Once celebrated as a symbol of anti-colonial struggle, Zimbabwe degenerated into a state of chaos during the turn of the 21st century after decades of internal struggle. During the thirty-year rule of Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) political corruption and suppression increased alongside a deepening economic and public health crisis. State violence and suppression became explicit especially during election seasons, where ZANU-PF intimidated voters.
In 1971 South-West Africa (now Namibia) had been under the rule of South Africa’s apartheid government for more than fifty years. Apartheid laws forced indigenous Namibian tribes to live in assigned tribal areas in the northern third of the country and required passes for movement within the country. The Ovambos were the main group of indigenous people, making up close to half the population, and inhabited the area called Ovamboland. The South African government had imposed a contract labor law system on all indigenous people.