READ OF THE WEEK: Land, graves and belonging: land reform and the politics of belonging in newly resettled farms in Gutu, 2000–2009

Land, graves and belonging: land reform and the politics of belonging in newly resettled farms in Gutu, 2000–2009 by Joseph Mujere

The return to ancestral lands has been at the centre of the land reform rhetoric in Zimbabwe. This argument is premised on the fact that many communities were displaced from their ancestral lands during the colonial period hence they saw the Fast Track Land Reform Programme (FTLRP) in 2000 as an opportunity for them to ‘return’ to their old homes. This article explores and analyses the issues surrounding land disputes in one village model A1 after the land reform programme and the role played by the regime of traditional authorities in determining how belonging is negotiated. It also analyses the conflicts between autochthons and migrants over the control of the new resettlement areas and over the authority of village heads and chiefs. Claims to land based on ancestral graves and autochthony are also analysed in view of the power of political authorities in land allocation. This paper offers an analysis of the intricacies of land reform in the newly resettled areas and examines the interface between politics and traditional authority on how belonging is negotiated in these contexts. The article is largely based on qualitative interviews with resettled farmers in Gutu, informal interactions as well as personal observations.

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