Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

WHATEVER IT TAKES: TENURE SECURITY STRATEGIES OF COMMUNAL LAND RIGHT HOLDERS IN ZIMBABWE

  • David Goodwin

Abstract

This article looks at ways in which communal area right holders in Zimbabwe attempt to add security to their land rights when faced with altered circumstances. Apart from quasi-legal means such as ad hoc diagrams, which were beyond the scope of this article, two principal strands were found by which land right security is bolstered. First, investment in interpersonal ties (both with the living and the dead), and second, ceremonies for forging and maintaining links with land. For both, it was found that traditional practices have been bent and adapted pragmatically to suit contemporary contexts. Increased mobility and remoteness from rural homes have also given rise to a degree of abstraction (for example, the symbolic use in urban settings of soil or grain brought from communal areas). Where both custom and formal law coexist pluralistically, custom has proved the more flexible of the two and, unless demonstrably better security is offered, it seems likely that custom will continue to be invoked and modified to provide security for new circumstances.

Cet article étudie la manière dont les ayants droit aux terres collectives au Zimbabwe tentent de mieux sécuriser leurs droits fonciers lorsqu'ils sont confrontés à un changement de circonstances. Outre les moyens quasi-légaux (à l'image des schémas ad hoc, qui sortent du cadre de cet article), l'article a identifié deux grands courants dans la manière de renforcer la sécurité des droits fonciers. Le premier consiste à investir dans des liens interpersonnels (tant avec les vivants qu'avec les morts), et le second à forger et à entretenir les liens avec le sol par le biais de cérémonies. Dans un cas comme dans l'autre, on constate que les pratiques traditionnelles ont été détournées et adaptées de façon pragmatique pour convenir aux contextes contemporains. L'accroissement de la mobilité et l’éloignement par rapport aux foyers ruraux ont également entraîné une certaine abstraction (par exemple, l'utilisation symbolique, en milieu urbain, de la terre ou des céréales rapportées des terrains collectifs). Là où coexistent de manière pluraliste le droit coutumier et le droit formel, le droit coutumier s'est avéré le plus flexible des deux et, en l'absence d'une sécurité manifestement meilleure, le droit coutumier va vraisemblablement continuer à être invoqué et modifié, en guise de sécurité, lorsque de nouvelles circonstances se présentent.

