New study documents Zimbabwe’s land distribution successes
Published Dec 5, 2010 10:08 PM
A new study on Zimbabwe’s last decade of land redistribution revealed
that millions of Africans have made significant gains in agricultural
production and income generation in this former British settler colony.
Zimbabwe won its independence in 1980.
Contrary to repeated claims by displaced white landowners, and British and U.S.
imperialists and their allies, an objective review and analysis of the removal
of 4,000 settlers and the relocation of Africans on these commercial farms
illustrate the tremendous strides made since 2000.
Ian Scoones, a professorial fellow at the British Institute for Development
Studies, conducted the study entitled “Zimbabwe’s Land Reform:
Myths and Realities.” Scoones examined the land reform process in the
Masvingo province of Zimbabwe, located in the central south and east of the
southern African nation.
Scoones based his research on the actual conditions in Zimbabwe. He tracked the
entire process of what the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic
Front calls the Third Chimurenga (liberation struggle). This struggle was
precipitated by the British and the U.S.’s failure to provide resources
to buy out white-settler farmers, who controlled most of the arable land inside
the country even after two decades of national independence.
In 2000 legislation was passed by ZANU-PF under the leadership of liberation
movement leader President Robert Mugabe, stripping nearly 20 million acres of
land from European-origin commercial farmers who held both Zimbabwean and
British citizenship. Tens of thousands of revolutionary war veterans led people
onto the farms. They effectively seized control in the region’s most
advanced land redistribution process during the post-independence era.
Leading up to and after the land seizures in Zimbabwe, the Western imperialist
states embarked upon a massive effort aimed at regime-change in the country.
With the overt assistance of the white settler-farmers and their supporters in
Britain and the United States, the so-called Movement for Democratic Change was
The imperialist states imposed sanctions and launched a sophisticated,
well-funded destabilization program against Zimbabwe. Nearly all Western news
reports aimed to undermine Zimbabwe’s land redistribution. They blamed
the ZANU-PF leadership for the economic hardships imposed by sanctions and
withdrawal of credit.
Nonetheless, Prof. Scoones’ study proves that imperialists and their
allies inside Zimbabwe totally fabricated their critical allegations. Not only
did millions of Zimbabweans gain access to land stolen from them since the late
19th century, but they increased food production and equalized income
What Scoones’ study of 400 families “found was not what we
expected. It contradicted the overwhelmingly negative images of land reform
presented in the media, and indeed in much academic and policy commentary.
Problems, failures and abuses were identified for sure, but the overarching
story was much more positive: the realities on the ground did not match the
myths so often perpetuated in wider debate.” (The Zimbabwean, Oct.
One key element of the land redistribution process was the breaking up of many
but not all of the large-scale commercial farms controlled by the
white-settlers. Scoones notes, “Overall there has been a significant
shift to many more, smaller-scale farms focusing on mixed farming, often with
low levels of capitalization.”
The new resettlements in Masvingo province have “resulted in a very
different farming sector, but one that is not without considerable
entrepreneurial dynamism and productive potential,” Scoones
This report also finds that the collapse of the white export-oriented
commercial farming sector brought declines in production within the
agricultural industries that dominated during the colonial and
post-independence period. For example, between 2001, the year after the land
seizures, and 2009, wheat, tobacco, coffee, tea and beef production
However, as Scoones points out, “Other crops and markets have weathered
the storm and some have boomed,” including small grains, dry beans and
Scoones continues, “The agricultural sector has certainly been
transformed, and there are major problems in certain areas, but it certainly
has not collapsed.”
Imperialists continue sanctions
Despite these gains and the formation of a coalition government in 2008 between
the ZANU-PF party and two MDC opposition factions, the British, U.S. and EU
states have continued economic sanctions against the country as well as their
propaganda aimed at regime-change. Even under the Obama administration, the
U.S. has extended the sanctions against Zimbabwe for another year, as well as
making policy statements aimed at destabilizing the government.
In a Nov. 19 interview in the state-owned Zimbabwe Herald, African-American
religious leader Archbishop George Augustus Stallings announced that he would
launch a campaign inside the U.S. to mobilize the clergy to pressure the Obama
administration to lift sanctions against the ZANU-PF officials within the
government. Stallings said that he had written a letter to President Mugabe
pledging to increase his involvement “in dealing with the real issues at
hand, not the rhetoric that serves as a distraction therefore hindering
Stallings pointed out in the interview, “If they could enslave and
colonize us in the name of Jesus Christ, then trying to force a regime-change
in Zimbabwe under the guise of freeing people from an evil dictator is a small
drop in the bucket. If Nelson Mandela only just recently had his name removed
from the U.S. government’s list of terrorists, then President Mugabe, the
engineer of Africa’s boldest land and mining reclamation programs, can
ZANU-PF recently announced that the party is preparing for national elections
in 2011 after a new constitution is ratified. Consequently, the coalition
government with the MDC factions will be dissolved, preparing the way for the
reemergence of full political control by ZANU-PF. That party fought for
national liberation during the 1960s and 1970s and has maintained power since
independence in 1980.
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