Since its independence in 1980, Zimbabwe has emerged as one of the principal forces in African international relations. Harare, the capital, has emerged as a major diplomatic center and Zimbabwe has served in major leadership positions, both at the United Nations, where, only two years after independence it was unanimously elected to the Security Council, and in the Non-Aligned Movement, which Zimbabwe was selected to chair in 1986. In this capacity, and as a member of the Commonwealth, Zimbabwe actively participated in the decolonization of Namibia and has actively lobbied the international community for comprehensive sanctions against South Africa.
Unlike other newly independent states in Africa, the government of Robert Mugabe brought with it a long heritage of activity in international affairs. This pattern of international activity by Mugabe's party, the Zimbabwe African National Union (Patriotic Front)— commonly referred to as ZANU(PF)—grew out of its pursuit of a protracted, mass-based, and internationally supported armed struggle for independence. Thus, to understand the foreign policy of Zimbabwe, it is necessary to examine the international activities of ZANU prior to independence, when it was a liberation movement. It is precisely this link between liberation movements, sovereignty and foreign policy which is the focus of this study. Such an approach not only enables us to expand our notion of sovereignty, but also enables us to develop new approaches to the comparative study of African and third world foreign policy.