Tag Archives: ZANU-PF

The Diamond Deal: ZANU-PF & DeBeers

Since 1980, ZANU-PF has managed a country rife with poverty.

Land is regarded as a chance at prosperity. Mugabe has long-promised land to the rural poor as part of his political platform. In 1998, he allowed for the hostile takeover of thousands of smallholder white-owned farms by ‘war veterans’ and squatters. This was in response to physical threats against him and the regime by a large mob which demanded land and recompense for their service to the party and the revolution. A payout of $222 million dollars was granted, but the President declared his hands tied on the subject of land.

Curiously, the largest white-owned plots, such as the Oppenheimer Estate—often referred to as “the size of Belgium” and owned by DeBeers heirs—received state protection. (BBC News, 2001) In the course of political navigation, President Mugabe allowed the Oppenheimers and Anglo American, (the parent company of DeBeers) to keep its properties in 2002. The mining conglomerate, operated out of South Africa, manages a complete monopoly on the global diamond trade.

The Oppenheimer’s also own large tracts of land that aren’t mined, and like their family estate in Zimbabwe, they negotiated to have their land ‘protected’ as nature preserves, where they offer safaris and game hunting to Western tourists. But for all purposes, they control the land they claim to conserve only because they are diamond rich, and it is in this manner, the Oppenheimers, DeBeers, and Anglo American control the supply and price of diamonds on the global market.


Nicky Oppenheimer

The landholding is the result of buying out competition which could potentially introduce their diamonds into the global market. The myth of diamonds as ‘rare’ is DeBeers created, and it is well understood that there are alluvial diamond fields throughout southern Africa, and anywhere there is dormant volcanoes and superheated carbon. However, flooding the market would depress their bottom line. (Reynolds, 1994)

With the find of the Marange diamond fields in eastern Zimbabwe, Mugabe has found a means of leverage against Anglo American. If Zimbabwe were to nationalize their diamond industry, in a manner similar to neighboring Botswana, it could lead to revenue for the country, theoretically, to apply to public education, infrastructure, and health. Given the abundance of diamonds in the Zimbabwean soil, this action would depress the value of Anglo American’s diamonds.

ZANU-PF supervised “diamond rushes” in the region where hundreds of panners dig in competition, selling their finds to the government, before those methods received international sanction.  More recently, ZANU-PF has also contracted Chinese companies for more professional digs. To avoid sanctions and the label of “black market” or “blood diamonds,” the Zimbabwean diamond effort is forced to negotiate within a framework of trade controlled by DeBeers.

Since the beginning of “legal” Zimbabwean diamonds, ZANU-PF has managed this “Kimberly Process” under the eye of Obert Mpofu. From the Matabeleland region, a place where most supported the ZAPU party at independence, Mpofu changed his support to ZANU-PF in the 1980s. He entered politics, eventually being appointed Governor of Matabeleland by Mugabe in 2000.  Mpofu acquired transport and safari tour companies—facing accusations of smuggling and unsanctioned digging—and then land and banks, creating himself a diamond trade path similar to the origins of DeBeers, over a hundred years earlier.


Obert Mpofu “The King of Matabeleland”

Since acquiring his position, Mpofu has himself become rich, investing in land. In western Zimbabwe, his holdings come second only to the Oppenheimer family, making him easily one of the top five landowners in the country. “Like many of his ZANU brethren…” Partnership Africa Canada notes “Mpofu built much of his wealth through “vulture capitalism”—a money for nothing appropriation of profitable businesses and/or assets that are later “legitimized” through normal business activity.” (Taylor, 2012)

Could this be a ploy of ZANU-PF to settle the land matter, by purchasing it with illegal diamond profits? It looks to be one man’s attempt at patronage, power, and riches. Mpofu is often described as owning half of Matabeleland , referring to himself as the “King of Matabeleland.” In addition to his land holdings, he is said to have the largest cattle herd in the country, and a “patronage network unparalleled by any of his political peers.” His wealth and ego began to intensify after the international sanctions on Zimbabwean diamonds were removed. He was appointed Minister of the Mines in 2009.

