Inside an enclave: the dynamics of capitalism and rural politics in a post-land reform context

Mudimu, George T. / Ting Zuo / Nkumbu Nalwimba
External Publications (2020)

in: The Journal of Peasant Studies 49 (1), 101-128


There is no doubt that Zimbabwe's Fast Track Land Reform Program resulted in repeasantization. As several studies point out, it also resulted in accumulation from below by a majority of the resettled peasantry. Our study focuses on an area where counter-agrarian reform is in motion and accumulation from below is constrained. In this location, we argue that repeasantization is severely being contested as indicated by the re-emergence of a dual-mode of production and the subsequent ‘virtual’ dispossession and proletarianization of the land reform beneficiaries. Our findings shed more light on the dynamics of capitalism and agrarian politics in a context where land reforms are implemented under neoliberalism. In this enclave, peasants after accessing land through the land reform collectivized their land and parceled it to the downsized and nearby capitalist farming system. The capitalist farming system engages in spatio-temporal fix by moving from one rural site to another as it follows the dictates of accumulation. While the possibility of full-scale land dispossession exists, the current state ownership of land and the peasantry's resistance provided some brakes to full-scale land dispossession. At the same time, the state's limited support to land reform beneficiaries fuels this localized land dispossession. The peasantry's exploitation in this enclave ranges from corvee labor to coercion into the mini-land enclosures; these are implemented by village heads, who are local state functionaries. This study also recasts the relevance of the Marxist framework in understanding rural dynamics more specifically; it revisits Karl Kautsky's arguments on the coexistence thesis of the peasantry and capitalist farming and illustrates the Zimbabwean state's ambivalence with regards to the conditions of peasant and capitalist farming.

About the author

Mudimu, George Tonderai

Agricultural policy economics

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