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Zimbabwe's Land Reform - Myths & Realities by Ian Scoones et al.

Ten years after the land invasions of 2000, this book provides the first full account of the consequences of these dramatic events. This land reform overturned a century-old pattern of land use, one dominated by a small group of large-scale commercial farmers, many of whom were white. But what replaced it?

This book challenges five myths through the examination of the field data from Masvingo province:

Myth 1 Zimbabwean land reform has been a total failure
Myth 2 The beneficiaries of Zimbabwean land reform have been largely political 'cronies'
Myth 3 There is no investment in the new resettlements
Myth 4 Agriculture is in complete ruins creating chronic food insecurity
Myth 5 The rural economy has collapsed

By challenging these myths, and suggesting alternative policy narratives, this book presents the story as it has been observed on the ground: warts and all. What comes through very strongly is the complexity, the differences, almost farm by farm: there is no single, simple story of the Zimbabwe land reform as sometimes assumed by press reports, political commentators, or indeed much academic study

Ian Scoones, Professorial Fellow, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, with co-authors Nelson Marongwe, Blasio Mavedzenge, Jacob Mahenehene, Felix Murimbarimba and Chrispen Sukume

Zimbabwe: Weaver Press
Southern Africa: Jacana

This is an important, exciting and hugely impressive study which throws original light on the impacts of Zimbabwe's controversial Fast Track Land Reform Programme in one province, Masvingo. It is without doubt a major contribution to scholarship which deserves to be widely read. - Robin Palmer, Mokoro Ltd, Oxford; formerly Global Land Adviser, Oxfam GB, author of Land & Racial Dominance in Rhodesia

This book represents arguably the most comprehensive empirical evidence challenging the popular myths that Zimbabwe's land reform has been a total failure, attributed to political cronyism and lack of investment. The book will be most instructive for South Africa and Namibia as they ponder a way forward with their own land reform challenges. - Mandivamba Rukuni, formerly Chair, Commission of Inquiry into Zimbabwe's Land Tenure Systems

This book is a comprehensive assessment of the nature of agrarian change during the last decade. It captures the diverse range of real life responses of newly resettled family farms and the new small to medium scale commercial farmers to changing commodity and financial markets within the new agrarian landscape, during a period of economic distress. - Sam Moyo, Professor & Director, African Institute for Agrarian Studies, Harare

This important study breaks new ground in its exploration of livelihood dynamics and the complexities of social differentiation within redistributive land reform. It is likely to influence both scholarship and emerging policy frameworks in the 'new' Zimbabwe. - Ben Cousins, Research Chair on Poverty, Land & Agrarian Studies, University of the Western Cape

Whatever you thought about the land issue in Zimbabwe, be prepared to change your mind. Events in Zimbabwe since 2000 have been so coloured by superficial media reporting and obscured by strident political posturing that little attention has been directed to what has become of the thousands of families that received land following the occupations...Despite the unevenness of outcomes to date, they have succeeded in establishing a base for themselves as serious producers with the capacity to contribute significantly to Zimbabwe's agricultural economy. - Bill Kinsey, Professor, Ruzivo Trust and Free University Amsterdam

First Published: 18 Nov 2010
13 Digit ISBN: 9781847010247
Pages: 304
Size: 21.6 x 13.8
Binding: Paperback
Imprint: James Currey
Series: African Issues
Subject: African Studies
BIC Class: GTB


  1. Preface & Acknowledgements
  2. Livelihoods & land reform in Zimbabwe
  3. Land reform in Masvingo province
  4. New land, new people, new livelihoods
  5. Investing in the land
  6. The new farmers: agricultural & livestock production
  7. Labour: the new farm workers
  8. Real markets: the changing political economy of agricultural commodities
  9. Livelihoods beyond the farm: off-farm income & migration
  10. Territory, authority & social dynamics
  11. Livelihood pathways & economic linkages: emerging impacts of land reform
  12. 12  Lessons from Zimbabwe's land reform
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