The article captures the post-colonial developmental path of the Land Reform
Programme in Zimbabwe since 1980, when Zimbabwe got its independence from
Britain. The shifts in the Zimbabwean Land Reform Programme since 1980, unveil
four distinct phases that punctuate the Land Reform trajectory as well as exhibit their
unique and distinct characteristics. The four phases of the land reform programme
in Zimbabwe include: the willing buyer willing seller paradigm (1980–1990), the
compulsory acquisition with fair compensation paradigm (1990–2000), the Fast Track
Land Reform Programme (FTLRP) where there was compulsory acquisition with no
compensation (2000–2002) and the partnerships and agricultural contracts between
white commercial farmers and the indigenous black landholders (2014 to date).
The article highlights the key drivers to policy shifts, as well as the incremental
pattern that punctuated the first and second paradigms, with the third paradigm
assuming a radical policy leap in what was called the FTLRP. The fourth phase shows
that the Government is making a U-turn on its stance about acquiring land without
compensation. The Government is currently encouraging partnerships and contracts
between black landholders and the previously evicted white commercial farmers. In this
regard, the absence of a robust supporting legislative policy framework to substantiate
these farming partnerships makes these contractual arrangements unpredictable.
As theoretical underpinning the article adopts American scientist, Thomas Kuhn’s
scientific knowledge development paradigm (Kuhn 1962) where Kuhn narrated the
transitions that normally take place in the scientific discipline and coined such
fundamental changes or approaches underlying assumptions ‘paradigmatic shifts’.