Impressive piece of semi-revisionist research

2011-06-08 00:00

FIELD work in Masvingo province in south-east Zimbabwe proves that the media’s take on the upheaval in the rural economy since 2000 is simplistic and based on a number of myths.

This case study covers seven- ­million hectares and a million people and shows that small-scale farming has been successful.

Masvingo’s agricultural sector has not collapsed and is in part market driven. Some farmers are producing surpluses, particularly of beans, groundnuts and sunflower seeds, and accumulating capital; but considerable infrastructural development and planning are still required.

Ian Scoones rejects the idea of either an elitist land grab or a populist peasant revolution, but admits that events played out more violently and with greater disruption on the highveld.

He argues that political cronyism in Masvingo has been limited, but his figures also indicate that existing farmworkers have hardly benefited. Most members of 45 000 households have exchanged places with residents of the communal areas.

This research shows there is a great deal of merit in the concept of the small farmer, especially where there is a safety net of alternative economic activity.

But, many farmworkers are now more vulnerable than their predecessors under white bosses, and an appropriate system of land tenure security still has to be agreed.

This is an impressive piece of semi-revisionist research, although some of the participants are beneficiaries of the change they document. And when academics use the word “nuanced”, critical antennae need to be deployed.

Was it land reform? Jambanja was state-sponsored lawlessness of the sort that has sent millions of Zimbabweans over the border and onto the streets of Johannesburg.

There is no reason to doubt the mixed success of Zimbabwe’s new farmers, but Scoones and his colleagues elide means and ends.

Since undermining the rule of law is potentially catastrophic, this book is an unfortunate example of the subversion of the social sciences by relativism.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/Sport

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.