George Lwandamina's decision to bring back too veteran internationals for their 2016 African Championship campaign paid off on Tuesday, as Isaac Chansa and Chris Katongo combined for the only goal of the game.
Just four minutes into the group D qualifier, Katongo ran past Zimbabwe's defense and headed in a left-wing cross, but the ball flew just wide of the goalposts.
Zambia then pressed Zimbabwe's defense, with Mwape shooting just off the mark after connecting with a Katongo pass in the 11th minute.
A couple of minutes later, Chitiyo was on target for Zimbabwe, forcing a desperate save from Zambia's goalkeeper Jacob Banda.
In an exciting encounter that could have gone both ways, Isaac Chansa fired a powerful shot ten minutes from half-time, but his effort flew just wide of the target.
Zimbabwe then came close to opening the score in the final minute of the first half.
Chirambadare burst through the Zambia defense and curled a left-footed shot towards goal, but the ball swerved wide.
Isaac Chansa broke the deadlock just before the hour mark, when he connected with Katongo's well-taken free-kick.
The 2012 African Cup of Nations champion fired home with an acrobatic volley near ther far post, to the joy of Zambia's supporters.
Despite Zambia's passion and overall dominance over the game, Zimbabwe spurned a chance to equalise in the 72nd minute, when they got into space on the left side and fired at goal, but the ball just missed the inside of the far post.
The defeat was Kalisto Pasuwa's first as head coach of the Zimbabwe team, after three wins and three draws since he was reinstated last month.
With their victory on Tuesday, Zambia begin the African Nations Championship at the top of group D, ahead of Uganda and Mali, who drew 2-2 the same day.