New research on land reform in Zimbabwe

As mentioned last week, the University of Sussex hosted the major biennial UK African Studies Association conference. Around 600 delegates were registered, and there was a real buzz, with panels on every conceivable topic from every corner of the continent. Quite a few papers reported on new work from Zimbabwe, and land and politics was a recurrent theme. In the end we had a single panel of three papers (as several panellists had to drop out at the last minute). It was a fascinating session to a standing-room-only audience.

The three panellists all reported on new research in the now not-so-new resettlements, representing different geographic areas, and diverse methodologies. All looked at how new livelihoods are being carved out following land reform in A1 sites. This included in-depth reflections on the relationships between farmers and farmworkers, a quantitative assessment of production outcomes across sites compared to communal and old resettlement areas, and an analysis of how farm and off-farm livelihood opportunities are combined in a mining area.

The session kicked off with an excellent paper by Leila Sinclair-Bright who discussed the changing social relations between ‘new farmers’ on an A1 resettlement area in Mazowe and farmworkers. Through a deep, focused ethnographic approach she looked at changing notions of ‘belonging’, and the way livelihoods are negotiated. A case of a chief’s court dispute over land highlighted many of the dynamics. For, while the farmworkers were accepted as part of the farm community, and even incorporated into the cultural fabric of life through their as ‘sahwira’ at burials, when a group tried to claim formally the land that they had been cultivating this was rejected by the A1 farmers. ‘Belonging’ had its limits, and the new farmers tried to circumscribe this, arguing that as ‘foreigners’ (many had Malawian origins several generations back), their role was not as land owners but labourers. That the farmworkers had been bargaining hard on wages and opting for alternate livelihoods had played into this tension. Certainly the emerging forms of ‘belonging’ differ dramatically from that described by Blair Rutherford in the pre-land reform era, but the cultural politics of farmworker-farmer relations are as live as ever, often flaring up into disputes of this sort. Leila’s paper highlighted the value of really in-depth analysis of cases to uncover the textured dynamics of change on the farms. We have been subjected to far too much simplistic analysis, often based on spurious statistics, on farmworkers, but this sort of work really provides a much-needed qualitative insight that is immensely revealing. As the new social, political and economic relations are negotiated on the new farms, new bargains and accommodations will be struck, and this will require innovations in institutional and cultural practices; sometimes drawing on traditional norms, but in other cases requiring new deals to be struck.

Taking a very different approach, Gareth James offered an overview of some of his impressive survey work across three districts in Mashonaland/Manicaland, involving a sample of over 600 (here’s the powerpoint). This involved a large sample extending the classic work by Bill Kinsey and colleagues that tracked the fortunes of ‘old resettlement’ area farmers, comparing these to their neighbours in the communal areas (see our Masvingo work on this, in a recent blog series). Gareth has developed a sample in A1 farming areas, and looked at a range of factors. This presentation focused on ‘outcomes’ and in a series of graphs he showed how the A1 farmers on average outperformed both the old resettlement area and communal area farmers across a range of criteria. As younger, more educated, more capitalised farmers, they had higher outputs and yields of major crops (maize, cotton, tobacco), applied more inputs and achieved higher incomes. He offered a listing of the constraints faced too, which included a familiar array focused on the challenges of accessing farming inputs and labour. For those of us who primarily work in the drier south of the country, the production statistics were impressive. Across the two seasons studied (both of which were not good seasons), the A1 farmers achieved an average output of around 6 tonnes of maize. Taking the standard figure of annual consumption requirements of 1 tonne per family, this means around 5 tonnes could be sold, and contribute to a dynamic of investment and accumulation that Gareth described. This was of course added to by the often impressive outputs of tobacco. Averages of course only tell one part of the story, and as he pointed out there is much variation. As we have seen in Masvingo, these dynamics create new patterns of differentiation and associated class formation in the new resettlements, with major consequences for agrarian social relations and longer term change. There was insufficient time in the presentation to explore these issues, but the results are tantalising, and the overall output statistics impressive. Of course there are qualifications, and some of these were discussed. Is this a temporary boom, based on the ‘mining’ of the soil? Will the success attract more and more people to area, and so undermine per capita success as land and outputs are shared among more and more? Did the new settlers manage to outcompete their neighbours through preferential access to inputs, offered through political patronage? All of these factors are important, but do not undermine the overall story of a production boom, with major opportunities for accumulation in the new resettlements.

