Large-Scale Land Acquisitions, Livelihoods, and Gender Configurations in Zimbabwe

Large-Scale Land Acquisitions, Livelihoods, and Gender Configurations in Zimbabwe

Patience Mutopo (University of Cologne, Germany & University of Wageningen, The Netherlands & Chinhoyi University of Technology, Zimbabwe), Manase Kudzai Chiweshe (Chinhoyi University of Technology, Zimbabwe & Futures Agricultures Consortium, UK) and Chipo Plaxedes Mubaya (Chinhoyi University of Technology, Zimbabwe)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-7405-9.ch007
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Abstract

The notion of large-scale land acquisitions has been topical in recent years in Zimbabwe; it has even created more nuanced debates, since 70% of rural women in Zimbabwe are the majority of food producers. Foreign and locally orchestrated land deals have presented new challenges and threats to the livelihoods of women in rural Zimbabwe, at a time of land redistributive programs that have been viewed nationally and internationally as chaotic, affecting the food security, economic prowess, and international relations of Zimbabwe. The main aim of this chapter is to examine how women are particularly affected by the investments, based on three case studies. An analysis of the Zimbabwean scenario is presented with regards to participatory methodologies that reflect women's rural livelihoods and land loss.
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Introduction

The notion of large scale land acquisitions has been topical in recent years in Zimbabwe. It has created more nuanced political economy debates as 70% of rural women in Zimbabwe are the majority of food producers (Matondi, Chiweshe & Mutopo, 2013). Despite the African Union’s commitment to strengthening women’s access and control of land by placing land rights in the public domain of human rights, it is silent on the issue of land grabs. This is a gap that the African Union’s land policy framework, yet 2014 has been declared the year of agriculture in Africa by the African Union. However the foreign and locally orchestrated land deals have presented new challenges and threats to the livelihoods of women in rural Zimbabwe. At a time also of land redistributive programs that have been viewed nationally and internationally as chaotic affecting the food security, economic prowess and international relations of Zimbabwe. Our aim in this chapter is to understand and plainly bring out how women are particularly affected by the large scale land investments within the Zimbabwean context. To include women’s stories and experiences is necessary because their stories are often forgotten, trivialized and placed at the periphery (Tollin & Törnqvist 2011. A broad analysis of the Zimbabwean scenario is presented and reference is made to the differential impacts of the investments on livelihoods of women within the Southern African context. In the last decade foreign companies or governments have acquired 227 million hectares of land in Africa, according to a recent report by OXFAM, (Mutopo 2012). Women in rural Zimbabwe tend to be disadvantaged by the large scale land investments, as loss of land a critical livelihood component becomes a relational issue that constantly feature in different contexts of discussions with the women, and the effects the loss has on their lives. The chapter uses three unique case studies carried out in Chisumbanje, Mwenezi and Chiadzwa to highlight how women have experienced land dispossession in Zimbabwe. We dwell on empirical investigations to further unravel how women are affected negatively by the large scale land acquisitions. The impacts are almost always negative and irreversible. Action Aid (2013: 13) reports that:

Multi-national corporations are key players in land grabbing, often acting in conjunction with governments that create the policies and broker the deals that undermine land rights. Donor governments and international financial institutions play a critical role in land grabs by crafting the policies, financial incentives, and development programs that place business interests ahead of the interests of local communities. Among the top governments engaged in large scale land deals are the UK, the USA, and many northern investors.

In such processes women are not key actors at all therefore compromising the African Protocol on Women’s Rights, the Convention on Economic and Social Rights and the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women which emphasize the need for states to ensure that women `s access to land, water, livelihoods and other natural resources are upheld by state parties, and that discriminatory laws and cultural practices should not be the basis of violating women `s rights to land and livelihoods.

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Gendered Dimensions On Land Acquisitions In Africa

Although the chapter specifically focuses on Zimbabwe, it is true, that across the African continent women remain largely responsible for food provision at household level thus any issues relating land affects women (Shah, 2012). Thus it is to this extent that, land remains a valuable livelihood asset for rural women. Large scale land deals across Africa have generally affected rural women negatively, with women losing their identity as well as the right to land ownership and land use, as the conglomerates often ask people to live the land and women emerge as poor victims in most communities as they cannot fight for their land due to patriarchy which insists on land being a male regulated commodity (Mutopo 2012; Mutopo & Chiweshe, 2012). Behrman, Meinzen-Dick, and Quisumbing (2011) provide a gendered analysis of land grabbing in Africa showing how rural women face many disadvantages when it comes to land deals. They argue that:

Key Terms in this Chapter

Policy: The alternatives that governments chose in order to deal with a specific problem that affects communities.

Livelihoods: Refers to the capabilities, assets and resources that people adopt in order to secure basic necessities of life in order to improve their economic and social standing in society.

Large-Scale Land Deals: Depict a situation where multinational corporations take over and amass land in rural communities in Africa for the production of flexi crops through negotiations by national and local governments in the host countries.

Gender: Refers to the socially constructed norms that denote the roles of men and women in society.

Fast Track Land Reforms: This refers to the controversial land redistribution process that Zimbabwe embarked upon since 2000, with the aim of creating land ownership opportunities for black people thus ending white dominance over land ownership.

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