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DatesZAPU Milestone Events

Significant events in Zimbabwe


  • The African National Congress, first called the Southern Rhodesia Bantu Congress was formed in Bulawayo. This first Rhodesian ANC did not last long nor did its influence spread much outside of Bulawayo. Essentially an elitist group, its main work was done through petitions and delegations.
  • The African National Congress was revived in Bulawayo in 1945, but its following was still limited and it did not adopt a militant policy until ten years later.
  • Joshua Nkomo is elected president of the Bulawayo based Southern Rhodesian chapter of the African National Congress (ANC) of South Africa.
  • June 25 - 26 1955: The ANC (South Africa) and its Congress Alliance parters held the Congress of the People in Kliptown, South Africa at which the Freedom Charter was adopted.
  • The Southern Rhodesia National Youth League was established under the leadership of James Chikerema and George Nyandoro to challenge elite politics. This was the first modern African nationalist organization to criticize the "tea time partnership" of inter-racial organizations. Civil disobedience was promoted as a tactic to encourage change.
  • September 12 1957: The Southern Rhodesian African National Congress (SRANC) was formed by the amalgamation of the Salisbury based Youth League and the Bulawayo branch of the African National Congress (ANC). Joshua Nkomo was elected President and James Chikerema Vice-President. The ANC opposed the discriminatory laws esconced in the Constitution, and attracted to nationalist politics as an alternative to trying to achieve more privileges within the white system.
  • The Southern Rhodesia African National Congress (SRANC) is banned, Whitehead declared a state of emergency and 500 leaders and members of the ANC were arrested. Joshua Nkomo was out of the country at the time of the banning and thus avoided detention. Other leaders such as Chikerema and Nyandoro spent the next four years in prison.
  • January 01 1960: National Democratic Party (NDP) was founded as the successor to the banned ANC with Michael Mawema as interim President. Joshua Nkomo was elected President in November 1960. The NDP won a mass following and attracted the intellectual elite.
  • The NDP was banned. For the first time leaflets threatening violence began appearing in the name of General Chedu. "Chedu" is a Shona work meaning "ours".
  • 17 December 1961: The Zimbabwe African Peoples Union (ZAPU) was founded (just 10 days after the banning of the NDP) with Joshua Nkomo as President. The tradition of mass rallies begun by the NDP was carried on by ZAPU. Provocative acts of violence by the police led ZAPU militants to accept the necessity of violence in return. Acts of sabotage began.
  • Mid 1962: ZAPU sent some militants abroad for military training, to such countries as Algeria, Ghana, Czechoslovakia, and China.
  • September 20 1962: ZAPU was banned - a wave of violence spread through the country as schools and British South African Company forests were burned and attacks made on government buildings. About 2000 African leaders were arrested.
  • Rhodesian elections took place. Of the more than 3.5 million Rhodesian Africans in 1962 only 60,000 were eligible to vote. Virtually none did, complying with the ZAPU-advocated boycott. Whitehead's United Federal Party government was replaced by the even more conservative Dominion Party headed by Winston Field. The defeat of the UFP marked the end of African efforts to change the direction of the European government by working from within.
  • July 1963: ZAPU expels national chairman Ndabaningi Sithole, Leopold Takawira (Secretary for External Affairs) Robert Mugabe (Publicity Secretary), and Moton Malianga (Secretary General).
  • August 10 1964: Cold Comfort Conference, held at a farm of this name located near Salisbury. With 5000 in attendance, the banned ZAPU was reconstituted under Nkomo's leadership, adopting the name The People's Caretaker Council (PCC).
  • August 8 1963: The expelled ZAPU members quickly formed a new organization called the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU).
  • April 16 1964: Nkomo was arrested and placed in detention. He was not released for more than 10 years.
  • April 13 1964: The Rhodesian Front Party, the most conservative white party, won the elections and its leader, [an Smith became the Prime Minister.
  • November 11 1965: Seeking to avoid even minimal British pressure for extending African participation, Ian Smith's government unilaterally declared its independence from Britain after a referendum with 58,091 voting 'yes' and 6,906 'no'.
  • March 1966: ZAPU announced guerrilla activity.
  • December 16 1966: The UN Security Council imposed selective sanctions against the Rhodesian government-calling on all members to embargo imports of certain commodities including chrome and tobacco and the export of oil to Rhodesia (Res. 232).
  • August 1967: ZAPU and the African National Congress of South Africa jointly began an armed struggle in northwestern Rhodesia centered in Wankie. This campaign lasted into 1968, with several hundred ZAPU and South African ANC guerrillas involved. South African troops entered Rhodesia to support the government. Prime Minister Vorster said: "We are good friends (with Rhodesia) and good friends know what their duty is when the neighbors house is on fire."
  • On March 6 1968: Zimbabwe Nationalists Duly Shadrick, James Dlamini and Victor Mlambo were hanged on the grounds of the Salisbury Prison.
  • James Chikerema and his closest ally George Nyandoro are expelled from ZAPU for taking unilateral actions without consulting other executive members like Jason Moyo (Treasurer), George Silundika (Publicity and Information), and Edward Ndlovu and for negotiating with some ZANU members on the question of forming a united organization on his own, amongs other misdemenours. James Chikerema had been acting President of ZAPU since Nkomo's imprisonment.
  • James Chikerema and George Nyandoro form the Front for the Liberation of Zimbabwe (FROLIZI).
  • The African National Council organized under the Presidency of Methodist Bishop Abel Muzorewa was initiated in Rhodesia to oppose the Smith-Douglas-Home agreement and the '69 Constitution.
  • A Joint Military Council of ZAPU and ZANU was established, backed by the OAU. However it was never successfully activated.
  • A British Commission under the leadership of Lord Pearce, (the Pearce Commission) was sent to Rhodesia to assess whether the 1969 Rhodesian constitution met the "test of acceptability." In the face of constant police action the African National Council vigorously opposed the constitution. Mass African opposition ultimately convinced the Pearce Commission that the constitution was not acceptable.
  • The Lusaka Agreement. After several days of discussions at the State House in Lusaka with the presidents of Tanzania, Zambia, Mozambique, and Botswana, Nkomo for ZAPU, Sithole for ZANU, Chikerema for FROLIZI and Muzorewa for ANC signed an agreement. The movements, said the text, "Hereby agree to unite in the African National Council".
  • The Rhodesian government released Joshua Nkomo and Ndabiningi Sithole temporarily to attend meetings in Lusaka.
  • Ian Smith announced "I have received assurances to the effect that terrorist activities in Rhodesia will cease immediately, and second, that the proposed constitutional conference will take place without any pre-conditions. Accordingly I have agreed to release the African leaders from detention and restriction and their followers as well."
  • Joshua Nkomo called a Congress of the ANC at a soccer stadium in Highfields. It was announced that 43 out of the 69 members of the ANC Executive agreed to this Congress and attended it. Congress was attended by 6000 accredited delegates. Joshua Nkomo was elected as president, thus setting up another ANC. The ANC led by Bishop Muzorewa condemned the Congress as unconstitutional and non-representative.
  • The Zambian government established an international commission to investigate the death of Chitepo. The Commission published its findings - concluding that Chitepo's death resulted in part from the struggle inside ZANU for high positions in liberated Zimbabwe.
  • The conflict inside the ANC came to a head with the expulsion by Bishop Muzorewa of Nkomo.

By Staff Reporter 

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