Family Farming Knowledge Platform

Changing agrarian relations after redistributive Land Reform in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe’s Fast Track Land Reform Programme (FTLRP) initiated from 2000 extensively redistributed land, mainly to peasants and working peoples (see Moyo 2011c) and, in doing so, unravelled the labour reserve economy created over a century of settler-colonial agrarian capitalism. This change has created a broader range of prospects for progressive agrarian transformation, despite the persistence of inequalities and exploitative social relations. The dominant discourses have reflected such agrarian changes, however, by narrowly focusing their attention on the immediate consequences of the FTLRP, particularly on the decline in agricultural output and formal employment which are conceived of in a linear fashion (e.g., UNDP 2010). Moreover, this narrow view is dramatised by such erroneous claims as, for example, Zimbabwe’s large-scale white farms having been the breadbasket of Southern Africa, when, in fact, they constituted an irregular food exporter and importer, as South Africa met the regional food deficits (Moyo 2010). Such narrative attributes the decline merely to the replacement of skilled large-scale white farmers with alleged ‘subsistence’ producers (e.g., Tupy 2007) and to the loss of private property rights (e.g., Richardson 2005).

This chapter explores the macro-processes of agrarian change that emerged during the FTLRP. After outlining Zimbabwe’s agrarian history and the new agrarian structure, section three examines the agrarian policies instituted since 2000. The chapter then interrogates the emerging composition and trends of agricultural outputs and productivity, within their class and regional contexts, while identifying the accumulation trajectory underway. Patterns of access to agrarian markets, including the role of the state, are then explored, highlighting their reconfiguration, the re-insertion of diverse foreign capitals and the socially differentiated access to and utilisation of inputs. Farming contracts tied to inputs supplies intended largely for export increasingly entrench differentiated investment and productivity. Finally, the chapter examines the way agrarian politics are re-oriented by farmers’ reorganization for state support and access to markets, while defending their land. This examination highlights the waning agrarian radicalism within a state with limited fiscal capacity and the renewed dominance of a multi-racial and foreign capital. Western donors simultaneously use limited aid and sanctions to influence the orientation of agrarian policy as Zimbabwe is saliently re-integrated into more diverse world markets.

Title of publication: Land and Agrarian Reform in Zimbabwe: Beyond White-Settler Capitalism
Page range: 195-250
Publisher: Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA)
Section/Chapter: 6
Author: Sam Moyo
Other authors: Ndabezinhle Nyoni
Organization: Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA)
Other organizations: Sam Moyo African Institute for Agrarian Studies (SMAIAS)
Year: 2013
ISBN: 978-2-86978-553-3
Country/ies: Zimbabwe
Geographical coverage: Africa
Type: Book part
Content language: English

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