The final paper by Grasian Mkodzongi reflected on his work in Mhondoro Ngezi in Mashonaland West Province. Here A1 and A2 resettlement areas are in close proximity to the major Zimplats mining complex. Grasian’s paper concentrated on the relationships between farming and mining, as mediated through labour contracts, business opportunities and political connections. In addition to the large-scale mine there are many other smaller mining operations, for gold and other minerals that provide opportunities for others. The paper focused on the social and political negotiation of the farming-mining relationship, based on a number of cases. New farmers are able to insert themselves into the economic activity associated with Zimplats, supplying inputs (such as silica found on their farms) as well as profiting from upstream aspects of the value chain. Farmers have used the politically-charged debate around ‘indigenisation’ to their advantage, manipulating the rhetoric and demanding economic benefits. This sets up new political and economic relationships between the farms and the mine that are played out through local political dramas. The story is immensely complex and fast evolving, but it offers an insight into how, at the local level, new economic relations with capital are being negotiated, and how a very particular political dynamics and discourses influence this. Contrary to analyses that offer only a simplistic and generalised view of politics concluding that all is guided by top-down patronage, looking at local relations through in-depth research reveals a room for manoeuvre for those who have the resources and ingenuity to play the system.

These brief and rather partial summaries cannot do justice to the richness of the papers. If you want to hear more, there is a recording of the presentations and the discussions here. As noted, each in different ways contribute to our evolving understandings of livelihoods after land reform, and demonstrate the importance of diverse methodological approaches in capturing the nuance and diversity. These three papers, all emerging from PhD studies at the University of Edinburgh, are examples of a growing array of research on different themes in different places. They add together to an impressive dataset that has yet to be fully grasped by policymakers, donors and other commentators, including many academic ‘authorities’ on Zimbabwe.

A couple of years ago, I compiled a list of research projects on ‘fast-track’ land reform of different sorts, many deriving from PhD and MA degrees, and mapped them. The coverage then was impressive, and I am sure has extended much further since. Yet, despite this growing body of work, we hear again and again misleading commentary and inappropriate conclusions being drawn on land reform in Zimbabwe. But building on the earlier work, including ours in Masvingo, we now have an impressive set of insights, offering nuance and perspective on our overall assessment of Zimbabwe’s land reform. I hope this blog will continue to be a space for sharing these results with a wider audience. So if you are doing a study, and have some results to share, even if preliminary, do let me know!

This post was written by Ian Scoones and originally appeared on Zimbabweland

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New narratives on Zimbabwe’s land reform: a panel at the African Studies Association Conference this week at the University of Sussex

New research from Zimbabwe will be shared at a double panel session at the UK African Studies Association on Wednesday this week. This is being held at the University of Sussex on 10 September between 9 and 12.30 (with a break!). The session has been organised by Gareth James of Edinburgh University, and I will chair.

Zimbabwe’s land reform that unfolded from 2000 has been intensely controversial, and remain so. But 14 years on there is a wider array of research to draw from in order to make more balanced and informed conclusions on outcomes and implications.

The work published in Zimbabwe’s Land Reform: Myths and Realities, showed how some farmers who gained land through the land reform in Masvingo did remarkably well – accumulating, investing and improving production. Others have pointed to the ‘tobacco boom’ that has brought significant riches to those in the Highveld tobacco areas. Such successes have not universally been the case however. Land in some areas remains poorly utilised, some larger scale farmers have failed to invest, and political elites have captured land but not put it into production.

The panel, “New narratives and emerging issues in the Zimbabwe land debate”, will provide an opportunity to reflect on new research conducted by Zimbabwean and European researchers in the last few years in different parts of the country. The six papers that will be presented and discussed are listed below.

  1. Patience Mutopo – Ethnographic Reflections on the Land Reform and Rural Development in Mwenezi District, Zimbabwe
  2. Gareth James – Zimbabwe’s Fast Track Land Reform: Smallholder Land Use and Production Patterns in Shamva, Hwedza and Makoni.
  3. Grasian Mkodzongi – The Political Economy of Mineral Resource Extraction after Zimbabwe’s Fast Track Land Reform Programme (FTLRP): The case of Mhondoro Ngezi District.
  4. Marleen Dekker – Navigating through Times of Scarcity: The Intensification of a Gift-giving Economy after Dollarization in old Resettlement Areas in Zimbabwe.
  5. Leila Sinclair-Bright – Land, labour and kin: continuity and change in a new resettlement area in Zimbabwe
  6. Sheila Chikulo – Emerging market discourses in a changing ‘agrarian economy’? The case of the fresh vegetable markets in Zimbabwe.

