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IB10059

10-17-01

a parliamentary majority in the election, and he was installed as Prime Minister of independent

Zimbabwe on April 18, 1980.

Zimbabwe in the 1980s

. For much of the 1980s, Zimbabwe was regarded as

something of a model to other African countries because of gains the Mugabe government made in extending education and health care services to the poor; and in providing extension services, rural roads, and clean water for impoverished farming communities. Moreover, the country enjoyed relative racial harmony, and some whites served in government, although others were embittered by the course of events and thousands left. (Today, whites number an estimated 70,000 to 80,000 out of a population of 12 million.) The difficulties Zimbabwe encountered as a “front-line state” facing white-ruled South Africa brought it sympathy and support from the international donor community. The United States provided more than $360 million in non-food economic assistance in the first decade after independence.

Even in the 1980s, however, there were indications that authoritarian tendencies were emerging in Mugabe’s regime. From 1983-1987, dissident activity in Matabeleland, the ZAPU stronghold, was suppressed by the North Korea-trained Fifth Brigade of

the Zimbabwe army.

information

on

the

Though conflict

little was

provided by the government, reports indicated that thousands were killed and

that government troops number of atrocities.

committed a The conflict

ended

when

Nkomo

agreed

to

merge

Zimbabwe in Brief

Population: (1999) 11.9 million Size: slightly larger than Montana GNP per capita: $520; average annual per capita GNP growth, 1989-1999: -.2% GDP: 1999: $5.6 billion; 1989: $8.3 billion Foreign debt: $4.6 billion (1999) Life expectancy: (years)1998: 51; 1990: 56 Illiteracy: males: 8%; females: 17% Ethnic groups: Shona 71%, Ndebele 16%, other African, 11%, white 1%, mixed and Asian 1% Religion: Christian, 25%; indigenous, 24%; syncretic, 50%; Muslim and other, 1%

ZAPU with ZANU-PF, but had the effect of making

the merger Zimbabwe

virtually a constitution

one-party state. The was changed in 1987 to

Sources: World Bank; U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, World Factbook.

create

a

new political system with a

strong

presidency,

and

Prime

Minister

Mugabe

was

himself inaugurated as the first president on December 31 of that year.

In the later 1980s,

reports and allegations of corruption appeared with increasing frequency.

in

Zimbabwe in the 1990s. South Africa, and Zimbabwe’s

In February 1990, Nelson Mandela was freed from prison large and powerful neighbor began a 4-year democratic

transition.

Peace and democracy in South African seemed to promise a major improvement

in

Zimbabwe’s

international

situation.

Meanwhile,

the

Zimbabwe

government

was

developing an economic structural adjustment program aimed at strengthening the domestic economy. In July 1991, the finance minister announced plans to cut the budget deficit, reduce the size of the civil service, and end all state subsidies to state-owned corporations, including the national airline, the steel corporation, and the railways. Despite these promising domestic and international developments in the early 1990s, the political and economic difficulties that

had

begun

to

emerge

in

the1980s

deepened

severely

as

the

decade

advanced.

Allegations of serious corruption, some involving government ministers and Mugabe family members and others close to the president, continued to appear. In 1996, there were

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