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Zimbabwe: From Ian Douglas Smith To Robert Mugabe.

2045 words - 8 pages

The British colony of Rhodesia gained its independence in 1980 and became the Republic of Zimbabwe. This country started with great promise but has been put through major economic and political problems due to flawed policies executed by Ian Smith, the last leader of Rhodesia and most importantly, Robert Mugabe who has lead Zimbabwe since independence. Zimbabwe used to be one of the most prosperous nations in Sub-Saharan Africa with an economy based upon agriculture. Indeed, in the 1980s, Zimbabwe was able to not only supply its own needs and could also export food to drought stricken Ethiopia. Two decades later, the economic and political situation has deteriorated to a disastrous situation where unemployment is estimated at 70 percent and gross domestic product has contracted by 30 percent in the last five years. Similar statistics concerning school attendance, inflation and poverty levels reinforce the situation that the economy and society have basically collapsed. My thesis for this paper is that the tyrannical leadership of Ian Douglas Smith and Robert Gabriel Mugabe have directly led to the tragedy and misery inside of Rhodesia and Zimbabwe.Political History of Rhodesia and ZimbabweIn 1888, the area that became Northern and Southern Rhodesia became a British sphere of influence. In 1923, Rhodesia became a self-governing British colony with responsibility for all government functions except foreign affairs. It is important to realize that the area of Rhodesia was already inhabited by native peoples but was settled after 1888 by Europeans who displaced the natives from traditional land holdings#. The country had excellent farmland and other natural resources, which attracted European immigrants. The new immigrants had a demand for further farming lands which lead to a series of acts from 1934 on which reserved certain land for Europeans and which displaced the native Africans.In 1953, Rhodesia was joined by the British with Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland to form the Central African Federation. This federation was a success economically but was opposed by the native African population who felt that independence would not occur with the government run by white Southern Rhodesians#. The federation ended in 1963 and Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland became the independent countries of Zambia and Malawi the next year. At that time, the decolonisation of Africa was proceeding at a rapid rate and there were expectations from the British government that Rhodesia would also go to majority rule#. This would have been a reversal of the existing situation where the minority whites controlled the government.Ian Douglas Smith and the Unilateral Declaration of IndependenceThe white Rhodesians reacted to the pressures from Britain by becoming increasingly militant and more than ever opposed to majority rule or even shared rule. These hardened attitudes also were reflected in politics where those with strong views against majority rule displaced moderates....

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