Journal of Peasant Studies

Three decades of agrarian reform in Zimbabwe

Wednesday 20 July 2011 by LRAN

Sam Moyo The author is grateful for the research support provided by Ndabezinhle Nyoni, Walter Chambati, Charity Dangwa, Kingstone Mujeyi and Dumisani Siziba. Funding from the Norwegian Embassy and CIDA enabled the research. The author would also like to thank the very helpful anonymous reviewers.

About this article

This article examines the empirical facts about the actual outcome of Zimbabwe’s land reform, based on years of field research. It shows that the popular assumption about failed land reform in Zimbabwe is wrong on several counts: the character of Zimbabwe’s land reform has been redistributive, and the extent of this has been wide enough to trigger significant progressive changes in the agrarian structure. This is despite some elites having benefited from the process and foreign-owned agro-industrial estates and conservancies being retained.

The distribution of land among land reform beneficiaries has been relatively uneven, with some receiving larger land allocations than others, and this in turn influenced the differentiated access of these groups to farming services and infrastructure. Yet the productivity of small producers has grown slowly with output escalating recently. Three decades of land reform has recast land-based social relations in important ways, with the poor gaining more than previously believed.

Keywords: market-based land reforms; agrarian transformation; social differentiation; small producers; pluri-form land tenure; farm labour tenancy


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