Locating the Position of Peasants under the “New Dispensation”: A Focus on Land Tenure Issues


The focus of the study is to explore implications of the latest land and agricultural policy pronouncements, discourse and narratives by the new administration on smallholder farmers’ access and security on agricultural land. To gather the perspectives, learn and share experiences of farmers, particularly women, relating to tenure security and access to land, the Sam Moyo African Institute for Agrarian Studies (SMAIAS) together with the Zimbabwe Land and Agrarian Network (ZILAN) conducted policy dialogues across the country on land tenure issues in the “new dispensation.” There is a shift from the previous administration’s standpoint in terms of land administration and agricu ltural growth strategy. Under the “new dispensation” the state is pushing for massive investments in all sectors of the economy. However, prioritisation of large scale farming will likely lead to land concentration by capital and land alienation of smallholder farmers, particularly women who do not take part in decision making. Furthermore, the renewed drive for industrial capital to take part in mineral exploitation will, without doubt, have devastating effects on the livelihoods of peasants, particularly those that depend on the land. This is worsened by the fact that according to Zimbabwean law, miners are given first preference when it comes to land use. The new administration is eager to raise capital via rents and in the process boost agricultural productivity. This has propelled the new administration to push for smallholder farmers to embark on joint ventures with foreign capital and, on the same note, there is a renewed narrative that land should be given to those who are financially and materially resourced and can fully utilise it. Interestingly, underpinning this productivist stance is the need for a land audit. There is no doubt, that smallholders are fully behind a land audit for it will free more land for the land-short and the landless and, more importantly, it will address multiple farm ownership. However, there are fears that the land audit may be captured by the elites and lead to further peasant land alienation. Outstanding issues such as women unequal access to land control and ownership and bottle necks in joint registration of farm ownership still persist. The new administration is also confronted with a rejuvenated demand for compensation of former white farmers as the western powers covertly set this as part of the requirement for Zimbabwe’s readmission into the international community. The “new dispensation” has witnessed the signing of the Land Commission Bill into the Land Commission Act and the subsequent decentralisation of the Zimbabwe Land Commission to all the country’s provinces.

Source: Freedom Mazwi, Newman Tekwa, Walter Chambati and George T. Mudimu, Sam Moyo African Institute for Agrarian Studies (SMAIAS) & Zimbabwe Land and Agrarian Network (ZILAN)

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