An occasional blog largely written by Ian Scoones who is a research fellow at the Institute of Development Studies.
Explores the reconfiguration of rural authority in the aftermath of Zimbabwe’s Fast Track Land Reform Programme, particularly the way chiefs were able to deploy ancestral autochthony as a way of contesting state hegemony. Argues that chiefs cannot simply be viewed as undemocratic remnants of colonial rule; instead, a nuanced understanding of their role in rural governance is required.
One of the new government’s major policy priorities has to be to get agriculture moving as a motor of growth. The long-running issue of outstanding compensation payments has meant that international donors and financiers have not engaged with land reform areas, missing out on supporting major development opportunities. People on the resettlement farms are producing significant quantities of food and other agricultural products. Recent figures make it clear how vital they are to Zimbabwe’s struggling economy. So quick resolution of the compensation issue is essential.
Zimbabwe today has an agrarian structure made up of small, medium and large farms, all under different forms of land ownership. A landscape once dominated by 4,500 large-scale commercial farmers is now populated by about 145,000 smallholder households, occupying 4.1 million hectares, and around 23,000 medium-scale farmers on 3.5 million hectares. Knowing exactly who has land and where is difficult. Illegal multiple allocations combine with unclear boundary demarcations and an incomplete recording system.
Drawing on 18 years of research, offers these 10 priorities for getting agriculture moving again: land tenure, finance, partnerships, government loans, access to marketing, value addition, smart support systems, irrigation, mechanisation, local economic development.
Vital that the new Land Commission looks at the range of land issues in the round. Need comprehensive district by district approach, attuned to local circumstances and flexible. Enormous challenge to recreate a land administration system. Outlines vital elements and how they must work together.
Looks at seven key principles for tenure design drawing on the international literature and at multiple routes to land tenure security. Argues that Zimbabwe needs to get over the idea that freehold title is the solution to all ills.
Land reform has generated a range of disputes including overlapping boundaries, double occupations, competing authorities etc. Lists areas in which potential disputes arise.
The challenges are: the methodology for valuation, the state’s capacity for valuation, the process for dispute resolution, and the funding of the process. The backlog created by lack of action in the past 17 years must be dealt with urgently.
Asks are people better off in the new resettlements, a decade after they had moved, compared to the communal areas? To probe this question in more depth, in 2012 Blasio Mavedzenge, Felix Murimbarimba and Jacob Mahenehene and Ian Scoones undertook a survey in some nearby communal areas in parallel with the resurvey of the land reform sites. A complex story emerges in these 5 blogs showing that the resettlements are not simply an extension of the communal lands, but are different on a variety of fronts, with important implications for the future.