This Act concerns the application of customary law of the people of Zimbabwe in legal proceedings at local courts. It also provides for the ascertainment of customary law, the constitution of local courts and defines their jurisdiction.The Act defines the criteria for customary law to apply in any civil case and sets out that general law of Zimbabwe shall apply in all other cases. A local court shall have no jurisdiction in any case where the claim is not determinable by customary law and any case to determine rights in respect of land or other immovable property.
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The UK annexed Southern Rhodesia from the former British South Africa Company in 1923. A 1961 constitution was formulated that favored whites in power. In 1965 the government unilaterally declared its independence, but the UK did not recognize the act and demanded more complete voting rights for the black African majority in the country (then called Rhodesia). UN sanctions and a guerrilla uprising finally led to free elections in 1979 and independence (as Zimbabwe) in 1980.