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always believed to be its basic right to land. Among these, many of whom were young migrant wage earners preparing for a married rural life, this sudden deprivation was likely to engender a feeling of insecurity and sense of injustice, which was not easily dispelled by arguments, however pertinent, of an economic or legalistic nature.” 276 Writings on migrant labour in Southern Africa suggest that labour migrants and their families regarded labour migrancy as a stage in a man’s life through which he hoped to accumulate wealth to invest in agriculture. In his influential work on migrant labour in Lesotho, Colin Murray has argued that “the paradigm of the successful migrant career for a man is to establish his own household and to build up a capital base, through the acquisition of land, livestock and equipment, to enable him to retire from migrant labour and to maintain an independent livelihood at home.” 277 The case of C. L. Muzondo of Mhondoro Gavunga, Gatooma, who worked for Union Wide Aid Services, Johannesburg, South Africa (SA) can be used to illustrate how the NLHA deprived migrant workers of land. After discovering that the NC Gatooma (G. A. Barlow) had sub-divided his allocation so that other people could occupy certain portions of it, out of distress, he requested his employers to approach the NC’s office on his behalf to find out the reason for this sub-division. 278 In spite of the employers’ intervention, the NC remained adamant arguing that Muzondo had purchased the piece of land in question from a person who had moved to Northern Rhodesia and that the man who had sold it to him had no right to do so. Continuing his argument, Barlow said “prior to the implementation of the Native Land Husbandry Act, the land was held by Natives in Native Reserves under communal tenure” but since the implementation of the Act “ certain land previously under cultivation [had] to be excluded from arable blocks by reason of conservation hazards and for other reasons,” so it was not possible for Muzondo’s original allocation to be allowed to remain intact. 279 According to Wozhele, sometimes land belonging to urban workers was encroached upon by other land-hungry peasants and indeed more encroachments occurred if the rightful owners did not challenge these encroachments. 280 By denying land in the “Reserves” to young men who were performing migrant labour, the NLHA stifled the ambition of the young men to establish their own independent households and to invest in agriculture.

The contradiction of implementation:-

The settling of “immigrants” in Sanyati revealed numerous contradictions in the manner in which the exercise was going to be implemented on the ground. It was one thing to be a local officer given the task of bringing about its practical realisation and quite another Holleman, Chief, Council and Commissioner, 66.

Colin Murray, Families Divided: The Impact of Migrant Labour in Lesotho, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981), 41.

NAZ (RC), Ministry of Internal Affairs, Box 158077, Location C19.2.10R, File: LAN 9 Sanyati and Ngezi: 1951-1964, Onay, Union Wide Aid Services (Pvt) Ltd, Johannesburg (SA) to the Land Development Officer, Ngezi, Gatooma, 4th November, 1960.

NAZ (RC), Ministry of Internal Affairs, Box 158077, Location C19.2.10R, File: LAN 9 Sanyati and Ngezi: 1951-1964, G. A. Barlow (NC Gatooma) to Messrs Union Wide Aid Services, Johannesburg, 14th November 1960.

Chief Wozhele, Personal Interview.

to be subjected to its draconian prescriptions. Concretely, the reordering of African rural life had first to accommodate the political imperative to put an end, once and for all, to relations of labour tenancy on white farmland that had persisted in spite of the intentions of the LAA. This meant finding land for the forced resettlement of Africans deemed to be “squatting” on land designated for African purchase or residing as labour tenants on farms managed by absentee European owners as other white farmers actually signed or entered into labour agreements designed to retain labour on the farm or mine. Among those targeted were some 2 000 families residing on the Rhodesdale Estates in the Midlands. It was the destiny of most of them to be forcibly removed to the sparsely populated, malarial and tsetse-infested lowland regions of Sanyati and Gokwe. Their movement and subsequent settlement in Sanyati engendered peculiar forms of differentiation in the sense that a good number of them possessed master farmer qualities and advanced crop and animal husbandry skills as they had been exposed to demonstrator advice earlier in the southern “reserves.” They were almost a kulak class unto themselves, although this was not the intention of the planners to create such an influential rural class.

The planning methodology used by those officials required to carry out the forced relocation exercise was not premised on a concern to reunite “tribal” subjects with their homeland but rather to balance population numbers with what they called the “carrying capacity of humans and stock” in order to optimise the productivity of the land base. In the event, however, a certain pragmatism, born of the political necessity to move persons as expeditiously as possible, overrode the positivist rationale governing the entire exercise. 281 “As it is politically important to get the Natives off Rhodesdale,” concluded a meeting of NCs and assorted agricultural officers after a discussion of stock numbers and land allocations in the Gokwe Special Native Area and Sanyati, “they must be got in with less stock.” 282 It must be remembered that many of the technical personnel were indeed committed to finding the magic numbers that would ideally balance population with stock and grazing land, although many farmers owned more head of cattle than others and indeed than prescribed or stipulated under the NLHA, which was a manifestation of resistance to the Act. According to Lozane, his group was already rich from Rhodesdale. Mazivanhanga, for example, was one of the first people to own a store and a “lorry-bus.” He agues that his family and that of Mazivanhanga’s were the first to use planters in Sanyati, signifying the advent of “progressive farmers.” “We [Madheruka] brought commerce to Sanyati,”

Lozane says adding, with typically Madheruka arrogance:

–  –  –

Grain was delivered to Kadoma by the first transport owners who included Lozane, Chida Mukoki, Mazivanhanga and Tiki Wasarirevhu who also owned a store. In addition, they sold small grains like rapoko to the surrounding mines and traditional or opaque beer brewing companies like Chibuku Breweries. Lozane estimates that about three quarters of the Rhodesdale evictees possessed master farmer certificates hence they were more progressive than the locals whom they taught “modern” methods of farming. 284 All these people also owned exceptionally large herds of cattle. Mazivanhanga seemed to have the largest herd estimated to be between 600 and 1 000, followed by Lozane with between 500 and 700. According to Lozane, “they evaded destocking by registering some of the cattle in the names of their children, their children’s wives [daughters-in-law] and other relatives (i.e. their nephews). The rest were registered in their own names.” 285 Large cattle owners also adopted discrete methods to defeat the aims of the NLHA such as clandestinely dipping their cattle after the official dipping exercise had been conducted.286 In fact, A. A. Le Roux’s discovery confirms that cattle ownership had become more unequal: “As with crops two types of cattle owners had developed by 1960.

