The politics and history of the armed struggle in Zimbabwe: The case of Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) in Zaka and Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU) in the Bulilima District

  • C. Ngwenya University of Venda, South Africa
  • R. R. Molapo University of Venda, South Africa
Keywords: Peasants, Youth, Guerrillas, Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), Frontline States (FLS), Security forces, Kleinboere, Jeug, Frontliniestate, Veiligheidsmag


The armed struggle in Zimbabwe is a well-documented phenomenon. In their preoccupation with the general politics and history of the armed struggle, these studies have, however, neglected one of the most important aspects of the armed struggle: the difference in political and historical pursuance and execution of the war in the former rural Rhodesia between ZANLA and ZIPRA guerrillas, as having different levels of impact on rural peasants on the one hand, and attracting different forms of response from the Rhodesian Security Forces on the other. Due to these differences, this article claims as case studies of the districts of Rhodesia that both the political and historical developments within ZANLA operated areas in the Zaka District were different from those in the Bulilima District where ZIPRA guerrillas waged their armed struggle. It is argued that the way peasants in Zaka felt and experienced the armed conflict in the former Rhodesia was different from the way peasants in ZIPRA operated Bulilima experienced the same phenomenon.2 Given that the Rhodesian security forces also responded to the political and historical development of the armed struggle in a particular district, it is suffice to note that the armed struggle in rural Rhodesia was a complicated phenomenon that had profound effects on Bulilima and Zaka peasants. The article concludes that, only through a district focused comparative analysis of the effects of the armed struggle in the former Rhodesia, can such differences in experience and impact on peasants be identified and appreciated.


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