CHAPTER 3 A BRIEF HISTORY OF CONFLICT AND PEACE ISSUES IN ZIMBABWE – 1830s to 1977
This chapter uses decolonial epistemic perspective to provide a historical brief on Zimbabwe. It surveys pre-colonial conflict, the colonial wars of conquest and the establishment of colonial administration. It discusses structural violence experienced by Africans under colonial rule which gave rise to the African nationalist movement. Thereafter it discusses confrontation between the African nationalists and radical white nationalism that culminated in the war of liberation. Finally, the chapter examines the series of negotiations held in attempts to resolve the Rhodesian Question up to 1977. It should be highlighted that the chapter is not merely a narrative of historical facts but uses them to explain historical events that impact on the search for peace, unity and reconciliation through the lenses of coloniality.
CONQUEST AND DOMINATION
The search for peace, reconciliation and unity in Zimbabwe comes against the backdrop of a long history of violence that dates back to the pre-colonial period. In the 1830s, Zimbabwe experienced violence when the Ndebele fleeing the mfecane (violence in Nguniland, South Africa) crossed the Limpopo River onto the Zimbabwean plateau where they fought and defeated various Shona chiefdoms. They established a powerful military state in the south-western part of Zimbabwe and assumed supremacy over other polities. Relations between the Ndebele and Shona were largely cordial but occasional Ndebele raids for cattle, women, grain and children brought tension between the two groups that continues to manifest in various forms in post-independence Zimbabwe.
On the 12th of September 1890, the British South Africa Company (BSAC) occupied Mashonaland in the north of Zimbabwe. In the psyche of European imperialists a non European region was regarded as empty or nearly empty of people, hence conquest and settlement by Europeans. Those living there were seen as barbarians or lesser beings and therefore without rights to own the land (Ndlovu-Gatsheni: 2012a). British imperialism was accompanied by the shift from the Cartesian notion of cogito ego sum (I think, therefore I am) to the paradigm of war informed ego coquiro/ego conquistus (I conquer, therefore I am) which legitimized conquest and violence against Africans (Maldonado-Torres, 2007: 245). The occupation of Mashonaland was followed by victory in the Anglo-Ndebele war of 1893. The BSAC occupied Matabeleland and acquired full control of the country which it named Rhodesia. To ensure that Matabeleland was completely overrun each member of the invading force was promised six thousand acres of land anywhere in Matabeleland, twenty claims in the goldfields and a share of the booty, half of which would go to the company and the remainder to be divided among the officers and men (Martin and Johnson, 1981: 46). The resort to violence by the settlers meant that the African masses would have to regain their land by using similar methods at a later time. To him, the question of land distribution was to become one of the thorniest single issues in Zimbabwean politics (Moyana, 1984:66).
The violent colonization of Zimbabwe in the 1890s was part of British imperialist plans driven by a conviction that they were epistemologically and ontologically superior. The British saw themselves as the “first race” in the world, duty bound to colonize the territory and bring “civilization”, Christianity and light to a “dark” continent inhabited by “barbaric savages”. They were inspired by the pseudo-scientific doctrine of Social Darwinism that espouses survival of the fittest and differences between races. The white conquerors viewed themselves as stronger and saw the conquered Africans as weak and therefore meant to be colonized by the strong.
The Africans were unable to fathom the loss of land as well as the loss of political and economic independence and decided to revolt against settler rule between 1896 and 1897 in rebellions known as the Chimurenga I /Umvukela I. They were in fact decolonial uprisings against nascent colonialism (Ndlovu-Gatsheni: 2013b). The first to rise were the Ndebele in March of 1896; they were incensed by the presence, arrogance and brutality of the Shona police who were stationed in Matabeleland to preside over them. The Ndebele regarded the Shona as their former slaves and thus treated the Shona police with contempt. The deployment of Shona police amongst the Ndebele population apparently gave the Shona the impression that they were a superior social/ethnic group. The stationing of Shona police in Ndebele country was not only designed by settlers to divide and rule the Africans but to also socially classify them in line with the coloniality of being. The effect of these colonial actions was the souring of relations between the Shona and the Ndebele, therefore sowing seeds of future conflict between the two ethnic groups.
