that year.
Parliamentary by-elections in Kuwadzana, Highfield, Zengeza, and Lupane in
2003 were marred by widespread intimidation and beatings. The government also
passed legislation that curtailed free speech, free press, and rights of
assembly. In March 2003, MDC leaders Morgan Tsvangirai, Welshman Ncube, and
Renson Gasela went on trial for treason. Charges against Ncube and Gasela
were subsequently dropped and in October 2004 Tsvangirai was found not
guilty. In August 2005, the government dropped a second charge of treason
against Tsvangirai.

The government subscribed to the electoral principles of the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) in 2004 but failed to implement key elements of
the principles in advance of the 2005 parliamentary elections. The campaign
period and election day were largely non-violent, but the elections were not
free and fair. The election process was marred by repressive legislation that
limits freedom of speech and assembly; millions of expatriate Zimbabweans
were not permitted to vote; the government used food distributions to
influence an increasingly hungry population; an astonishingly high 10% (as
high as 30% in some areas) of would-be voters were turned away; and
discrepancies in officially announced results and the government's refusal to
release key voting data have led to questions about the possibility of fraud.

In May 2005, the government began Operation Murambatsvina (also known as
Operation Restore Order), ostensibly to rid urban areas of illegal
structures, illegal business enterprises, and criminal activities. The
International Organization of Migration estimated that at least 300,000
people were displaced nationwide, as the operation moved from urban areas
into rural areas and included apparently legal structures. Families and
traders, especially at the beginning of the operation, were often given no
notice before police destroyed their homes and businesses. Others were able
to salvage some possessions and building materials but often had nowhere to
go, despite the government's statement that people should be returning to
their rural homes. Thousands of families were left unprotected in the open in
the middle of Zimbabwe's winter. The government interfered with
non-governmental organization (NGO) efforts to provide emergency assistance
to the displaced in many instances. Some families were removed to transit
camps, where they had no shelter or cooking facilities and minimal food,
supplies, and sanitary facilities. The operation continued into July 2005,
when the government began a program to provide housing for the newly
displaced. As of September 2006, housing construction fell far short of
demand, and there were reports that beneficiaries were mostly civil servants
and ruling party loyalists, not those displaced. The government campaign of
forced evictions continued in 2006, albeit on a lesser scale.

Since independence, Zimbabwe has enunciated and follows a policy of "active
nonalignment." In practice, this has meant that Zimbabwe usually adhered to
positions established by the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM); the Organization of
African Unity (OAU), now the African Union; or, until it withdrew in 2003,
the Commonwealth. Zimbabwe took a particular interest in the search for
independence for Namibia (South-West Africa) from South Africa. In addition,
as chairman of the front-line states in southern Africa, Zimbabwe spoke out
vigorously against the policies of apartheid in South African and frequently
called for the imposition of economic sanctions against Pretoria. In November
1982, Zimbabwe was chosen by the OAU to hold one of the non-permanent seats
in the UN Security Council for the following two years, which brought it onto
the center stage of world events and gave it much-needed experience in
international affairs. In 1986, Zimbabwe was the site of the NAM summit
meeting; Prime Minister Mugabe became chairman of that organization, giving
both Mugabe and Zimbabwe added international visibility and responsibility.

Zimbabwe maintains embassies in the United States, United Kingdom, Egypt,
Angola, Kenya, Senegal, Nigeria, India, Sweden, France, China, Malaysia,
Ethiopia, Namibia, Swaziland, Belgium, Tanzania, Botswana, Serbia,
Mozambique, Switzerland, Cuba, Canada, Japan, Australia, Germany, India,
Italy, Russia, and South Africa. Sixty-six countries are represented in
Harare as are several international organizations including UN institutions,
the European Union, and the World Bank. Zimbabwe is a member of many
international organizations, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF);
African Development Bank; The World Trade Organization; Southern African
Development Community (SADC); Preferential Trade Area for Eastern and
Southern Africa (PTA); African Caribbean and Pacific Countries (ACP, in
association with the EU); Group of 77 (G-77); Group of 15 (G-15); NAM;
African Union (AU); Customs Cooperation Council (CCC); and the World
Federation of Trade Unions. The IMF Executive Board in July 2004 postponed
until January 2005 deliberations on a recommendation for Zimbabwe's
compulsory withdrawal from the institution. The IMF closed its Zimbabwe
office in October 2004 in a decision not linked to the country's considerable
arrears. Shortly after the March 2002 presidential election, the Commonwealth
suspended Zimbabwe from leadership councils for one year after the
Commonwealth's election observer team found the conduct of the election
seriously flawed. After this suspension was upheld in December 2003, Mugabe
withdrew Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth.