As guardian of the Marange diamond fields, Mpofu’s new wealth has been viewed with suspicion, as revenues to the state consistently fall short of projection, profoundly impacting national budget planning. Revenue transparency is practically non-existent in regards to this national resource. Missing money means breaks in that “breaks in that country’s internal controls, including the reality that there is an illegal, parallel trade underway.” (Taylor, 2012)

anglo-american-191b4a9fbb36c026f80c84dcbe81837bZANU-PF was allowed to reenter the global diamond market because they developed a Kimberly/DeBeers approved program to sell their diamonds.

However, this process does not protect against shrinkage and ‘shortfall’. ZANU-PF has also accumulated massive amounts of surplus, strong-arming the diamond industry into negotiations and contractual favors, as well as bribes.

The Oppenheimers maintain their millions of acres around southern Africa, a legacy of the family’s history in the global diamond empire. Mugabe remains President of Zimbabwe, and Mpofu, the King of Matabeleland.

A status quo. “There is a process of discussion between Nicky Oppenheimer and the Zimbabwean government,” according to an Oppenheimer family spokesman. “We don’t believe the seizure of land is imminent or on the agenda.” (Taylor, 2012) If confiscation were on the agenda, it would be high ranking ZANU-PF biting the hand that feeds them. It remains to be seen if Mugabe’s rhetoric will remain racialized, blaming the white farmer, when in fact, the issue lies with the multinational.

As a need for land exists, much of it goes fallow, and the farmworker unemployed. Coercion and violence by the gang-like organization managing the country has ruined the nation, as ZANU & DeBeers profit on a racist half-true fiction: the mythical land issue. 


BBC News. (2001, November 9). Zimbabwe clash with oppenheimer dynasty. BBC News. Retrieved from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/1646977.stm

Chenault, K. (1998, February 15). A move to grab white owned land..may land mugabe in deep trouble. Bloomberg Businessweek, Retrieved from http://www.businessweek.com/stories/1998-02-15/a-move-to-grab-white-owned-land-dot-dot-dot-may-land-mugabe-in-deep-trouble-intl-edition

Reynolds, B. (Producer) (1994). The diamond empire [Television series episode]. In PBS Frontline. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s4c1p_DMkIw

Martin, Alan and Bernard Taylor. (2012, November). Reap What You Sow: Greed and Corruption in Zimbabwe’s Marange Diamond Fields. Partnership Africa Canada. Retrieved from http://www.swradioafrica.com/Documents/Reap%20What%20Sow%20a.pdf

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Zim Democracy: A Long Way To Go

People queue to vote in Harare March 16, 2013. Image by: PHILIMON BULAWAYO / REUTERS

In the many attempts to define “democracy,” a simple one, devised by economist Joseph Schumpeter suggested that it be encompass a system where voters first elect their representatives and the representatives themselves would choose what they think the best policy is.  Voters are free to decide on their representatives and they can be demanding. If parties fail to deliver they would lose votes on the next elections.

In the case of Zimbabwe, choice in representation is quite limited, as the ZANU-PF regime uses intimidation and violence to prevent candidates from the electoral process.  For those brave enough to participate, even winning an election does not guarantee your ascendency to office or protection from “War Veterans” whose loyalty to the regime has been secured through many years and promises of gifts, land and political office.

Zimbabwe and its government, gaining majority rule in 1980, styles itself as a parliamentary democracy, when in actuality, it is a one party dictatorship.  Robert Mugabe, head of government since independence (also President since 1987), has controlled policy in the country singlehandedly for almost 30 years under the “Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front” banner or ZANU-PF, There are claims that his ZANU-PF party has rigged elections in his favor using voter intimidation and violence.  Mugabe’s domestic policies, namely his land reform initiatives, which have displaced revenue generating white farmers, are blamed for the food shortages and runaway inflation of the Zim Dollar.  Zimbabwe is effectively a one-party system, and all other parties besides ZANU-PF hold very little popular or political sway.

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) led by Morgan Tsvangirai is an opposition party that has faced persecution at the hands of Mugabe’s forces.  Tsvangirai won the 2008 presidential election outright, but a run-off election was called, as the results were not recognized by Mugabe. Intimidation against MDC supporters caused Tsvangirai to back out of the run-off race, but showing in the polls prompted him to return from exile to contest the election and Mugabe would eventually be forced to submit to a coalition government.  Mugabe is accused of stacking minister posts in his favor, retaining key cabinet positions. In some respect, Mugabe is, in a twisted way, displaying Schumpeter’s competitive structure of democracy in the gifting of political appointments, land and other arrangements to loyal supporters (for long term retention of power).

