The modern organizational forms of African nationalist politics according to Stoneman and Cliffe (1989) emerged in the 1920s with the first trade unions and in the late 1940s with the embryo political parties’ resistance to the colonial regime and racist structures of settledom. This new form of modern organisational structures of Zimbabwe nationalist movements could be linked to the very same objectives that resulted in the first Chimurenga in the 18th century because of tyrannical colonial government, land deprivation, racial imbalances and brutal legislation imposed by the colonial government. According to O’Meara (1975) in the early 1950s powerful labour movements now dominated African politics; in the Zimbabwean scenario the Reformed Industrial Council of Unions (RICU) under Charles Mzengeli was very important in the raise of new political nationalist movements.
Before the 1950s according to Sylvester (1991;42) most organisations seeking to improve conditions for Africans took up issues of discrimination and did so on an incremental and individual basis. The BANC (Bulawayo African National Congress) formed in the 1930s as Sylvester (1991;42) elaborates that it failed to broaden its membership and scope of collective grievance and aspiration. The collaboration of BANC and a more militant Salisbury the City Youth League which had reputation for challenging the authority of native commissioners in rural areas, encouraging peasants to resist NLHA (Native Land Husbandry Act) the merger produced SRANC (Southern Rhodesian African National Congress). The colonial government further strengthened its tactics to dismantle this new form of African Nationalism through robust legislation.
These acts were meant to silence these mushrooming African Nationalist movements and to render them weak in their main objective to mobiles the majority of Black supporters to rise against the colonial authorities. Sylvester (1991;42) postulates that the colonial pushed equally hard as SRANC to expose cracks in the practices of racial partnerships by arresting more than three hundred of its members. However the SRANC was successful in mobilizing the black majority against the Land Husbandry Act in what was according to O’Meara (1975) known as “operation sunrise”. The formation of the SRANC in 1957 was the first element of the efficacy of strong African nationalist movements that could bring change to the colonial rule of the British and bring about independence. The SRANC in its statement of principles, policy and programme in Salisbury in 1957 according to Nyangoni and Nyandoro (1979;3) its main was national unity of all inhabitants of the country in true partnership regardless of race, colour or greed and stood for a completely integrated society, equality in every sphere and the social, economic and political advancement for all.
When SRANC was abolished by the colonial government in Rhodesia this did not deter the African Nationalists to stop the formation of another wing that could spearhead the majority interests. O’Meara (1975;102) postulates that on the 1st of January 1960 Michael Mawema formed another nationalist movement the National Democratic Party (NDP) with the same ideology and central governance as the African National Congress. The policies for NDP was not that different from the SARNC also advocated for pursuing the struggle for and attainment of freedom for the African people as well as granting one man one vote. The NDP formation was also short lived as the colonial government reacted brutally to the leadership of NDP by arrests and detention.
Throughout the history of colonial rule, according to Gann (1981;42) there was much civil unrest among the Zimbabweans. Prior to the revolution, they demanded change only within the limitations of the imperial constitution, calling for equal access to jobs and the right to participate in their government. But beginning in the 1960's, the nationalists' vision of freedom became more radical; they now demanded an overthrow of the minority rule if their rights were to be fully recognized. In 1960, the National Democratic Party (NDP) was founded with the goal of achieving African rule by gradual means. Its members demonstrated, rioted and committed acts of arson in hopes of attracting the attention of England and compelling the British to intervene and force a white hand-over of power in Rhodesia.
O’Meara (1975) elaborates that the colonial government under Sir Edgar Whitehead realized that African nationalist leaders were continuously forming new parties just in name but the leadership were the same, he arrested all NDP leadership. The UNP objective was to achieve independence through non violent practice and by use of constitutional means through elections but the colonial government never allowed African Black elite to be elected into government even by the ballot box. The 1961 Constitution had offered Africans fifteen seats in the sixty-five seat lower chamber Sylvester (1991) elaborates that Nkomo momentarily acquiesced on behalf of the NDP, riots over this quarter-loaf left fifteen NDP protesters dead.
The banning of the NDP marked the end of the period of protests in Rhodesia led to formation of a more vibrant political party ZAPU (Zimbabwe African People’s Union) in 1962 which was the beginning of the confrontational period 1964 to 1971 by African Nationalists. ZAPU was to become a very instrumental party in the independence struggle in Rhodesia. According to Stoneman and Cliffe (1989) ZAPU was formed under the same leadership of NDP and ANC the previous banned political institutions with the central position being occupied by Joshua Nkomo who had been in trade unions in Bulawayo included Takawira, Mugabe, J.Z Moyo, S. Parirenyatwa and Chitepo among another African elite Nationalists.
Objectives to attain independence of ZAPU changed from the previous banned political parties according to O’Meara (1975) ZAPU reached a conclusion the in order to gain independence or at least have a say in political, social and economic matters of the country the need to move into international forum and get support leading to intervention by the international community was crucial in leading to colonial government to surrender its rule to the Black majority. This objective was misleading to some extent as all Western countries by that period supported fully the Colonial government the Eastern countries were the only countries that were to support ZAPU. ZAPU continued with the practice of non-violence and was subsequently banned just 12months after its formation according to Stoneman and Cliffe (1989) 20 September 1962 ZAPU was banned and took its operations underground.