I hope to see some Zimbabweland readers there! Those who cannot make it, expect a report afterwards on the blog.

This post was written by Ian Scoones and originally appeared on Zimbabweland

 

 

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Catch up on Zimbabweland

If you missed out on Zimbabweland blog posts since the beginning of the year, you can catch up now (sorry, I am on holiday!). Here are the dozen most popular ones of those posted this year:

  1. Spurious statistics: why figures on Zimbabwe’s ‘lost growth’ mislead
  2. Going up in smoke: the environmental costs of Zimbabwe’s tobacco boom
  3. Dams, flooding and displacement: the Tokwe Mukorsi dam
  4. A fictitious budget or a sensible plan in constrained circumstances? Zimbabwe’s 2014 budget
  5. Land tenure dilemmas in Zimbabwe
  6. Zimbabwe’s country clubs: the changing social life of Zimbabwe’s farming areas
  7. Zimbabwe’s gold rush: livelihoods for the poor or a patronage economy, or both?
  8. Farm workers: reconstructing lives and livelihoods
  9. GM crops: continuing controversy
  10. Access to $1000 credit: would this help unleash agricultural commercialisation in Zimbabwe?
  11. What should be on a new Zim dollar note? Two nominations
  12. Rethinking agricultural extension

If you want to ensure you don’t miss any, just sign up on the blog and each Monday a new post will be sent automatically to your inbox.

Also, in case you missed them, two blog series were posted in this period, focusing on updates of the Masvingo ‘livelihoods after land reform’ work, looking at changes in the last five years, and comparing new resettlements with nearby communal areas. You can find the first posts in the links below (they ran for the subsequent 4-5 weeks, so just click ‘next’).

https://zimbabweland.wordpress.com/2014/03/31/how-have-the-new-farmers-fared-an-update-on-the-masvingo-study-i/

https://zimbabweland.wordpress.com/2014/07/07/comparing-communal-areas-and-new-resettlements-in-zimbabwe-i-an-introduction-to-a-short-blog-series/

Finally, the low cost book ‘Debating Zimbabwe’s Land Reform’, a compilation of various blogs from 2011-2013, is now available in Kindle format for 77p! You can still buy the book via Amazon if you prefer a paper version for just over a fiver (UK pounds that is).

This post was written by Ian Scoones and originally appeared on Zimbabweland

 

 

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A1 permits: unleashing contradictions in the party state

On 2 July, President Mugabe launched the new permit system aimed at all A1 farms. Previously, Minister for Lands, Douglas Mombeshora, had announced that all previous ‘offer letters’ were null and void, and that everyone with land officially allocated in A1 resettlement schemes should apply for a new permit. These permits were aimed at regularising land tenure arrangements, and provide security of land holdings in perpetuity.

The permits, Mombeshora claimed, could be used as collateral to raise money from commercial banks. Both husband and wife would be named on the permit, and this would avoid any disputes around inheritance, offering women in particular security. The permits would come with conditions, however. They would not be issued to those who were not utilising the land, nor those who had been allocated land illegally outside the ‘fast-track’ allocations. A total of over 220,000 permits would be issued (although this seems high), and the first were handed over as part of a presidential ceremonial occasion at Chipfuri farm in Mhangura.

Some argued that the permits were illegal, however. Since compensation had not been paid for the land, the title deed is still notionally valid, and so no new land ownership arrangement can be applied. The ministry disputes this interpretation, but the issue of compensation certainly still remains very live, and must be a high priority.

On the face of it, the issuing of permits seemed to me like an excellent move. Indeed very much in line with arguments made on this blog before. Uncertainty about land tenure has plagued development in the new resettlements, and many had pointed to the limitations of the ‘offer letters’. A clearer, more transparent approach, with conditions and backed by an audit, would provide a firmer basis for planning and development efforts. Clear ownership arrangements would also offset attempts at ‘grabbing’ land by elites, or the growing practices of informal land allocation by a range of different authorities. The Ministry of Lands, backed hopefully by an improved land information system and greater clarity in land administration, would be doing its job.