One was a small-scale owner with a subsistence herd, the other was a large-scale owner who supplied the beef market.” 287 In a more recent re-evaluation of the effects of the NLHA on rural communities, Ian Phimister has similarly noted that “far from the LHA checking entrepreneurial individualism, the wealth gap between these two classes of farmers [the rich and the poor] actually increased during the 1950s.” 288 This had two major implications. Firstly, what this signified was that it was extremely difficult if not impossible to come up with the magic wand that would assist officials to achieve an equalisation of the livestock resources Sanyati peasants owned. Secondly, it reveals that rural differentiation as a process was probably beginning to astound those (including the colonial state) who often wanted to project African society as traditional and egalitarian. It is plausible to argue that, in relation to Sanyati, the homogenous backwardness, traditionalism and subsistence orientation of African peasant farmers is, therefore, a myth that should be deconstructed and disaggregated so that a new story of rural transformation is written.

Technical officials, though, were under immense pressure from central government to modify their recommendations in accordance with political imperatives driven by postwar growth: “The boom in European agriculture and especially in ranching and tobacco production” writes Ranger, “led to the great investment estates being broken up into workable farms or ranches for sale or lease to whites. The investment companies, which had for so long wanted to keep rent-paying Africans on their land, now wanted to clear them off it as rapidly as possible.” 289 Headman Lozane, Personal Interview.



A. A. Le Roux, “A Survey of Proposals for the Development of African Agriculture in Rhodesia,” 39.

Phimister, “Rethinking the Reserves,” 237.

Ranger, Peasant Consciousness, 103.

The following section shows how the peculiar history and timing of Sanyati’s exposure to the development protocols emanating from various government ministries and departments responsible for both the forced removals and the subsequent development and extension programmes in the 1950s and 1960s helps to account for the emergence of differentiation.


IRRIGATION STILL A PIPE DREAM (1952 – 1964) Development protocols: Settlement and resistance to NLHA prescriptions:The period from the 1950s through to the 1960s is significant in the developmental history of this area. As final settlement was taking shape, a plethora of other stateinitiated or sponsored imperatives were concurrently pursued. The pre-occupation with conservationism, the construction of roads, bridges, dams or weirs, dip tanks, rest houses for visiting officials, and the drilling of boreholes by the Irrigation Department also took centre stage. Development protocols were not formalised on the basis of negotiation with the people towards whom implementation was targeted, but these were dictated from above and resentment of state measures became inevitable.

In fact, development in Sanyati between the 1950s and the beginning of the 1960s was mainly undertaken within the context of the NLHA and Federal Government policies. In this period irrigation prospects were still remote. According to Phimister, The ‘long’ 1950s mark a key period in the history of colonial Zimbabwe. They were a time of dramatic economic, social and political change, not least in the countryside where the state embarked on a hugely ambitious programme to recast the prevailing pattern of African agricultural practice. The rural linchpin on which everything turned was the Land Husbandry Act of 1951 … 290 The Federal Government invariably saw it fit to subordinate its agricultural programmes to those already spelt out by its predecessors in the NLHA. From a historical perspective, Sanyati clearly depicts a landscape which many years of state intervention have yielded.

A close examination of the landscape between the modern town of Kadoma in the heartland of Zimbabwe’s commercial farming Midlands and the communal lands (formerly “reserves”) of Sanyati and Gokwe starkly reveals the sedimented layers of Zimbabwe’s colonial and post-colonial experience with land allocation, population management and development. The entire area from the mining centres of Golden Valley and Patchway, stretching northwards into Sanyati is characterised by dense forest or shrubs and lacking evidence of human habitation. At long intervals, as Worby points out, this vista is punctuated by the raw appearance of newly cleared fields and clustered huts that signal the work of African farmers resettled there under government schemes that began shortly after independence in 1980. 291 Before that, these lands had been set aside for future settlement of European ranchers. Since settlement, fenced-off homesteads, each Phimister, “Rethinking the Reserves,” 225.

Worby, “Discipline Without Oppression,” 112.

with a carefully apportioned allotment of residential land and perhaps three or four round or rectangular huts – brick walls under asbestos roofs – are crowded among baobab and mango trees. These developments, to some extent, epitomised the level of rural differentiation that characterised Sanyati communal lands at that time. The widespread adoption of cotton, despite earlier resistance, 292 coupled with demonstrator advice, culminated in an increase in farm output, income and the number of affluent people in society. This wrought many changes to people’s tastes. Those who had become wealthy now preferred to buy clothes from retail shops in Kadoma and meat from nearby butcheries and built brick houses under asbestos roofing. This was in sharp contrast to the period when the people of this area wore animal skins as “… it is stated that long before the Europeans came the indigenous inhabitants wore skins. These skins were obtained from wild animals which [they] hunted or trapped.” 293

Agricultural development and the seeds of resistance (1954-64):-

Once dumped into Sanyati the Rhodesdalites together with their hosts, the “Shangwe,” began summoning all their experience to survive in an otherwise inhospitable country.

State assistance for these people was at best very minimal or at worst non-existent.

Intervention by the State mainly favoured the advancement of settler hegemonic interests.

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