A major issue, outside of a fair and safe electoral process, is the number of women in elected positions.  Netsai Mushonga, who coordinates the national Women’s Coalition, described it as “scandalous.” Women, who make up 52 per cent of the population, hold few influential positions in Zimbabwe’s patriarchal society. Currently only seven of the 40 members of the federal cabinet are women. Of the 69 ministers, 12 are women; well under 20 percent representation.  Zimbabwe now has its first female Vice President (and one of the few in Africa) and the government has made small efforts to enhance the status of women by placing them in some key posts in politics and business. However, the power structure in itself appears invalid, due to token adherence a Southern African Development Community (SADC) protocol on gender and development, a joint agreement mandating that women should hold equal positions to men in both public and private sectors by 2015.         Prompting one activist to say: “This government is not a product of the will of the people, but SADC’s.”

Due to the crises that affect the country and the political repression that has occurred in its wake, there is hope and opportunity for more women in political positions in Zimbabwe.  Many strong female leaders have emerged.  Included among them are Jenni Williams and Jestina Mukoko, who have been victims of political imprisonment and torture for challenging Mugabe’s regime.  They are vocal activists of human rights in Zimbabwe, and are widely popular.  The fact that these new leaders are coming forward and being developed (albeit, “trial-by-fire”), bodes well as the country is preparing for new leadership, and possibly, parity between the sexes, post-Mugabe.

“Top-down” changes in male-dominated politics have occurred, beginning with Mujuru being named Vice President in 2005.  In light of the Zimbabwe’s economic crisis and current political crossroads, the former Minister of Women’s Affairs called “for zero tolerance to violence against women and girls,” adding, “violence has negative socio-economic implications. Violence is unacceptable as it dehumanizes the victim and the offender. It’s a sign of weakness.” She was criticized however for avoiding the subject of “Jestina Mukoko and other women such as Concilia Chinanzvavana, who were…abused in prison by the Mugabe regime. Mukoko, who chronicled state sponsored human rights abuses, was beaten and tortured for three months, and her detainment became “one of the most prominent examples of…Mugabe’s refusal to restore human rights in Zimbabwe.” Oftentimes challenged as for being a puppet of the Mugabe/ZANU-PF government (which does include women in its MP positions) Vice President Mujuru is in danger of being ousted due to political infighting.

Having been in office since the new government, elected in 1980 at age 25, Vice President Mujuru claims that “confidence is the reason most women not to seek political office,” fearful of entering a realm long dominated by men. The words ‘she’ and ‘her’ appear nowhere” in the Constitution, which makes no provisions for gender parity in representation; a matter which Jenni Williams hopes to address in constitutional reforms. Luta Shaba, director of the Women’s Trust, “Women want a new constitution that abolishes the first-past-the-post electoral system to enshrine proportional representation…Only through proportional representation can women, together with other previously marginalized groups, rise.”

There is discontent, still, after the recent power-sharing deal in Zimbabwe.  Jenni Williams, the head of Women of Zimbabwe Arise, believes that “nothing will ever come out of this deal until women are included.”  People like Luta Shaba, director of the Women’s Trust, contend that “only through proportional representation can women, together with other previously marginalized groups, rise.”  Rutendo Hadebe, deputy chairperson of The Women’s Coalition, believe that “the coalition will take advantage of the constitutional reform process to lobby for progressive provisions that will empower women and “close a past of inequality.””  There is cynicism, however, that the challenges of tradition could stand in the way.  Gladys Hlatswayo, of Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, says “We have heard these nice words before but, without political will, they do not mean anything…the power relations are uneven and reflect the power struggles of the general Zimbabwean society.” Williams feels that an even stronger female presence is needed in government to insure “that gender equality is clearly spelt out in the constitution. However, it must not only be gender equity, but also social justice.”


