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«CHAPTER TWO PEASANT PRODUCTION AND DIFFERENTIATION: THE SANYATI HINTERLAND (1939 – 1964) INTRODUCTION A cursory look at Sanyati communal lands in ...»

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According to Giovanni Arrighi, the squatter system created a congenial atmosphere for white land owners because in return for use of land, African producers paid rent in labour or in kind or both. He views squatting in Southern Rhodesia as an institution that created semi-feudal relations and as one that promoted “The take off of European agriculture.” J. K. Rennie concurs with Arrighi when he says that the labour tenantry arrangement “was a relation of serfdom which emerged wherever white farmers with limited capital took land from agricultural peoples.” For Tabitha Kanogo, the term “squatter,” which originated in South Africa, “denoted an African permitted to reside on a European farmer’s land, usually on condition he worked (labour tenantry arrangement) for the European owner for a specified period. In return for his services, the African was entitled to use some of the settler’s land for the purpose of cultivation and grazing.” This perception of “squatter” is analogous to how the people who were moved to Sanyati were portrayed before their eviction from Rhodesdale. For detailed studies on squatters in Zimbabwe, Kenya and South Africa, see G. Arrighi, “Labour Supplies in Historical Perspective: A Study of the Proletarianisation of the African Peasantry in Rhodesia,” Journal of Development Studies, 6(3), (1970), 209; John K. Rennie, “White Farmers, Black Tenants and Landlord Legislation: Southern Rhodesia 1890s,” Journal of Southern African Studies, 5(1), (1978), 86; T. Kanogo, Squatters and the Roots of Mau Mau, (London: James Curry, 1987), 10 and C. Van Onselen, The Seed is Mine: The Life of Kas Maine, a South African Sharecropper 1894-1985, (Oxford: James Currey, 1996), 1-649.

For more detail on the revered advantages as well as some disadvantages of plow agriculture see E. D.

Alvord, “The Gospel of the Plow,” Unpublished, 1950.

have arbitrarily disrupted and redefined previous community-based relationships including fluid and dynamic ones, but at the same time these relocations did not dampen the people’s zeal to economically produce or reproduce themselves as a class.

The chapter also addresses the advent of cotton and the consequent differentiation that emerged. It examines the levels of accumulation experienced by certain categories of cotton cultivators in the 1960s to establish whether they transcended those witnessed in the previous two decades. The returns from the cultivation of this crop, often achieved at the instigation or insistence of the State, enabled some peasants to amass some wealth in their communities. The differential impact exerted by cotton agriculture on this frontier economy was prodigious by many standards. Clearly, some peasants benefited disproportionately from colonial agricultural schemes, while the majority were disadvantaged as demonstrated in this chapter.

STATE OF PEASANT AGRICULTURE: THE PRE-IRRIGATION ERA (1939 – 1951) Peasant society and economy up to the promulgation of the NLHA in 1951: In the 1930s, when the government first began to take an active role in the promotion of irrigation schemes in the communal areas, 152 there was no inkling that this same innovation would be introduced in Sanyati more than 30 years later. Irrigation did not seem to be a top priority in the government’s scheme to develop the peasant sector in the frontier region of Sanyati. Since the passage of the LAA the white settlers created separate areas for their own use and they did not want to compete with Africans on an equal footing. This policy was consolidated and intensified by the adoption of the NLHA twenty years later. In fact, racist ideology was prioritised in order to produce a skewed developmental economy dominated by whites. State intervention in agriculture was the order of the day and the material upliftment of the Africans was arguably not upper most in the minds of the white settlers of the country. Hence, colonial Zimbabwe’s racialised development regime has largely been responsible for shaping the face of peasant agriculture in the Sanyati communal lands. 153 The determination by the government to subordinate African economic interests to those of the white settlers that it represented was explicit in the racial policies it enunciated since and even prior to the implementation of the Land Apportionment Act of 1930. It frequently stood in the way of African economic initiatives as it tried to ensure that the Africans did not compete on an equal footing with the whites. Life in the African areas was communal in character. It was the racial discriminatory policies in vogue since the passage of the LAA and the NLHA by the colonial government which led to the A. J. B. Hughes, Development in Rhodesian Tribal Areas: An Overview, (Rhodesia: Tribal Areas of Rhodesia Research Foundation, 1974), 184.

