Great Zimbabwe Essay
The Republic of Zimbabwe is a country in East Africa, which is bordered by South Africa to the south, Botswana to the west, Zambia to the north, and Mozambique to the east ("Zimbabwe," n.d.). In this paper, the main goal is to show the situation in Zimbabwe, the person of Robert Mugabe, economic situation, political situation, and reasons why things became so dire in Zimbabwe.
Originally, the Khoisan-speaking people inhabited the territory of Zimbabwe. From the IX century AD, there was the evidence that Zimbabwe had a well-developed culture, which is considered to be the culture of Gokomer people, the ancestors of the Shona. They founded the empire of Monomotapa with the capital, which is now known as Great Zimbabwe. By the middle of the XV century, Monomotapa covered almost the whole territory of Zimbabwe and part of Mozambique. At that time, Portuguese arrived to the coast of the Indian Ocean, and after the collision with them, the empire collapsed. However, its debris in the form of the Karanga tribe states remained until the beginning of the XX century. By the XVII century, the Shona tribes partially reunited in the Rozvi Empire and managed to oust the Portuguese from the Zimbabwe plateau. The Rozvi Empire ceased to exist in the middle of the XIX century, when Ndebele tribes moved on the territory of present southwestern Zimbabwe in a result of the Zulus expansion. At the same time, gold deposits were discovered on the territory of Zimbabwe, and these lands became the zone of interests of the British Empire. In 1888, Cecil Rhodes signed a treaty that allowed Britain to intervene in the economy of Matabeleland (southwestern Zimbabwe, inhabited by people of the Ndebele). In 1899, British South African Company received the right to develop vast territories, including the current Zimbabwe and Zambia, known as the South and North Rhodesia. In 1895, the army entered Mashonaland (central and northern Zimbabwe), and it marked the beginning of colonization of these lands.
In 1896 – 1897, black population rebelled against British rule, but the rebellion known as the First Chimurenga faced a complete collapse because of the catastrophic technological gap. Therefore, in the XX century, white settlers started to inhabit the Southern Rhodesia. In 1922, the British South African Company ceased operating the Southern Rhodesia. In a referendum held mainly among white settlers, it was not included in the Union of South Africa and became a self-governing colony within the British Empire. After the Second World War and the beginning of the destruction of the colonial system, many newly independent countries in Africa have chosen the socialist path of development. Meanwhile, in South Africa (South Africa, Angola, Mozambique), power shifted exclusively to the white minority. To avoid both of these extremes, in 1953, there was organized the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, which included Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia, and Nyasaland (modern Malawi) with the status of the federal territory. However, 10 years later, in 1963, the Federation collapsed, when Zambia and Malawi have received the independence. White government of Southern Rhodesia also demanded independence, but London refused to give it, before the power of the country would be fully given to the black majority. In response, 11 November 1965, Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia, Ian Smith declared independence, which was not recognized by the United Kingdom. In 1970, Smith declared Rhodesia a republic, which was not also recognized internationally. The Smith government pursued the policy of segregation in Rhodesia. Instead of "racial" qualification in Southern Rhodesia was often used property qualifications; the parliament remained a presence of black deputies; there were mixed racial parts in the army. Therefore, Rhodesia was not conducted by the South African territorial segregation type. However, in fact, the country had the regime of racial discrimination. African National Liberation Army of Zimbabwe, under the leadership of Robert Mugabe, and the People's Revolutionary Army of Zimbabwe, under the leadership of Joshua Nkomo, led armed guerrilla struggle against the Rhodesian government. The armed struggle against the white minority government was called The Second Chimurenga.
Ian Smith, in order to avoid a full-scale civil war in 1978 began negotiations with the moderate black leaders. The country has received the name Zimbabwe-Rhodesia. In a result of the parliament elections, a black majority was formed for the first time, although the judiciary and army continued to be mostly white. In accordance with the Lancaster House Conferences decisions in December 12, 1979, the power in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia was loaned to the British Governor Lord Arthur Christopher John Soames, and guerrilla groups had to cease hostilities and were housed in special isolated camps. On the general elections in 1980, the radical wing of Zimbabwe African National Union under the leadership of Robert Mugabe bore the palm ("History," n.d.).
