Social and economic developments during the UDI period

Joseph Mtisi, Munyaradzi Nyakudya, Teresa Barnes

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The chapter traces the socio-economic developments in Rhodesia during the UDI period. It analyses how the Rhodesia Front (RF) government’s UDI ‘project’ shattered the African nationalists’ goal of attaining political independence as happened in most African countries. This objective clashed with the long-held aspirations of the generality of the white section of Rhodesian society to safeguard its privileged position. It is argued that while the contests over nationhood, a recurrent feature of the UDI era, appear to be between the Africans and the white section of the Rhodesian society, they were complicated in many ways and transcended the citizen/subject binary. It is shown that the political struggles of the period, often crossing the racial divide, were mainly about the social and economic interests of the various groups that formed the Rhodesian society. Notwithstanding the efforts of the RF government to create a sense of nationhood among whites, Rhodesian white society was divided along class and economic interests, among other variables. As the conflict intensified, some members of the white population were, by the mid-1970s, preaching a different gospel from that of the RF, admitting that majority rule was inevitable. At the same time, a number of Africans had, for economic and other reasons, defended white settler hegemony as soldiers in the Rhodesian army, Selous Scouts and policemen. The chapter further analyses the measures put in place by the RF government as part of efforts to cushion white society in the wake of sanctions imposed on the country following the UDI. Although these measures were, in the short term, successful, the success was not without its own costs. By the mid-1970s, a combination of factors, chief of which was the intensifying civil war, resulted in an economic decline that adversely affected the many facets of Rhodesian society.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationBecoming Zimbabwe
Subtitle of host publicationA History from the Pre-colonial Period to 2008
EditorsBrian Raftopoulos, Alois Mlambo
Place of PublicationJohannesburg
Number of pages26
ISBN (Print)9781779220837
StatePublished - Dec 1 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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