Historically, Zimbabwe's closest links have been with the U.K.; however, in
the past six years, this relationship has been very strained. The government
has demonized Britain in the press, blaming the country for Zimbabwe's
problems, and claiming that Britain reneged on promises made at Lancaster
House to provide money for land reform. As with the U.S., thousands of
Zimbabweans studied in the U.K., and private links remain close; however,
official relations are strained.

Other West European countries have ties with Zimbabwe. The Scandinavian
countries share certain philosophical affinities and have provided much
assistance, as have France, Canada, and the Federal Republic of Germany.
Portugal and Greece maintain links partly because of the sizable Portuguese
and Greek communities in the country. Similar historical ties have led to the
establishment of relations with India and Pakistan, and to a lesser extent,
with Bangladesh. The government's "look east" policy has led to closer
diplomatic relations with East Asian countries such as Malaysia and China.

Zimbabwe maintains diplomatic relations with virtually every African country,
although some ties are closer than others. African nations with embassies in
Harare are Algeria, Angola, Botswana, D.R.C., Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya,
Libya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania,
and Zambia.

Ruled continuously by a liberation party, Zimbabwe developed and maintains
close ties with a number of revolutionary states and organizations. Among
these are the People's Republic of China, Cuba, the Democratic People's
Republic of Korea, Iran, Libya, and the Palestine Liberation Organization.

According to Zimbabwe's constitution, the president is head of state and head
of government, and is elected for a 6-year term by popular majority vote.
Parliament is bicameral and sits for up to a 5-year term. The 150-member
house of assembly consists of 120 elected seats, 10 chiefs elected by their
peers but influenced by the president, eight provincial governors and 12
non-constituency MPs appointed by the president. The parliament elects a
speaker from outside its membership and a deputy speaker from among its

In September 2005 the government used its two-thirds majority in parliament
to pass a constitutional amendment that established a 66-member Senate. The
Senate consists of 50 elected seats, 6 seats directly appointed by the
president, 8 chiefs elected from the 8 rural provinces (excluding the
metropolitan provinces), and the president and vice president of the Council
of Chiefs.

The Zimbabwean constitution institutionalizes majority rule and protection of
minority rights. The elected government controls senior appointments in the
public service, including the military and police, and the independent Public
Service Commission is charged with making appointments at lower levels on an
equitable basis.

The judiciary is headed by the chief justice of the Supreme Court who, like
the other justices, is appointed by the president on the advice of the
Judicial Service Commission. The constitution has a bill of rights containing
extensive protection of human rights. The bill of rights could not be amended
for the first 10 years of independence except by unanimous vote of the

Zimbabwe is divided into eight provinces, each administered by a provincial
governor appointed by the president. The provincial administrator and
representatives of several service ministries assist the provincial governor.
In 2004, the Mugabe government declared Bulawayo and Harare to be provinces
with their own respective provincial governors even though there is no
constitutional provision for these newly created positions.

Zimbabwe is governed by President Robert Mugabe and his Zimbabwean African
National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), which has dominated the legislative
and executive branches since independence in 1980.

Principal Government Officials
President--Robert Mugabe
Vice Presidents--Joseph Msika and Joice Mujuru
Foreign Minister--Simbarashe Mumbengegwi
Ambassador to the U.S.--Machinvenyika Tobias Mapuranga

Zimbabwe maintains an embassy in the United States at 1608 New Hampshire
Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20009 (tel. 202-332-7100). A Zimbabwean mission to
the United Nations is located at 19 East 47th St., New York, NY.

Properly managed, Zimbabwe's wide range of resources should enable it to
support sustained economic growth. The country has an important percentage of
the world's known reserves of metallurgical-grade chromite. Other commercial
mineral deposits include coal, platinum, asbestos, copper, nickel, gold, and
iron ore.