The revolts were brutally crushed by the Britain in operations characterized by a disproportionate employment of force against Africans. The Ndebele were the first to be defeated. A peace settlement was reached at the Matopos Hills in October of 1896 between the Ndebele chiefs and Cecil John Rhodes who represented the British. Under the agreement that was in fact dictated, the Ndebele were given assurances that they would be given security and adequate land to grow their crops and graze their cattle, and a fair and dignified dispensation in the peace. Rhodes promised to buy all the land in the vicinity of the Matopos for Ndebele settlement and promised that none of the land would ever be disposed. In return the Ndebele pledged their loyalty and to end the war. The terms of the agreement were however violated by the settlers leading to the expropriation of Ndebele land (Ranger: 1999).
The Shona insurrection came in June of 1896 and by the end of 1897 the rebellion had been crushed. To Ndlovu-Gatsheni (2012b), overcoming African resistance was perceived as pacifying savage tribes resisting modernity. Unlike with the Ndebele, the Shona were not offered peace terms. Most defeated Shona chiefs and warriors in the north-east of the country were not even offered the indignity of surrender but were instead hunted down like animals and killed. The hunting of African chiefs and warriors like animals was informed by the coloniality of being that made violence on the African appear as sport.
The pacification of the Shona and Ndebele groups permitted the British to establish a brutal, oppressive, exploitative colonial system of administration that discriminated against blacks. It taxed them, forced them to work and also coerced them into lowly paid contract labour. To the settlers, the defeated Africans were Manichean and had to be placed at the bottom of the colonial socio-economic and political hierarchy. They were seen as an ontologically inferior race constituted by lacks and deficits. The coloniality of being sought to keep the colonized Africans cowered and subjugated. They were indoctrinated into believing that they were an inferior and unwanted racial group. In essence a racialized colonial administration that unleashed violence on blacks was established. Racialization to Grosfoguel (2004:326-327) is the process through which groups, particularly the hegemonic self group, use cultural and/or biological features/criteria to create a hierarchy of superiority and inferiority among collective social actors. Not only was society racialized but also structured based on Christianity, Western education; ethnicity, patriarchy, gender and economy.
Santos (2010) and Fanon (1968) view the colonized blacks as having been classified in the zone of non-being at the bottom of the social structures and thus targets of racism. To Grosfoguel et al (2014), global coloniality was being reproduced at the periphery. European settlers regarded Africans as primitive objects who had not developed any writing system and with no history, and therefore were not worthy of human rights. It can thus be noted that coloniality arises from the colonial encounter from which colonial society is then structured and classified on the basis of race, ethnicity and labour in pursuit of strengthening and advancing modernity.
In Africa, prior to colonization land was conceptualized as something inseparable to existence but after colonization the white race introduced the concept of land as a commodity (Martinot: undated). This led to the indiscriminate expropriation of land by the settlers. Across the length and breadth of Zimbabwe Africans were pushed through legislative reform or force into poor lands with infertile soils and insufficient rainfall, which came to be known as reserves while the whites, took the best lands. The Africans that were disenfranchised of their land and living in the reserves created a large pool of cheap labour for the settlers’ farms, mines and developing urban centres.
Various pieces of legislation were passed to deny Africans rights and freedoms that could permit them to contest for economic and political power. Of particular note in this respect was the 1930 Land Apportionment Act. This led to a further loss of land and serious poverty amongst Africans who were peasantized and proletarianized while the whites basked in affluence. The result of this was the development of socio-economic and political disparities between whites and Africans which became a source of conflict both under colonial rule and in independent Zimbabwe. It should be highlighted that some of the European colonizers had been deemed undesirable elements in Europe but upon conquering the indigenous people of Zimbabwe they assumed an important status and began to dispossess Africans, some of noble status, of their land. The new social class that the whites occupied reflected shifting designations associated with the coloniality of being and power that accompanied colonialism.
