GENDER, LAND AND WOMEN IN ZIMBABWE IN THE LIGHT OF NUSSBAUM'S UNDERSTANDING OF THE CAPABILITIES APPROACH

BY ANDREW FURLONG




DECLARATION

I certify that this dissertation submitted, in September 2003, in partial fulfilment of the requirement for the degree of M Phil (Peace Studies), Trinity College, University of Dublin, has not been submitted for a degree at any other University, and that it is entirely my own work.

ABSTRACT

I am concerned with two related gender injustices suffered within a land called today 'Zimbabwe', though previously it was otherwise named. I argue, in this thesis, that since colonial days, land has been a controversial issue and that it remains so. I contend that even from before colonial days women have been unfairly marginalised in relation to access to land and to control of its benefits, and that they continue to be so to a very considerable extent - that is one gender injustice. I explain that the policies of pre-colonial days, and of successive governments since that time, have either neglected gender issues or else have not taken them sufficiently seriously. I show that this has meant, in a largely rural society, such as the country has always been, that most women have not had the means to establish sustainable livelihoods - that is a second and related gender injustice.

I contend that the capabilities approach, as expounded by Martha Nussbaum, is the appropriate theory by which these gender injustices and the failures of governments may be established and made clear. By applying the capabilities approach, with its emphasis on universalism, traditional social and cultural attitudes towards women, often expressed through government policies, which are shaped by such attitudes, are revealed as deeply flawed, discriminatory and unjust. I seek to make the case that the capabilities approach, by focusing on the Zimbabwean government's moral and political responsibilities towards all its citizens, highlights and prioritises the essential need for radical change in terms of law reform as well as in terms of social and cultural values towards women. I argue, given the present context in the country, that to remedy such serious gender injustices women must have access to and rights over land. I conclude that in terms of the capabilities approach this would significantly enable such women to have real opportunities for human flourishing, development, and dignity.

CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION

From personal experience to deep concern
Gender justice, human development and good governance: vision and theory
The politics of land in Zimbabwe: contested source of rural livelihoods, security and dignity
The women's movements: struggle and tears, progress and setbacks
Gender equality: a revolution in the making


CHAPTER ONE

MARTHA NUSSBAUM'S CAPABILITIES APPROACH

The focus of the approach and the gender equality motivation behind it
A universalist approach - a shared humanity and equal rights
Empirical essentialism and gender equality
Human commonalities, basic capabilities and limits
Two distinct thresholds in relation to human life
Human functioning and capability: one norm or two?
A tendency to maintaining the status quo and its gender imbalances
Differing basic capabilities?
Local and cultural expression of human capabilities
Women, land and capabilities
The capabilities approach v other theories
Some queries and criticisms of Nussbaum on 'human life' and a 'good human life'
The lower threshold
Not reaching the higher threshold
Summary of capabilities approach and its implications for women and land

CHAPTER TWO

THE PRE-COLONIAL AND RHODESIAN ERAS

Gender analysis
The Pre-Colonial era
Migration and settlement
Rural livelihoods
Traditional marriage customs
Rural women's working lives
The widespread gender injustices experienced by women
The Rhodesian era
The division of land
A double injustice for black women
The break-up of traditional society
Creating and codifying laws
Looking towards an Independent Zimbabwe and the needs of women
Gender justice, human capabilities and the new State


CHAPTER THREE

GENDER AND LAW: PROBLEMS FOR WOMEN

The Liberation Struggle
The new Government: Socialism v Capitalism
Gender re-structuring in government
Gender, land and women - the legal framework
Treaties, conventions and declarations
Problems with the Constitution of Zimbabwe
New controversial legislation for women
African Customary Law
Supreme Court judgement, Magaya v Mugaya
Reform of the law
Making a stand on a key moral issue - gender disparities


CHAPTER FOUR

GENDER, LAND AND WOMEN

Resettlement programmes: Part One 1980-1990
Lancaster House agreement period 1980-1990
The land situation at Independence
Resettlement models
Eligible applicants and criteria for application
Two approaches to resettlement
Numbers of families resettled
Hardships for women
Land tenure and security
Resettlement programmes: Part Two 1990-2003
Government initiatives
Women's groups: putting gender on the land agenda

CONCLUSION

The gendered politics of land
Women's struggle for gender justice and equality
Citizen's who know their rights

REFERENCES

BIBLIOGRAPHY

INTRODUCTION

From personal experience to deep concern

Having grown up in Ireland, I was used to seeing a wife and her husband walking side by side. One of my striking memories, of my first few months of living in Zimbabwe, was to see a husband walking in front of his wife. However, more striking, and very shocking for me, was to see him empty-handed, and his wife with a baby on her back and a heavy load on her head - perhaps she was carrying a large bucket of water or a sizeable travel bag. That was back in 1983. I soon learned the cultural reasons for this different way of walking and carrying. I did not realise then that I would go on to spend eleven years working and living in what has now become a very trouble torn part of the world. During those first few months, people would say to me that I would find that Zimbabwe would get into my blood and never leave me. They were right. Even today, nine years after leaving, through a daily news service, I read about the lives and conditions under which so many people there suffer. What gets my blood boiling is to read about the corruption of the powerful and the injustices inflicted on those most vulnerable. Often it has something to do with land and the most vulnerable are usually women.

