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Zimbabwe Takes Back Its Land

Joseph Hanlon, Jeannette Manjengwa, and Teresa Smart
Zimbabwe Takes Back Its Land
ISBN: 978-1-56549-519-7
ISBN: 978-1-56549-520-3
ISBN: 978-1-56549-522-7
2012/245 pages/LC: 2012014825
Also of interest: Power Politics in Zimbabwe by Michael Bratton
A Kumarian Press Book
"Contribute[s] significantly to challenging the prevailing narratives to fast-track [land reform] which equate it with chaos, disaster and destruction."—Kirk Helliker, Journal of Contemporary African Studies

"A truly excellent and important book.... Engagingly written, it deserves very wide exposure. Highly recommended."—Choice

"So many misperceptions persist about Zimbabwe's recent land reform.... [This book] offers an important, balanced overview, clearly presented and engagingly written. Anyone concerned with the future of Zimbabwe should immediately read it."—Ian Scoones, University of Sussex

"Provides a panoramic assessment of the land question in Zimbabwe over the last century.... Although it is critical about various deficiencies of the fast-track land reform process and the subsequent agrarian reforms, it represents one of the few comprehensive renditions of the multifaceted progressive outcomes of these reforms."—Sam Moyo, African Institute for Agrarian Studies

"A much-needed antidote to so many of the myths surrounding the economic and social efficiency of the post–land reform/restitution agricultural sector in Zimbabwe.... informative, passionate and well-argued, and written in such a brilliantly engaging style that it was hard to put down.…This book cannot be rated too highly."—Milford Bateman, author of Why Doesn’t Microfinance Work?


Countering the dominant media narratives of economic stagnation, Zimbabwe Takes Back Its Land offers a more positive and nuanced assessment of the results of the contentious land reforms that were introduced in Zimbabwe in 2000.

The authors do not minimize the depredations of the Mugabe regime. Rather, they show how "ordinary" Zimbabweans have taken charge of their destinies in creative and unacknowledged ways on the farms that they obtained through the land-reform programs. They offer a compelling story of how, through collective action, the poor can improve their lives even in the midst of hostile circumstances.


Joseph Hanlon is senior lecturer in development policy and practice at the Open University. Jeannette Manjengwa is deputy director of the Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Zimbabwe. Teresa Smart is visiting fellow at the Institute of Education, University of London.


  • Veterans and Land. Starting Points.
  • Land Apartheid.
  • Independence and the First Land Reform.
  • Adjustment and Occupation.
  • The Second Land Reform.
  • Tomatoes, Maize, and Tobacco.
  • New Smallholders.
  • New World of Commercial Farming.
  • Women Take Their Land.
  • Cutting Down Trees.
  • Workers, Water, and Widows.
  • Conclusion: Occupied and Productive.