ZANU-PF is the ruling political party in Zimbabwe led by the President Robert Mugabe.

Zimbabwe African National Union was a party founded by Ndabaningi Sithole, a Methodist minister and Herbert Chitepo, a prominent Barrister in the 1960's as a nationalist movement seeking independence and freedom for the indigenous people of Southern Rhodesia. Robert Mugabe joined them in 1963. ZANU was influenced by the Africanist ideas of the Pan Africanist Congress in South Africa and influenced by Maoism (Mao Tse-tung). It challenged, and finally defeated the colonial governmental system which was based on racism, minority rule, and totally undemocratic.

On 18 March 1975 Herbert Chitepo was assassinated in Lusaka and Mugabe was nominated to lead ZANU. Later that year there was a factional split along tribal lines, and the Ndebele followed Sithole into the moderate Zanu (Ndonga) party, who renounced violent struggle, while the Shona followed Mugabe with a more militant agenda.

In the process of mobilisation, ZANU sought to unite the people into one nation. In 1976 it formed an alliance between the two Parties that were fighting for independence, ZAPU and ZANU, and called it The Patriotic Front. Three years later in 1979 when the British Government convened the Lancaster House conference to draw up a new constitution for Zimbabwe, the Patriotic Front emerged as the authentic voice of the Zimbabwean people.

Mugabe won the 1980 elections. In 1988 after 8 years of low-level civil war termed Gukurahundi, the opposition Zimbabwe African People's Union, (ZAPU), led by Joshua Nkomo, merged with ZANU to form ZANU-PF with the added moniker of Patriotic Front, in what was seen as a step towards a one party state.



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