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  General and Old World HistoryAfricaSouthern AfricaZimbabwe
Zimbabwe Rhodesia electionsBishop Abel T. MuzorewaZimbabwe Rhodesia

On April 24, 1979, the first free elections open to both black and whites were held in Rhodesia. The election resulted in the country being renamed Zimbabwe Rhodesia and its first black government, headed by Bishop Abel T. Muzorewa as Prime Minister.

Muzorewa's government was immediately challenged by two other black nationalist leaders, Joshua Nkomo and Robert Mugabe, neither of whom had taken part in the election. The two men had been leading separate guerrilla armies for the past seven years in a war aimed at ensuring black control of the government. Claiming that Muzorewa was merely a pawn of the whites, Nkomo and Mugabe united their forces under the banner of Patriotic Force and vowed to keep fighting.

In September 1979, Muzorewa, Nkomo, and Mugabe attended a British-led conference in London, England, aimed at brining the civil war to an end. By December they had reached agreement on a cease-fire, a new constitution, and new elections.

To facilitate the cease fire and transition to complete independence, the Muzorewa government voted itself outof existence and the country returned, temporarily, to the status of a British colony. The new elections were expected to take place in the spring of 1980, at which time the country would become the independent nation of Zimbabwe.

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This page was last updated on August 11, 2016.

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