Livelihoods after land reform in Zimbabwe: Understanding processes of rural differentiation

Published on 1 October 2012

This paper explores the consequences of Zimbabwe’s land reform for the dynamics of differentiation in Zimbabwe’s countryside, reporting on the results from a 10-year study from Masvingo province. Based on a detailed analysis of livelihoods across 400 households at 16 sites, the paper offers a detailed typology of livelihood strategies, linked to a class-based analysis of emerging agrarian dynamics. The paper identifies a significant and successful ‘middle farmer’ group, reliant on ‘accumulation from below’ through petty commodity production, existing alongside other worker-peasants and the semi-peasantry, whose livelihoods remain vulnerable, with prospects for accumulation currently limited. In addition, there are others who are ‘accumulating from above’, through patronage and corruption. While small in number, this group has significant political and economic influence, and is embedded in powerful alliances that have fundamental impacts on the wider political–economic dynamics. To conclude, the economic, social and political implications of the emerging patterns of differentiation in Zimbabwe’s countryside are discussed.

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SCOONES, I., MARONGWE, N., MAVEDZENGE, B., MURIMBARIMBA, F., MAHENEHENE, J. and SUKUME, C. (2012), Livelihoods after Land Reform in Zimbabwe: Understanding Processes of Rural Differentiation. Journal of Agrarian Change, 12: 503–527. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-0366.2012.00358.x

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