Abel Muzorewa: Wikis


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 Abel Muzorewa

In office
1 June – 11 December 1979
President Josiah Zion Gumede
Preceded by Ian Douglas Smith
Succeeded by Robert Mugabe

Born 4 April 1925 (1925-04-04) (age 84)
Umtali, Manicaland, Southern Rhodesia
Nationality Zimbabwean
Political party United African National Council

Bishop Abel Tendekayi Muzorewa (born on 14 April 1925) served as Prime Minister of Zimbabwe Rhodesia from the Internal Settlement to the Lancaster House Agreement in 1979. A Methodist bishop and nationalist leader, he held office for only a few months.[1]


Early life

Muzorewa is the eldest of a lay preacher's eight children and was educated at the United Methodist School, Old Umtali (near Mutare). He was a school teacher at Mrewa between 1943 and 1947 before becoming a full time lay preacher at Mtoko between 1947 and 1949. He then studied theology at Old Umtali Biblical College (1949-1952) and was ordained as a Minister at Umtali in August 1953. Muzorewa became a pastor at Chiduku, near Rusape, between (1955-1958).

He obtained an M.A. from the Christian Education Scarritt College in Nashville, Tennessee. Later he obtained an M.A. in Philosophy and Religion from the Central Methodist College in Fayette, Missouri in the United States.

In July 1963, he became Pastor of Old Umtali, and a year later, he was appointed National Director of the Christian Youth Movement and was seconded to the Christian Council. In 1966, he became Secretary of the Student Christian Movement. In 1968, Muzorewa was consecrated as Bishop of Rhodesia in the United Methodist Church at Masera in Botswana.

United African National Council

In 1971 the British government struck a deal with Ian Smith that provided for a transition to majority rule in exchange for an end to sanctions against the government. Muzorewa joined with an inexperienced cleric, the Reverend Canaan Banana, to form the United African National Council (UANC) to oppose the settlement under the acronym NIBMAR (no independence before majority rule).

The proposed referendum was withdrawn and Muzorewa found himself a national leader and an international personality. The liberation movements—the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) of Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole and the Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU) of Joshua Nkomo—both placed themselves under the UANC umbrella even though they had some doubts when Muzorewa founded a national party.

After ZANU, led by Robert Mugabe after disagreements with Sithole, and ZAPU undertook guerrilla warfare, the United African National Council was the only legal Black party since it rejected violence.

Internal Settlement

On 3 March 1978, Muzorewa, Sithole and other non-exiled leaders signed an agreement at Governors Lodge, Salisbury, which paved the way for the interim government, the leadership of which was an Executive Council made up of Muzorewa, Sithole and Jeremiah Chirau, along with Ian Smith.

This Executive Council would run the affairs of state prior to elections taking place. A new constitution was drafted reserving 10 seats in the Senate and 28 seats in the lower house of parliament for the White minority, as well as a quarter of the Cabinet positions. The constitution was approved in a nearly Whites-only referendum which took place in January 1979. An overwhelming majority of 85% voted yes.

Elections were held, and the UANC won. Josiah Gumede was the first President, Muzorewa became prime minister and the country's name was changed to Zimbabwe Rhodesia. But both Mugabe and Nkomo denounced the arrangement, the war continued, and no international recognition was forthcoming because the external Marxist leaders had not been included in the elections. The civil war that Ian Smith hoped to stem when he worked out the "internal settlement" continued unabated.

Lancaster House Agreement

Muzorewa pictured on a UANC campaign T-shirt, 1979

The British government asked all parties to come to London for negotiations to find a lasting solution to the Bush War. Nkomo and Mugabe attended the conference under the "Patriotic Front" (PF) banner. The conference was held from 10 September 1979, until 15 December 1979, under the chairmanship of Lord Carrington, the British Foreign Minister. Muzorewa was persuaded to accept fresh elections, to be held in early 1980.

The new elections took place at the end of February 1980, after a campaign filled with much intimidation by Mugabe's ZANU. The British government briefly considered disqualifying ZANU from participating in the election for flagrant violation of the Lancaster House Agreement, but in the end did nothing. On 4 March 1980, these new elections unsurprisingly resulted in a resounding majority for Mugabe and ZANU. The UANC only won 3 out of 80 seats reserved for Africans in the House of Assembly. Under Mugabe, "Zimbabwe Rhodesia" became the Republic of Zimbabwe, or more simply "Zimbabwe."

Muzorewa stood against Mugabe in the presidential election of 1995. However, once again he was resoundingly defeated.

Visit to Israel

Muzorewa visited Israel on 21 October 1983. He urged Mugabe to establish diplomatic relations, saying his political policies hurt Zimbabwe's agriculture and technology industries. The Zimbabwean government arrested Muzorewa on charges of conspiring against Mugabe for the South African government on 1 November. Two days later Mugabe warned Ndabaningi Sithole and Joshua Nkomo against 'conspiring'. He went on a hunger strike from 3 November to 11 November.[2]

2008 presidential election

On 21 June 2007 Muzorewa said citizens, white and black alike, came to his house and asked him to run for president. He did not, however, confirm or deny that he would stand as a candidate in the 2008 presidential election. After citizens spoke with him, describing their situation, he said Zimbabwe is:

bleeding, economically and socially. It is painful to listen to them talk.[1]

He asked people to pray that negotiations between ZANU-PF and the MDC, mediated by South African President Thabo Mbeki, would be successful and for Zimbabwe's "salvation."[1]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Lebo Nkatazo (2007). "Zimbabwe: Muzorewa plots political comeback". New Zimbabwe via allAfrica.com. http://allafrica.com/stories/200706210837.html. Retrieved 2007-12-06.  
  2. ^ Kalley, Jacqueline Audrey. Southern African Political History: A chronological of key political events from independence to, 1999. Page 726.

3. Newitt, Louise (ed). Prominent Rhodesian Personalities (Cover Publicity Services, Salisbury, 1977).

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Ian Smith
(of Rhodesia)
Prime Minister of Zimbabwe Rhodesia
Succeeded by
Robert Mugabe
(of Zimbabwe)


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