However, rather than providing stability, normalisation and security, the announcement appears to have had the opposite effect in some places. A spate of land invasions has occurred again. These seem to have been in part prompted by the speech made by President Mugabe at the launch. Whether this was misreporting by the press or the president, as ever, was playing to the crowd, he was reported as saying that whites had no right to the land, and that ‘supping with whites’ through ‘fronting’ farms would not be countenanced. This has been interpreted variously as an affront to the Constitution, a racist attack and a spur for more land invasions, including of black farmers suspected of colluding with whites.

Emmerson Mnangagwa, minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, had to defend the president’s speech in parliament, arguing that it had been misinterpreted, and of course the President is fully committed to upholding the Constitution. Equally, Minister Mombeshora has reiterated that the land reform is over, invasions should not be allowed, and those moving illegally, for example into forest areas, would be removed in a crack-down on illegal land deals. However, some others may have not been listening to the parliamentary record and ministers’ statements, and in the last few weeks a series of, sometimes violent, invasions have occurred.

One of the most disturbing occurred in Masvingo East near our study sites. Black farmers on a series of farms, many purchased long before the land reform, were accused by war veterans of providing cover for whites and underutilising their land. Repeating an invasion that resulted in evictions last year, the farms were invaded again by a group of youths recruited from nearby areas, and there was a stand-off. This escalated into a conflict in which Mr Mufaro Mukaro was seriously injured in an axe attack, and remains in hospital. The local lands department say that the invasions are illegal and the occupiers should go. The local MP and deputy agriculture minister, Davis Maripira, condemned the attack. But the situation remains tense, although the lead war veteran was arrested.

Other invasions have occurred in Mazwi nature reserve near Bulawayo; in Goromonzi associated with an ownership wrangle with local big wigs, and disputes over periurban housing offered as part of election sweeteners last year; as well as in forest estates in the Eastern Highlands. A violent attack in Guruve earlier in the year also occurred, leaving Malcom Francis and his daughter Catherine both dead, signalling increasing insecurity for remaining white farmers. William Stander of Benjani ranch in Mwenezi also recently lost a Constitutional court contest to retain his farm. The most recent invasion, garnerning substantial publicity through activist Ben Freeth, was the attempt by deputy presidential secretary, Dr Ray Ndhlukula to take over Figtree farm in Matabeleland South, despite a High Court ruling against this.

Just as we thought that a sensible, ordered reform of land tenure and ownership was to happen, backed by a long-called for audit, then confusion and uncertainty emerges again. The recent period is a telling sign that Zimbabwe has a long way to go before a formal, effective and accountable bureaucratic state is allowed to operate. The Ministry of Lands under Mombeshora has been trying to move in this direction, recognising the urgent need to move on from the land reform to rebuild agriculture and spur rural development. Yet political factions within the party state, including perhaps inadvertently the president, but also senior members of his own office, are resisting this move to a normalised situation. Political and personal benefit can be gained from instability just as it has been over 14 or more years.

Others resisting are those disappointed with the way the state is moving to regularise things, and so exclude some from potential future spoils. And there are those too who are disillusioned with the party, including core supporters inside the war veteran movement, seeing it as selling out in its attempts to become ‘acceptable’ to the international community in the post July 31 2013 era. Jabulani Sibanda, the notorious war veteran leader, commented recently: “This is a struggle; this is war against multiple black farm owners. Some of them have farms registered under the names of their children who are not even in the country. We will take such farms and redistribute them. We are against land hoarders and people who have too much land; excess land to be precise,”

As discussed last week, the complex manoeuvres, the competing factions, and the layers of commercial and political interests at the heart of the ZANU-PF state can result in all sorts of contradictory and conflicting results. So within one month, we had a move to regularise and formalise land tenure, along the lines that many had long been calling for, and yet a reaction that resulted in more violent land invasions.

Those stuck in the middle, including many ministers, civil servants, but particularly people on the ground, including frontline government officials, find it difficult to navigate a way forward. They urgently want a clear, transparent system to prevail in line with the Constitution; and with whites involved in the new agrarian system, contributing in multiple ways. It is no wonder, as discussed last week, that things are stuck, and reforms and the economy are not moving forward as fast as many, including many within ZANU-PF, hoped.

This post was written by Ian Scoones and originally appeared on Zimbabweland

 

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A year on from ZANU-PF’s election victory: limits and constraints

On July 31 last year, ZANU-PF were victorious in the elections. The opposition was annihilated. The elections were disputed by many, and many questions were raised about the process, but most commentators agreed that this was a shift of support back to ZANU-PF, with the opposition having run out of steam.

