Timeline: Key Events in Zimbabwe’s 40 Year History 1980 – 2020

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A summarised history of Zimbabwe post colonialism, from 1980–2020 giving some context of why the country is where it is today and what lessons other countries can learn from this.

1980

ZANU wins independence elections. Mugabe takes office as prime minister. Canaan Banana becomes president until 1987. Formation of Southern African Development Coordination Conference. 18 April declared a public holiday celebrating the Independence of Zimbabwe from Rhodesia. Bob Marley performed at the inaugural celebrations.

1981


Entumbane uprising, also known as the Battle of Bulawayo or Entumbane II, a rebellion by ZIPRA guerrillas. 106 North Koreans arrive to train the new brigade for the National Army. Mugabe orders judges to investigate clashes between his security forces and the ZAPU guerrillas. The report is suppressed.

1982


Joshua Nkomo dismissed from cabinet by Mugabe for plotting a coup. A rebel insurrection that was loyal to Nkomo follows and is crushed. Nkomo flees the country. North-Korean-trained Fifth Brigade deployed to terrorize the Ndebele-speaking region of Matabeleland. 20,000 civilians are killed.

1983

The Gukurahundi (Shona: “the early rain which washes away the chaff before the spring rains”) was the suppression of Ndebele-speaking civilians from Matabeleland by the North Korean trained 5th Brigade. Second report of inquiry into the uprising also repressed. Zimbabwe beat Australian cricket team at the World Cup.

1984


Black Rhinos Football Club, an armed forces team is established. Fifth Brigade troops redeployed. Foreign journalists are barred from visiting Matabeleland. Four Years after Independence the economy grows by 21%. The Conservative Alliance of Zimbabwe established. Zimbabwe Open, a golf tournament is established

1985


Mugabe re-elected, first time a general election had been conducted under the administration of that country’s authorities. Morgan Tsvangirai becomes the deputy head of the Associated Mine workers union in Zimbabwe. The Communal Areas Management Program for Indigenous Resources (CAMPFIRE) is established.

1986


Samora Machel dies in a plane crash. First hearing the iconic ‘Tormented Soul’ by Mattias Xavier (hey, hey, heyeyeye). Halleys comet sighted and will not be sighted for another 75 years. South African commandos strike alleged ANC “operational centres” in Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zambia.

1987


Mugabe & Nkomo sign a unity accord, dissolving ZAPU, becomes ZANU-PF. Mugabe amends constitution, abolishes post of prime minister and is sworn in as Zimbabwe’s first executive president, Nkomo as vice president. Bundu Boyz fronted by Biggie Tembo asked by Madonna to be supporting act at Wembley Stadium.

1988


Amnesty International’s Human Rights Now! concert in Zimbabwe featuring performances by Tracy Chapman, Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Peter Gabriel and Youssou N’Dour. Kevin Woods, Michael Smith and Philip Conjwayo were convicted of plotting a car bombing against exiled members of South Africa’s now-governing ANC.

1989


The Bulawayo Chronicle exposes a political scandal now known as Willowgate in which illegal resale of automobiles assembled at Willowvale purchased by various government officials. Five members of cabinet resigned. Morgan Tsvangirai becomes the federation secretary-general of the Congress of Trade Unions.

1990


Gays & Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ), founded. 25-year-old state of emergency lifted. First elections to be contested under the amended constitution of 1987. Edgar Tekere contests as ZUM. First ever elections in the country to be contested on a single roll, with no separate voting for whites & blacks. Student Protests.

1991


Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (ESAP). Opposition paper Daily Gazette begins publishing. Zimbabwe becomes a republic. Nyanga Bus Disaster when a bus carrying Regina Coeli students and staff members crashed was coming from a sports event bus was overloaded is considered Zimbabwe’s worst bus disaster.

1992


Sarah Francesca (Hayfron) Mugabe, the First Lady of Zimbabwe dies. Major drought. Britain stops financial support for Zimbabwe’s land reform program due to mismanagement and corruption. Peter Ndlovu makes history by being the first African footballer to play in the new English Premier League.

1993


Strive Malaysia challenged Zimbabwe’s President Mugabe for his right to start a cell-phone business. Baptists from many nations gathered in Harare to produce a response to racism known as the Harare Declaration. NMB Bank Limited opens its doors.

