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Chiefs who were loyal to the Administration obtained more land, which enhanced their wealth and ensured that their children and other relatives had access to land despite the restrictions imposed by the NLHA. When Chief Ndaba Wozhele applied for a farm in the Chenjiri Native Purchase Area (NPA), his application was accorded top priority because according to NC Barlow, “This man [was] a good chief, very co-operative with the administration and exercise[d] good control over his people.” 315 Based on this recommendation, the Secretary for Native Affairs did not hesitate to allocate Wozhele a farm in Chenjiri Division, Gatooma District. The Secretary also endorsed the NC’s submission that the Chief’s house in the Sanyati “Reserve” and its residential plot be regarded as a Chief’s Headquarters [used for his judicial and administrative duties] rather than a personal allocation. 316 His “Reserve” lands were allocated at his request to two of his sons. Subsequently, the Chief decided not to take up the Chenjiri farm, but sooner than later new land was block allocated to him by the NC. According to the NC, although a lot of stumping was required, Chief Wozhele “did not mind leaving his old lands since they had been allocated to his own family.” 317 The case of Ndaba illustrates how NAZ (RC), Ministry of Internal Affairs, Box 158077, Location C19.2.10R, File: LAN 9 Sanyati and Ngezi: 1951-1964, “Visit to Sanyati Reserve: 23rd to 27th April, 1956,” R. R. Jack (Land Development Officer, Land Husbandry, Office of the Provincial Agriculturist, Causeway) to the Provincial Agriculturist, the PNC and the ANC Gatooma, 30th April, 1956, 1.


NAZ (RC), Ministry of Internal Affairs, Box 158077, Location C19.2.10R, File: LAN 9 Sanyati and Ngezi: 1951-1964, “Land rights – LHA,” G. A. Barlow (NC Gatooma), 8th July 1958.

NAZ (RC), Ministry of Internal Affairs, Box 158077, Location C19.2.10R, File: LAN 8, 1961-1964, “Holdings Applications and Approvals,” G. A. Barlow (NC Gatooma) to the PNC Mashonaland West, 29th June 1959.

NAZ (RC), Ministry of Internal Affairs, Box 158077, Location C19.2.10R, File: LAN 8, 1961-1964, “Holdings Applications and Approvals,” R. Howman for Secretary for Native Affairs, Causeway, Salisbury, to the PNC Mashonaland West, 23rd June, 1960.

NAZ (RC), Ministry of Internal Affairs, Box 158077, Location C19.2.10R, File: LAN 8, 1961-1964:

powerful people (i.e. the chiefly family) obtained more land and became rich rural entrepreneurs because of the additional farming and grazing rights they got.

In fact, Sanyati is one of the areas to which newcomers (Madherukas), 318 frustrated by land shortages and village centralisation in the south and south east of the colony, “came in search of land” in the 1950s. The Madherukas started cultivating fields which were conspicuously of irregular shape in relatively undulating topography. To the eye of the planner, the administrator and the extension agent, Sanyati lacks what James Scott has recently called “legibility”; 319 that is, it lacks the heavy markings on the landscape normally left behind by interventions of the modern, development state. Sanyati, like many parts of northwestern Zimbabwe in which indigenous people known as “Shangwe” until recently predominated, was touched only belatedly by “development.” Yet to mistake the absence of the formal signs of a modernised agrarian regime (fenced homesteads aligned along roads, contoured, orthogonal fields) for the absence of economic expansion, transformation and rural differentiation would be a serious error of judgement, for it is Sanyati, together with Gokwe, that has, to a greater extent, driven the emergence of the region as the foremost engine of cotton production and trade in all of post-independence Zimbabwe. Up to 2000 cotton was the mainstay of the Sanyati/Gokwe economy. Sanyati was undergoing great commercial transformation. Evidence of differentiation could not be disputed as differential land holdings, access to labour and cotton inputs were some of the bases of this process. Those farmers who embraced cotton and demonstrator advice early enough became distinct classes in their communities.

As already noted, the Sanyati Communal Land, once a malarial area with a foreboding presence of baboons, monkeys, leopards, hyenas, kudus, lions and elephants was densely populated with Africans forcibly resettled between 1950 and 1953 from farms reserved for European occupation on the Midlands. 320 Settled under the nominal authority of their own headmen, these “immigrants” suffered the attention of the state at the high watermark of the NLHA and the compulsory forms of rationalised settlement and resource management that it authorised.