In colonialist discourse and thinking dispossessing Africans of their land and designating it as private property of white settlers and the opening up of Zimbabwe for economic exploitation and settlement for whites was seen as development. In the mindset of the white settler colonialist it was development to deprive Africans of their modes of life and production and to force them into joining the evolving capitalist one in which they were viewed as subaltern persons compelled to participate primarily as sources of cheap labour (Ndlovu-Gatsheni:
2012b). According to Ndlovu-Gatsheni (2014) coloniality and racism were driving forces of the colonial state that enabled colonialism to produce what Mamdani (1996) termed bifurcated social formations inhabited by ‘citizens and subjects.’ Settlers were regarded as citizens and included in the imagination of the colonial state while the indigenous Africans were seen as subjects or natives and excluded. The “settler” and “native” binaries were later inherited as relations of difference and became sources of conflict (Mpofu: 2013a). Rhodesian colonialists denied the Africans an opportunity to unite into a majority identity by fragmenting them into various antagonistic tribes and minorities (Ndlovu-Gatsheni: 2012b). Where and when it was convenient the settler bandied together various fragmented tribal groups such as the Kalanga, Tonga, Ndebele and Shona amongst others and called them natives through a process one can term “tribal reductionism”. By depriving these groups of their different historical identities seeds of future identity-based conflict were sown in Zimbabwe.
For thirty three years, Africans were ruled by the BSAC until 1923 when the country became a self-governing colony of the British crown known as Southern Rhodesia. Southern Rhodesians were given limited self government, they could elect a legislative assembly from which a prime minister and cabinet would be chosen but the British retained a veto on matters affecting local Africans and controlled foreign relations. Southern Rhodesia was therefore conferred with quasi –dominion status under the dominions office and not the colonial office in London (Martin and Johnson: 1981).
After being granted self- government the European settlers ensured that the African would remain tied to the colonizer through various pieces of legislation such as the 1895 law on Compulsory Identity Cards, Registration of Labour Act 1896, Private Location Act 1908, African Labourers’ Act 1911, the Land Apportionment Act 1930, Industrial Conciliation Act 1934 and Native Passes Act 1937(Moyana, 1984; 66). These pieces of legislation were all instruments of oppression meant to entrench settler domination and intensify the exploitation of the African. In line with notions of coloniality of power and being these pieces of legislation placed the European in a position of privilege and power over the African and produced an aura that the white race was superior. Colonial legislation subalternized and dehumanized the African. For instance, the African’s humanity was questioned by legislation that demanded the compulsory carrying of identity documents. His identity and being would only be acknowledged upon production of identity documents. Failure by the African to have his identity documents on his person resulted in degrading and inhuman punishment such as sjamboking (whipping). According to Grosfoguel (2007:214), denial of the humanity of Africans was based on misreading the African being as lacking souls, rationality, writing, history, civilization, development, democracy, human rights and ethics. Differential treatment of whites and blacks by the colonial rule fostered racial conflict in Zimbabwe.
According to Ranger (1985: 66) the Land Apportionment Act became the most important law governing land distribution in Rhodesia. It established the principle of possessory segregation between black and white and paved the way for differential agricultural production. The Act did not only keep the African population in a state of serfdom but also retarded economic development by preventing the majority of its citizens from active participation in the exploitation of its resources. Bhebe (1989:65) argues that this Act more than any other disenfranchised Africans, and to nationalists the Land Apportionment Act became the root of racial misunderstanding between Africans and Europeans. In 1969 the Land Tenure Act was passed. It entrenched the 1930 legislation by formally dividing the country’s land into two equal portions: 45 million acres each for the Africans and the whites yet there were approximately 5 million blacks and 250,000 whites. The enactment of the Land Tenure Act was part of a hard-line shift in Southern Rhodesian politics that further strained relations between nationalists and the white minority government (Moyana :1984).