In the early 1970s, the economy experienced a modest boom. Real per capita
earnings for blacks and whites reached record highs, although the disparity
in incomes between blacks and whites remained, with blacks earning only about
one-tenth as much as whites. After 1975, however, Rhodesia's economy was
undermined by the cumulative effects of sanctions, declining earnings from
commodity exports, worsening guerilla conflict, and increasing white
emigration. When Mozambique severed economic ties, the Smith regime was
forced to depend on South Africa for access to the outside world. Real gross
domestic product (GDP) declined between 1974 and 1979. An increasing
proportion of the national budget (an estimated 30%-40% per year) was
allocated to defense, and a large budget deficit raised the public debt
burden substantially.

Following the Lancaster House settlement in December 1979, Zimbabwe enjoyed a
brisk economic recovery. Zimbabwe inherited one of the strongest and most
complete industrial infrastructures in sub-Saharan Africa, as well as rich
mineral resources and a strong agricultural base. Real growth for 1980-81
exceeded 20%. However, depressed foreign demand for the country's mineral
exports and the onset of a drought cut sharply into the growth rate in 1982,
1983, and 1984. In 1985, the economy rebounded strongly due to a 30% jump in
agricultural production. However it slumped in 1986 to a zero growth rate and
registered a 3% contraction in GDP in 1987 due primarily to drought and
foreign exchange crisis. Growth in 1988-90 averaged about 4.5%.

Since the mid-1990s, this infrastructure has been deteriorating rapidly, but
remains better than that of most African countries. Poor management of the
economy and political turmoil have led to considerable economic hardship. The
Government of Zimbabwe's chaotic land reform program, recurrent interference
with the judiciary, and maintenance of unrealistic price controls and
exchange rates have led to a sharp drop in investor confidence. Since 2000,
the national economy has contracted by as much as 35%; inflation vaulted over
1,200% (year over year) in August 2006; and there have been persistent
shortages of foreign exchange, local currency, fuel, and food. Direct foreign
investment has all but evaporated.

Agriculture is no longer the backbone of the Zimbabwean economy. Large scale
commercial farming has been effectively destroyed over the course of the last
five years under the government's controversial land reform efforts starting
in 2000. Corn is the largest food crop and tobacco had traditionally been the
largest export crop, followed by cotton. Tobacco production in 2006, however,
slumped to its lowest level--about 50 million kg--since independence, off
from a peak in 2000 of 237 million kg. Cotton has now surpassed tobacco in
export earnings. Gold production, another former key foreign currency source,
slid by about one-third in the first seven months of 2006 compared to the
comparable period in 2005. Poor government management has exacerbated meager
corn harvests in years of drought or floods, resulting in significant food
shortfalls every year since 2001.

Paved roads link the major urban and industrial centers, but the condition of
urban roads and the unpaved rural road network has deteriorated significantly
since 1995. Rail lines connect with an extensive central African railroad
network, although railway track condition has also worsened in recent years,
along with locomotive availability and utilization. The electric power supply
has become erratic and blackouts are common due to low generator availability
at the Kariba hydroelectric power plant and unreliable or nonexistent coal
supplies to the country's large thermal plants. Telephone service is
problematic, and new lines are difficult of obtain.

The largest industries are metal products, food processing, chemicals,
textiles, clothing, furniture and plastic goods. Most manufacturers have
sharply scaled back operations. Zimbabwe is not a member of the African
Growth and Opportunity Act and a number of textile businesses have migrated
to other African countries. Zimbabwean producers still export lumber
products, certain textiles, chrome alloys and automobile windscreens to the

Zimbabwe is endowed with rich mineral resources. Exports of gold, asbestos,
chrome, coal, platinum, nickel, and copper could lead an economic recovery
one day. No commercial deposits of petroleum have been discovered, although
the country is richly endowed with coal-bed methane gas that has yet to be

With international attractions such as Victoria Falls, the Great Zimbabwe
stone ruins, Lake Kariba, and extensive wildlife, tourism historically has
been a significant segment of the economy and contributor of foreign
exchange. The sector has contracted sharply since 1999, however, due to the
country's declining international image.

