Lobengula, the Ndebele ruler of the region that is now Zimbabwe,
signs an agreement granting mineral rights to the British South
African Company, which then occupies most of the territory, calling
The British South African Company quashes black African uprisings.
Reports of gold bring more Europeans to the area. Great Britain
recognizes separate northern and southern territories of Rhodesia.
Prime Minister Ian Smith declares Rhodesia independent, but the United Kingdom
says the action is illegal and bans trade with the country. The United Nations
imposes sanctions on Rhodesia. A constitution designed to ensure black Africans
never gain control of the government is approved. Rhodesia and the U.K. come to
an agreement to gradually increase black representation, but fighting between
government troops and black Africans breaks out and continues off and on for years.
Smith begins to establish a government of mostly black leaders,
and elections achieve that result. Zimbabwe declares its independence on May 31,
The nation of Zimbabwe comes into existence
on June 1. White farmers own the bulk of the country's best agricultural land,
and although independence brings the transfer of power from whites to blacks,
it does not address the land issue.
The Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front party wins a majority of the
seats in the House
of Assembly. The new government is bound by the Lancaster House Agreement that
protects white Zimbabweans from having their farms taken away for the first ten
years of the country's independence. Under the agreement, land distribution is
to take place under "willing buyer, willing seller" terms, and the government
is to "pay promptly adequate compensation" for property it does acquire.
The U.K. gives Zimbabwe 44 million pounds to resettle the land.
The office of executive president replaces the position of prime minister. Robert
Mugabe, leader of the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, is sworn
in as first executive president on Dec. 31.
Mugabe reelected president for a full six-year term.
After the land protection clauses of the Lancaster House Agreement expire in 1990,
the Land Acquisition Act is enacted, giving the government strengthened powers
to acquire land for resettlement, subject to the payment of "fair" compensation
fixed by a committee of six people using set, or nonmarket, guidelines, including
powers to limit the size of farms and introduce a land tax, according to a March
2002 Human Rights Watch report.
Mugabe is reelected president.
By the end of phase one of the land reform and resettlement program, the government
had resettled 71,000 families (out of a targeted 162,000) on almost 3.5 million
hectares of land -- about 80 percent of it unsuitable for grazing or cultivation.
About 400 black elite farmers were leasing 400,000 hectares of state land, and
about 350 black people had bought their farms. While there were positive aspects
of the program, some problems developed in the resettled communities
from lack of infrastructure and governmental support networks.
National Constitutional Assembly, an alliance of civil society groups, initiates
a process of debate on the need for a new constitution.
announces he will seize about 1,500 farms and that the U.K. should pay for it.
British international development minister Claire Short sends the Zimbabwean government
a letter saying Britain has "no responsibility to meet the costs of land
About 50 countries and international organizations hold a donors' conference on
land reform and resettlement in September, where a set of principles is adopted
to govern phase two of Zimbabwe's land resettlement program. The principles include
poverty reduction, consistency and respect for the legal process. However, conflicts
linger between the government and donors on the issues of accountability and transparency.
Despite the difficulties, 35 more farms, totaling 70,000 hectares, are purchased.
Amidst political and economic upheaval, a new political party Movement for Democratic
Change forms and is the first party to attract the support of white Zimbabweans.
Among other issues, the party seeks "people-driven land reform" and
commits to purchasing 6 million to 7 million hectares of land for resettlement.
The government aims to acquire 5 million hectares of commercial farmland for redistribution.
response to the calls for a new constitution, Mugabe creates an official commission
to consider a rewrite in May. A large number of meetings is held to solicit public
views but the feedback is largely ignored, according to Human Rights Watch.
In a referendum, voters reject a draft constitution that would
allow the government to acquire land compulsorily without compensation.
Mugabe signs into law a constitutional amendment that extends
the ability of the government to seize land and releases the government from providing
compensation except for improvements. As part of this amendment Mugabe says Britain,
as the former colonial power, should provide
compensation for seized land.
including Britain, the United States, International Monetary Fund and World Bank,
oppose the move and suspend their aid to Zimbabwe. The British government says
it can only support the land program if it benefits the rural poor but claims
much of the land is going to Mugabe's associates. African nations, including South
Africa, however, express their support for Zimbabwe's land program, saying it
is helping solve age-old land imbalances.
Parliamentary elections are marked by violence and intimidation
by the government against opposition candidates and supporters.
The government introduces a "fast track" resettlement
program aimed at acquiring more than 3,000 farms for redistribution.
The Commercial Farmers'
Union, representing Zimbabwe's 4,500 commercial farms, files a lawsuit in the
Supreme Court challenging the fast track system. The court rules that the fast
track method is unconstitutional, but the verdict is overturned a year later after
the government institutes changes.
of the 1970s guerilla war occupy more than 1,000 farms with Mugabe's backing.
Black militants threaten farmers with violence if they do not relinquish their
properties, according to CNN.
The government says it is seeking to acquire more than 8 million
hectares of land from the large-scale commercial farming sector -- up from the
previously stated 5 million hectares.
The United Nations Development Programme issues a report on
the fast track program saying problems with the decision-making processes and
poor coordination have resulted in numerous errors in acquiring the land.
Mugabe wins the presidency for a third full term, but elections
are riddled with irregularities and violence
against opposition supporters, the press and judiciary, according to the U.S.
Commonwealth of Nations, an organization made up of Britain and its former colonies,
suspends Zimbabwe's membership for a year for alleged violations of its democratic
The commonwealth extends its suspension of Zimbabwe and gives
the country a number of human rights benchmarks to meet before it can be reinstated.
Mugabe says Zimbabwe is withdrawing from the commonwealth.
all of Zimbabwe's 4,000 white farmers have their farms listed for acquisition,
and under the law, must vacate their property before receiving compensation, the
BBC reported. Many file legal challenges.
Compiled for the Online NewsHour by Larisa