Mr. Mugabe blames his country’s crisis on sanctions imposed by the US and the EU, but the global consensus puts the blame on continuance of bad policy. Agriculture has collapsed since the embarked upon “land reforms” involving the expropriation of thousands of white-owned farms, which critics say he has handed over to his associates. Short-term, the economic situation looks grim, and the inflation rate in the hundred-million per cents. Less than two weeks after the power-sharing agreement, ZANU-PF, restarted their requisitioning of white-owned farms with little regard to an SADC ruling which regarded the “seizing white-owned property for redistribution to landless black farmers was discriminatory and illegal.” Barring drastic change, the 400 white owned farms face further troubles, but there is excitement that with new Prime Minister, and farmer Catherine Meridith, whose property has fallen under the target of ZANU-PF “War Veterans,” is optimistic, saying “I’m 100% confident that in five years’ time, I’ll still be living on this farm.”  Mugabe’s land reform and domestic policy have bankrupted a once prosperous nation. Zimbabwe, once the bread basket of half a continent, is facing acute food shortages and currently experiencing a drought, as well as regular cholera outbreaks.

Though having recently celebrated his 88th birthday, Mugabe remains firmly entrenched.  The global aim with the sanctions, media coverage, and international indignation, is that Mugabe will eventually be “shunned” from power.  Douglas Alexander, UK International Development Secretary, called Mugabe’s presence at a UN Food Summit meeting “obscene,” saying “I’m outraged by his attendance.”  He calls labels Mugabe’s “profound misrule” as the key factor responsible for the crisis, adding “I’ll neither shake hands with Robert Mugabe nor meet Robert Mugabe … This is not a man with any credibility or any contribution to a discussion on international food.” Currently, Mugabe is banned from European travel; his status as a respected African “leader” by Western leaders is more than twenty years in the past.  Every day he sits in power, his painfully short-sighted, incredulous policies and irreverent ramblings deprive the country of the real leader it needs. Instead of constructively addressing the issues at hand, (Mugabe) wastes his words placing blame on others, which is parroted through the ZANU-PF hierarchy, mostly with accusations against MDC, saying “Some people are contriving ways and means of making us collapse.”

When “the people who fled the violence have to face their perpetrators to cast their ballot,” you most assuredly do not have a safe and secure electoral process.  The documentary “A Ballot of Thorns” covered the violence and voter intimidation in the 2008 Zimbabwean Presidential election and its aftermath. The film starts with coverage of a MDC rally, which is broken up by armed ZANU-PF youth, characterizing the longstanding lack freedom in political choice.  ZANU-PF gangs beat and killed MDC supporters, and burned crops and homes in what became a “rural war-zone.” Tsvangirai called out the regime, saying that “Mugabe and his wife have been shedding cold tears by visiting MDC victims of political violence when his militia men are, in fact, the authors and perpetrators of the massacres.”  Yet Mugabe has been able to effectively spin that matter with the state media, broadcasting funerals of ZANU-PF members (who were victims of infighting) and purporting their killers to be MDC. Violence intensified as the election neared, with entire MDC families being targeted.  The film covers the impoundment of Tsvangirai’s campaign vehicles, and where he proclaims “It is nothing but harassment…When the leading contender is denied the opportunity to convey!”

The process needs to be fair, and under ZANU-PF state control, that will never occur.  Before the 2000 election, the late Vice-President, Simon Muzenda, told the nation that “if ZANU-PF chose to nominate a baboon as candidate, then the people would have to vote for that baboon.”  The international community and SADC, regarding the 2008 election stated that the Elections “…did not conform to SADC Principles and Guidelines. However, the Election Day was peaceful. Based on the above-mentioned observations, the Mission is of the view that the prevailing environment impinged on the credibility of the electoral process. The elections did not represent the will of the people of Zimbabwe.” The SADC still declared the elections legitimately “free and fair,” forcing Mugabe into a power-sharing agreement, in which ZANU-PF and MDC would be forced into a compromise government, with Tsvangirai as a newly created “Prime Minister.”  However, this compromise was itself compromised by intimidation leading MDC to govern mostly in exile. 

Possibilities in achieving a democratic transition in the country comes from finding a way to hold actual free and fair elections under a neutral and independent electoral administration, according to the group Zimbabwe Democracy Now, which calls for widespread reform from the safety of the internet. They consider that “SADC as architect of the power-sharing agreement is directly responsible for resolving this potentially unstable situation.”  The group cites the numerous electoral failings of 2008 electoral process and offers a host of proposed reforms, suggesting that SADC “immediately take steps to enforce, as guaranteed, Zimbabwe’s transition to good governance and genuine democracy.” A new series of checks and balances and a showing of the “the political will of the African Union, of SADC and of the Republic of South Africa as guarantors” who “recognize that the misrule in Zimbabwe has already impacted negatively on the region, and threatens to cause further disruptions.” It is the SADC’s responsibility to “ultimately bring about the dreamed-of African Renaissance.”