Copyright

References

Hide All
Alexander, J. (1994) ‘State, peasantry and resettlement in Zimbabwe’, Review of African Political Economy 21 (61): 325–45.
Andersson, J. A. (1999) ‘The politics of land scarcity: land disputes in Save Communal Area, Zimbabwe’, Journal of Southern African Studies 25 (4): 553–78.
Augustinus, C., Lemmen, C. and van Oosterom, P. (2006) ‘Social tenure domain model: requirements from the perspective of pro-poor land management’, paper presented at the 5th FIG Regional Conference on Promoting Land Administration and Good Governance, Accra, Ghana, 8–11 March.
Beach, D. (1994) The Shona and Their Neighbours. Oxford: Blackwell.
Berry, S. (1989) ‘Social institutions and access to resources’, Africa 59 (1): 4155.
Berry, S. (1993) No Condition Is Permanent: the social dynamics of agrarian change in sub-Saharan Africa. Madison WI: University of Wisconsin Press.
Blake, R. (1977) A History of Rhodesia. London: Eyre Methuen Ltd.
Bourdillon, M. F. C. (1987) The Shona Peoples: an ethnography of the contemporary Shona with special reference to their religion (third revised edition). Gweru: Mambo Press.
Bozongwana, W. (1983, reprinted 2000) Ndebele Religion. Gweru: Mambo.
Bruce, J. W. (1988) ‘A perspective on indigenous land tenure systems and land concentration’ in Downs, R. E. and Reyna, S. P. (eds), Land and Society in Contemporary Africa. Hanover NH and London: University of New Hampshire Press.
Bullock, C. (1950) The Mashona and the Matabele. Cape Town and Johannesburg: Juta.
Chaumba, J., Scoones, I. and Wolmer, W. (2003) ‘From jambanja to planning: the reassertion of technocracy in land reform in south-eastern Zimbabwe?’, Journal of Modern African Studies 41 (4): 533–54.
Chauveau, J.-P. and Colin, J.-P. (2006) ‘Changes in land transfer mechanisms: evidence from West Africa’ in Cotula, L. (ed.), Changes in ‘Customary’ Land Tenure Systems in Africa. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Cheater, A. (1990) ‘The ideology of communal land tenure in Zimbabwe: mythogenesis enacted?Africa 60 (2): 188206.
Chimhowu, A. and Woodhouse, P. (2006) ‘Customary vs private property rights? Dynamics and trajectories of vernacular land markets in sub-Saharan Africa’, Journal of Agrarian Change 6 (3): 346–71.
Chimhowu, A. and Woodhouse, P. (2010) ‘Forbidden but not suppressed: a “vernacular” land market in Svosve Communal Lands, Zimbabwe’, Africa 80 (1): 1435.
Cotula, L. (ed.) (2006) ‘Changes in “customary” land tenure systems in Africa’, Livelihood Support Programme (LSP) Working Paper, Access to Natural Resources Sub-Programme, Food and Agriculture Organization, Rome.
Cousins, B. (1990) ‘Property and power in Zimbabwe's Communal Lands: implications for agrarian reform in the 1990s’, paper presented at a conference on Land Policy in Zimbabwe after Lancaster House, University of Zimbabwe, Harare, 13–15 February.
Cousins, B. (1993) ‘Debating communal tenure in Zimbabwe’, Journal of Contemporary African Studies 12 (1): 2939.
Cousins, B. (2007) ‘More than socially embedded: the distinctive character of “communal tenure” regimes in South Africa and its implications for land policy’, Journal of Agrarian Change 7 (3): 281315.
Cousins, B., Weiner, D. and Amin, N. (1992) ‘Social differentiation in the communal lands of Zimbabwe’, Review of African Political Economy 53: 524.
Ezigbalike, C. and Selebalo, Q. C. (1999) ‘African experience of tenure reform and cadastres: a place in the global sun?’ UN-FIG Conference on Land Tenure and Cadastral Infrastructures for Sustainable Development, Melbourne.
Fontein, J. (2006) ‘Languages of land, water and “tradition” around Lake Muririkwi in southern Zimbabwe’, Journal of Modern African Studies 44 (2): 223–49.
Fontein, J. (2009) ‘Anticipating the Tsunami: rumours, planning and the arbitrary state in Zimbabwe’, Africa 79 (3): 369–98.
Goodwin, D. P. (2008) ‘Belonging Knows No Boundaries: persisting land tenure custom for Shona, Ndebele and Ngāi Tahu’. PhD thesis, University of Otago.
Holleman, J. F. (1952) Shona Customary Law: with reference to kinship, marriage, the family and the estate. Cape Town: OUP.
Holleman, J. F. (1958) African Interlude. Cape Town: Nasionale Boekhandel BPK.
Holleman, J. F. (1969) Chief, Council and Commissioner: some problems of government in Rhodesia. Assen: Royal VanGorcum.
Watch, Human Rights (2002) ‘Fast track land reform in Zimbabwe’. Report, Human Rights Watch, <http://www.hrw.org/reports/2002/zimbabwe/ZimLand0302-02.htm> (accessed 7 June 2012), pp. 119.
Kileff, C. and Kileff, P. (eds) (1970) Shona Customs: essays by African writers. Gweru: Mambo.
Mamdani, M. (1996) Citizen and Subject. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press.
Mandondo, A. (1997) ‘Trees and spaces as emotion and norm-laden components of local ecosystems in Nyamaropa communal land, Nyanga District, Zimbabwe’, Agriculture and Human Values 14: 353–72.
May, J. (1987) Changing People, Changing Laws. Gweru: Mambo.
Metge, J. (1976) The Maoris of New Zealand Rautahi. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
Moyana, H. V. (1984) Political Economy of Land in Zimbabwe. Gweru: Mambo Press.
Ndambakuwa, C. F. H. T. (2006) ‘Chavakuru (placenta)’ (Personal correspondence, email, 8 May).
Nolan, S. (2006) ‘Soaring inflation turns Zimbabwe into a nation of big spendersThe Globe and Mail, Canada, 4 April.
Nyambara, P. S. (2001a) ‘The politics of land acquisition and struggles over land in the “communal” areas of Zimbabwe: the Gokwe region in the 1980s and 1990s’, Africa 71 (2): 253–85.
Nyambara, P. S. (2001b) ‘Immigrants, “traditional” leaders and the Rhodesian state: the power of “communal” land tenure and the politics of land acquisition in Gokwe, Zimbabwe 1963–1979’, Journal of Southern African Studies 27 (4): 771–91.
Nyathi, P. (2001) Traditional Ceremonies of the AmaNdebele. Gweru: Mambo.
O'Flaherty, M. (1998) ‘Communal tenure in Zimbabwe: divergent models of collective land holding in the communal areas’, Africa 68 (4): 537–57.
O'Regan, H. (2001) Ko Tahu, Ko Au: Kai Tahu Tribal Identity. Christchurch: Horomaka.
Palmer, R. (1977) Land and Racial Domination in Rhodesia. Berkeley CA: University of California Press.
Palmer, R. and Parsons, N. (eds) (1977) The Roots of Rural Poverty in Central and Southern Africa. London: Heinemann.
Potts, D. (2006) ‘“Restoring order”? Operation Murambatsvina and the urban crisis in Zimbabwe’, Journal of Southern African Studies 32 (2): 273–91.
Ranger, T. (1983) ‘The invention of tradition in colonial Africa’ in Hobsbawm, E. and Ranger, T. (eds), The Invention of Tradition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Ranger, T. (1991) ‘Religion and witchcraft in everyday life in contemporary Zimbabwe’ in Kaarsholm, P. (ed.), Cultural Struggle and Development in Southern Africa. Harare: Baobab Books.
Spierenburg, M. (2005) ‘Spirits and land reforms: conflicts about land in Dande, northern Zimbabwe’, Journal of Religion in Africa 35 (2): 197231.
Stigger, P. (1980) The Land Commission of 1984 and the Land. Local Series 36, Historical Association of Zimbabwe.
Takaoma, M. (1999) ‘800 indigenous farms face the AFC hammer’, The Sunday Mail, 13 June 1999.
Thomas, T. M. (1872, reprinted 1971) Eleven Years in Central South Africa. London: Frank Cass and Co.
Törhönen, M. and Goodwin, D. P. (1998) ‘Would a registry map hang comfortably in a round, mud hut? A register of title for Zimbabwe's communal areas: philosophical and technical considerations’, Australian Surveyor 43 (2): 96108.
Vijfhuizen, C. (2002) The People You Live With. Harare: Weaver Press.
Yudelman, M. (1964) Africans on the Land: economic problems of African agricultural development in Southern, Central, and East Africa, with special reference to Southern Rhodesia. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.
Zimbabwe Government (1996) The Communal Land Act (Revised Edition).
Zimbabwe Law Reports (1999) Magaya v Magaya, 1999 (1) ZLR 100(S), 210/98.

WHATEVER IT TAKES: TENURE SECURITY STRATEGIES OF COMMUNAL LAND RIGHT HOLDERS IN ZIMBABWE

  • David Goodwin

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed