Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

Beyond the Third Chimurenga?: Theological Reflections on the Land Reform Programme in Zimbabwe, 2000-2010

Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

Beyond the Third Chimurenga?: Theological Reflections on the Land Reform Programme in Zimbabwe, 2000-2010

Article excerpt


The land reform programme (third Chimurenga) is a monumental agrarian revolution in Zimbabwe, and its repercussions have been largely paradoxical to the extent that they have sent shockwaves in Africa and beyond. Throughout the colonial period, land in Zimbabwe as in several other African nations was expropriated through force and colonial legislation. Moyo (2004:6) observes that at independence in 1980, 6000 white farmers retained 39% of the prime land, adding up to 15,5 million hectares of agro-ecological farmland, whereas one million Black households were confined to 41.4% of land that constituted 16.4 million hectares of marginal land. Apparently, agriculture was the mainstay of the economy and one of the most important economic sectors, which accounted for 40% of the GDP and employed more than 70% of the population (Stoneman and Cliffe 1989; Maguwu 2007). Because of its thriving agricultural sector, Zimbabwe was accorded the role of ensuring food security in the then the Southern African Development Coordination Conference (SADCC), the forerunner of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region until the year 2000. This rosy picture earned Zimbabwe the status of being the 'bread basket' in Africa south of the Sahara. Nevertheless, the land reform programme has not retained this prestigious status for Zimbabwe. Instead, judged in the context of the impact of the fast track land reform programme, Zimbabwe plummeted from being a 'bread basket' into a being 'bread case' of the region (Ndhlovu-Gatsheni 2009). Among other reasons, the land reform lacked adequate government financial support, the new and inexperienced farmers failed to feed the nation, and the land question created enmity from the international community, which turned Zimbabwe into a pariah state.

In general, the discourses about land reform in Zimbabwe have been undertaken from various perspectives. For instance, Moyana (2002), Moyo and Raftopoulos (2004), Sachikonye (2000), Bond and Manyanga (2003) have examined the delicate land issue mostly from a socio-economic standpoint whilst Jocelyn Alexander (2007) provides a historiography of land in Zimbabwe. This study is yet another contribution to the on-going debates on the matrix of land in Zimbabwe, hence a framework of evaluation from theological perspectives. However, it must be noted that a theological voice is not new in the land discourses in Zimbabwe. For example, Bakare (1993), MacGarry (1994) and Banana (1996) are some of the pioneering theologians who offered comprehensive critiques on land reform programmes in post-independent Zimbabwe. In addition, Gundani (2001), Chitando (2005) and Maposa (2011) have supplied recent voices on issues related to the contemporary land reform programme in Zimbabwe. Apart from that, commentaries have started to emerge on religion and land reform in Zimbabwe and beyond. This study presents theological reflections on the land reform programme in Zimbabwe, and therefore posits that the land redistribution exercise was meant to correct the colonial imbalances so that it could benefit the landless majority, notwithstanding that it has been hijacked by the new Black 'land barons'. A theological analysis advanced in this paper reveals that human rights have been sacrificed on the altar of injustice and political expediency.

It has to be asked: Has Zimbabwe gone beyond the third Chimurenga? Accordingly, this study will begin with a historical purview of the land question in order to situate the Western and African perspectives on the mechanics of land reform programme in Zimbabwe. Furthermore, the study will examine the linkages between the land issue and globalisation, the Government of National Unity and the issue of identity. Some reflections on the land issue beyond the third Chimurenga are given as the basis for the recommendations that conclude this study.


The researchers used the phenomenological approach in which fieldwork was conducted in the resettled former white commercial farming areas in the Masvingo province. …

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