In Zimbabwe five major categories of land can be identified, namely communal land; large-scale commercial land; resettlement land; small-scale commercial land and urban land. “Communal land” refers to any land that is communal land in terms of the Communal Land Act (Chapter 20:04) and any other land that was within the area of a district council on the 19th August 1988. See Rural District Councils Act (Chapter 29:13), Revised Edition, Harare: Government Printer, 1996, 442-443.

perception of Africans residing in rural areas as having few economic wants 154 and reflecting them as uneconomic men; a premise this chapter is challenging on the basis of Sanyati’s practical experiences. Thus, in this period, the state made concerted effort to use racist propaganda to eliminate competition between black and white, which also implied the elimination of a black entrepreneurial class. Its motives regarding African development were far from being altruistic as demonstrated in a statement by Ian Douglas Smith. Smith, the former Prime Minister of Rhodesia, illustrated this when he said in reference to demonstration policy: 155 “Extension work was mainly conducted to improve farming systems i.e. extension officers went out into the field to translate the work of government specialists who were divided into research workers and scientific implementers of the programmes on to the ground.” “The prime consideration behind the inauguration of such development policies,” he added, “was to prevent the deterioration of the soil and allow an increased number of Africans to subsist in the reserves without the support of government famine relief in times of drought or crop failure.” 156 Because of settler racist policy coupled with the fact that Sanyati was a land-scarce area when compared to a land-abundant region like Gokwe labour migrancy to the white farms and mines of the Midlands and Mashonaland West Provinces of Zimbabwe was quite endemic by the 1950s. However, the whites did not anticipate the vital role labour migrancy played in the injection of wage remittances back into the peasant agricultural sector. These were crucial as they were utilised to boost agricultural production back home, although it should not be assumed that all migrants repatriated wages. According to Jacob Rukara “Some people used migrant wages to increase production [in their home areas]. Others did not and production in their districts stagnated” because such areas lacked this supplementary resource of production. 157 He pointed out that Sanyati households with some relatives working in towns, mines or farms generally possessed the resources or farm implements (“zvibatiso”) which ameliorated the burden of carrying out agricultural tasks without the appropriate means with which to do so. 158 In a semi-autonomous settler colony such as Southern Rhodesia, it can be pointed out that the emerging post-war development regime was constituted to meet a set of very explicit requirements. On the one hand, the state was bent on maintaining white settler hegemony and ensuring that a constant supply of labour was guaranteed for white enterprise. On the other, it was considering the idea of achieving sustainable development in the African areas. Achieving the former alongside the latter sometimes produced numerous contradictions to a point that at times there was lack of coherence and consistency in the settler government’s policies and strategies regarding rural development. In the circumstances, Africans adopted their own methods to achieve prosperity with the result Report of Native Production and Trade Commission or Godlonton Commission, (Salisbury: Government of Southern Rhodesia, 1944), 21.





Demonstration policy entailed the use of demonstrators who gave African farmers agricultural extension advice i.e. on “proper” methods of farming which included conservationist education.

Ian Douglas Smith (Former Prime Minister of Rhodesia), Personal Interview, Belgravia, Harare, 28th September 1993.

Jacob Rukara, (Messenger in the DA Kadoma’s Office), Personal Interview, DA’s Office – Kadoma, 16th October 2004.

Rukara, Personal Interview.

that those with greater initiative became more successful. This chapter will demonstrate how some farmers progressed more than others.

