Land leasing in a post-land reform context: insights from Zimbabwe

Mudimu, George T. / Ting Zuo / Ashfaq Ahmad Shah / Nkumbu Nalwimba / Abdou Matsalabi Ado
External Publications (2020)

in: GeoJournal 86, 2927-2943


Despite the Zimbabwean State’s narrative and discourse that in fast track land reform areas ‘land leasing is illegal’, there is a surge in land leasing. This article focuses on how land leasing unfolds in the post-fast track land reform Zimbabwe, paying particular attention to state’s role in land leasing, the forms of land leasing and the forms of conflicts that emerge. The study draws from a qualitative research conducted on 90 purposively selected households resettled on three farms and 15 key informants in Marondera district. Primary data was collected through semi-structured interviews, and analyzed through thematic coding and descriptive statistics. SPSS version 23 and Microsoft Excel were used to perform the statistical analysis. Findings show that land leasing is still ongoing informally and that various actors participate in it. The land reform beneficiaries leased out land due to livelihood precarity, as a means of safeguarding land by absentee land owners, labor shortages and tenure insecurity. The results revealed that 94% of the land is leased out to large-scale tenants and 6% to small-scale tenants. The study also noted that 100% of the land leasing occurred in the study area informally. Furthermore, 90% of these agreements are verbal and only 10% are written. The informal land leasing practice is also fraught with conflicts, such as struggles over plot boundaries, non-rent payments and crop theft. The State's ambiguity in this matter has not helped, it merely drives land leasing ‘underground’ but does not halt it. Therefore, a ‘new normal’ land leasing system that strives outside the confines of the law has emerged. In terms of policy implications, the study calls for the State and stakeholders to re-examine land leasing, and consider a modest tax on it, and establish village based simplification and regularization of land leasing procedures.

About the author

Mudimu, George Tonderai

Agricultural policy economics

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