New Review: Zimbabwe’s Land Reform: Myths and Realities

REVIEW ESSAY
Shifting the debate on land reform, poverty and inequality in Zimbabwe,
an engagement with Zimbabwe’s Land Reform: Myths and Realities1

 

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Review of Zimbabwe's Land Reform: Myths and Realities

Ten years after the land invasions of 2000, this book provides the first full account of the consequences of these dramatic events. This land reform over-turned a century-old pattern of land use, one dominated by a small group of large-scale commercial farmers, many of whom were white. But what replaced it? This book challenges five myths through the examination of the field data from Masvingo province:
Myth 1 Zimbabwean land reform has been a total failure

Myth 2 The beneficiaries of Zimbabwean land reform have been largely political ‘cronies’

Myth 3 There is no investment in the new resettlements

Myth 4 Agriculture is in complete ruins creating chronic food insecurity

Myth 5 The rural economy has collapsed

By challenging these myths, and suggesting alternative policy narratives, this book presents the story as it has been observed on the ground: warts and all. What comes through very strongly is the complexity, the differences, almost farm by farm: there is no single, simple story of the Zimbabwe land reform as sometimes assumed by press reports, political commentators, or indeed much academic study.