Working Paper


New Politics, New Livelihoods: Changes in the Zimbabwean Lowveld Since the Farm Occupations of 2000

Published on 1 January 2003

An ongoing radical land reform involving the seizure of largely white-owned commercial farmland has dramatically altered the physical landscape in Zimbabwe. Alongside this a new political terrain has rapidly unravelled with new actors and new institutions. This is a confusing and dynamic landscape populated by actors as diverse as entrepreneurial war veteran ‘security guards’-cum-protection racketeers, militant ZANU(PF) youth brigades, and marauding elephants possessed by chiefly spirits. This paper, based on fieldwork in Chiredzi district in the southeast of the country, attempts to examine these and other actors, explore the emerging institutions, and investigate the impact of these changes on people’s livelihoods. Tensions between authoritarian nationalism and ethnic politics, between a militarised modernist order and ‘traditional’ religion and authority have created a complex political mosaic, made up of multiple and overlapping identities and positions. Focusing on the political dynamics and livelihood implications of farm occupations and ‘fast-track’ land reform, the paper traces the new patterns of social differentiation, the emerging lines of political authority and the implications for institutions and livelihoods.


Image of Ian Scoones

Ian Scoones

Professorial Fellow

Publication details

published by
Chaumba, J., Wolmer, W. and Scoones, I.
SLSA Research Paper, volume 3


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