Zimbabwe; key historical events
Page last modified 9/12/2019
See also Africa
6/9/2019, Robert Gabriel Mugabe, former President of Zimbabwe (born 21/2/1924) died aged 95. He became Prime Minister of Zimbabwe in 1980 and President from 1987. However his authoritarian rule alienated many people, especially during the last decade of his rule.
21/11/2017, Mugabe bowed to the inevitable and officially resigned as Preident of Zimbabwe. He was succeeded by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
15/11/2017, An army coup in Zimbabwe deposed 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe.
11/2/2009, Morgan Tsvangirai became the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe under a power-sharing agreement with President Mugabe, signed in September 2008.
15/9/2008, In Zimbabwe, negotiations resulted in a power-sharing agreement between President Robert Mugabe and opposition leaders Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara; Tsvangirai to be the new Prime Minister.
2007, Morgan Tsvangirai was badly beaten up by the police.
2006, As economic sanctions on Zimbabwe bit, inflation exceeded 1,000%.
11/3/2002. President Mugabe of Zimbabwe ‘won’ presidential elections, widely held to have been rigged.
2000, The number of White settlers in Zimbabwe stood at 70,000, down from 278,000 in 1975. By 2004 almost all the White farmers had departed. Expropriationof White farmers’ lands led to food shortages and inflation.
16/2/2000. President Mugabe of Zimbabwe held a Referendum asking for additional powers, primarily to seize White-owned farms. This was a move to boost his popularity. White farmers still controlled 4,500 farms covering a thord of the country’s arable land area. They also produced 70% of the agricultural output of Zimbabwe, and employed 300,000 Black workers. The elctgorate rejected the Referendum proposal. Mugabe then declared these White farmers ‘enemies of Zimbabwe’ and encouraged veterans from the war of liberation (against White rule) to seize the farms, drive out the owners, and intimiadet and kill any White owners or Black workers who resisted. The first white farmer to be murdered by Mugabe’s war veterans was David Stevens, on 15/4/2000. By 15/5/2000 1,000 farms had been invaded and 19 people killed in political violence.
3/1999, Workers groups in Zimbabwe formed an opposition Party,
11/1998, Workers groups in Zimbabwe protested agaionst corruption, and the intervention in the Congo.
8/1998, Mugabe sent 11,000 troops to fight in the Congo, a cost his country couild not afford.
22/12/1987, Prime Minister Mugabe of Zimbabwe and Joshua Nkomo agreed to unite the ZANU (PF) and ZAPU parties.
8/8/1984, In Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe announced plans for a one-Party State
9/3/1983, Joshua Nkomo fled Zimbabwe.
17/4/1982. Salisbury, capital of Zimbabwe, was renamed Harare.
18/4/1980. Zimbabwe, formerly Rhodesia, formally became independent. See 25/9/1976. Robert Mugabe had become Prime Minister of Zimbabwe on 4/3/1980.
11/3/1980. Robert Mugabe became Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, formerly Southern Rhodesia.
4/3/1980. Robert Mugabe was elected Prime Minister of Zimbabwe. Southern Rhodesia had been a British colony since 1889.
12/12/1979. Lord Soames arrived in southern Rhodesia as the official governor, ending 14 years of rebellion and UDI.
10/9/1979, The Lancaster House Conference in the future of Rhodesia opened.
5/8/1979, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher urged rebel leaders in Rhodesia to hold talks.
1/6/1979, Rhodesia officially changed its name to Zimbabwe.
29/5/1979. Bishop Abel Muzorewa became Rhodesia’s first Black Prime Minister.
30/1/1979, White voters in Rhodesia voted to ratify the new Constitution.
10/9/1978, Martial law was imposed in parts of Rhodesia.
4/9/1978, In Rhodesia, guerrillas fighting the Ian Smith regime shot down an airliner with a Russian SAM-7 missile, then massacred the survivors of the crash; they claimed the aeroplane was a ‘legitimate military target’.
16/5/1978, Rhodesian forces killed 94 at a Black political meeting.
21/3/1978. The first Black Ministers joined the government of Rhodesia. However Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo were excluded.
3/3/1978, Rhodesian forces attacked Zambia.
15/2/1978, Rhodesia’s Ian Smith and three Black leaders agreed on a transfer to Black majority rule.
24/11/1977, Ian Smith said he accepted the idea of universal adult suffrage in Rhodesia, which would mean a Black Government.
1/9/1977, Anglo-American proposals for a transition to legal rule in Rhodesia were published.
31/8/1977. In Rhodesia, Ian Smith’s Rhodesian Front Party won an overwhelming victory.
24/1/1977, The second round of Rhodesian talks failed; Ian Smith rejected British proposals for a transfer of power to Black majority rule.
28/10/1976, A conference on Rhodesia opened in Geneva.
25/9/1976. The government of Rhodesia, led by Mr Ian Smith, announced its acceptance of African rule within two years. Zimbabwe, formerly Rhodesia, became independent on 18/4/1980.