On the eve of the forced resettlement exercise, the 28 000 hectare Sanyati “reserve” was reported by the ANC to be “virtually uninhabited” despite the presence of a government recognised chief (Neuso). After much debate over the carrying capacity of the “reserve” in relation to the required number of people to be moved, it was decided that 356 families could be accommodated, each with an allocation of 8 acres of arable land and ten head of cattle. 321 However, due to various forms of manoeuvrings, some farmers came to own Holdings Applications and Approvals, “Land Husbandry Act: Sanyati Reserve,” G. A. Barlow (NC Gatooma) to the PNC Mashonaland West, 6th August 1960.

For another discussion of the immigrants or “Madheruka” from Rhodesdale see Worby, “Remaking Labour, Reshaping Identity” and Nyambara, “A History of Land Acquisition in Gokwe.” J. C. Scott, Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998).

By 1956, the 875 families settled in the Sanyati reserve had exceeded the estimated “carrying capacity” by over 30%. See Government of Southern Rhodesia, Annual Report of the Director of Native Agriculture, R. M. Davies, for the year 1956, Chart viii.

NAZ, S160/DG/105/2/50 Gatooma district: sub-division: Sanyati reserve: 1950-1951, LDO Monthly larger pieces of land and larger herds of cattle than their counterparts. Freedom ploughing which was the unilateral right peasants gave themselves to cultivate wherever they wanted was quite widespread in Madiro Village (Ward 23) headed by Morgan Gazi. The village was given this name because of the massive land-grabbing that went on in defiance of NLHA stipulations. Most reserve entrepreneurs in this area cultivated up to 15 acres. Gazi says, because he was a nephew of Chief Wozhele, he cultivated about 18 acres, 322 10 acres more than the standard allocation, illustrating how rife and uncontrollable madiro ploughing was especially among people with chiefly connections (own emphasis). Accumulation of cattle by “reserve entrepreneurs” was not allowed. A ring or grazing permit which was issued in terms of Section 9 (2) of the NLHA No. 52 of 1951 entitled people to keep a maximum of between 10 and 20 head of cattle, but some enterprising peasants like Morgan Gazi’s uncle, Phillip Gazi, declared in 1952 that he had 10 head of cattle when in actual fact he had two. Over-declaring his herd gave him the leeway to increase his cattle herd later to a maximum of 10, 323 thereby making a mockery of the NLHA’s checks and balances at the peak of destocking measures. As a dip tank officer at the time (a portfolio he held up to 1970 when he was promoted to become a dip supervisor until 1992), Morgan Gazi did not reveal this over-declaration to the white officials. Phillip Gazi, as a result, was issued with a grazing permit for the 10 head of cattle he purportedly held. Clearly, this was made possible with the connivance of his cousin who used his position to access more land and help conceal the number of newly born calves to protect other “reserve entrepreneurs” from destocking, thereby helping to blunt the state’s offensive. Differential land and livestock holdings illustrate that the state, to a large degree, had failed to eliminate social differentiation in the rural areas. The human targets of these calculations recall that they were “chased away” from their homes in Rhodesdale because whites wanted to farm there; some remember being taken “family by family,” while others say they were loaded into trucks in groups of ten to twelve families at a time.

Records from the work of the officers in charge of resettlement in Sanyati reveal a preoccupation with the practical exigencies of getting boreholes drilled and roads, dip tanks and administrative housing constructed. A certain ambiguity is preserved in the description of how some of the work was carried out, as is evident in the monthly report

submitted by the Land Development Officer for January, 1951:

–  –  –

Reports (Native Agriculture). See also NAZ, S160/DG/104/1A/50, Land Allocation: Gokwe 1950-51, “Schedule: Proposal Re: Resettlement of Natives on Rhodesdale.” Morgan Gazi (Madiro Village head, Ward 23), Personal Interview, Agricura, Sanyati Main Growth Point, Sanyati, 15th October 2004. Madiro Village is also known as Kufa or Chomupinyi.

Morgan Gazi, Personal Interview.

