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Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front
Abbreviation ZANU–PF
President and First Secretary Robert Mugabe
Chairman Emmerson Mnangagwa
Spokesperson Simon Khaya-Moyo
Founder (s) Robert Mugabe, Joshua Nkomo
Founded December 22, 1987; 31 years ago (1987-12-22)
Merger of ZANU, ZAPU
Headquarters Harare, Zimbabwe
Ideology African nationalism
Left-wing nationalism
African socialism
International affiliation None
Regional affiliation Former Liberation Movements of Southern Africa
Green, yellow, red, black
House of Assembly
197 / 270
57 / 80
Party flag
Flag of ZANU-PF.svg
Politics of Zimbabwe
Political parties

The Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU–PF) has been the ruling party in Zimbabwe since independence in 1980. The party has been led by Robert Mugabe, first as Prime Minister with the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) and then as President from 1988 after merger with the Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU) and retaining the name ZANU–PF. In the 2008 parliamentary election, the ZANU–PF lost sole control of parliament for the first time in party history and brokered a difficult power-sharing deal with the Movement for Democratic Change – Tsvangirai (MDC), but subsequently won the 2013 election and gained a two-thirds majority.

Zimbabwe African National Union

ZANU was founded by Ndabaningi Sithole, Henry Hamadziripi, Mukudzei Midzi, Herbert Chitepo, Edgar Tekere, and Leopold Takawira at the house of former Defence Minister Enos Nkala in Highfield in August 1963.[1]

Patriotic Front

The Patriotic Front (PF) was formed in 1976 as a political and military alliance between ZAPU and ZANU during the war against white minority rule in Rhodesia (today Zimbabwe). The PF included the Soviet Union-backed ZAPU, which was led by Joshua Nkomo and operating mainly from Zambia, and the Chinese-backed ZANU led by Robert Mugabe, which operated mainly from neighbouring Mozambique. Both movements contributed their respective military forces. ZAPU's military wing was known as the Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA) and ZANU's guerrillas were known as the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army. The objective of the PF was to overthrow the predominantly white minority government, headed by the Prime Minister Ian Smith, through political pressure and military force.[2]

Their common goal was achieved in 1980, following the Lancaster House Agreement of December 1979, when Britain granted independence to Zimbabwe following a brief period of direct British control. During the 1980 election campaign, the PF parties competed separately as ZANU–Patriotic Front (ZANU–PF) and Patriotic Front–ZAPU (PF–ZAPU). The election was won by Mugabe and ZANU–PF, with Nkomo and his PF–ZAPU retaining a stronghold in the provinces of Matabeleland.[2]


In December 1987, after five years of the low-level civil war known as Gukurahundi, the opposition ZAPU, led by Nkomo, was absorbed through the Unity Accord with ZANU to form an official ZANU–PF.[3]


Officially, ZANU–PF is socialist in ideology and modelled on Leninist parties in other countries. The party maintains a politburo and a Central Committee.[4][5] African nationalism and anti-imperialism in the form of opposition to Western domination of the world are other key elements in the party's ideology.[citation needed]

Land redistribution

Mugabe has since pursued a more populist policy on the issue of land redistribution, encouraging the seizure of large farms—usually owned by the white minority—"for the benefit of landless black peasants." Critics argue that its purpose is to maintain his grip on power because supporters of his government benefit directly from land redistribution far more than the landless population.[6]


Mugabe has since 1999 also faced a major political challenge from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. Mugabe won 56.0 percent at the presidential elections of 9 – 11 March 2002.

At the December 2004 five-year conference, Joice Mujuru, a Zezuru Shona like Mugabe and whose late husband Solomon Mujuru was the retired head of the armed forces, was elevated to the post of vice president of the party (the first woman to hold that office) at the expense of contender Emmerson Mnangagwa and his backers, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa and information minister Jonathan Moyo.[7]

The 2005 Zimbabwe parliamentary elections were held on 31 March 2005. The party won 59.6 percent of the popular vote and 78 out of 120 elected seats. Later that year, 26 November, it won 43 of 50 elected senators. The parliamentary election was disputed as being unfair. The leader of the opposition MDC party said, "We are deeply disturbed by the fraudulent activities we have unearthed", and various human rights groups reported that hundreds of thousands of "ghost voters" had appeared on the electoral roll of 5.8 million people.[8]