A number of good commentaries were published in the Journal of Southern African Studies that offered views from different perspectives, including from Miles Tendi, Phillan Zamchiya and Brian Raftopolous. Perhaps the most powerful though comes from McDonald Lewanika and Delta Milayo Ndou (formerly of the Zimbabwe Crisis Coalition) in ‘We the People’, a beautifully illustrated edited book of personal testimonies and reflections from Zimbabweans after the elections. Most are urban, educated and opposition supporters, but the sense of melancholy and loss, reflecting on a moment that had so much hope, is tangible and powerful.

Nearly a year ago on September 10 2013, a confident ZANU-PF announced a new cabinet and ambitious plans for the future under the ZimAsset programme. Attempts to rebuild relationships with the west started, while overtures to the Chinese continued. A new minister of lands, Douglas Mombeshora, has stated boldly that no new land invasions would be allowed, and that land administration would be regularised, with those illegally occupying land or underutilising it evicted.

It sounded as if a corner had been turned. But sadly such a transition has not occurred. In the last year, the economy has floundered, as the new investment has failed to arrive; relationships with Europe and the US remain tetchy; the Chinese are playing hardball; and land invasions have continued, despite attempts at audits and new permit systems (see next week’s blog).

Meanwhile, the opposition has imploded. The expected departure of Morgan Tsvangirai has not happened, and he clings on to one faction, with surprisingly wide public support. The MDC-T though has fractured, with Tendai Biti and colleagues declaring a ‘renewal team’, and presumably in time a new party, for a revived opposition. They are actively courting investors and foreign governments, while belatedly accepting that a focus on economic and social rights and redistribution issues – ZANU-PF’s political territory for the 2013 elections – must be central to any revamped approach. The situation is very messy indeed.

The warring factions continue to slug it out within ZANU-PF too, with different groupings being speculated on in the press almost daily. What is clear is that there is no easy resolution of the ‘succession’ issue, and Mugabe is playing the longer game (to the 2018 elections) to see how this will resolve itself.

The consequence is that there is massive uncertainty on the political scene, and this translates itself into challenges for economic regeneration. In May at a SAPES Trust event, Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa declared:

Zimbabwe is open to Foreign Direct Investment from all Nations of the World, whether these be in the North, South, East or West… Zimbabwe is ready to re-integrate into the global economy. Zimbabwe is looking for new friendships, new opportunities while consolidating old ones. We are looking for mutually beneficial economic relationships not confrontation. We are too small a country to pursue a policy of confrontation.

This signaled a softening of stance, and a willingness to engage. Equally the purge of corrupt parastatals and their officials led by Jonathan Moyo was clearly aimed at an international audience, with a very visible attempt to deal with corruption – although of course only in one area. Statements on the flagship ‘indigenisation’ policy have been much more tempered since the elections, with senior party officials stating that expropriation and nationalization are not on the agenda, and that there has to be flexibility in the application of the policy.

In a typically perceptive piece for the Solidarity Peace Trust, Brian Raftopolous argues:

The mixed policy messaging of the Mugabe regime can be attributed both to the challenges of seeking fuller international re-engagement while holding on to its empowerment programme, and the tensions within ZANU PF about how to proceed with such a re-engagement. The tropes of sovereignty, liberation history, regional solidarity and empowerment have been integral to ZANU PF’s political imaginary and ‘language of stateness’, in both the party’s ‘practical languages of governance’ and the ‘symbolic languages of authority’. However the exposure of the limits of the state’s capacity to effect its indigenisation programme has led to the dual strategy of seeking a rapprochement with the West, while promising to export the Zimbabwean model to the SADC region.

Such contradictions are the legacy of the past 14 or so years. The radical redistributive policies, most notably the land reform, have presented major challenges in economic terms. The withdrawal of external support and international investment has hampered the rebounding of the economy, and the business-political patronage networks that were established to prop up the regime in this period are certainly not the basis for a prosperous, competitive economy.

There are bright spots though. The informal sector is booming, and providing jobs and livelihoods. While many argue this is not the real economy, it is certainly the main economy. In the restructured agricultural sector, the tobacco boom continues, with a massive 210 million tonnes of tobacco being traded this year. While livelihoods are unquestionably improving especially for those on the land, galvanising new, coherent and sustained economic growth is a big challenge, and the long (often rather sensible) wish-lists in the ZimAsset blueprint will not be realized without sustained investment.