In 1953, the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland combining three British territories of Northern Rhodesia, Nyasaland and Southern Rhodesia was formed. The latter had the largest white population and came to dominate the Federation. Salisbury the capital of Southern Rhodesia also became the capital of the Federation. Economically, Southern Rhodesia benefitted immensely as most industries and infrastructure were built there. The Federation fell apart in 1963 partly as a result of nationalist agitation for independence in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. Soon after its collapse the northern territories were granted independence under black majority rule as the “winds of change were blowing across Africa”. Southern Rhodesia was denied independence and reverted to a relationship with Britain which had existed earlier. This agitated African nationalists who increasingly became militant calling for black majority rule. Alarmed by this, white nationalism in Southern Rhodesia grew and white perceptions of rights to independence became stronger with the effect of blocking African aspirations for independence and thus setting the stage for future conflict (Sibanda: 1989).
COLONIAL STRUCTURAL VIOLENCE
Direct violence was used by the settlers to conquer, suppress and pacify Africans. This type of violence alone was not going to be the best means by which to get the Africans to participate in the colonial political-economy. For the settlers to obtain the co-operation of the Africans indirect violence or structural violence was employed. Africans were dispossessed of their fertile land in areas of good rainfall and pushed into reserves. Not only were reserves characterized by infertile soils and poor rainfall, they were also far from transport and other forms of communication making it difficult for Africans to market their products and compete with white farmers. Relatively successful African farmers who had provided supplies to the early European settlers were pushed out of business. They faced competition from settler agriculture that was supported by government subsidies and loans obtained at favourable rates from commercial banks and other financial institutions. This kind of support was denied to African farmers by the colonial government. The success of African agriculture was also hampered by various pieces of legislation such as the Maize Control Act of 1934 that forced African farmers to sell their produce to the settlers cheaply while maize from white farmers was bought at lucrative rates (Martin and Johnson, 1981: 55). The loss of land and the creation of reserves economically disempowered the Africans. By 1961, a third of the land in Southern Rhodesia was held by Europeans who constituted a mere seventeenth of the population. Africans who could not leave the land expropriated by whites either became squatters, rent paying tenants or providers of labour for the settlers. Often the rents were unaffordable for most Africans who were forced to provide labour to the whites as the only alternative to avoid eviction from land (ibid).
The settlers imposed taxes as a way of obtaining African labour to work on the land. In order for the African to pay tax he had to find employment. Those that did not want to be recruited as forced labour were required to pay the tax. Africans that did not heed colonial advice to be monogamous had to pay a tax of ten shillings for each wife exceeding one (Arrighi: 1970). This was an assault on African cultural rights and a form of cultural imperialism. The plethora of taxes Africans had to pay drained African resources. Their failure to raise taxes created a large reservoir of cheap labour that was forced to take up contract work on white farms, railways or mines. Contract work terms were written in English which was not easily understood by semi-literate Africans resulting in them being exploited by white employers. Often the working conditions were harsh and characterized by long hours, poor conditions, flogging and low pay. The consequences of breaching contracts were as severe as life imprisonment.
