According to government statistics, the Shona ethnic group makes up 82 percent of the population, Ndebele 14 percent, whites and Asians less than 1 percent, and other ethnic groups 3 percent. There was tension between the white minority and other groups, which ZANU-PF leaders often manipulated to further their political agenda. Historical tension between the Shona majority and Ndebele minority resulted in marginalization of the Ndebele by the Shona- dominated government.
The government continued its attempts to attribute the country's economic and political problems to the white minority and Western countries. ZANU-PF supporters seldom were arrested or charged with infringing upon minority rights, particularly the property rights of the minority white commercial farmers or wildlife conservancy owners targeted in the land redistribution program.
None of the provisions or timelines in the 2008 indigenization law were enforced during the year, and no businesses were forced to transfer ownership. The law defines an indigenous Zimbabwean as any person, or the descendant of such person, who before the date of the country's independence in 1980 was disadvantaged. The official purpose of the indigenization law was to increase the participation of indigenous citizens in the economy, with the ultimate objective of at least 51 percent indigenous ownership of large businesses. Legal experts criticized the law as being itself unfairly discriminatory and a violation of the constitution. Critics also said the real purpose of the law was to create patronage for ZANU-PF.
Historically, the government has discriminated against language minorities through the Education Act, which mandates the teaching of English in schools, along with Shona or Ndebele, depending on the region. In 2001 other minority language groups (Tonga, Shangani, Kalanga, Suthu, Venda, and Nambya) formed the Zimbabwe Indigenous Languages Promotion Association (ZILPA) to petition the government for legal reforms so that their languages could be taught in their schools. In 2008 the government agreed to allow the teaching of these languages in the areas in which they were spoken, along with English and Shona or Ndebele. The government did not provide resources for related teacher training or instructional materials. Nonetheless, the Tonga
successfully developed curriculum and instructional materials to cover the seven years of primary school education. In 2009 Ministry of Education, Sport, Art, and Culture officials met with ZILPA and agreed to support its request for funding to teach all minority languages; however, schools lacked the necessary materials to teaching of minority languages.