Dictators can’t live forever, and there is hope for Zimbabwe in the passage of time. If not deposed, Mugabe will eventually die, and even if another dictator steps up and takes his place, in the long term, Zimbabwe has the resources and infrastructure (albeit, crumbling) for a successful transition to a functional democracy.  A report from the Harvard University Africa Policy Journal states that “the southern African country is in a perilous state of decline and could face a transition at any time. Waiting until the day after the fall of [president] Robert Mugabe could be too late.” The report predicts that “In political democracies, prolonged economic decline almost always sparks political change, through the ballot box or more radical confrontation on the streets.”

It is hoped that Zimbabwe can eventually make the peaceful transition into a legitimate democracy.  The country can only do so with fair representation in governance, including diaspora, whites and women.  While enticing individuals back to Zimbabwe may be far away, the work of NGOs could assist supporting women’s economic independence. Programs that ‘enable’ are necessary for the furtherance of women’s rights and economic growth in Africa and grow the pool of talented women leaders.  Activism such as that of Jestina Mukoko and other women’s rights organizations can, in turn, build upon that. Continued awareness will address the crisis of inequality by informing the world of these discriminatory practices. Ultimately, calls for equal gender representation, like in Zimbabwe, will one day, have women changing these laws for themselves. The empowerment of women in Africa could one day bring equality, both to a traditionally male dominated power structure & democracy in its governance.


Video: “A Ballot of Thorns.” Journeyman Pictures, 2009

Mpofu, Thulani. “Zimbabwe’s Women Feel Left Out of Power Deal.”  The National. http://www.thenational.ae/article/20090312/FOREIGN/394930035/-1/NEWS

The Zimbabwean.  “Women Join Hands to Fight Violence.”  http://www.thezimbabwean.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=19927&Itemid=109

Celia W. Dugger. “Zimbabwe Activist Released, In Victory For Opposition.” New York Times.  http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/03/world/africa/03zimbabwe.html?_r=1&ref=world

Kwidini, Tonderai. “Now To Share Power With Women.” Resource Centre for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. http://www.galdu.org/web/index.php?odas=3272&giella1=eng

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Graft, T-shirts and the Promise of Land

Land has long been the issue for the disposed average Zimbabwean. During British colonialism, whites controlled the land, converting the finest soils into plantations of cash crop, grown for export. Blacks were left with nothing but the equivalent of ethnic ‘reservations’. The land issue was the impetus for a violent revolution against what was then called Rhodesia, white controlled, and newly independent of Britain. (Schleicher, 2004) Racism from whites was and is currently less, an ingrained feature in sub-Saharan Africa, and that was met with anger and envy by much the landless poor. President Robert Mugabe is a man that promised land to millions of people. His mission for a controlled land redistribution program has fell short in its goals by legal measures, which often get excused for lack of Western “funding.”

In the race prior to the 2013 Elections, the party was the recipient of ‘foreign aid’ from China that consisted of promotional campaign material. President Mugabe described China as “Zimbabwe’s all-weather friend,” making the claim that “we have many friends from the East.” It is curious if by ‘we’ he was speaking of Zimbabwe or himself, as Mugabe is accepting the gift of “over one million T-shirts…and other campaign materials to the ZANU-PF party to aid in their election efforts.  According to news outlet Bulawayo 24, the donation “comes a few days after Mugabe promised party supporters…in Harare that he would get cars and cash from China to bankroll the party’s campaigns.” (“China donates more,” 2013) The Chinese did not supply MDC-T similarly, and, if judged by international standards, Mugabe would be clearly in violation of campaign fundraising ethics or, tangentially, attempted voter intimidation. Mugabe has long been known to outfit his supporters, on this occasion in prominent yellow and green. An in-demand look, the giveaways of the campaign gear was not without violence between supporters (“Zanu pf t-shirts,” 2013), but also, the marker clothing has led to street clashes between supporters, the ZANU-PF affiliated Chipangano youth gang and the opposition MDC-T supporters, politicians, and activists.

