Women, Mobility and Rural Livelihoods in Zimbabwe

Experiences of Fast Track Land Reform


This book is based on iterative multi-sited ethnography at Merrivale farm, Tavaka village, and various sites in South Africa. The author reveals how the dynamics generated by fast-track potentially offer new development opportunities – specifically for women. The findings challenge existing expert notions and opinions about women’s rural land use, livelihoods, and rural development. The book examines how negotiations and bargaining by women with family, state, and traditional actors have proved useful in accessing land in Mwenezi district, Zimbabwe. The hidden, complex, and innovative ways adopted by women to access land and shape livelihoods based on transitory mobility are examined. The role of collective action, conflicts, conflict resolution, and women’s agency in overcoming the challenges associated with trading in South Africa are examined within the ambit of the sustainable livelihoods framework, a gendered approach to land reform and social networks analysis.
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Biographical Note

Patience Mutopo, Ph.D (2012, awarded with a Magna Cum Laude), Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Cologne, Germany, is currently a Post Doctoral Researcher with the University of Cologne, Germany and the University of Wageningen, the Netherlands, under the Volkswagen Foundation funding Initiative for Social Sciences. Her research interests include land and agrarian reforms, gender, livelihoods analysis, social entrepreneurship, and the politics of policy-making processes.

Review Quote

'A native Shona speaker, she spent 16 months in the field, including a trip to Pietermaritzburg to visit the farm manager’s wife of a generation ago (the family left years before the land invasions) and market trips to Mozambique and South Africa with the farm women. She asks many pertinent questions and presents a perspective that seems genuinely eager to understand the situation rather than to applaud or condemn ‘fast track’. Her methodological discussion also seems unusually scrupulous and her excellent photographs, including some from the white manager’s family in Rhodesian times, are a plus'. 'Mutopo reminds us above all that the high road is not always the best road for everyone, but where the road that she delineates so clearly and sympathetically is going is not so clear. Yet she is aware of the big questions and that is why this monograph is of particular value'. Bill Freund, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, in Journal of Agrarian Change, Vol. 16, issue 2, pp.358-361

Table of contents

Dedication List of Illustrations Acronyms and Terminology Acknowledgements Preface 1 Setting the Research Agenda and the Conceptual Framework 2 Methodology 3 Description of the Study Area 4 The Early Beginnings of Merrivale Farm 5 Merrivale Farm during and after Fast-Track Land Reform, 2000–2010 6 Access to Land and the Shaping of Livelihoods at Tavaka Village, Merrivale 7 Life beyond Merrivale Farm: Preparation for and Trading in South Africa 8 Conclusion References Index


All interested in gender, land reforms and rural livelihoods in Zimbabwe. It is of relevant interest to academics, policy makers, post-graduate students and development practitioners.It is useful in research institutes, universities and development agencies.