This paper examines the land occupations and fast-track resettlement process in Chiredzi District in Zimbabwe’s southeast lowveld and argues that their broad-brush representation as chaotic, violent, unmodern and unplanned obfuscates two overlapping phases underpinned by same logic. Rather than constituting a descent into anarchy, the state bureaucracy has been able to enact a rapid return to ‘technocratic type’ – if, indeed, this ever went away. There has been a continuity of the project of modernity. It argues that the ostensible disorder and chaos of the farm invasions is really a different kind of order. But it is not so much that disorder is instrumental – although it evidently has been – but that in Zimbabwe the instruments and mechanisms of order assert themselves even in the midst of violent disorder – almost despite the intentions of its authors. The speed and short cuts of the fast-track land reform process and vagueness of policies to date have in the short term opened up a certain amount of space for negotiation. It allows for a degree leeway and flexibility in land use planning and allocation. Whether this will result in a more equitable land reform programme, however, is open to question.
Chaumba, J.; Scoones, I.; Wolmer, W. From Jambanja to Planning: The Reassertion of Technocracy in Land Reform in Southeastern Zimbabwe. Institute of Development Studies, Brighton, UK (2003) 24 pp. [Sustainable Livelihoods in Southern Africa Research Paper 2]