Rhodesia Zimbabwe Government Timeline

Rhodesia Zimbabwe Government Timeline

In 1965, the Rhodesian Government, led by Prime Minister Ian Smith, severed its relations with the British Crown. Rhodesia Zimbabwe Government Timeline explains the changes in Rhodesia Zimbabwe Government rule.

Emmerson Mnangagwa President of Zimbabwe
Emmerson Mnangagwa President of Zimbabwe

When the Prime Minister Ian Smith and the Rhodesian Government broke its bonds with the British Crown in 1965, The US immediately supported the British sanctions with embargoes on arms exports and sugar imports and the UN called for all its members to implement economic sanctions in 1966. France and the Russia abstained, but South Africa, Portugal refused, and their continued trading with Rhodesia was instrumental in keeping the government running. Negotiations with British Prime Minister Harold Wilson failed.

Joshua Nkomo's Zapu and Robert Mugabe's Zanu parties overcame their differences to form the Patriotic Front (PF) to confront Ian Smith. Armed resistance from their guerrilla movements continued until white rule formally ended in June 1979, when Abel Muzorewa of the African National Congress (ANC) became the first black prime minister of the newly named Zimbabwe-Rhodesia.

"There can be no happiness in a country while the absurd situation continues to exist where people, such as ourselves, who have ruled themselves with an impeccable record for over 40 years, are denied what is freely granted to other countries." - Prime Minister Ian Smith


The UK annexed Southern Rhodesia from the former British South Africa Company in 1923.


In 1965 the government unilaterally declared its independence, but the UK did not recognize the act and demanded more complete voting rights for the black African majority in the country​.


UN sanctions and a guerrilla uprising finally led to free elections in 1979 and independence as Zimbabwe in 1980.


Robert Mugabe, the nation's first prime minister 1980-1987, has been the country's only ruler as president since 1987 and has dominated the country's political system since independence.


Zimbabwe enacted a new constitution by referendum, although many provisions in the new constitution have yet to be codified in law. In November 2017, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa took over following a military intervention that forced Mugabe to resign. Mnangagwa was inaugurated president days later, promising to hold presidential elections in 2018.


Zimbabwe new president Emmerson Mnangagwa pledged "zero tolerance on corruption" and said he was "doing everything possible to deal with our debts." Asked whether people could trust the word of a man who worked closely with Mugabe for more than five decades, Mnangagwa said, "Those who want to live in the past can continue to live in the past. But those who want to see the future, where we are going, can look at what we are doing."

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