At independence in 1980, Zimbabwe inherited a land system dominated by large-scale commercial farmers in prime agricultural regions of the country, and peasant farmers were crowded into marginal communal areas with low rainfall and poor soils. The Government of Zimbabwe (GoZ) initially embarked on a land reform program anchored on a market-led willing-seller, willing-buyer principle, but little progress was made. The slow pace of the land reform triggered the GoZ to implement the Fast Track Land Reform Program (FTLRP) in early 2000 to address historical and post-colonial land imbalances. Many development analysts associate the poorly conceived and executed FTLRP with a steep decline in agricultural productivity and subsequent collapse of the country’s economy.
Addressing land rights is critical to building inclusive prosperity in Zimbabwe, particularly given that two-thirds of its citizens reside in rural areas – including the vast majority of people experiencing poverty.
CURRENT INITIATIVES IN ZIMBABWE
At the invitation of the government, Landesa is providing strategic support to Zimbabwe during this critical window of transition to help them develop more transparent and equitable land reform. Landesa will provide technical assistance to the Government to:
Address critical gaps in the legal framework (such as those impacting women’s land rights/economic empowerment, business development and non-alignment with the Constitution).
Strengthen support for 99-year leasehold agreements and land use permits seen as critical in unlocking agricultural productivity and investment on redistributed land.
Support the implementation of a comprehensive, gender-sensitive and participatory National Land Policy review and development process.
Support local civil society to build awareness among women and men farmers of legal rights that do exist, and improve the ability of people living in rural areas to realize these rights through better enforcement and access to justice.
Land Dispute Resolution Mechanisms and Training
Landesa and Collaborative Decision Resources Associates conducted a 5-day Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) workshop for the Zimbabwe Land Commission, the government’s recently formed land administration body. The training focused on comparison of ADR approaches, Zimbabwe’s land governance framework, mediation processes and conflict resolution simulations. Thirty-eight participants completed the training, seventeen of whom were women.
Evidence-Based Land Policy Development Presentation
At the invitation of Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement and FAO, Landesa made a presentation on “Regional experiences in evidence-based land policy development” at the Zimbabwe National Land Policy (NLP) launch in February 2019. More than 200 stakeholders from government, NGO, private sector and international development organizations attended the launch. By actively participating in the formulation of a national and gender sensitive land policy in line with the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security (VGGT) principles, the NLP project could benefit up to 70 percent of Zimbabwe’s 16 million people who depend on agriculture for their livelihoods.
Land Tenure Systems Research
Landesa provided direct advisory services to the Ministry of Lands, Housing, and Human Settlements Development in Tanzania to identify and analyze issues related to a proposed “land for equity” policy to guide future large –scale agricultural land transactions. (November 2012 to February 2013).