The major causes to the split of ZAPU into two political parties was caused by different ideological perspectives between the leadership however Stoneman and Cliffe (1989;19) suggests that the style of Nkomo’s leadership of personalized rule whereas outside it was eloquent popular demagogy and his willingness to accept compromise attracted criticism, and the eventual challenge to his position was perhaps the central issue that lead to the breakaway of several other leaders to form an alternative party, the Zimbabwe African National Union in 1963. According to O’Meara (1975) the Party suffered a major blow when Nkomo decided to that the executive of the party should operate in exile due to the Colonial states authorities targeting to party leadership to destroy its existence this did not go well with most of the executive members, when he himself moved out of the country. According Sylvester (1991) the argument of the split was that some executive members of ZAPU claimed that external executive could not properly lead a national struggle and that the ever-moderate Nkomo was more comfortable abroad that in confrontation with the Rhodesians.
Top executive members like Mugabe, Sithole, Chitepo and others broke away from ZAPU and formed another party ZANU (Zimbabwe African National Union) in 1963. When most of the Shona executive members opposed the ideological perspective of Nkomo to spearhead independence struggle in exile and their bid to overthrow Nkomo leadership according to O’Meara (1975) Nkomo reacted by dismissing them from the party as displinary action. The Shona speaking which comprises the majority took this as a tribal attack and then spearhead the split and become associated with the ZANU while the Ndebele remained in ZAPU as Nkomo was Ndebele. The Unilateral Declaration of independence (UDI) in 1965 from Britain according to Sylvester (1991) from Britain by the Rhodesian colonial government led by Ian Smith sparked the most determined oppressive governmental structures against the nationalist movements that led leaders of all nationalist movements to seek exile, ZANU was now established in Zambia and ZAPU in Tanzania all of the parties planned subversive operations directed against the colonial government.
The Zimbabwe African National Union its formation in 1963 with same ideology as ZAPU but differed in the sense that it was more in favour of an armed struggle which it saw as the necessity to force the settle government and international community to recognize them and mainly to fight for their own independence, as non violence and constitutionally enshrined struggle to attain independence was not foreseeable. ZANU was formed under the leadership of Ndangabini Sithole with Robert Mugabe as secretary general and other former members of ZAPU. From its formation ZANU employed militancy tactics on the colonial government, launching attacks on white farmers and property. The major challenge for ZANU was the continued arrests of its leadership and split according to Sylvester (1991) caused ZANU and ZAPU to fight for a year as frequently as they struggled against colonialism and subsequently ZANU was banned in 1964.
The banning of the two African Nationalist movements marked the advent of the armed struggle from 1964. During the period of 1964 and 1975 training of guerrillas from both ZAPU and ZANU was taking place. According to (http;//selousscouts.tripod.com/zapu and zanu.html) ZANU’s military wing known as Zimbabwe African Nationalist Liberation Army (ZANLA) was being trained in Ghana and Tanzania as they had gained independence by that period. Whilst ZAPU military wing was known as ZIPRA (Zimbabwe African People’ Revolutionary Army) training in countries as Russia, China, and North Korea. In the bid to contain Nationalist Movements actions by then labelled as terrorists, the Ian Smith regime recruited and trained a very capable army and special soldiers the Selous Scouts to strength the state security. One of the major challenges that ZANU and ZAPU encountered was in the recruitment process as costs of training was expensive and attainment of weapons as well as the Rhodesian intelligence’s quick response to determine any attacks launched by the nationalist movements against the Rhodesian government.
The armed struggle began in 1966 but in 1967 the first shoots were fired to mark the beginning of brutal guerrilla welfare in Sinoia now Chinhoyi in modern Zimbabwe. According to Sylvester (1991) guerrillas loyal to ZANU engaged Rhodesian troops at Sinoia in April 1967 and later that year a fierce fight happened in Hwange when the guerrilla forces of the joint ZAPU and ANC encountered the Rhodesian forces the fierce battle ended up Rhodesian forces withdrawing. However ZANU learnt from the mistake it made when it sent only seven guerrillas to trigger the armed struggle as Sylvester (1991) elaborates that all the ZANU guerrillas died in the barrage of gun fire by Rhodesian Forces helicopters. This meant ZANU and ZAPU military wings had to devise an appropriate strategy for dealing with an opposing army of superior technological force.
Sylvester (1991) postulates that from 1968 and 1972 there was little organized guerrilla fighting as training proceeded as the two parties paused to formulate a more decisive strategy for waging the armed struggle. As now the military wings were now getting more support from Russia, China and North Korea it helped them to find an appropriate strategy to forge ahead with the armed struggle. ZANU forged an alliance with the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique according to Sylvester (1991) in 1970 ZANLA the military wing of ZANU started using the Tete province as a gate way to a Maoist-style war in Eastern Zimbabwe. The independence of Zambia in the 1960s meant that ZANLA and ZIPRA forces had camps they could utilize in the neighbouring countries without much dependence on the international community.
