Towards a national gender gensitive land policy in Zimbabwe - Issues for consideration

Land is central to the livelihoods of the majority of people in Zimbabwe who are resident in the countryside. Not only is the land important for food production and self-sustenance, but it also provides a sense of belonging to people while also providing raw materials for use in the manufacturing and industrial sectors. Land is thus critical for an agro-based economy like Zimbabwe where agriculture is the second highest export earner after mining (Chambati, Mazwi & Mberi 2016). The importance of land and agriculture cannot, therefore, be overemphasised enough.
Zimbabwe is one of the few countries in Africa to have experienced land dispossessions of the indigenous populace after the colonial conquest alongside Kenya, Namibia and South Africa (Moyo 2016). Such countries, also known as former settler colonies, were characterised by iniquitous land ownership patterns that pushed the majority of the black population to
marginal lands while reducing some to farm laborers, thus setting a stage for armed struggles, which were led by various liberation movements (ibid). For Zimbabwe, the demand for land
was one of the major driving issues for the waging of the liberation struggle, which eventually culminated in independence in 1980 (Habib 2011). However, it is important to note that at
independence, the newly established black government led by former President Robert Mugabe could not address land inequalities inherited from colonialism due to constitutional
provisions requiring land transfers to be done under markets for the first 10 years after the onset of Independence (Moyo 1995). Such a clause was also inserted in the South African and
Namibian constitutions, leading to the stalling of agrarian transformation. The other option to pursue land transfers would have been through a radical land redistribution exercise in
defiance of the Constitution and the Lancaster House Agreement.

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