On April 18, 1980, Zimbabwe became independent from Great Britain. After that, Mugabe felt the unlimited power. Zimbabwe African People’s Union merged with Zimbabwe African National Union, and the one-party system appeared in Zimbabwe. In 1987, Mugabe changed the constitution and declared himself a president. Initially, he was successful: the level of living in Zimbabwe has grown, and life expectancy has increased. In 1992, Zimbabwe was struck by a severe drought, which led to the ruin of many farmers. The International Monetary Fund has developed a program to rebuild the country, but it only aggravated the situation. The position of the country on the world stage also became worse: the Soviet Union collapsed, the U.S. intensified, and China did not show the interest in Mugabe. The granting of asylum to former presidents of Ethiopia and Zaire did not gain in popularity. Mugabe's signature style of government has become campaigns against enemies. In 1991, he began his struggle with homosexuality as "unnatural" and "non-African" way. A lot of his political opponents have been charged with sodomy and were forced to flee. Then, came the turn of Ndebele people representatives. Historically, they had strained relations with the tribe of Mugabe's compatriots from Shona peoples. Many of them found refuge in South Africa, and that complicated the relationship between South Africa and Zimbabwe. In 1998, Mugabe amended the constitution to allow seize land from white farmers ("Zimbabwe profile," 2013). The President declared that white farmers were "enemies." In response, Britain imposed sanctions against Zimbabwe, and in 2002, the country's membership in the Commonwealth of Nations was suspended. The relations between Zimbabwe and the European Union, the United States and other Western countries were also spoiled. "The restoration of historical justice" was a disaster for Zimbabwe economy. One of the most developed countries in Africa in the 2000s became one of the world's poorest ones. White farmers knew how to deal with the land, and they gave jobs to hundreds of thousands of black farm laborers.
Nevertheless, the policies of Mugabe made 835 thousand farm workers lose their jobs. The collapse also affected the local industry. Zimbabwe curtailed production of beer, sugar and textiles. In 2002, Mugabe demanded 4 thousand white farmers to flee the country. In response, the European Union imposed sanctions on several hundred of Zimbabwean officials, and the International Monetary Fund suspended the financial aid to the country. Foreign investors took their money out of Zimbabwe. "My house is my gun! Zimbabwe will never be a colony", Mugabe loudly proclaimed (“History,” n.d.). However, the country rolled into the abyss. Mugabe won the 2002 elections, but the international community had doubts about his victory. The President said that the opinion of the former colonizers did not interest him and announced that all foreign companies should be controlled by black people. Just for a few more years, the unemployment has reached 85 per cent. Three million people, mainly blacks, fled from the country. Staging a campaign against slums, Mugabe left 200 thousand without homes. In 2007-2008, the word "Zimbabwe" has become synonymous with the hyperinflation. The U.S. dollar was equal to 25 million Zimbabwean dollars. Inflation reached 231 million percent, which is the absolute world record. The external debt reached 150 per cent of Gross Domestic Product. The only solution was to withdraw local currency from circulation when there was introduced a 100 trillion dollar banknote. In 2008, presidential elections in Zimbabwe turned into acute political crisis. Mugabe declared himself a president again, and the Western-backed opposition in turn declared Morgan Tsvangirai. Zimbabwe was on the verge of civil war, and only through the mediation of South Africa it became possible to negotiate. Mugabe retained the presidency, and Tsvangirai became a prime-minister.
Faithful fighter against colonialism, Mugabe genuinely wanted to restore justice. The British and the white farmers also did not establish the best policy. However, the policies of Mugabe put Zimbabwe to the brink of total disaster. An example of his reign once again proves that it is extremely difficult to build something good with the help of political revenge. Today, it is hard to envy the status of Zimbabwe.