Academic journal article History In Africa

Labor Relations in Zimbabwe from 1900 to 2000: Sources, Interpretations, and Understandings

Academic journal article History In Africa

Labor Relations in Zimbabwe from 1900 to 2000: Sources, Interpretations, and Understandings

Article excerpt

Abstract: This article looks at the shifts and continuities in labor relations in Zimbabwe from c. 1900-2000. It does so by looking at three cross sections (1904, 1951, and 2002) to examine the changes that have taken place. By exploring the continuities (subsistence agriculture) and shifts (limited industrialization and urbanization) of labor relations over this period, it is hoped that the article provides a comprehensive account of the rapid and radical changes Zimbabwe underwent during the twentieth century and the impacts these have had on the peoples and economies within the southern African nation.

Résumé: Cet article est orienté sur les dynamiques de changement et de continuité des relations de travail au Zimbabwe au cours de la période 1900-2000. En particulier, il concerne les changements qui se sont produits dans les tranches 1904, 1951, et 2002. En explorant les continuités (agriculture de subsistance) et les changements (industrialisation à petite échelle et urbanisation) des relations de travail au cours de cette plage temporelle, l'article donne une description articulée des changements rapides et radicaux auxquels le Zimbabwe se confronta pendant le XXe siècle et de leur impact sur la population et l'économie du pays.

Introduction1

This article provides a long-term analysis of the changing labor relations in Zimbabwe from c. 1900 to 2000, by comparing demographics and labor relations at three cross sections: 1904, 1951, and 2002. The major focus of the article will be the causes and consequences of the changing labor dynamics over this period, the examination of which will be fully embedded in the social, political and economic circumstances of the time. The process of defining the labor roles for an entire population comes up against particular dilemmas in southern Africa, and to an extent, Africa as a whole. The lack of written records before the arrival of the European powers, the problems of the colonial archive, especially with concerns to material relating to "native affairs" and the paucity of census data are common issues across Africa, and the Zimbabwean case is no different. Nevertheless, this article provides population breakdowns (based on calculation and considered estimates) at the three cross sections in order to facilitate comparison and long-term analysis. By exploring the continuities and shifts of labor relations over this period, it is hoped that the article provides a comprehensive account of the rapid and radical changes Zimbabwe underwent during the twentieth century and the impacts these have had on the peoples and economies within the southern African nation.

This article is divided into three main sections. The first is a brief historical background of Zimbabwe, focusing on the political and economic organization of the country since the establishment of settler rule in 1890. The second section provides a short survey of the sources used to obtain the statistical data for each of the crosssections, accompanied by a critical reflection on the conditions of production of these source materials, their limitations and the challenges they pose to a study of this type. The third section examines the labor relations and dynamics in the long-term perspective. It provides a comprehensive breakdown of the total population, the economically active population (EAP) and what work was undertaken by the various populations of Zimbabwe in 1904, 1951, and 2002. The data provided in this section offers the opportunity to examine the shifts and continuities in labor relations in Zimbabwe over the course of the twentieth century.

Historical Background

The arrival of white settlers on the Zimbabwean plateau in 1890 marked the beginning of colonial occupation of Zimbabwe. Within the area now known as Zimbabwe, the settlers came into increasing contact with the two main population groups, the Shona and the Ndebele. The "Shona" are to be found across Zimbabwe and Mozambique. …

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