The party has long unofficially supported the Chipangano group, which functions as a youth cadre and violent, street-level support apparatus. The group/gang funds itself by extorting the commuter bus drivers in the capital of Harare, charging a fee to depart the bus stations. “In a day, the militia is said to be raking over $30 000,” and the bus Operators Association are attempting to bring their grievance to the government in early 2012. ZANU-PF Secretary Didymus Mutasa “told them that the former ruling party was not running the extortion ring, and told them the party (referring to ZANU-PF) made its money from selling membership cards not from bus termini.” However, the Chipangano ARE extorting and fund themselves from bus termini, whether it’s a top down directive or otherwise, and for the most part they continue to get away with it, while claiming their effort is at the behest of the party and support of Mugabe’s reforms. Receiving little support for their case from politicians, the Operators approached the police, to bring in the Jimmy Kunaka, the chief organizer of the Chipangano, and certain drivers alleged to be part of the ring. Kunaka and his associates called the charges “fabricated” and claimed that he had “protected the minibuses” and that “they should be thanking me,” adding that the group “deserved to be paid for loading the minibuses, but denied that he was the recipient of the cash.” Kunaka claims that he’s a provincial chairman within the party, as if it would absolve him of any criticism. And requisitely, he deflects, telling the Daily News that “these allegations are being made by agents of the MDC who are trying to tarnish my image. I will not lose focus.” (“Zanu pf terror,” 2012)

Being a culture of corruption, the party has resorted to making offers of appeasement to the opposition. Reportedly, from the state controlled newspaper ZimEye, “Thousands of dollars have been received by MDC-T officials behind closed doors.” The news was likely an attempt to damage the reputation of their political opponents, this time spinning a claim that is usually leveled against ZANU-PF.  The report suggests that Solomon Madzore, his wife, and his elder brother Paul received farm lands from the Indigenisation Office via a former ZANU-PF minister. It has been denied as “rubbish” by the MDC-T Youth leader that the claims were brought against. The Anonymous author which presented the charge states that “other unnamed MDC-T officials were rumoured to have received more money although the finer details could not be fully established at the time of writing” and that “the state media has compiled another list of MDC officials reported to have approached government for lands.” (“Tsvangirai-officials receive farms,” 2013) Whether the claim is factual or turns out to be fraudulent, the purchasing of political submission and the promise of a plot of land has long been an example of how ZANU-PF consolidates its support.

While there are beneficiaries of the Mugabe/ZANU-PF regime, outsiders, political opposition, and the apolitical Zimbabwean at-large suffer physically under their management. There has been incidences of beatings and rape by groups, who purport themselves to be acting on behalf of ZANU-PF. Once incident describes how three unidentified gunmen burst into a family home demanding ZANU-PF membership cards. When their young daughter couldn’t present one, the gunmen left with her, in order to “check some issues” because “she doesn’t have a ZANU-PF card.” She was taken to the bushland 10 miles away, chained to a tree, and raped repeatedly over the course of days before escaping and crossing the border into South Africa.  The incident happened in 2003 when the MDC-T first began challenging the Mugabe government, and the victim, now in the UK, is bringing her case to broader international attention. (Bulawayo 24, 2013) Another series of incidents, representative of almost every election in Zimbabwe since Independence, occurred in 2013 when youths near Chigovanyika went “door to door writing names of all MDC-T activists and threatening to ‘deal’ with them.”  They did this driving around in the ZANU-PF candidate’s car, in ZANU-PF regalia, attacking anyone representing another political party or dissident opinion. Activists received no sympathies from the local police inspector who is a ZANU-PF sympathizer. Also common is forcibly ordering people to vote for Mugabe. (Karimakwenda, 2012) While the President may not personally be one the “vicious animals” who perpetrated these offenses, they were carried out in support of him and the party—not the people—he leads. (“Zanu pf youths,” 2013)

According to Mugabe, the issue of land reform was the “last colonial question.” He has also stated his intention to “to settle it once and for all.” Thus far, it has been by violent confrontation and confiscation of white-owned farms by former “war veterans,” ZANU-PF party members, or other Mugabe loyalists.  “Possession of a ZANU-PF card (means) that one will access socioeconomic resources easier, and most importantly, one would not be persecuted by state and non-state actors.” This members-only club of Zimbabwe’s governance has only served to foster a culture of intimidation and corruption.