… Dipping is again in operation coupled with a count of all stock in preparation for destocking. 324 Most of the “immigrants” interviewed for this study recalled doing “chibaro” or forced labour building roads in the months after settlement, yet this is only indirectly suggested in correspondence and reports left by government administrators. The idea that Africans had in fact been persuaded to take on conservation and development tasks willingly persisted, despite evidence that resistance was prevalent. One LDO’s report to his superior indicates the desperate effort made to convince the Rhodesdale evictees of the

virtues of these measures:

–  –  –

Yet, he goes on to report that, in meetings with Chiefs Gambiza and Chiwundura, solutions were being sought to the problems of cattle trespassing in agricultural areas during the summer growing season, and, rather more ominously, to “people destroying conservation works, roads, etc.” 326 It should be pointed out that the environment under which conservation measures were enforced was, indeed, fraught with insurrectionist tendencies among the peasants who bore the brunt of these stipulations whose rationale they openly or surreptitiously questioned. Hence, conservationist education was not voluntarily embraced in rural Sanyati, as some colonial officials would want us to believe. As will be observed later in this chapter, resistance against the payment of exorbitant dipping fees, destocking, contouring and other unpopular conservation measures was everywhere evident.

If Sanyati residents bore the full brunt of the NLHA as victims of both the forced displacement and the forced labour that it implied they also quickly demonstrated just how unworkable the idea of creating full-time yeoman farmers in an arid “reserve” on a severely restricted land base was. Virtually every family settled in the area subsequently combined farming with a wide range of wage-work (largely by men) and informal marketing (largely by women), both locally and in towns such as Kadoma and Kwekwe.

NAZ, S160/DG/104/1A/50, LDO Que Que to Director, Native Agriculture, 4 March 1951.

NAZ, S160/DG/104/1A/50, LDO Que Que to Director, Native Agriculture, 4 November 1950.

Ibid. N.B. The officers were, no doubt, acutely sensitive to the unpopularity of forced conservation measures and its possible political entailments. Both passive and active opposition to conservation works (e.g. contour ridging, drain strips, gully dams and grazing rotations) had by this time become starkly apparent to Native Department personnel in land-scarce eastern reserves such as Weya and Tanda. See Ranger, Peasant Consciousness, 152-3, whose evidence strongly suggests a direct link between such resistance and the emergence of support for nationalist politics in these areas, where conservation demands, after years of centralisation and land alienation, were perceived to be nothing other than the extraction of forced labour. For a comparative Southern African overview, see W. Beinart, “Introduction: The Politics of Colonial Conservation.” Journal of Southern African Studies, 15, 1989, 143-62.

The standard of living was higher for most labour migrants because their source of revenue was constant compared to the rural areas where it was seasonal. 327 Migrant earnings, thus, contributed to further forms of differentiation. With the arrival of the Baptist mission and its associated school and hospital in 1963, education was avidly sought as a means of obtaining employment credentials. The establishment of a state-run irrigation scheme in the late 1960s (Gowe) and of a cotton ginnery and associated “growth point” for small businesses after 1976 increased opportunities for local employment, albeit at low wages. Yet, nobody, save the very poorest (particularly widows and divorced women) who had no other choice, attempted to emulate the happy ideal of the immobile, self-sufficient farmer offered up by development rhetoric. Poverty, on the part of women in general, however, could not halt the emergence of differentiation as some of them continued to strive to improve their economic condition and became relatively better off than others.

It is clear that the future envisioned for peasants by the NLHA did not materialise in Sanyati. In accordance with NLHA provisions, existing homesteads were moved into “lines” (maraini) along the first roads constructed in 1947, three years before the first “immigrants” were settled there. The clearance and cultivation of riverbanks was forbidden (a law that was still being enforced half a century later), although this was frequently breached, while the mission school and hospital actively sought to instil and enforce ideals of health, dress and hygiene among clients of both. Education provided by the Baptist school was to differentiate Sanyati peasants in a big way. For instance, a sizeable number of Baptist mission educated Africans who became demonstrators trained at Domboshawa and Tjolotjo Agricultural Training Institutes, and those who found work outside the reserve were behind the remittances that flowed or trickled back into rural agriculture.

Impact of immigration:


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