While the civilians were the major source of food and information such contributions were very vital in inspiring and also keeping the freedom fighters going. The Smith regime according to Sylvester (1991) reacted by setting up protection camps to stop the civilians from supplying food, clothing and information (information was supplied by the Chibwidos; Children intelligence network).However the Nationalist Movements facing these challenges of the civilians being put in protection camps Sylvester (1991;49) elaborates that guerrillas held nightly pungwes (meetings) in rural areas to raise consciousness about oppression, particularly about land expropriation under the white government.
In 1970s the armed struggle in Zimbabwe intensified with most of the ZAPU-ZIPRA recruits came out of urban wage employment and had unusually high levels of educated as Sylvester (1991) postulates in contrasts with ZANLA’ s peasant dominated army. ZIPRA moved to a more classical guerrilla warfare in 1970s that in 1977 it embraced a more conventional war strategy this intensified the armed struggle more as ZANU was already militant in the eastern side of Zimbabwe. According to Sylvester (1991;50) the attack by ZANLA forces tipped the scales by successfully attacking a white farm in the northern eastern Zambezi valley near Centernary this led the Former head of Rhodesian intelligence latter write that “from a winning position between 1964 and 1972 Rhodesian Force were entering the stage of the ‘no-win war, which lasted from December 1972 to 1976; after that they were fighting a losing war”.
Calls for a united front between the ZANU and ZAPU leadership according to Sobel (1978;43) led to the formation of the Joint Political Council on March 1973 signed by Chitepo (leader of ZANU) and J.Z Moyo of ZAPU with representatives of Ghana, Cameroon, Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia in attendance. While there was more success on the battle field for the Zimbabwe nationalist movements the challenged that deterred the smooth running of the liberation struggle were disputes between the top nationalist leaders of ZANU and ZAPU so this was a major step to wage a united front against the Smith Regime.
However according to Sobel ( 1978;43) another challenge surfaced when they was a latter attempt to join the ANC under Muzorewa, ZAPU, ZANU and the Front for the Liberation of Zimbabwe (which was made up of ex ZANU and non ZAPU members) the attempt was did not work out due to the stubbornness of ZANU and ZAPU to align forces with small non-vibrant nationalist parties. These disputes continued even in the modern Zimbabwe after the attainment of independence that led to the brutal period of Gukurahundi in the 1980s when ZANU wanted to exterminate all ZAPU followers. From the 1974 to 1976 marked the period armed struggle and detente in Zimbabwe road to independence history.
Power struggles surfaced in 1974 in ZANU when the Prime Minister of South Africa John Voster called for all parties in the Rhodesian conflict and discuss a settlement. According Sylvester (1991;52) Ndabaningi Sithole had been dethroned as leader of ZANU in a prison coup by other imprisoned ZANU executives for denouncing violence during his trial had been replaced by the vibrant Robert Mugabe but the Front line states reinserted Sithole dismissing this onslaught. This led to the Lusaka agreement signed by Sithole creating a united nationalist front for purpose of the upcoming negotiation. Sylvester (1991) elaborates that later that year in 1975 field commanders from ZIPRA and ZANLA briefly co-operated to from the Zimbabwe People’s Army as way to conduct the war more effectively. The Smith regime noticing this had to spearhead peace talks with the African Nationalist as the struggle now intensified.
In 1976 according to (http;//English.emory.edu/Bahri/Zimb.html) the Patriotic Front was formed under Nkomo and Mugabe in the bid to unify ZANU and ZAPU efforts on the political front. It was in the bid to prevent the Smith Government and its nationalist turncoats allies such as Muzorewa as Sylvester (1991;52) postulates that the unification was to make independence deals that would not exclude them. The challenge the ZANU and ZAPU now faced according to Tarmarkin (1990;72) was the ANC leadership which somehow Smith was under the assumption was the key party to negotiate with and Muzorewa joining force with Smith to fight the Patriotic front.
This made negotiations more complex between the Rhodesian government and the Patriotic Front therefore another wave of violence erupted with a lot of assistance from Mozambique which had gain independence in 1975. And tension rose due to the suspected killing of Chitepo by the Rhodesian intelligence however it was short lived. In 1978 PF and the Rhodesian government signed the Lancaster House Agreement in London which was a cease fire agreement as well as agreement that provided the new independent Zimbabwe with a transitionary government till elections under an enshrined constitution drafted by both parties. April 18 1980 the Union Jack was pull down to resemble the new democratic Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwean flag was flown for the first time.
The Zimbabwe road to independence was brutal as the armed struggle led to many Zimbabweans being killed and displaced. Although the fundamental goal for the Liberation struggle national movements was to liberate Zimbabwe under the oppression of the Rhodesian government, power struggles and ideological differences surfaced and led to the split of ZAPU. This split however did not deter the struggle for independence as ZANU and ZAPU joined forces to fight the Rhodesian army. African support from the FLS and the international community support mainly the eastern bloc countries made the nationalist movements in Zimbabwe succeed in securing independence in 1980.
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