Shifts in the Zimbabwean land reform discourse from 1980 to the present

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 2
  • SDG 1
  • Abstract:

    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’.