Indigenous peoples in Zimbabwe

The Government of Zimbabwe does not identify any specific group as indigenous, arguing that all Zimbabweans are indigenous peoples.

There are two peoples who self-identify as indigenous in Zimbabwe. These are the:

  • Tshwa (Tyua, Cuaa) San, who are found in the Tsholotsho District of Matabeleland North Province and the Bulalima-Mangwe District of Matabeleland South Province in western Zimbabwe
  • Doma (Wadoma, Vadema) of Chapoto Ward in Guruve District and Mbire District of Mashonaland Central Province and Karoi District of Mashonaland West Province in the Zambezi Valley of northern Zimbabwe.

There are approximately 2,600 Tshwa and 1,050 Doma in Zimbabwe, making up 0.03% of the country’s population.

Traditional Way of Life

The Tshwa and Doma have a history of foraging and continue to rely to a limited extent on wild plant, animal and insect resources. Most Tshwa and Doma households tend to have diversified economies, often working for members of other groups.


Many Tshwa and Doma live below the poverty line, and together they make up some of the poorest people people in the country. Available socio-economic data are limited for both groups, though baseline data was collected for the Tshwa in late 2013.

Available information regarding the Doma is still very limited.


Though somewhat improved in recent years, realization of core human rights in Zimbabwe continues to be challenging.

Zimbabwe is party to the:

Reporting on these conventions is largely overdue but there have been recent efforts to meet requirements.

No Specific Rights Concerning Indigenous Peoples

Zimbabwe is a signatory to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

As with other African nations (with the exception of the CAR) Zimbabwe has not adopted ILO Convention No. 169, although it may reconsider its position in coming years.

There sre no specific law on indgenous peoples' rights in the country. However, the "Koisan" language is included in the Zimbabwe Constitution as one of 16 languages that are recognized in the country, and there is some recognition within the government of the need for more information and improved approaches to minorities

Yearly Update

Download the 2016 yearbook article on indigenous peoples in Zimbabwe to learn about major developments and events during 2015.