Works Referenced

Schleicher, A. (2004, April 12). Zimbabwe’s land program. PBS Online NewsHour. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/africa/land/gp_zimbabwe.html

Zanu pf youths victimise mdc t supporters. (2013, August 16).Votewatch 263. Retrieved from http://votewatch263.org/reports/view/1028

Woman ‘gang-raped’ for not being a zanu-pf card holder. (2013, October 12). Bulawayo24 News. Retrieved from http://bulawayo24.com/index-id-news-sc-international-byo-37315.html

Zanu pf terror gang cornered. (2012, September 1).Nehanda Radio. Retrieved from http://nehandaradio.com/2012/09/01/zanu-pf-terror-gang-cornered/

Karimakwenda, T. (2012, April 13). Violent chipangano gang campaigning for zanu pf. SW Africa Radio. Retrieved from http://www.swradioafrica.com/2012/04/13/violent-chipangano-gang-campaigning-for-zanu-pf/

China donates more than a million t-shirts to zanu-pf. (2013, July 8). Bulawayo24 News. Retrieved from http://bulawayo24.com/index-id-news-sc-national-byo-32797.html

Tsvangirai-officials receive farms & cash from zanu pf. (2013, October 16). Zim Eye. Retrieved from http://www.zimeye.org/?p=91843

Zanu pf t-shirts scramble victim named. (2013, July 17).New Zimbabwe. Retrieved from http://www.newzimbabwe.com/news-11739-Zanu PF t-shirts scramble victim named/news.aspx

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“Armed Struggle” and the “War Veteran”

via: http://www.solidaritypeacetrust.org/1063/the-role-of-war-veterans/

via: http://www.solidaritypeacetrust.org/1063/the-role-of-war-veterans/

While the majority of east, west, and northern Africa attained their independence by the ballot during the early 1960s, the countries of southern Africa were forced to armed struggle to gain majority representation. Zimbabwe (then, Rhodesia) was one of the last on the continent to do so. Being a ‘settler-colony’, the white-managed Ian Smith regime sought to keep the country under permanent white rule. They declared Rhodesia independent from the United Kingdom, who at the time, were granting self-rule to their other colonial holdings. Smith refused to allow wider ballot access, believing that the masses of people, black or white, were not all competent enough to vote. Political parties such as ZANU and ZAPU were formed, though they were quickly banned and their leaders imprisoned. Holding on to his principle of a ‘qualified vote’, Smith forced black Zimbabweans to radicalize, in order to obtain political equality.

Matebele, followers of ZAPU (ZIPRA) and Shona followers of ZANU (ZANLA) took up arms under militant wings of the political parties. They conducted guerilla warfare from the bush, hiding and training across the border in neighboring countries that had already obtained their independence. The widest population in the country, by in large supported the ZANU effort led by Mugabe, who advocated a form of socialism via armed struggle. [1] This would bring independence by 1980, but not before all manner of atrocities were committed on all sides, including plane bombings of Air Rhodesia and the mass murder of Matebele ZAPU supporters by ZANU militants shortly after. Throughout the past 30 years, Mugabe and the ZANU-PF party line have attested that it was the war veterans’ effort which has brought the country’s freedom and independence. The war veterans are seen by the people as liberating Zimbabwe from white colonial rule and providing the hope of land and self-determination to the Zimbabwean people.

Since independence, ZANU-PF has made attempts to honor its war veterans with payouts and monthly pensions, a ceremonial burial ground, and the promise of land. The myth of the ‘liberating war veteran’ (and capitulating to them) is the source of Mugabe’s power, as well as his and Zimbabwe’s primary weakness. In 1997, war veterans numbering in the thousands demonstrated and rioted before confronting Mugabe personally, with the demand of higher pensions and farm land. That November, the increased pensions were granted, and the Finance ministry printed millions of dollars to accommodate the unbudgeted spending. The payments devalued the Zim Dollar by ½ in one day, with analysts labeling it ‘Black Friday’. Mugabe, unable to offer land legally, but to a few through his patronage system, told the war veterans that they would still have to fight to claim land of their own.  This led to reign of terror by many war vets against white farmers, and the first stage of the collapse of the Zimbabwean economy. [2]