1994


62 Ariel school children witness UFO landing claiming some beings communicated with them. Zimbabwe School Examinations Council Act is passed by the Parliament. Zimsec would replace Cambridge. Zimbabwe restores power to local chiefs due to the corruption and inefficiency of appointed officials.

1995


Bundu Boys lead singer Biggie Tembo commits suicide. 6th All-Africa Games held in Harare, winning 7 medals. Great Zimbabwe University opens doors. Introduction of ZIMSEC. Roger Boka opened the doors of his United Merchant Bank. Supreme Court ruled in favour of Strive Masiyiva to set up a cell phone business.

1996


Mugabe re-elected president. Marries Grace Marufu. 11,000 nurses go on strike for higher wages, allowances and better working conditions, all fired. Zimbabwe pays $5 million to help finance the Kabila regime in Congo. Mana Pools National Park is declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. University of Bindura opens its doors.

1997


November 14, Zim dollar loses 71,5% of its value against the US dollar. The stock market crashed. Mugabe confronted by war vets at Heroes day. War veterans paid once-off gratuities of Z$50 000. ZCTU calls biggest labour strike, protesters fight police for hours. Roger Boka opens a tobacco auction floor. Dariboard privatised.

1998


600 troops sent to support Kabila in the DRC. Riots over soaring food prices. Army troops ordered to quell 2 days of unrest. Mugabe imposes a 6-month ban on national strikes. Econet receive the license after five year battle. Canaan Banana is convicted of 11 sex charges that include sodomy and homosexual assault.

1999


MDC formed, first proper opposition party founded by trade unionist Morgan Tsvangirai. Joshua Nkomo dies. Police arrest 4 journalists critical of the government. Daily News begins publishing. Inception of Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA). Zimbabwe Open University (ZOU) opened, first distance learning institute.

2000


White farmers forced off their land by war vets. Mugabe announces that the state would begin seizing white-owned farms. Proposed constitutional amendment which would have given the president more power refused. Midlands State University opened. Richard Tsimba first black rugby player to represent the country dies.

2001


Daily News building bombed destroying its printing presses. Zanu-PF draws up tough laws on security, media and election rules. Geoff Nyarota, editor of the Daily News, was arrested. Chinhoyi University of Technology opened. South Africa fears a flood of people due to food shortages. Chenjerai Hunzvi, a leader of the war veterans dies.

2002


Public Order and Security Act (POSA) enacted. Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) is enforced. Military chiefs voice support for Mugabe saying they would only accept a president who fought in the war. Govt announce plans for compulsory national youth service. AIDS claiming 2,000 people weekly.

2003


Bush invoked targeted economic sanctions. Co – Hosted the world cup cricket with South Africa. Last execution. About 78 people have been executed since independence, amongst the last 4 executed was Steven Chidhumo. Morgan Tsvangirai charged him with treason. Simon Muzenda dies. Canaan Banana dies. Exit from Commonwealth.

2004


Title deeds of farm properties will be scrapped, replaced by 99-year leases. Mugabe bolstered police powers by decreeing that police could detain people for 28 days without charge. White farmers from Zimbabwe moved to Zambia and leased some 150 farms. Blessing Makunike, soccer player dies. Inflation peaked at over 600%.

2005


Operation Restore Order, billed to rid urban areas of illegal structures led to displacement of over 700,000 people. MDC breaks into factions into MDC T (Tsvangirai) and MDC N (Welshman Ncube). Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development created. Jonathan Moyo fired. Court bars diasporans from voting abroad.

2006


Marange diamond fields discovered villagers rushed and began finding alluvial diamonds. Mines Minister announced that 51% of all foreign mining shareholdings would have to be transferred to the government. Operation Chikorokoza Chapera launched. Currency devalued, 3 zeroes slashed off denominations amid 1200% inflation.

2007


Mugabe tells his critics of his government to “go hang” in his first response to the arrest and assault of opposition Tsvangirai. $750 000 bearer cheque note introduced. Inflation at 8,000%, the world’s highest. Doctors at state hospitals strike over pay. Indigenisation and Empowerment Bill passed by parliament.