Much of course relies on a rapprochement with the west, and with international capital and finance. Given the bad feeling, abuse and threats that have occurred over time, this will not be easy, especially with Britain. Miles Tendi offers a fascinating analysis of this challenge, based on interviews with some of the key players, on both the UK and the Zimbabwe sides, and how a sustained ‘demonisation’ invective from both has not helped matters.

A fundamental question remains, however: how to balance a commitment to redistribution and economic empowerment with engagement in a globalized economy, and in a context where national debt amounts to a staggering US$6 billion? Is there any way to resist the inevitable reincorporation into a neoliberal world order, and sustain the progressive gains of reform? Despite the socialist solidarity rhetoric, the Chinese are interested in commercial business just as any other western nation or multinational company. And countries in the region are wary of heading down an alternative route, despite the electioneering rhetoric of Julius Malema further south. So ZANU PF is in a bind. As Brian Raftopolous argues, there are clear ‘limits to victory’.

 This post was written by Ian Scoones and originally appeared on Zimbabweland

 

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Comparing communal areas and new resettlements in Zimbabwe V: farm employment, off-farm income earning and livelihood diversification

Growth and development does not just derive from agriculture, but the wider economic linkages that are generated. Successful agriculture generates employment opportunities, it results in multiplier effects in the service industries, and it boosts consumption as people buy more things. Equally, in dryland agricultural settings few can rely on just agriculture for their livelihoods. They must seek piece work jobs in the dry season, sell their skills as builders, carpenters, tailors or hairdressers. And they can make use of local resources for making craft items or agricultural equipment and tools.

In other words, in order to assess the success of the wider economy and individual livelihoods, we need to look at the rural economy in the round, and look at things going on on-farm as well as off, and the flows of resources that come to the area from outside, as well as those that leave. Too often there are narrow assessments of economies and livelihoods that miss these wider dimensions. There are multiple livelihood opportunities in the communal and resettlement areas, as well as flows of labour, remittances and trade. How then do these patterns compare?

A1 farmers employ considerable numbers of labourers. 42% of A1 self-contained and 12% of A1 villagised farm households employ temporary labour, while 16% and 17% employ permanent labour. By contrast in the communal area sites only 2% of households employ permanent and temporary in the sites outside Chikobmedzi, where a few farmers employ significant numbers, although concentrated among the more successful farmers for piecework on larger farm areas. On average though across the A1 sites, households employ 0.53 temporary workers and 0.2 permanent workers, while those employed in the communal areas are vanishingly few. The employment opportunities, although often temporary and low paid, are important for many, and attract hundreds of people to live and work in these areas. This is an important part of the wider economy, and many of these people come from the nearby communal areas, with labour being recruited through family, church and other networks.

Collective work is also important in the new resettlements. As farm sizes have declined in the communal areas the institution of the ‘work party’ (humwe) has declined. Some have put this down to the decline in tradition, but actually it more reflects the lack of need for recruiting labour for farming small plots. This changed in the resettlement areas with larger areas to plough, weed and harvest. Thus across the resettlement sites 37% of households held work parties in the 2010 season, and 36% in 2011, while only 18% and 14% held them in the communal areas.

Off-farm income has always been important as part of livelihood portfolios in rural Zimbabwe. Such income allows people to earn money in the dry season, or offset the consequences of low yields. As part of a diversified livelihood strategy such income sources reduce risk, and spread gains, often to women and children as income earners. We looked at the patterns of off-farm income earning across resettlement and communal area sites, and the pattern was remarkably similar.

In order of importance (in terms of percentage of households engaged) it was trading, building/carpentry, brickmaking/thatching, pottery/basket-making, fishing, wood carving, tailoring, transport businesses and grinding mill operation in both sites, with similar proportions of households involved. Farm-related income earning was also similar, with the rank order being sale of vegetables, poultry, cattle, goat/sheep and fish in both sites. The only contrast was that vegetable sales at 45% of all households was significantly higher in the communal areas, with only 28% of resettlement households selling vegetables regularly.

Perhaps the biggest difference in income sources was in the proportion of households receiving remittances from relatives resident outside the home. The highest level of remittances was in the Chikombedzi area, near the South African border, with 67% of households receiving some remittances in the communal areas and 52% in the A1 villagised resettlements. The biggest difference was in the Gutu area, where the only 7% of A1 villagised resettlement households received remittances, while 33% in the communal areas did so. A similar pattern was observed in the Chiredzi cluster sites, with 10% and 23% receiving remittance. The only area with a different pattern was Masvingo, where a higher percentage of resettlement households received remittances (28% vs 17%).

