About this site

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

ZANU (Zimbabwe African National Union)

A liberation movement set up in Zimbabwe, under the leadership of Robert Mugabe, it conducted a successful guerilla struggle for more than a decade against white-controlled rule. In 1967 South Africa sent troops into Rhodesia to prevent MK* guerillas from coming through to South Africa, and in so doing supported white Rhodesians in their struggle against ZANU and Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU) freedom fighters of Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo respectively. In the 1970s the Rhodesian guerilla bush war became increasingly intense and the South African pressurized Ian Smith to align himself with the more moderate black parties. However an election in 1979 on this basis was rejected as being rigged and another was planned for 1980 under British supervision. In a pre-election pact ZANU-PF (Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front) was formed, headed by Mugabe who had returned from exile in Mozambique. His party won a landslide victory to take over the government, defeating Joshua Nkomo's ZAPU and the followers of Bishop Muzorewa's rightist alliance. Zimbabwe promptly gave its support to the ANC but because of its economic dependency on South Africa was unable to impose sanctions or allow MK guerilla bases on its soil.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.