From a Government point of view, rural agriculture was to be improved through the engagement of the Native Department which was directly responsible for the appointment of agricultural demonstrators and extension officers. In fact, the Agriculture Department (an arm of the Native Department) in the then Ministry of Internal Affairs through institutional development agents such as demonstrators, extension officers and Land Development Officers (LDOs) was designed, among other things, to provide material services and advice to the African peasantry throughout the country. This department also maintained official control over certain aspects of agricultural production, for example, registration of cotton growers’ numbers which was also utilised to facilitate marketing procedures and the disbursement of cash to farmers who had delivered their crop to the Cotton Marketing Board (CMB – now the Cotton Company of Zimbabwe, COTTCO) in Gatooma. 159 The two departments (Native Department and the Agriculture Department) actually became the best collaborators of governmental action.

Among the first demonstrators to be appointed and stationed in Sanyati were Lazarus Sithole and Macloud Mushawarima. 160 Sithole was transferred, with effect from the 1st of May 1947, from Ndanga District (Zaka) to Hartley District 161 for location on Sanyati Reserve where a demonstrator was urgently needed in connection with the settlement of that Reserve by “immigrants” from the Rhodesdale Estates. 162 Demonstrators were employed in marking out new lands for these people. For example, one of their major tasks entailed the preparation and marking out of lands for planting. 163 This was in line with the Agricultural Demonstration Policy adopted by E. D. Alvord, the Director of Native Agriculture in 1945. Policy circular No. 10 of 1945, under the heading Duties and Aims of Demonstrators, stipulated that “Agricultural Demonstrators are appointed to assist and advise Natives to make the most of arable and grazing lands. They receive P. S. Nyambara, “Colonial Strategies and Peasant Response and Initiatives: The Development of

Peasant Cotton Agriculture in Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), c. 1904-1953,” MA thesis, Evanston:

History Department, North Western University, June 1994.

NAZ, S160/DG/105/2/50, Gatooma district: sub-division: Sanyati reserve: 1950–1951: LDO’s Monthly Report, January 1951, LDO, Sanyati Reserve, Gatooma to The Provincial Agriculturist (PA), Causeway, Salisbury copied to the Director of Native Agriculture, Salisbury and the Assistant Native Commissioner (ANC), Gatooma, 5th February 1951, 25.

Hartley is now Chegutu. Gatooma (Kadoma), where the Sanyati reserve is situated, was an Assistant Native Commissioner’s station under Hartley from 01/09/1915 until 18/01/1957 when it became a full Native Commissioner station. Prior to 1915 there was a clerk in charge of Gatooma Pass Office, which was

in Hartley District. See NAZ (RC), Ministry of Internal Affairs, Box 158081, Location C.19.5.6R, File:

HIS 3, November 1968-November 1970, D. K. Parkinson for DC Gatooma to the National Archives of Rhodesia, Salisbury, 12th November 1968.

NAZ, S160/DG/105/2/50, Gatooma District: Sub-division: Sanyati Reserve: 1950–1951: LDO’s Monthly Report for February 1951 (LDO Sanyati Reserve, Gatooma to The Director of Native Agriculture, Salisbury copied to the PA, Northern Mashonaland, Salisbury, and the ANC Gatooma, 04/03/51), 29.

NAZ, S160/DG/105/2/50, Gatooma district: sub-division: Sanyati Reserve: 1950–1951: LDO’s Monthly Report, October 1950 (LDO Sanyati Reserve, Gatooma to the ANC, Gatooma copied to The PA, Salisbury, 4th November 1950), 3-4. See also NAZ, S160/DG/105/2/50, Gatooma district: sub-division: Sanyati Reserve: 1950–1951: LDO’s Monthly Report, December 1950 (LDO Sanyati Reserve, Gatooma to the PA, Northern Mashonaland, Salisbury, copied to the ANC Gatooma, 6th January 1951).

instruction and supervision from the District Land Development Officer regarding

methods to be adopted.” It added:



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