There are several issues to note here. First, outside Chikombedzi, the level of remittances is low compared to historical studies that showed around two-thirds or more of households receiving such support. Second, with the Masvingo exception, the A1 villagised households were more independent, and less reliant on relatives’ support. This is partly due to the age profile of such households, with fewer older children sending remittances, but also the sense that the new land reform beneficiaries did not need looking after, as they had the land. Indeed, there is plentiful evidence of flows of remittances (in both cash and food) flowing from the resettlements to the communal areas. However the main source of remittances was household members working in Zimbabwe, sending money home. With the collapse of the economy, and the decline in employment opportunities, this flow of income has declined in the last decade, and there has been more reliance on income from outside the country, notably South Africa. But outside Chikombedzi area, this was not a significant source, and there were only a few others who received income from further afield, including the UK.

Both the new resettlement areas and the communal areas have diversified economies, where off-farm work is important. But the resettlement areas are more self-reliant, relying less on remittance flows, labour migration, and instead are generating employment on the farms, and also other business for entrepreneurs, service providers, traders and others. These could not be regarded as either booming or resilient economies, and on the face of it there are considerable similarities between the sites, particularly around off-farm income earning activities. But the overall opportunities offered in the resettlement areas seem to be more substantial, reflecting the greater underlying potential from agriculture, and the presence of a core group of farmers who are accumulating, spending, employing and generating economic activity.

A more detailed look at these diversified economies and patterns of livelihoods, as has been attempted in this short blog series, therefore shows 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.

This post was written by Ian Scoones and originally appeared on Zimbabweland

The on-going Masvingo study research is conducted by Ian Scoones, Blasio Mavedzenge,

Felix Murimbarimba and Jacob Mahenehene.

 

 

 

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Comparing communal areas and new resettlements in Zimbabwe IV: accumulating assets and investing in the land

One of the striking findings of our earlier work on the new resettlements was the level of investment that was going on in the resettlements – in houses, wells, toilets, farm equipment, transport and, above all, cattle. This investment has continued, and indeed expanded.

But the question has been raised, what is the baseline against which this success is measured? How do we know what is a lot or a little? One way is to compare with what has happened in the communal areas: the areas where many in the new resettlements came from. Is the ownership of assets higher, and the rate of accumulation greater in the resettlements? And if so, what does this say about the ‘success’ of land reform?

Let’s start with housing and shelter, a very basic human need. Many other studies have shown that housing is often the first thing people invest in when acquiring new land. It is so fundamental, and the basis for further accumulation. Housing per se does not reduce income poverty, but by improving the quality of life, and the level of comfort, it is an important route to accumulating and investing. Certainly in the mid-2000s we found people building like fury. Many structures were permanent brick ones, with thatched or tin/asbestos roofs. There was considerable expenditure, and much labour invested. People had camped for months in the bush during the invasions and in those days the communal area amenities looked very enticing. The new settlers were therefore insistent that getting homes established was a priority. This was about marking out the territory, asserting the right to remain in the absence of often even an ‘offer letter’, let alone something more secure. But it was also about making life reasonable: having somewhere dry or warm for the family to live in.

By 2011-12, 83% of houses (excluding kitchens/granaries) in the A1 sites were brick built, with 1.9 such structures per household on average. This compared to 86% in the communal areas, with 2.3 house structures per household compound. Thus by 2011-12, the resettlements had almost reached the level of housing investment that existed in the communal areas that they had left. While there were plenty of fancy homes, with tin/asbestos roofing, glass windows and the rest, in the resettlement areas, there were still fewer than in the communal lands, reflecting the length of residence time, and demands on investment. In the building realm, there is clearly more to aspire to.

In terms of water and sanitation, 63% of households in the resettlements had built toilets by 2011-12, a substantial leap from five years earlier. But this was still less than in the communal areas, where the figure was 78%. In terms of water sources too, the resettlements are catching up. An average of 0.3 wells were built per household in the five years before the survey in the resettlements, compared to 0.06 in the communal lands. In the communal area sites 74% of households had access to household water through such communal wells, while in the resettlements it was 49%. Private well ownership was again higher in the communal lands at 24% compared to 14% in the resettlements. 14% of homes in the resettlements still collected water from an unprotected dam or river source, while none did so in the communal areas.