While the image of the War Vets became tarnished internationally for their tactics, and detrimental effect on the economy, their reputation still carries much weight in the mainstream (state-controlled) Zimbabwean news outlets and with the average ZANU-PF supporter. The war veterans are covered with kid-gloves, despite their exacerbation of Zimbabwe’s ruination and their role as ZANU-PF political enforcers, prior to elections. Stories of the government’s failure to implement their demands dominate the Zim press, and since the initial payouts, War Vets are still demanding between 21% and 30% of seats in Parliament and ministry to cater specifically to their needs. In 2012, they sought retroactive pay of $18,000 (US), which they claim was an unfulfilled promise of the 1997 agreement. While they rightly deserve a ministry to address their issues, and representation within government, they have done so by, literally, holding Mugabe and the white farmers who still remain hostage to their demands.[3]

The pension demand has increased to $20,000 individually, nearly $1 billion in concessions, and has now come to include a share in the new Zimbabwean diamond trade. [4] The Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA), headed by the Jabulani Sibanda and the Joseph Chinotimba, both well-known commanders of farm invasions, denounce any change in tactic, as well as any attempt at reorganization. It is speculated that during the initial dole, ZNLWVA leaders raided the funds of the veterans account. “Those who are calling for either a new body or association are sick in the head. There is not going to be any other organisation because there is only one organisation that represents all the war veterans – that is the ZNLWVA,” declared the self-described ZANU-PF loyalist Chinotimba. A strategy employed by the veterans now includes weak attempts at accessing the diamond revenue to “cure cancer” and demands for the needs of the children of veterans. Since the 2013 election Chinotimba has received a ministry position in the Zimbabwe parliament, advocating these positions.[5]

Other superficial attempts from the ZANU-PF government to keep the favor of the War Vets, outside of regular tales of graft and corruption, include the ceremonial ‘Heroes’ Day’. “The memory of the anti-colonial war as the revolutionary founding event is conveyed and sustained most powerfully in ceremonies held on Heroes Day, and re-presented at the state funeral of each newly proclaimed hero.” Heroes’ Acre has been the home of such ceremonies, which occur with greater frequency with time. The memorial complex was built on land which was originally intended for a new Rhodesian Parliament House. It contains murals depicting the history of the anti-colonial struggle from 1960 to 1980, and as “a place of pilgrimage, designed to arouse national consciousness, forge national unity and identity.” It is regularly featured in the media during frequent state burials. It is also often mentioned for the lack of progress towards a planned museum at the site, and misappropriated funds to that end.[6]

Heroes’ Acre, as presented by Mugabe and other loyalists is intended to be a national monument which tells the Zimbabwean independence story. The monument doesn’t address what has become of the country post-independence, and it is near impossible to tell whether this country was liberated by the War Vets or terrorized by them. As with the countries land issue, the dole has not been equitable, and has rested on ethnic lines and political loyalty. Cars, cash, contracts, and cabinet positions come as a result of services rendered to Mugabe and ZANU-PF. To those who disagree with the party rhetoric, the monument is an example of the corruption of their ethics to the detriment of their country; a regularly looted investment coffer, pillaged by those entrusted to keep it, and a symbol with the purported claim of unity, regularly denounced for its disunity.



[1] Mhanda, W. ‘The Role of War Veterans in Zimbabwe’s Political and Economic Processes’. 13 May, 2011. Solidarity Peace Trust

2 Ibid.

3 “War vets demands outrageous.”.News Day. 20 February, 2013.

4 Zvauya, C. $1 billion for war veterans in Zimbabwe. Nehanda Radio. 19 February, 2013.

5 Manyukwe, C. What to make of Joseph Chinotimba. Nehanda Radio. 31 October, 2013.

6 Fisher, J. L. Pioneers, settlers, aliens, exiles the decolonisation of white identity in Zimbabwe. Canberra, 2010.

[1] Mhanda, W. ‘The Role of War Veterans in Zimbabwe’s Political and Economic Processes’, 13 May, 2011. Solidarity Peace Trust

[2] Ibid.

[3] “War vets demands outrageous.”.News Day. 20 February, 2013.

[4] Zvauya, C. $1 billion for war veterans in Zimbabwe. Nehanda Radio. 19 February, 2013.

[5] Manyukwe, C. What to make of Joseph Chinotimba. Nehanda Radio. 31 October, 2013.

[6] Fisher, J. L. Pioneers, settlers, aliens, exiles the decolonisation of white identity in Zimbabwe. Canberra, 2010.

Daniel Ernest Malo – Undergraduate, University of Connecticut; Social Sciences ‘14

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