2008


No official election results are announced for more than a month. Simba Makoni ran for president. First runoff for an election. 100s of people killed and maimed. Tsvangirai boycotts. Thabo Mbeki claims there is ‘No Crisis’ and goes on to broker a unity Govt. 150,000% inflation. Sophisticated black. Dollarisation. Life expectancy 36.

2009


Tsvangirai sworn in as the Prime Minister. His wife is killed in a car accident. Zim dollar abandoned, allows for basket of currencies. Cholera kills over 2,000. Grace Mugabe strikes a photographer in the face in Hong Kong. Jestina Mukoko is abducted, whereabouts unknown for weeks. Kimberly Process orders ban on trade in diamonds.

2010


New law requires major foreign firms to sell 51% stakes to locals, given 45 days to comply. Civil servants strike for higher wages. Security forces killed over 200 rhinos over 2 years. First independent daily Newsday published. Abel Muzorewa dies. Sam Mtukudzi son of Oliver Mtukudzi dies. 900,000 carats of rough diamonds auctioned.

2011


Systematic police crackdowns on opposition. Call for voters roll to be updated. EU extends visa bans. $750-million steel deal, the biggest foreign investment in a decade. Timeline for reforms agreed before election. Solomon Mujuru dies in a fire. Anti-corruption commission sworn in by Mugabe. ANC offered to help ZANU-PF win next election.

2012


Diamonds worth at least $2bn have been stolen by the ruling elite in “perhaps the biggest single plunder of diamonds the world has seen since Cecil Rhodes.” EU partially lifts sanctions to encourage further progress in political reforms. Air Zim suspends all its flights indefinitely battling debt. Tsvangirai marries Elizabeth Macheka.

2013


Voters urged to accept referendum on a new constitution that will curb presidential powers. UNWTO 20th Session of the General Assembly held in Victoria Falls. ZANU-PF landslide victory in elections, ends GNU. Election is disputed. Political leaders have reached agreement on a new constitution. John Nkomo dies.

2014


Joice Mujuru fired and Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko automatically instated as vice presidents. State of disaster as Tokwe-Mukorsi dam overflows, flooding areas downstream displacing 20 000 people. Tendai Biti’s home petrol bombed. South Africa extends temporary visas for 250,000 people.

2015


Itai Dzamara abducted by state agents and is never seen again. Mugabe assumes African Union chairmanship. 300,000 beneficiaries of land reforms ordered to pay annual rent and levies. Telecel is shut down. Mugabe awarded China’s alternative to the Nobel Peace Prize. Author Chenjerai Hove dies. 13 year old Cecil the lion killed.

2016


Speech by Evan Mawarire goes viral. Organised peaceful social resistance through social media together with Tajamuka. Mawaririe arrested and thousands attend trial. 200 lawyers offer to represent him. Charges dismissed. Introduction of bond note. Introduction of Statutory Instrument 64 which bans import of foreign goods.

2017


Army carry out a coup. Mass celebrations for Mugabe’s ouster. Mugabe forced to resign. Mnangagwa who had fled to South Africa, comes from Exile to become president. Army generals rewarded with Government posts. Constatino Chiwenga appointed vice president. G40 members flee the country, some arrested.

2018


Morgan Tsvangirai dies. Nelson Chamisa assumes presidency of MDC-T. MDC Alliance formed to contest elections. Khupe contests as MDC-T. Mnagangwa wins election, result is disputed. Protests. Army shoots citizens in the streets. MDC Alliance takes challenge to court, case televised, they lose. Commission of enquiry into shooting.

2019


Robert Mugabe dies, fight between ZANU and family on where he will be buried. Buried at his home. Protests, army deployed, kills and abducts citizens, accusations of rape. Internet shut down completely. Chiwenga critically ill, out of the country for months. Zim dollar reintroduced. Cyclone Idai. Oliver Mtukudzi dies

2020


Virus breaks out in China, resulting in a province of 30 million being quarantined. Zimbabwe vows to assist China. Virus spreads world wide. Lock down declared. Zororo Makamba becomes patient 1 to succumb to virus. Healthcare system exposed. Passports shortage. US Dollar reintroduced less than a year since Zim dollar comeback.

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