LIST OF FIGURES
LIST OF APPENDICES
LIST OF ACRONYMS
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY
1.2 PERSPECTIVES ON PEACE AND DEVELOPMENT
1.3 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
1.4 RESEARCH OBJECTIVES AND QUESTIONS
1.5 PEACE, UNITY AND RECONCILIATION – A DISCUSSION OF CONCEPTS
1.6 THE ANALYTICAL FRAMEWORK
1.7 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
1.8 METHODOLOGY AND DATA COLLECTION METHODS
1.9 ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS
1.10 ORGANIZATION OF THE STUDY .
CHAPTER 2 COLONIALITY: TOWARDS A CONSTRUCTION OF A THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK FOR UNDERSTANDING THE ZIMBABWE PROBLEM
2.2 THE ESSENCE OF COLONIALITY
2.3 CONTOURS OF COLONIALITY
2.4 THE APPLICABILITY OF COLONIALITY AS AN EXPLANATION FOR CHALLANGES TO PEACE, UNITY AND RECONCILIATION IN ZIMBABWE
2.5 WHY DE –COLONIALITY IN ZIMBABWE
CHAPTER 3 A BRIEF HISTORY OF CONFLICT AND PEACE ISSUES IN ZIMBABWE – 1830s to 1977
3.2 CONQUEST AND DOMINATION
3.3 COLONIAL STRUCTURAL VIOLENCE
3.4 NATIONALIST STRUGGLES
3.5 THE RHODESIA FRONT AND UDI
3.6 THE SECOND WAR OF LIBERATION
3.7 TALKING WITHOUT NEGOTIATING
CHAPTER 4 THE INTERNAL SETTLEMENT: TOWARDS PSEUDO-INDEPENDENCE
4.2 BACKGROUND TO THE INTERNAL SETTLEMENT
4.3 INCLUSION AND EXCLUSION IN THE 3 MARCH PEACE AGREEMENT
4.4 TERMS OF THE INTERNAL SETTLEMENT
4.5 FLAWS AND FAILURES OF THE INTERNAL DEAL
4.6 THE INTERIM GOVERNMENT, MARCH 1978 TO MAY 1979
4.7 ZIMBABWE –RHODESIA
4.8 SETTLING WITHOUT TRANSFORMING
CHAPTER 5 THE 1979 LANCASTER HOUSE AGREEMENT AND THE AFTERMATH
5.2 THE ROAD TO LANCASTER
5.3 NEGOTIATION AND AGREEMENT
5.4 SLEIGHT OF HAND – HOODWINKED AT LANCASTER
5.5 INDEPENDENCE AND RECONCILIATION
5.6 LEGACY OF LANCASTER – THE COLONIAL SITUATION LINGERS
5.7 THE UNRESOLVED LAND QUESTION
5.8 LAND REVOLUTION- THE DEATH OF THE LANCASTER HOUSE AGREEMENT
CHAPTER 6 POST-INDEPENDENCE VIOLENCE IN MATABELELAND AND MIDLANDS AND THE 1987 UNITY ACCORD
6.2 THE ROOTS OF THE 1980S VIOLENCE IN MATABELELAND AND MIDLANDS
6.3 VIOLENCE IN THE MATABELELAND AND MIDLANDS PROVINCES
6.4 INDIFFERENCE, COLLUSION AND THE SILENCE OF COLONIALITY
6.5 TERMS OF THE UNITY ACCORD
6.6 CRITICISM OF THE ACCORD
6.7 LEGACY OF THE 1980s VIOLENCE AND THE UNITY ACCORD
6.8 THE DEATH OF NKOMO AND THE REJECTION OF UNITY
6.9 WALKING OUT – THE UNITY ACCORD IN THE INTENSIVE CARE UNIT .
CHAPTER 7 THE ZIMBABWE CRISIS AND THE 2008 GLOBAL POLITICAL AGREEMENT
7.2 HURTLING TOWARDS CRISIS
7.3 THE EMERGENCE OF THE MDC, POLARIZATION AND CRISIS IN ZIMBABWE
7.4 WESTERN MACHINATIONS TO OUST ZANU PF FROM POWER
7.5 IN SEARCH OF REGIME PERSISTENCE
7.6 MARCH 2008 HARMONISED ELECTIONS AND THE JUNE PRESIDENTIAL RUN-OFF ELECTIONS
7.7 THE GPA AND ITS CRITICISM
7.8 THE 2009- 2013: GOVERNMENT OF NATIONAL UNITY – SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY
7.9 THE 2013 ELECTION AND THE END OF THE GOVERNMENT OF NATIONAL UNITY
CHAPTER 8 CONCLUSION: DECOLONIALITY AS A PANACEA FOR PEACE, RECONCILIATION AND UNITY
8.2 KEY FINDINGS .
8.3 RECOMMENDATIONS TOWARD A DECOLONIZED SEARCH FOR PEACE, RECONCILIATION AND UNITY IN ZIMBABWE
8.3 GENERAL CONCLUSION
GET THE COMPLETE PROJECT
THE SEARCH FOR PEACE, RECONCILIATION AND UNITY IN ZIMBABWE: FROM THE 1978 INTERNAL SETTLEMENT TO THE 2008 GLOBAL POLITICAL AGREEMENT