23/3/1976, Ian Smith rejected Harold Wilson’s conditions for a Rhodesian settlement.
3/8/1973, Race riots at the University of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).
2/3/1970. Rhodesia was declared a republic. Formerly the colony of Southern Rhodesia, Prime Minister Ian Smith declared UDI.
12/2/1969, Ndabaningi Sithole, leader of the Zimbabwe African National Union, was convicted of incitement to murder Ian Smith.
6/1969, The UK severed all diplomatic ties with Rhodesia.
9/10/1968, Harold Wilson, British PM, met Ian Smith for further talks about Rhodesian independence aboard HMS Fearless moored off Gibraltar. The talks failed to resolve the situation.
7/10/1968. Rhodesia’s leader Ian Smith announced that there would be no majority rule in Rhodesia in his lifetime. He continued with talks between himself and Prime Minister Harold Wilson; but Mr Smith said that ‘ordinary Africans were incapable of answering the simplest question regarding a constitution’.
22/12/1966, Rhodesia left the Commonwealth.
6/12/1966. Ian Smith of Rhodesia refused UK government proposals to end UDI. Rhodesia left the Commonwealth on 22/12/1966.
2/12/1966, British Prime Minister Harold Wilson met Ian Smith on HMS Tiger off Gibraltar, for talks on the independence of Rhodesia.
9/4/1966, The UN authorised Britain to seize by force any oil being shipped to Rhodesia.
2/3/1966, Britain protested to Portugal about oil supplies reaching Rhodesia via Mozambique.
17/2/1966, The UK protested to South Africa about petrol supplies to Rhodesia.
31/1/1966, Britain banned all trade with Rhodesia.
18/12/1965, Nine African States broke off relations with the UK for not using force against Rhodesia.
17/12/1965, Britain imposed an oil embargo on Rhodesia.
11/11/1965. Rhodesia declared UDI from Britain under Ian Smith, the Prime Minister. The opposition leaders Joshua Nkomo and Robert Mugabe were in jail. The British Prime Minister Harold Wilson imposed trade sanctions and an oil embargo. However South Africa, and the neighbouring Portuguese colonies of Mozambique and Angola, assisted Mr Smith in overcoming sanctions, and large multinationals evaded them anyway. However the end of Portuguese rule in Angola and Mozambique in 1975 undermined Mr Smith’s regime and assisted the transfer to Black majority rule there.
25/10/1965. Harold Wilson went to Rhodesia for talks with Ian Smith. But see 11/11/1965.
7/10/1965. Ian Smith met Harold Wilson for talks at 10 Downing Street; the talks failed to avert UDI by Rhodesia on 11/11/1965.
27/10/1964, Wilson warned Rhodesia that a declaration of UDI would be treason.
6/9/1964, Ian Smith arrived in the UK for talks on independence.
13/4/1964. Ian Smith became Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). He succeeded Winston Field, who had resigned.
1963, African Nationalists in Northern Rhodesia and Nysaland demanded, and got, the dissolution of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nysaland. See 1953.
11/10/1962, Hugh Foot resigned as British representative at the UN in protest at the British Government’s support for the regime in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).
20/9/1961. Rhodesian Prime Ministers Ian Smith banned the Black opposition party.
18/5/1960. The Queen Mother opened the Kariba dam on the Zambesi River.
6/1959, The wall of the Kariba Dam (Zambia-Zimbabwe border) was completed.
26/2/1959, State of Emergency in Southern Rhodesia.
6/11/1956. Work began on the Kariba High Dam on the River Zambesi, between Zambia and Zimbabwe. See 18/5/1960.
1953, Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), Northern Rhodesia (Zamia) and Nysaland (Malawi) were united as the Federation of Rhodesia and Nysaland. See 1963.
30/5/1925, The British colony of Southern Rhodesia became self-governing as its assembly met for the first time.
21/2/1924, Robert Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe, was born.
10/10/1923. Rhodesia, formerly administered by the British South African Company, became a self-governing British colony. A vote had gone against union with South Africa.
27/10/1922, A referendum in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) decided against a union with South Africa.
8/4/1919. Ian Smith, Prime Minister of Rhodesia, was born in Selukwe, then Southern Rhodesia.
1911, Rhodesia was divided into Northern and Southern portions.
1/4/1905, The Victoria Falls Bridge (Zimbabwe – Zambia) was completed.
18/11/1904, Gold was discovered in Rhodesia.
1896, Rebellion by the Shona and Ndebele against British rule, quashed in 1897.
4/11/1893. The British defeated the Matabele in battle in Zimbabwe and occupied the capital, Bulawayo.
12/9/1890. The British South Africa Company founded the town of Salisbury, now Harare, after a pioneer march from South Africa. It was named after the British Prime Minister, Lord Salisbury.
1835, The Shona people were being displaced and subjugated by incoming Ndebele, who forced the Shona to pay them tribute.
1100-1400, Peak of the Mwene Mutapa or Great Zimbabwe Empire. Its wealth was dderived from gold mining, cattle grazing, and trading with merchants from the African coast.