Last Updated 28 Jul 2020

Farm Workers After the Famous Land Reform

Category Agriculture
Essay type Research
Words 2179 (8 pages)
Views 544


a. Statement of purpose

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The goal of this study is to explore the different ways through which the land redistribution programme in Zimbabwe affected commercial farm workers in the country. The study will examine the assumptions that farm workers were better off prior to the land redistribution programme in the country. The study is expected to analyse whether the land redistribution affected the farm workers negatively or not. It is important to note that the land redistribution programme had been expected decades prior to implementation. Considering the fact that the majority of farm land was owned and controlled by a few white farmers, redistribution was necessary in order to promote social justice (UNDP, 2002). The study will explore the various ways through which the land redistribution programme ought to have been carried out.

Overview summary

The first chapter of this study will present the problem to be addressed in a general introduction. Chapter two shall explore material that has been previously published on the subject by other authors. This literature review shall provide necessary background information that will enable readers to have a better understanding about what the study is all about. This will include the political history of land distribution in Zimbabwe and how farmland ended up in the hands of a white minority. Chapter three shall be the methodology, which will outline the methods through which this study shall be carried out. Chapter four shall report the findings of the study and then a conclusion shall be drawn in chapter five. Chapter five shall also include recommendations and the implications of the outcomes of the study.

Background and context of the Study

Historically, the land problem in Zimbabwe can be traced back to the colonial era when European colonialists and businessmen settled in Zimbabwe and began cultivating the fertile lands in the country (Chan, 2003). Long after Zimbabwe gained its independence from Britain, white farmers who had settled in the country remained there and continued cultivating the fertile soil in the country (Mutangi, 2010). Zimbabwe’s political elite in the ZANU PF party began addressing the issue. This sensitive issue attracted widespread local and international interest. When the land redistribution programme began, many black Zimbabweans welcomed it with a sigh of relief. Commercial farm workers were unaware of the fact that the land redistribution programme might cost them their jobs.

The land redistribution programme resulted in massive unemployment of commercial farm workers. After the land redistribution programme was officially closed, many farm workers lost their jobs (FCTZ, 2002). Some of the new owners who took over the farms lacked adequate finances or/and expertise to manage a commercial farm. About eighty-five percent (85%) of the farms that were surveyed in a study conducted by the Farm Community Trust of Zimbabwe (FCTZ) found out that there had been a drastic drop in productivity (FCTZ, 2002b). In a particular region of the country named Mashonaland West, FCTZ found that out of thirty farms sampled in the study, up to ninety percent (90%) of the farms had been taken over by the government (FCTZ, 2002). More than sixty percent (60%) of the 30 farms that were analysed had completely shut down (FCTZ, 2002). This implies that productivity at these farms had dropped to zero, and all the farm workers had lost their jobs.

Although many commercial farm workers lost their jobs as a result of the redistribution programme, a historical background clearly outlines the context of this study and reveals that land distribution in Zimbabwe was unfair (Buckle, 2001). The land redistribution programme was designed to render justice to the black population that had been cheated for years. Meanwhile the land redistribution failure has been widely criticised, many politicians believe that the problem could have been tackled differently.

The land reforms programme had disastrous consequences on the general Zimbabwean economy, which is dependent on agriculture as one of its major sources of foreign revenue and employment. By the time the land redistribution programme was officially completed in 2002, more than fifty percent (50%) of commercial farm workers had lost their jobs as a result of the land reforms (Mutangi, 2010). At the end of the land redistribution programme, many of the farms were unable to achieve the same output as they had done in the past. This resulted in shortage of food, inflation and a surge in unemployment figures of commercial farm workers (FCTZ, 2002b). This affected not just the agricultural sector, but the entire economy considering the fact that agriculture is a major sector in the country.

Significance of the Problem

Scoones et al (2010) believe that the land redistribution programme received widespread stereotypical coverage. Although the programme did not achieve resounding success, the western media also politicised the subject. It is important to note that just about 6.7% of the commercial farm workers were offered land in the programme. Although there are varying figures on the number of farm workers who lost their jobs, the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) of Zimbabwe estimates that about 200,000 commercial farm workers lost their jobs (CFU, 2003). After the redistribution programme was complete in 2002, many commercial farm workers lost access to vital social services such as basic health care, housing and other minor privileges which they had enjoyed before (Chan, 2003). The new farm owners had a different perspective on the importance of welfare services to workers. Although workers were guaranteed accommodation by the new farm owners, the quality of accommodation varied from farm to farm (Kibble & Vanlerberghe, 2000). Under the new farm owners, workers who were still in service suffered from housing insecurity.

When some workers tried to resist eviction, this resulted in disputes and clashes between the new farm owners and the workers (Buckle, 2001). By mid 2002, up to 900,000 individuals, including women and children were victims of the evictions (Chitiyo, 2002). Many of these displaced farm workers travelled to urban centres to look for other means of survival. In the last quarter of the year 2002, up to ninety percent (90%) of commercial farm workers who had left their jobs moved to other areas of the country. Some of them were lucky enough to pick up unskilled jobs in the city (UNDP, 2002). Some of them will go any lengths to cross over into South Africa, where they got a hostile reception from the local population there. This study is important because it looks at a phenomenon that affected close to a million people considering the number of farmers and their relatives that were displaced from their settlements. It is equally important because it looks at a subject that fuelled political unrest and resulted in double digit inflation figures for Zimbabwe. After the land redistribution programme, Zimbabwe recorded a drastic cut in its GNP.

