– From Rhodesia to Zimbabwe –
April 18, 1980: Rhodesia gains independence after 90 years as a British colony, taking new name Zimbabwe. The 1972-1979 war of independence between nationalist blacks and the minority white regime led by Ian Smith has left 27,000 dead.
Robert Mugabe, head of the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU), takes power as prime minister. Joshua Nkomo, head of the Zimbabwe African Peoples Union (ZAPU), Mugabe’s partner in the armed struggle, becomes interior minister.
February 17, 1982: Nkomo, accused of plotting a coup, is dismissed. Armed resistance in his stronghold of Matabeleland is met with bloody government repression. At least 20,000 die.
December 30, 1987: Mugabe becomes head of state after reforming the constitution to usher in a presidential regime. Two years later rival movements merge to become the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF).
– White farms seized –
February 2000: Start of a violent campaign of seizure of white farms by squatters and pro-Mugabe war veterans.
More than 4,000 of the 4,500 white farmers are stripped of their land, with the support of the regime, with the official goal of correcting inequalities dating back to the colonial era.
– Mugabe hangs on –
March 2002: Mugabe is re-elected president in a poll marred by violence and widely denounced as rigged. Western sanctions are imposed.
March 2008: ZANU-PF is defeated by tMorgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in parliamentary polls. Tsvangirai wins the first-round presidential vote, but withdraws from the second round, citing violence against his supporters. Mugabe is inaugurated for a new term.
August 2013: Mugabe is declared re-elected in July 31 elections with 61 percent of the vote, against Tsvangirai’s 34 percent.
Tsvangirai describes the election as a “huge farce” and “null and void”.
The EU, however, starts normalising relations with Zimbabwe, lifting most of its sanctions.
– Purge –
December 6, 2014: Mugabe names his 49-year-old wife Grace as head of the ruling ZANU-PF party’s women’s wing.
He then seeks to quell infighting over his successor by purging his foes.
April 14, 2016: MDC gathers more than 2,000 demonstrators in Harare in the biggest march organised for a decade against Mugabe.
September 24, 2017: Activist pastor Evan Mawarire is arrested after he posts a video bemoaning the country’s worsening economic troubles.
November 6: Mugabe fires Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, long considered his probable successor, who has close ties to the military and the powerful independence war veterans. He flees the country.
November 13: Army chief General Constantino Chiwenga demands a “stop” to purges and warns the military could intervene.
November 14: Several tanks are seen by witnesses moving near Harare.
November 15: Military announces that Mugabe “and his family are safe and sound.” Declares it is only “targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes” and insists this is not a military takeover. Military vehicles block the road outside parliament and are deployed near ZANU-PF offices.