After land reform in Zimbabwe: What about the youth?

17 March 2018

How has Zimbabwe's fast track land reform programme affected the socioeconomic status of its young people?

This paper explores the reconfiguration of rural relations and social structures after the fast track land reform programme (FTLRP) in Zimbabwe, focusing on youth. It shows that in rural Zimbabwe after the FTLRP, young people are increasingly demanding a greater share of social and economic benefits which they feel entitled to by virtue of their citizenship. Focusing on three farms and two communal areas, this paper shows that one of the outcomes of the FTLRP has been the reconfiguration of the socioeconomic structure and that this has had an unprecedented impact which is only becoming visible now that the FTLRP has been concluded. It argues that the rural landscape which now characterises the farming areas is a result of authoritarian populism which was deployed to push forward the FTLRP process. This process created rural authority structures which h ave continued to have a stranglehold over the rural areas and they are now causing disaffection with the younger generation.

With this background in mind, the paper looks at the realities of the youth, their aspirations, their attitudes towards the local authorities as well as their relations with the local communities. It also explores the strategies which they have developed and use to ensure that they derive maximum benefits from their citizenship, there is a reduction in inequalities, more participation, more equitable redistribution of resources and social cohesion which in sum characterises the new politics of the countryside in rural Zimbabwe.

This paper was presented at the Emancipatory Rural Politics Initiative (ERPI) 2018 Conference: "Authoritarian Populism and the Rural World"