This paper provides a systematic basis, hitherto missing in the current scholarship, to quantify land transfers in Zimbabwe after 1980. It uses title deed information to determine year of sale via a number of sources. The main finding of this research is that a great deal of land changed ownership during this period, which, if the government had been committed to land reform, it could have acted upon. Evidence suggests as much as 67 per cent of white‐owned land changed ownership after 1980. The second is that, while a large amount of land did change hands, it was not the 80 per cent that many white farmers and their supporters have claimed. The figure of 69 per cent is still very high, but it is apparent that much of this did not represent ‘true’ transfer of land. By further investigating the land that did change hands, this paper also raises questions about (a) the possibilities of market‐led land reform in Zimbabwe and Southern Africa, and (b) the relationship between white capital and the new political elite in the postcolonial state.
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