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Prime Minister of the
Republic of Zimbabwe
Coat of arms of Zimbabwe
ResidenceZimbabwe House, Harare
AppointerPresident of Zimbabwe
Formation18 April 1980
11 February 2009
First holderRobert Mugabe
Final holderMorgan Tsvangirai
Abolished31 December 1987
11 September 2013

The prime minister of Zimbabwe was a political office in the government of Zimbabwe that existed on two occasions. The first person to hold the position was Robert Mugabe from 1980 to 1987 following independence from the United Kingdom. He took office when Southern Rhodesia became the Republic of Zimbabwe on 18 April 1980. This position was abolished when the constitution was amended in 1987 and Mugabe became president of Zimbabwe, replacing Canaan Banana as the head of state while also remaining the head of government. The office of prime minister was restored in 2009 and held by Morgan Tsvangirai until the position was again abolished by the 2013 Constitution of Zimbabwe.[1]

History of the office

Original office

Zimbabwe's prime ministerial office owes its origins to the country's predecessor states. The position began with George Mitchell who became prime minister of Southern Rhodesia in 1933. All subsequent predecessor-states continued with the post until Abel Muzorewa who became prime minister of Zimbabwe Rhodesia in 1979 under the Internal Settlement. The Lancaster House Agreement brought an independence constitution which made provision for a parliamentary system, with a president as head of state and a prime minister as head of government. The presidency was mostly ceremonial; real power was vested with the prime minister.

The 1980 election resulted in a ZANU–PF victory with Robert Mugabe becoming prime minister and Canaan Banana president. Mugabe and Banana were returned to office in the 1985 election.

However, in 1987 the government revised the constitution and made the presidency an executive post. The prime minister's post was abolished, and its functions were effectively merged with those of the president. Mugabe ascended to the presidency.

Restored office

Main article: 2008–2009 Zimbabwean political negotiations

The restoration of the office of prime minister in 2009 was a result of a power-sharing agreement made in September 2008 between Mugabe's ZANU–PF and rival candidate Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC–T after the 2008 presidential election and later run-off. Mugabe remained president while Tsvangirai was sworn into the office of prime minister on 11 February 2009. Executive authority was shared between the president, the prime minister and the cabinet, with ZANU–PF and the MDC–T sharing portfolio ministries. It was the prime minister's role to chair the council of ministers and act as the deputy chairperson of Cabinet and also oversee the formulation of government policies by the Cabinet. In addition, the prime minister was a member of the National Security Council, chaired by the president and sat alongside the heads of the armed forces, intelligence, prison services and police. According to section 20.1.8 of the 1980 Constitution of Zimbabwe (No. 19) Amendment, the prime minister, vice-presidents and deputy prime ministers became ex officio members of the House of Assembly without needing to represent parliamentary constituencies, and the party of a constituency-based MP who concurrently served in any of the above offices held the right to nominate non-constituency members to such offices. The post of prime minister did not hold the full executive powers it held during the 1980s and the president remained head of the cabinet. In 2012 Tsvangirai claimed that the power-sharing agreement was not being honoured and that he was not being consulted by the president over some appointments.[2] The government held a referendum in March 2013 to approve a new constitution. As a result, the post of prime minister was abolished from 11 September 2013. Tsvangirai and Mugabe both contested the general election in July 2013 for the single post of president. Mugabe was elected.


Southern Rhodesia (1923–1970)

Political Parties

  Rhodesia Party
  United Party / United Rhodesia Party / United Federal Party
  Rhodesian Front

# Portrait Name
Term of office Political Party Legislature
1 Sir Charles Coghlan
1 October 1923 28 August 1927 Rhodesia Party 1st
George V

2 Howard Unwin Moffat
2 September 1927 5 July 1933 Rhodesia Party 2nd
3 George Mitchell
5 July 1933 12 September 1933 Rhodesia Party
4 Viscount Godfrey Huggins
1 12 September 1933 7 September 1953 United Party 3rd
2 4th
3 5th
George VI

4 6th
5 7th
5 Sir Garfield Todd
7 September 1953 17 February 1958 United Rhodesia Party 8th
Elizabeth II

6 Sir Edgar Whitehead
17 February 1958 17 December 1962 United Federal Party 9th
7 Winston Field
17 December 1962 13 April 1964 Rhodesian Front 10th
8 Ian Smith
1 13 April 1964 2 March 1970[4] Rhodesian Front 11th

Prime Minister of Zimbabwe Rhodesia (1979)


  United African National Council

No. Portrait Name
Term of office Political party Election Cabinet
Took office Left office Time in office
Abel Muzorewa
Abel Muzorewa
MP for Mashonaland East
1 June 197912 December 1979194 daysUANC1979Government

Prime ministers of Zimbabwe (1980–1987; 2009–2013)

No. Portrait Prime Minister Took office Left office Time in office Party Election President(s)
Robert Mugabe
Mugabe, RobertRobert Mugabe
18 April 198031 December 19877 years, 257 daysZANU1980
Canaan Banana
Post abolished (31 December 1987 – 11 February 2009)
Morgan Tsvangirai
Tsvangirai, MorganMorgan Tsvangirai
11 February 200911 September 20134 years, 212 daysMDC–T2008[a]Robert Mugabe
Post abolished (11 September 2013 – present)

Rank by time in office

Rank President Time in office
1 Robert Mugabe 7 years, 257 days
2 Morgan Tsvangirai 4 years, 212 days

Living former prime ministers

Following the death of Robert Mugabe on 6 September 2019, there are no living former prime ministers of Zimbabwe.

See also


  1. ^ Appointed to the post of prime minister following the 2008–2009 political negotiations.


  1. ^ Chinaka, Cris (10 September 2013). "Mugabe appoints ZANU-PF lawyer as Zimbabwe Finance Minister". Reuters. Retrieved 17 April 2022.
  2. ^ Green, Adam Robert (5 March 2012). "Morgan Tsvangirai, Prime Minister of Zimbabwe". This Is Africa Online. Archived from the original on 24 February 2014. Retrieved 19 February 2014.
  3. ^ Wood 2008, p. 471.
  4. ^ Smith's government continued to affirm allegiance to Elizabeth II as "Queen of Rhodesia" following its declaration of independence until 1970, but this was not acknowledged.[3]