Zimbabwe African National Union (Patriotic Front)

Updated February 2000

The Zimbabwe African National Union (Patriotic Front), ZANU PF, has won every election since independence in 1980. It was formed in August 1963 as a breakaway from the Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU). It waged a guerrilla war, together with ZAPU, against the white minority Rhodesian government.

In the first elections after independence in 1980, ZANU (PF) won no less that 57 of the 80 "African seats" obtaining 63% of the African vote. Joshua Nkomo's Patriotic Front (PF) won 20 seats, while UANC, the party that formed the government under the discredited Zimbabwe-Rhodesia interregnum won only 3. The UDI-advocate Rhodesia Front (RF) won all the 20 reserved white seats.

The current form of ZANU PF is the result of the 1987 peace agreement and eventual merger in 1989 between Joshua Nkomo's Zimbabwe African People's Union - Patriotic Front and and ZANU PF. The 1989 merger represented the commitment of the two parties to the creation of a one-party state system.

In the 1995 legislative elections ZANU PF won all but three seats with 76% of the vote and in the 1996 Presidential elections, Robert Mugabe was returned to office under the ZANU PF flag against his only competitor, Edgar Tekere of the Zimbabwe Unity Movement (See United Parties).

In 1999 the party in government launched a process to draft a new constitutional proposal. All 150 members of the national legislature were part of the 400-member commission tasked by the President with producing the draft. An estimated 5 000 public meetings were held between August and September 1999. The consultation exercise was widespread, covering all districts in the country.

The eventual draft was submitted to a national referendum in February 2000 and was rejected by 54% of voters. Some commentators observed that the "no" vote was a rejection of ZANU PF and President Mugabe as much as an expression of opinion on the draft constitution. However, 62 of the country's 120 constituencies voted "yes", which, if repeated during the elections, would be sufficient to give ZANU PF a majority of the elected seats in parliament.

The theme of the ZANU PF election manifesto is "Land is the economy and the economy is land." The party claims for itself status as the only true revolutionary party in Zimbabwe and commits itself to the pursuit of five goals:

  • Economic growth
  • Social Justice through redistribution of wealth and equality
  • Democracy
  • Peace, stability and the rule of law
  • National autonomy in domestic and foreign policy

In its prioritisation of land as the central issue in Zimbabwe, the ZANU PF manifesto argues that "Our economy is driven by land to the extent that the white minority that owns the best farming and mining land in our country dominates all sections of the economy simply because the majority of our people are landless." However, the constitution [referred to as the Lancaster House Constitution after the site of the negotiations in the United Kingdom] has tied the hands of our Government to prevent it from undertaking the necessary land reform over the first 10 years of independence..."

The current land invasions are characterised as an initial target of compulsory land acquisition enabled by an April 2000 constitutional amendment (Number 16) enacted by the ZANU PF parliament.

Official website

ZANU PF: [www] http://www.zanupfpub.co.zw/ [opens new window]