Gendered Dimensions of Land and Rural Livelihoods: The Case of New Settler Farmer Displacement at Nuanetsi Ranch, Mwenezi District, Zimbabwe

Citation:

Mutopo, Patience. 2011. Gendered Dimensions of Land and Rural Livelihoods: The Case of New Settler Farmer Displacement at Nuanetsi Ranch, Mwenezi District, Zimbabwe. Brighton, UK: Land Deals Politics Initiative.

Author: Patience Mutopo

Abstract:

The bio fuels boom has recently been gaining much currency in Zimbabwe. This revolution has had different impacts on the lives of men and women who occupied land during the fast track land reform programme. A notable hectrage of land that was acquired for resettlement and given to beneficiaries has in recent months, from February 2010 until the present moment, been deemed to be land that was wrongly gazetted for resettlement during the mayhem ( jambanja) phase by the government of Zimbabwe, through its line agencies at national, provincial and district level. The change in policy by the government of Zimbabwe was to pave way for large companies engaged in bio fuel production such as the Mwenezi Development Trust in conjunction with a consortium of former white commercial farmers regaining entry into large scale commercial production of bio fuels, crocodile farming and cattle ranching at Nuanetsi Ranch, in Zimbabwe. Nuanetsi Ranch had been invaded by villagers from different parts of Mwenezi, Chiredzi and Chivi communal areas since 2000. In February 2010 the government announced that the settlers had to be removed and resettled in other “uncontested lands” in the area, compromising their rights to sustainable livelihoods, human development and land acquisition. The perceptions of the men and women resident at Chigwizi has had a bearing on understanding the nature of gendered land and rural livelihoods in the context of bio fuel production in Zimbabwe after fast track land reform.

The events that have happened can be viewed as forced displacement by the government which encouraged the men and women to settle on that land in 2000. The outcomes of the displacement has compromised the right to livelihood, the right to land and the right to sustainable human development of the men and women as they have not been given any voice in the matter, which is being regulated by the government. I conclude by suggesting that the bio politics rooted in the creation of a Zimbabwean bio economy, which has been defined as an economy based on ecological sensitive products and services produced by bio technology and renewable energy sources, (World Biotechnology Report 2008), has had rather negative consequences on the land based livelihoods of the men and women at Chigwizi. This has also compromised the gendered livelihoods of settlers at Chigwizi village, with women being more disadvantaged as they have difficulties in land access and utilization in rural Zimbabwe based on male primogeniture, political and cultural considerations. Policy makers should craft gender transformative policies in agro fuel projects that do not jeopardise the livelihoods of agricultural based communities especially in cases were land reform is justified in terms of distributional justice. A gender analysis of displacement, bio fuels and rural livelihoods increases our understanding of land reforms in light of the political, economic and social forces shaping rural societies.

Topics: Development, Displacement & Migration, Forced Migration, Economies, Environment, Gender, Governance, Land grabbing, Livelihoods, Political Economies, Rights, Land Rights Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: Zimbabwe

Year: 2011

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