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Title: Political violence in Zimbabwe's land seizure era
Author: Laurie, Charles
Awarding Body: Oxford University
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2011
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This thesis explores political violence in Zimbabwe's Land Seizure Era (LSE), the period from February 2000 to March 2008 when agents, operating at the behest of the government, began violently seizing commercial farms across the country. These large- scale and extra-legal seizures targeted unarmed workers and farmers on all of the 4,300 commercial farms in Zimbabwe, in one of the most violent and transformative events since Zimbabwe's independence in 1980. What motivated the Zimbabwean state to target the nation's dominant industry? To shed light on this primary research question, this thesis relies upon three unique data sets. First, 21,491 incidents of violence and intimidation across Zimbabwe were coded; these incidents were then depicted month-by-month on 92 geographical maps, forming a quantitative mapping data set giving insights into longitudinal violence proliferation. Second, 110 qualitative interviews were conducted of workers, farmers, and state agents, including senior politicians and state security agents. Third, a quantitative survey was undertaken of 1,442 farmers, 34% of farmers operating in year 2000. There are five major research findings, underscored by Mancur Olson's roving and stationary bandit concepts. First, despite ZANU-PF protestations to the contrary, the government never intended large-scale, extra-legal farm seizures. The limited small- scale seizures that were planned after February 2000 went out of control. To conceal its loss of control, the government claimed that large-scale takeovers were planned. Second, Mugabe was opposed to large-scale takeovers, and initially sought to protect farmers from invaders - as he had been doing since independence. Third, ZANU-PF never intended for the LSE to be a land reform event, despite their claims to the contrary; the LSE was always primarily a political event. Fourth, extensive and punitive violence was deployed by agents against unarmed farm workers and farmers to accomplish two key LSE objectives: the suppression of the opposition party Movement for Democratic Change, and to evict the farmers and seize farm assets before competitors took them. Fifth, agents were far more concerned with the financial objective of stripping farms of valuable assets, than undertaking the espoused nationalist objective of seizing farm land. This research has two major implications for Zimbabwe and southern Africa. Evidence strongly demonstrates ZANU-PF's reliance on severe authoritarian strategies to retain power and eliminate present and future political opposition. For nations seeking to undertake a broad land reform programme, the Zimbabwe case demonstrates the serious political, economic, and social consequences of interfering with critical industries for the sake of political expediency.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available