The Land Reform Deception

The Land Reform Deception : Political Opportunism in Zimbabwe's Land Seizure Era

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The Land Reform Deception looks at a particularly contentious period in Zimbabwe's recent history, from 2000-2008, when the government seized commercial farms using illegal and violent methods against a largely unarmed population of farmers and farm workers. Robert Mugabe's government began the seizures on a small, targeted scale in an effort to suppress political opposition groups, but they soon escalated into an out-of-control frenzy targeting all farms in
the country.

The state claimed that the seizures occurred in response to a public cry for land redistribution and to rectify colonial-era injustices, and were part of a structured land reallocation program. Yet, land was often distributed ad hoc to those with little or no farming experience. As a result, agricultural output contracted and inflation and unemployment rose dramatically in what became a social and economic disaster for the country. In The Land Reform Deception, Charles Laurie asks why
the state would target its own agricultural industry using such violent methods and risk such dire consequences. He also seeks to uncover the major actors and their motivations and strategies. Laurie argues that the seizure of the most valuable farms was largely carried out by politically influential
individuals for financial and political gain, rather than to address historical injustices. In fact, he finds that the scale on which the farm invasions were carried out and the violent methods used were never part of a planned government land policy. Indeed, Laurie shows that Mugabe initially opposed the seizures, knowing that they would wreck the economy, only to later support them in order to appease his supporters and retain political power. Incorporating unprecedented empirical evidence
gathered from in-depth interviews with senior politicians, members of the secretive Central Intelligence Organization, the military and police, along with farmers and farm workers who were targeted during the invasions, The Land Reform Deception strips away official explanations and delves into the
political and economic drivers that triggered the seizure of commercial farms in Zimbabwe.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 424 pages
  • 173 x 234 x 27mm | 590g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 0190680520
  • 9780190680527
  • 1,272,193

Table of contents

Abbreviations and Acronyms
Map of Zimbabwe
Liberation War and Gukurahundi Timeline
Land Seizure Era Timeline
Land Seizure Era Violence and Farmer Eviction Timeline

1. Overview of the Land Seizure Era
2. ZANU-PF's Land Redistribution Gamble
3. Mugabe Targets Agriculture: Land Reform or Political Gimmick?
4. Strategy behind Farm Seizures
5. Suppressing the MDC
6. Seizing Land and Agri-Property
7. Moving onto Farms: The Emergence of Extortion and "Protection"
8. Farmer Eviction Methods
9. Impact on Commercial Agriculture Production

Appendix A. Research Methodology
Appendix B. Overview of Interview Respondents
Appendix C. Land Seizure Era Flowcharts
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Review quote

Demonization diminishes informed criticism, and the case of the Zimbabwe land seizures is exactly one where the deep underlying animations, opportunisms and responses have been obscured by generalized condemnation. Charles Laurie provides a significant service by studying in considerable depth and detail key aspects of the land issue. His work is profoundly illuminating and allows us to build explanation and understanding of what happened in Zimbabwe, before moving
on to critique and criticism."
- Stephen Chan OBE, SOAS University of London In this thought-provoking book, Charles Laurie presents a wealth of new empirical information that challenges the way in which we have understood land seizures in Zimbabwe. It is a great testament to the value of in-depth fieldwork, and will inspire fresh debates on a number of important topics."
-Nic Cheeseman, Associate Professor in African Politics, Oxford University The Land Reform Deception opens up new debates on the fast-track land reform process in Zimbabwe. As well as insights from farmers and farm workers, Laurie has also extracted information from a remarkable range of government officials and state protagonists, whose voices are largely missing from the current literature on the topic. This book is important reading for all those who seek deeper understanding of events in Zimbabwe since the turn of the millennium."
-Rory Pilossof, University of the Free State, and author of The Unbearable Whiteness of Being: Farmers' Voices from Zimbabwe Laurie's book is a moving account of the controversies of Zimbabwe's land reform exercise. [It] is a refreshing read, well researched and with evidence that it was written by someone with detailed knowledge of the turbulent story of Zimbabwe's land question. * Joyline Takudzwa Kufandirori, Boekresensies *
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About Charles Laurie

Charles Laurie was born and raised in Zimbabwe and has had a lifelong interest in the agricultural politics of the region. With an advanced Master's degree from the University of Cambridge and a doctorate from the University of Oxford, he has dedicated his academic career to understanding the political, social and economic influences that undermine development in southern Africa.
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