Profile: ZANU-PF

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ZANU-PF has been the ruling party in Zimbabwe since independence in 1980, led by Robert Mugabe, first as Prime Minister with the party simply known as ZANU, and then as President from 1988 after taking over ZAPU and renaming the party ZANU-PF. Essentially a socialist movement modelled on communist parties overseas, the party’s dominance was so great that Zimbabwe was essentially a one-party state until the emergence of the Movement for Democratic Change in 1999. ZANU-PF’s land reform programme – under which land was confiscated from the minority white population without compensation and given to landless blacks, and allegations of vote rigging and intimidation during recent elections has dented the reputation of the party and Mugabe alike. Zimbabwe African National Union was a party founded by Ndabaningi Sithole and Herbert Chitepo in 1963. On 18 March 1975 Herbert Chitepo was assassinated in Lusaka and Mugabe was nominated to lead ZANU. Later that year there was a factional split along tribal lines, and the Ndebele followed Sitole into the moderate Zanu (Ndonga) party, who renounced violent struggle, while the Shona followed Mugabe with a more militant agenda. ZANU allied itself with the Zimbabwe African People’s Union in the Patriotic Front, but they split after achieving majority rule. Mugabe won the 1980 elections. In 1988 after 8 years of low-level civil war termed Gukurahundi, the opposition Zimbabwe African People’s Union, (ZAPU), led by Joshua Nkomo, merged with ZANU to form Zanu-PF, in what was seen as a step towards a one party state.
ZANU-PF Officially, ZANU-PF is socialist in ideology, and is modelled on communist principles. In reality, the party was more pragmatic, acknowledging the importance of a mixed economy. In recent years, Mugabe has pursued a policy of acquiring large farms, usually owned by the white minority, and redistributing them to landless black peasants. He has also faced a major political challenge from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

Sapa, Reuters

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