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Land concentration and accumulation after redistributive reform in post-settler Zimbabwe

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Zimbabwe's recent fast-track land reform was redistributive, but it retained significant enclaves of large-scale agro-industrial estates owned by transnational, domestic and state capital, despite unfulfilled popular and domestic elite demands for land. Such estates were encouraged by the state to produce agro-fuel (ethanol from sugar), sugar, tea, coffee, timber and citrus, with wildlife ranching for domestic and export markets, alongside expanded small food producers. This outcome reflects the unresolved contradictions of seeking autonomous development in the context of sanctions, domestic political polarisation and declining agricultural production, while promoting reintegration into broader world markets. Neoliberal policies replaced dirigisme by 2008 to promote stabilisation and agricultural recovery but with limited impact. Foreign agricultural investment in Zimbabwe is nonetheless atypical of the current neoliberal land grabbing in Africa, since Zimbabwe reversed past inequalities and retains some state autonomy, and residual land concentration remains contested.
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Keywords: colonial land dispossession; land reform; neoliberal land grabbing; popular occupations; state-owned agricultural estates

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: African Institute for Agrarian Studies, Harare, Zimbabwe

Publication date: June 1, 2011

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