Rationale for the Research Project

This study will explore the weaknesses of the land redistribution programme in Zimbabwe. It will identify the weaknesses of the programme and then propose better ways through which things could have been done to avoid the negative impact the programme left on the lives of farmers. Although many studies have been carried out in different academic disciplines on the land redistribution programme in Zimbabwe, many of these studies have focused on the causes and impact of the programme. They mostly look at how the land redistribution programme affected farmers, farm workers, the economy, politics and society of Zimbabwe. Few studies have focused on alternative ways through which the land redistribution programme could have been implemented in order to avoid the chaos it brought into the life of the farmers and the economy at large.

Research Questions

In order to ensure that the study stays focused on its main objective, which includes the impact of the land redistribution programme on commercial farm workers, this study shall be guided by a set of research questions outlined below. At every phase of the study, the researcher will ensure that was ever is done is seeking to find answers to one or more of the following research questions:-

i.)What has happened to farm workers that were removed from farms?

ii.) What has become of their standard of living?

iii.) How has this affected the education and upbringing of their children?

iv.) How could the farming industry have benefitted from using the skills of the disposed farm workers?

v.) Why did the land reform programme fail?


At the end of this study, the hypothesis shall either be confirmed or refuted based on the data gathered from this study. The hypothesis for this study includes the following:-

a.)Commercial farm workers suffered as a result of the fact that the land redistribution programme was poorly planned an implemented.

b.) Alternative ways of handling the injustices brought about by the inequitable distribution of land between blacks and white farmers would have brought justice without hurting farmers, farm workers and the economy.

c.)The land redistribution programme was more of a political than a social problem that was why it backfired.

Scope / Limitations

This is an area that has been widely researched as it is of interests to many scholars from different disciplines. The proposed project will take the form of a research study that will be done using secondary research. This implies that it will look at information already gathered to express and clarify the points. This makes the task relatively easier for this study. The study also ps from the colonial period, when the land distribution patterns in Zimbabwe began in modern times, to the pre redistribution period. It also covers the post land redistribution era during which farmers began feeling the impact of the land redistribution process.

I chose secondary sources as it is relatively easy to obtain yet it will answer the questions I need to answer in the research project leaving me enough scope to be able to consult different sources of information and to expand where I feel the is a gap. I am aware that some of the disadvantages of using secondary research include the fact that the information may not be complete as it relates to the researcher’s specific interest and I intend to address this by putting on additional information to ensure that my research is complete.

One of the limitations of this study includes the fact that the study is about a controversial issue that has been politicised. As such, some of the data that has been previously published on the subject is characterised by the political bias of many of these authors. For instance, many of the publications authored by white farmers’ movements such as CFU, stress the damage caused by the land redistribution programme on the economy. Meanwhile many black authors stress the fact that land redistribution was characterised by historical injustices. In this light, it is challenging to distinguish between facts and the authors’ personal biases.

Research Methodology

This is qualitative study that will rely on secondary sources such as text books, journals and online sources for data collection. This is a topic that has been covered by many other researchers, making it relatively easier for the research to collect data. The study shall make use of qualitative methods to analyse the data collected for this study.

Structure of the Project

This study shall be structured into five chapters. Each of the chapters will address a particular aspect of the study. It shall be structured as listed below:-

Chapter 1 – Introduction

Chapter 2 – Literature Review

Chapter 3 – Methodology

Chapter 3 – Results and Interpretations

Chapter 5 – Conclusions


The study shall conclude by summarising the entire research project. The conclusion shall only be based on information gathered from the study. Based on these conclusions, recommendations shall be made. These recommendations shall outline the various ways through which the land redistribution ought to have been carried out. It shall also identify the mistakes made by the Mugabe regime.


Buckle, C (2001) African Tears: Zimbabwe Land Invasions, Johannesburg: Covos Day

CFU (2003) The Current Status of Commercial Agriculture in Zimbabwe, Harare

Chan, S (2003) Robert Mugabe: A Life of Power and Violence, London: IB Taurus

Chitiyo, K (2002) Harvest of Tongues: Zimbabwe’s ‘Third Chimurenga’ and the Making of an Agrarian Revolution, Mimeo

FCTZ (2002) Concession Informal Settlement: Mazowe District, Mashonaland Central, Harare

FCTZ (2002b) The Situation of Commercial Farm Workers after Land Reform in Zimbabwe 91

Kibble, S and P Vanlerberghe (2000) Land, Power and Poverty: Farm Workers and the Crisis in Zimbabwe, London: CIIR

Mutangi G.T. (2010) Livelihoods after Land Reform in Zimbabwe Working Paper 13 The Changing Patterns of Farm Labour after the Fast Track Land Reform Programme: The Case of Guruve District. Livelihoods After Land Reform Programme

Sachikonye, L. M (2003) The Situation of Commercial Farm Workers after Land Reform in Zimbabwe A report prepared for the Farm Community Trust of Zimbabwe

Scoones I., Marongwe N., Mavedzenge B., Mahenehene J., Murimbarimba F., Sukume C.(2010) Zimbabwe’s Land Reform – Myths and Realities. Weaver Press

UNDP (2002) Zimbabwe Land Reform and Resettlement: Assessment and Suggested Framework for the Future, Interim Mission Report, Harare

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