These different patterns reflect the longer period for investment in the communal lands, and the fact that in the 1980s and 90s, government and donors invested considerable amounts in water and sanitation, particularly communal boreholes. By contrast, resettlement investments have been largely independent of state or donor support, and focused on private and community initiatives. Investment is continuing, as witnessed by the rate of well digging, and it will not be long before the resettlements have water and sanitation coverage at a level of the communal areas, but without 30 years of external investment.

The rate of investment in farm equipment has also been significant in the resettlements. 80% of households have an ox plough, many several, with an average of 0.5 ploughs per household being bought in the past five years. This contrasts with 73% ownership in the communal areas, with only 0.15 having been bought per household over five years. Ox cart ownership is also higher in the resettlements (at 52% of households compared to 49%). Only cultivators have a lower ownership level at 25% of households in the resettlements compared to 32% in the communal areas; although 0.1 cultivators per household was purchased over the previous five years on average, showing a pattern of continued accumulation in the new land reform sites.

A similar pattern is shown with transport. In the new resettlements 48% of households own a bicycle, while this is only 38% in the communal areas. 0.45 bikes per household were bought over the previous five years in the new resettlements, compared to 0.2 in the communal areas. The contrasts are more dramatic for cars (21% ownership compared to 5%) and tractors (6% compared to 1.6%). Transport is seen as vital to livelihoods in the new resettlements, given the larger distances, poor transport infrastructure, and lack of public transport.

We also looked at two other items, once deemed ‘luxuries’ now seen as essential: cell phones and solar panels. These have been bought in large numbers in all areas, although the rate of purchase in the previous five years has been a bit higher in the resettlements (1.7 per household versus 1.2 per household for cell phones, and 0.6 per household versus 0.5 per household for solar panels). Everyone needs to be connected now, and this helps on multiple fronts, from agricultural marketing to family relations. And having electricity for lighting at night improves rural living no end, improving health, enhancing education for kids, and making sure that you are up on the latest news, football scores and soap opera dramas.

But the big story in the resettlements is livestock, and especially cattle. Comparing the A1 villagised sites in Gutu, Masvingo, Chiredzi and Mwenezi clusters with their counterparts in nearby communal areas, the average cattle ownership per household is 6.6 v 5.0, 5.7 v 3.5, 4.9 v 6.3, and 9.5 v 12.3. Thus in the drier areas, it is the communal areas that have the larger herds on average, but this is reversed in the other sites. Again focusing on the A1 villagised sites, 98% of those in the top ‘success group’ (those doing the best, according to local criteria), while 80% of those in the middle group and 73% of those in the bottom group had cattle. This compared to a pattern of 80%, 93% and 50%, over all sites. Cattle ownership is thus better distributed in the resettlements, with more people, across all groups, having access to animals for draft, milk and meat. Donkey ownership shows a comparable pattern, with 24% of the top success group owning donkeys in the resettlements, 9% in the middle and 5% in the bottom. This contrasts with 19%, 10% and 3% in the communal areas. The pattern though is however reversed for goats, as across success groups (top to bottom), 57%, 44% and 37% of households own goats in the A1 villagised schemes, while 71%, 68% and 45% own goats in the communal areas. This reflects the high herding costs of goats, and the difficulties of managing them in the resettlement areas.

Since the terrible droughts of the early 1990s, livestock populations across the country have recovered. In the economic chaos of the 2000s, investing in livestock made even better sense, as the formal currency lost its value. As sources of draft power, access to draft animals – whether cattle or donkeys, or some combination – is vital, and boosts production potentials. This is why the new farmers have invested so heavily in this key asset. It is not that communal farmers have not been accumulating too, but the new resettlement farmers have been doing so faster and across a wider group of people than in the communal areas, particularly in Gutu and Masvingo areas.

Investment by new resettlement farmers remains impressive. It is clearly differentiated by site and by households within sites, but the continued investment in housing, equipment, transport, livestock and so on is impressive. And is especially so when compared to the communal area patterns, where investments are less extensive and less well distributed. In the resettlement areas, the data reflects a broader based accumulation from below, with investments focused on improving the effectiveness of farming, as well as the living conditions on the new farms.

This post was written by Ian Scoones and originally appeared on Zimbabweland

The on-going Masvingo study research is conducted by Ian Scoones, Blasio Mavedzenge,

Felix Murimbarimba and Jacob Mahenehene.

 

 

 

 

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