Energy Resources
With considerable hydroelectric power potential and plentiful coal deposits
for thermal power station, Zimbabwe is less dependent on oil as an energy
source than most other comparably industrialized countries, but it still
imports 40% of its electric power needs. Only about 15% of Zimbabwe's total
energy consumption is accounted for by oil, all of which is imported.
Zimbabwe imports about 1.2 billion liters of oil per year. Dependence on
petroleum is managed through the price controls for vehicle fuels, the use of
gasohol, and the substitution of diesel-electric locomotives on the railway
system. Zimbabwe also has substantial coal reserves that are utilized for
power generation, and recently discovered in Matabeleland province are
coalbed methane deposits greater than any known natural gas field in Southern
or Eastern Africa. In recent years, however, poor economic management and low
foreign currency reserves have led to serious fuel shortages.

At independence, then-Prime Minister Mugabe declared that integrating
Zimbabwe's then three armed forces would be one of his government's top
priorities. The existing Rhodesian forces were combined with the two guerilla
armies--the 20,000-strong ZANLA forces of ZANU-PF and the 15,000-strong ZIPRA
forces of PF-ZAPU. In July 1994 the combined Zimbabwe Defense Forces
Headquarters was created. Currently the armed forces of Zimbabwe are
completely integrated and are composed of an army (ZNA) and an air force
(AFZ). As of late 2004, the ZNA had an active duty strength of 33,000 and the
air force about 4,000 men. In 1999, the Government of Zimbabwe sent a
sizeable military force into the Democratic Republic of Congo to support the
government of President Laurent Kabila. Those forces were largely withdrawn
in 2002.

After the Unilateral Declaration of Independence was issued in November 1965,
the United States recalled its Consul General from Salisbury, closed the U.S.
Information Service (USIS) library, and withdrew its Agency for International
Development (USAID) and trade promotion officials. After 1965, the small
remaining American consular staff continued to operate under authority of
exequaturs issued by Queen Elizabeth II. Following declaration of a republic,
the United States closed its Consulate General on March 17, 1970.

In 1971, despite Administration opposition, the U.S. Congress passed
legislation permitting the United States to import strategic materials, such
as chrome, from Rhodesia. The legislation, which took effect January 1, 1972,
was of little real economic benefit to the Rhodesian economy, and the United
States continued to support the balance of the sanctions program. After the
legislation was repealed in March 1977, the United States once again enforced
all sanctions.

The United States supported the United Nations and the United Kingdom
consistently in their efforts to influence Rhodesian authorities to accept
the principles of majority rule. Beginning in 1976, the United States began
to take a more active role in the search for a settlement in cooperation with
the British. The Anglo-American proposals of late 1977, aimed at bringing a
negotiated end to the dispute, lent the weight of the United States to the
search for a peaceful settlement and were a counterpart to the Soviet-Cuban
use of military power to increase their influence in southern Africa. The
United States supported British efforts to bring about and implement the
settlement signed at Lancaster House on December 21, 1979 and extended
official diplomatic recognition to the new government immediately after
independence. A resident Embassy was established in Harare on Zimbabwe's
Independence Day, April 18, 1980. The first U.S. Ambassador arrived and
presented his credentials in June 1980. Until the arrival in 1983 of a
resident Ambassador in Washington, Zimbabwe's relations with the U.S. were
handled by its Ambassador to the United Nations (UN) in New York.

At the Zimbabwe conference on reconstruction and development (ZIMCORD) in
March 1981, the United States pledged $225 million over a 3-year period
toward the government's goals of postwar reconstruction, distribution and
development of land, and the development of skilled manpower. By the end of
FY 1986, the United States had contributed $380 million, the majority in
grants, with some loans and loan guarantees. However, in July 1986, the U.S.
Government decided to discontinue future bilateral aid to Zimbabwe as a
result of a continuing pattern of uncivil and undiplomatic statements and
actions by the Government of Zimbabwe in the United Nations and elsewhere.
Aid programs previously agreed upon were not affected by the decision, nor
were regional development programs that might benefit Zimbabwe. Full
programming was restored in 1988.

USAID assistance to Zimbabwe since 2002 has focused on family planning, HIV/
AIDS prevention, democracy and governance programs, emergency food aid, and
assistance to internally displaced persons. The Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention (CDC) began a direct assistance program in August 2000. CDC's
program consists of prevention of HIV transmission; improved care of persons
with HIV/AIDS; surveillance, monitoring, and evaluation of the epidemic; and
health sector infrastructure support.

