Post-land reform and the future of agriculture in Zimbabwe

Wednesday, 24 May 2017 - 7:00pm to 8:30pm
Date & Time: Wednesday 24th May, 19:00 - 20:30
Venue: Khalili Lecture Theatre, SOAS, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, WC1H 0XG
Speakers: Na Ncube, The Global Native; Ian Scoones, University of Sussex. Chair: Shepherd Mutswiri, Funda
Listen to the podcast.
In 1980, Zimbabwe was the second most industrialized country in Sub-Saharan Africa (after South Africa) and GDP continued to grow well into the 1990s. Following Zimbabwe’s independence, Julius Nyerere made the memorable comment to Prime Minister Robert Mugabe, that he had ‘inherited the jewel of Africa’. And yet, the government had also inherited a paradox: a majority of its population remained among the most impoverished in the world, virtually untouched by ‘growth without development’.
Some 850,000 peasant families (about three-quarters of the population) still lived crowded on rocky or sandy, infertile and overgrazed lands. These contradictory features of Zimbabwe's inheritance played a part in the need for an urgent redistribution of land. The ‘willing-buyer-willing-seller’ market-led land reform programme during the 80s and 90s failed to adequately address rural poverty and resettle the targeted 162,000 families.
The recent history of land and agriculture in the country is one of conflict and falling production. In 2000, Zimbabwe embarked on the highly contested Fast Track Land Reform which redistributed over 4000 large scale commercial farms. The overall agricultural production declined by 50% between 2000 and 2007. Over 146,000 households received smallholder farms and over 23,000 beneficiaries received medium-scale commercial farms.
It is widely agreed that land reform was necessary, the question is, how can Zimbabwe make progress without distributing blame, but learning from past mistakes?
In 2008, The World Bank Report: Agriculture for Development stated that it was time to place agriculture afresh at the centre of the development agenda and poverty reduction. In 2009, an Africa APPG Report: Land in Zimbabwe-Past Mistakes and Future Prospects outlined plans to ‘encourage new socio-cultural links between Zimbabwe and the UK’. 
In the transitional and post-Brexit period, we ask what has been achieved in the years since, and investigate whether – and through what means - Zimbabwe could once again become the ‘breadbasket of Africa’.
Speaker’s bios:
Na Ncube is Zimbabwean and the director of The Global Native, a UK based Diaspora led charity which seeks to unlock social investment funds for rural farming and development in Zimbabwe. She is particularly interested in mobilising funds from the Zimbabwean diaspora in the UK and elsewhere. The Global Native also seeks to educate and influence policy for sustainable development. Na trained with PriceWaterhouse Coopers and held various finance positions in different organisations prior to obtaining a Masters in International Development and setting up The Global Native in 2009. Na is a committed Christian and her faith shapes her activism.
Ian Scoones is a Professorial Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex, and is co-director of the ESRC STEPS Centre. He has been researching land, agriculture and rural livelihoods in Zimbabwe since the mid-1980s. His early work was on livestock and rangeland management, and he has subsequently worked on dryland agriculture and environmental change. Since 2000 has been tracking the consequences of land reform in a number of sites across the country, including Masvingo, Mvurwi and Matobo, working with a local team. He has published a number of books and many articles on Zimbabwean land and agrarian issues, most notably the co-authored book, Zimbabwe's Land Reform: Myths and Realities, in 2010. He has a regular blog, at
Chair: Shepherd Muswiri is currently studying for a Masters in Development Studies at SOAS. He co-founded Funda with Ben Snyder, Jimmy Awany, Jean-Marc Mauran and Yasmin Hegazy at SOAS. Funda is a collective that seeks to contribute to the empowerment of rural communities by facilitating developmental initiatives that can be implemented for sustainable development.
Note - Tendai Biti is no longer able to attend the meeting. 
Reviving the economy: Post-land reform and the future of agriculture in Zimbabwe is an event series which was conceived by five SOAS MSc Development Studies students with the support of Royal African Society. They are the founders of FUNDA, a collective that seeks to contribute to the empowerment of rural communities in developing countries.
This event is free and open to all but spaces are limited. Please register on Eventbrite and consider making a donation to the event series.