Hebert Chitepo and his wife.

ZIMSEC O Level History Notes: The Struggle for Independence in Colonial Zimbabwe 1900-1980: Political Associations and Workers Unions

  • Africans between the 1920s-1940s saw the need to move from disorderly protests in the form of religious organizations and welfare organizations and they started forming trade unions and political associations
  • Thus the protests during this time were led by those in the middle class such as teachers, clerks and chiefs e.t.c.
  • These were anti-colonial in nature and no longer made it a secret or try to hide behind religion or welfare
  • The political associations and trade unions which led to the Second Chimurenga are
    1. The Rhodesian Bantu Voters Association (RBVA of1920s)
    2. The African National Congress (ANC of 1938)
    3. The Matebele Home Society (MHS of 1929)
    4. The Reformed Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (RICWU of 1940s)
    5. The Bantu African National Voice Association (BANVA of 1940s)
  • The RBVA comprised of educated Africans who advocated for the inclusion of other qualified Africans on the voters roll
  • It was elitist in nature and they just wanted privileges rather than a one man one vote phenomenon
  • It was ignored by the settlers and they deported their South African leaders, Martha Ngano and Abraham Twala
  • The ANC was then formed in Bulawayo by Aaron Jacha in 1934 under the name Southern Rhodesia African Congress
  • It did not spread to other parts of the country though
  • In 1938 it was renamed the African National Congress with new leaders, that is, Joshua Nkomo and Thomas Samkange
  • They fought against racist colonial policies such as the Pass Laws and the Masters and Servants Act
  • They wanted the franchise to also be enjoyed by Africans and also for equality between Europeans and Africans in the standards of life
  • Africans working in the mines also began organizing themselves into unions which protested against poor working conditions and low wages
  • Robert Sambo started a branch of Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU) in Bulawayo in 1927
  • Since the union was illegal, Sambo was deported
  • It was later renamed to Rhodesian Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (IRCU) in the early 1930s and several thousand members
  • The union did not achieve much and most of its leaders were imprisoned or deported
  • In 1945 Rhodesian workers organized the first ever effective strike after the Shamva mine strike was grealty crashed by the settlers
  • The ANC also regrouped that year with Thomas Samkange at its helm
  • Oher powerful trade unionists and politicians such as Benjamin Burombo emerged during this time
  • He formed the BANVA and also helped in the organization and coordination of the general strike in 1948
  • However his organization was banned in 1952
  • African protests from the 1900s to the 1940s took many forms but they were conscious that they needed to challenge the status quo in Zimbabwe that disadvantaged Africans
  • At first the movements took passive forms but Europeans ignored them and thus they needed a more revolutionary approach
  • However they were unsuccessful to a greater extend
  • This was because they were individualistic and isolated and not well coordinated
  • They also did not aim at removing colonial governments or changing the systems in place but rather were appeals for better living and working conditions
  • They were also not nationalistic in nature, did not have clear objectives nor strategies
  • Also settlers put brutal legislation to crash any form of nationalism

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