Since 2000, the United States has taken a leading role in condemning the
Zimbabwean Government's increasing assault on human rights and the rule of
law, and has joined much of the world community in calling for the Government
of Zimbabwe to embrace a peaceful democratic evolution. In 2002 and 2003, the
United States imposed targeted measures on the Government of Zimbabwe,
including financial and visa sanctions against selected individuals, a ban on
transfers of defense items and services, and a suspension of non-humanitarian
government-to-government assistance. Despite strained political relations,
the United States continues as a leading provider of humanitarian assistance
to the people of Zimbabwe, providing about $400 million in humanitarian
assistance from 2002-2007, most of which was food aid.

President Mugabe visited Washington informally in September 1980, and on
official working visits in September 1983, July 1991, and in 1995, meeting
with Presidents Carter, Reagan, Bush, and Clinton respectively. He has also
led the Zimbabwean delegation to the UN on several occasions, including most
recently in 2006. Vice President George Bush visited Harare in November 1982
on a trip to several African countries.

Principal U.S. Officials
Ambassador--Christopher W. Dell
Deputy Chief of Mission--Katherine Dhanani
USAID Mission Director--Karen Freeman
Political/Economic Chief--Glenn Warren
Public Affairs Officer--Paul Engelstad
Defense Attaché--LTC Kimbel D. Neal

Offices of the U.S. Mission
U.S. Embassy (Chancery)
172 Herbert Chitepo Avenue, Harare
Tel: 263-4-250-593
Fax: 263-4-796-488

U.S. Agency for International Development
1 Pascoe Avenue Belgravia, Harare
Tel: 263-4-252-401
Fax: 263-4-252-478
Public Affairs Section
38 Nelson Mandela Avenue, Harare
Tel: 263-4-758-800

The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information Program advises Americans
traveling and residing abroad through Consular Information Sheets, Public
Announcements, and Travel Warnings. Consular Information Sheets exist for all
countries and include information on entry and exit requirements, currency
regulations, health conditions, safety and security, crime, political
disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S. embassies and consulates abroad.
Public Announcements are issued to disseminate information quickly about
terrorist threats and other relatively short-term conditions overseas that
pose significant risks to the security of American travelers. Travel Warnings
are issued when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid travel
to a certain country because the situation is dangerous or unstable.

For the latest security information, Americans living and traveling abroad
should regularly monitor the Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet
web site at http://www.travel.state.gov, where the current Worldwide Caution,
Public Announcements, and Travel Warnings can be found. Consular Affairs
Publications, which contain information on obtaining passports and planning a
safe trip abroad, are also available at http://www.travel.state.gov. For
additional information on international travel, see http://www.usa.gov/

The Department of State encourages all U.S citizenstraveling or residing
abroad to register via the State Department's travel registration website or
at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. Registration will make your
presence and whereabouts known in case it is necessary to contact you in an
emergency and will enable you to receive up-to-date information on security

Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be obtained
by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada or the regular
toll line 1-202-501-4444 for callers outside the U.S. and Canada.

The National Passport Information Center (NPIC) is the U.S. Department of
State's single, centralized public contact center for U.S. passport
information. Telephone: 1-877-4USA-PPT (1-877-487-2778). Customer service
representatives and operators for TDD/TTY are available Monday-Friday, 7:00
a.m. to 12:00 midnight, Eastern Time, excluding federal holidays.

Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at 877-FYI-TRIP
(877-394-8747) and a web site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel/index.htm give the
most recent health advisories, immunization recommendations or requirements,
and advice on food and drinking water safety for regions and countries. A
booklet entitled "Health Information for International Travel" (HHS
publication number CDC-95-8280) is available from the U.S. Government
Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402, tel. (202) 512-1800.

Further Electronic Information
Department of State Web Site. Available on the Internet at http://
www.state.gov, the Department of State web site provides timely, global
access to official U.S. foreign policy information, including Background
Notes and daily press briefings along with the directory of key officers of
Foreign Service posts and more. The Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC)
provides security information and regional news that impact U.S. companies
working abroad through its website http://www.osac.gov

Export.gov provides a portal to all export-related assistance and market
information offered by the federal government and provides trade leads, free
export counseling, help with the export process, and more.
STAT-USA/Internet, a service of the U.S. Department of Commerce, provides
authoritative economic, business, and international trade information from
the Federal government. The site includes current and historical
trade-related releases, international market research, trade opportunities,
and country analysis and provides access to the National Trade Data Bank. ***********************************************************
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