In the 2008 parliamentary election, the ZANU–PF lost its majority in parliament for the first time, holding 94 seats out of the expanded 210 seats, with Sokwanele stating that this figure would have been lower had it not been for gerrymandering, electoral fraud, and widespread intimidation.[9]

In the 2008 presidential election, Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC candidate, received the most votes but did not receive an absolute majority, thus a runoff was necessary. Initial results led to MDC-T claiming the majority necessary. However, ballots were recounted at a National Command Centre over a period of over a month without the presence of independent observers. The election process that followed was marred by more violence against and intimidation of voters and party workers. Morgan Tsvangirai initially stated he intended to contest the second round but pulled out of the run off saying a free and fair election was impossible in the current climate. The elections were held on 27 June with a single candidate, Robert Mugabe, who was reelected.

Many blame ZANU–PF for neglecting to deal with Zimbabwe's problem with the mounting 2008 Zimbabwean cholera outbreak, which by the start of December 2008 had already killed between 500 and 3,000 people.[10]

SADC facilitation of government power-sharing agreement, 15 September 2008

Former President of South Africa Thabo Mbeki facilitated, under the auspices of Southern African Development Community (SADC), a Zimbabwean Government of Power-Sharing between ZANU–PF, the Movement for Democratic Change – Tsvangirai and the Movement for Democratic Change – Mutambara.

Split of re-organized ZAPU

In November 2008, a group of former ZAPU members, most of them hailing from Bulawayo in Matabeleland, left ZANU–PF and re-established the ZAPU party stating five motives:

  1. Former ZAPU members and Ndebele being left out in the discussions between the two Movement for Democratic Change formations and ZANU–PF.
  2. Unhappiness with the sacking of Dumiso Dabengwa from the politburo because he supported Simba Makoni in the 2008 presidential election.
  3. Lack of development in Bulawayo province, including the lack of progress on the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project.
  4. Former ZIPRA personnel not considered for burial at Heroes' Acre;
  5. The issue of succession.[11]

Post-Mugabe transition

In 2014 a battle among Vice President Joice Mujuru and Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, and possibly First Lady Grace Mugabe, began over the succession to Pres. Robert Mugabe. An elective congress was scheduled for December 2014, in which ZANU–PF would elect members to fill vacancies in the central committee, politburo, and presidium, and most likely endorse the party's next candidate for president. This congress, which takes place every five years, is the most important elective organ for the party.

Although Pres. Mugabe had not named a successor, Joice Mujuru was seen by many as the most likely candidate. She had support from both the politburo and the population at large (demonstrated by the election of her loyalists to the youth league).[12] Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa was supported by a smaller group composed mainly of senior members of the security establishment, part of ZANU–PF's parliamentary caucus, younger party members, and a few influential parts of the Zimbabwean business community. He had been with Mugabe since Zimbabwe gained independence and was regarded by many as a successor who could maintain stability after Mugabe leaves office.[13]


  1. Sibanda, Eliakim (2005). The Zimbabwe African People's Union 1961–87: A Political History of Insurgency in Southern Rhodesia. Africa World Press. p. 321. ISBN 1-59221-275-1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 Martin, D and Johnson, P. (1981). The Struggle for Zimbabwe. Faber & Faber. p. 400. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. ""Zimbabwean political flags" at FOTW".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Zanu-PF official site".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "ZANU(PF) Central Committee Members". Library of Congress African Pamphlet Collection - Flickr. Retrieved 2014-05-11.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Power to the Mob". Time
  7. "Mutasa blasts Mnangagwa". The Standard (Zimbabwe). 5 May 2013. Retrieved 23 May 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Mugabe's party sweeps to victory. BBC News.
  9. "Mugabe's Zanu-PF loses majority". BBC News. 3 April 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Zimbabwe cholera death toll nears 500". CNN. 2 December 2008. Retrieved 2 December 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Dabengwa speaks on Zapu's future, alliances". Bulawayo24 News. 17 January 2013. Retrieved 23 May 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "We must all resign in December, says Mugabe". NewsdzeZimbabwe. 18 August 2014. Retrieved 9 October 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. International Crisis Group. "", 29 September 2014. Retrieved 9 October 2014.

External links