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On-line version ISSN 2309-8392
Print version ISSN 0018-229X


NYANDORO, Mark. Zimbabwe's land struggles and land rights in historical perspective: The case of Gowe-Sanyati irrigation (1950-2000). Historia [online]. 2012, vol.57, n.2, pp.298-349. ISSN 2309-8392.

This article examines the history of land struggles in the Sanyatidryland and the Gowe-ARDA irrigation-community in northwestern Zimbabwe from 1950 to 2000. Land has been one of the most contentious issues in this area in the colonial and post-independence eras. Informed by the broader contestation around land, the article seeks to address the question of indigenous rights to land in Zimbabwe. Writing from an economic history point of view, it analyses the historical roots of contemporary land struggles and land grabbing in Zimbabwe since the forced removal of people from Rhodesdale to Sanyati in 1950. It also evaluates the need for land (as a factor of accumulation) and water rights in addressing key issues that could enable Zimbabwe realise peace and the much-needed restoration of the economy. Demands for land and associated rights are an indicator of the tension reminiscent of the dryland and ARDA-irrigated lands in Sanyati which was informed by Rhodesian-era evictions and resettlements. Clearly, in the pre-2000 period, the lack of adequate land to settle the farmers on a satisfactory basis coupled with the absence of a deliberate policy framework to regularise land-allocation has created a perception of economic disempowerment in both the dryland and irrigated peasant-sectors of the Zimbabwean economy. This informs the spate of farm-invasions witnessed in recent times in Gowe-Sanyati and beyond and underlines the fact that it is imperative that further research be undertaken on Zimbabwe's contemporary agrarian revolution.

Keywords : Gowe-Sanyati; dryland and irrigation agricultural development; land rights; land tenure; land acts; land reform; water resources; human rights, land invasion.

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