As I will argue in this thesis, land has, since colonial days, been a controversial issue and it continues to be so. I will contend that even from before colonial days women have been unfairly marginalised in relation to access to land. The policies of successive governments have either neglected gender issues or not taken them sufficiently seriously. I will show that this has meant that in a largely rural society, such as Zimbabwe, many women have not had the means to establish sustainable livelihoods. In terms of the capabilities approach, poor rural women, in particular, have not been able to lead flourishing human lives.

Gender justice, human development and good governance: vision and theory

I will be using the capabilities approach, as developed by Martha Nussbaum, as I consider the unjust position of poor rural black women in Zimbabwe in relation to access, control, and rights to land - its resources and benefits, especially with its implications for human flourishing. I will contend that this issue - in relation to gender and land - needs to be set within the wider context of the other injustices suffered by black women, and more and more opposed by them. I regard the capabilities approach, as do the researchers and writers of the United Nations Human Development [UNHD] reports, as the most comprehensive theory in relation to development goals for human flourishing. It acknowledges the necessity of gender analysis and awareness. It neither neglects economics nor gives it undue significance. It places people at the centre of development. While it sees them as both actual and potential agents of their own development; on the other hand, it emphasises the political and moral responsibility of government to help its citizens acquire the capabilities that would give them opportunities for human flourishing in the broadest terms. Those who use the capabilities approach agree with Nussbaum that "the concept of development is an evaluative concept requiring normative argument"1 I will seek to explain the position from which she begins - she writes,

"the basic intuition from which the capability approach starts, in the political arena, is that human capabilities exert a moral claim that they should be developed. …thinking of the basic capabilities of human beings as needs for functioning, which gives rise to correlated political duties"2.

She states, "My view holds with Aristotle, that a good political arrangement is one 'in accordance with which anyone whatsoever might do well and live a flourishing life."3 While I will be focusing primarily on the subordinate position, in relation to men, of poor rural black women in Zimbabwe's Third World society, I am not unaware of the place of that volatile and suffering society within a world of global injustices. I am conscious of how, in such a world, economic and trading policies militate against these women, as they seek to sustain viable rural livelihoods. As my thesis will demonstrate, pre-colonial, Rhodesian and Zimbabwean societies have all been and continue to be patriarchal societies in which men have held onto power and privileges that have resulted in deeply entrenched and highly unjust gender disparities. Traditionally women have had access to land through men, but not in their own right, "women's access to land is mostly through their husbands, sons, or male relatives."4 This has begun to change, and I will examine how women's special needs and interests, both practical and strategic, are gradually being met by changes in Zimbabwean society, though there is still much resistance. Black poor rural women still lack many of the essential capabilities for human flourishing and do not reach Nussbaum's higher threshold above which she argues people have the capability to enjoy a good human life.

The politics of land in Zimbabwe: contested source of rural livelihoods, security and dignity

I will describe the gendered way in which land was used in pre-colonial days, and how it was unjustly re-distributed after white settlers began to arrive at the end of the 19th century. I will relate how difficult it was for the poor black farming communities to sustain viable rural livelihoods in the densely populated Tribal Trust lands. I will highlight the desire to regain "lost lands"5 as one of the motivating factors in the liberation struggle for Independence. I will explain the largely gender-blind land policies of the present government of Zimbabwe since Independence in 1980 as it has sought, somewhat half-heartedly, to re-distribute land in favour of the poor. I will assess how these policies have been enacted in the various resettlement schemes that have come about as a result of the take-over of large-scale white commercial farms. I will be concerned with what Rudo Gaidanzwa describes as "the gendered politics of land rights"6. I will be asking whether the women in Zimbabwe, who form "70% of farm labour"7, have had a fair deal. I will consider both the complex legal systems in relation to land, property, divorce and inheritance and also the social and cultural values that have underpinned them. I will seek to demonstrate how a change in the situation of women in relation to their traditional position with regard to land could give them new capabilities and empower them to plan their lives and their work, and to have control over the rewards from their farming. I will argue that changes in social and cultural values and attitudes, especially as men hold them, are needed, as well as law reform. Such changes would mean that women would come to have choices over their productive and reproductive lives that have previously been denied to them. In Nussbaum's terms, such women in Zimbabwe would have more opportunities for a good human life.

The women's movements: struggle and tears, progress and setbacks

I will show that surveys of women's attitudes to men still indicate that a majority of them continue to accept the subordination in the home of a wife to her husband. However outside the home women expect equality between women and men. I will point to radical feminist movements in Zimbabwe who seek to persuade women of the need for equality with men in both the private as well as in the public sphere. The social and cultural values and attitudes of a patriarchal society and the injustices towards women in the legal system are directly related to much of the suffering of rural black women.

"Divorced women are forced to leave the land with no guarantee that they will have access to land in their own home areas. And widows may be evicted from the land they have worked on for years by male relatives of their husbands."8

Fear is a common and deeply felt emotion in many women's lives that inhibits greatly their capacity to live secure and happy lives. Nussbaum would rightly be concerned. It can dominate the lives of rural black women in particular. Pat Made quotes Maia Chenaux-Repond who has devoted the past eighteen years to investigating gender issues and land rights,

"what is very shocking is married women's …pervasive fear of being chased away from their marital home… wives are acutely aware of how vulnerable they are. As a result they tend to be very unassertive within marriage."9

This feeling of fear and the sense of not being empowered to confront their husbands over the injustices that they suffer has had tragic consequences,

"in a cotton farming …area… the number of female suicides has been reported …as rising…Women commit suicide because their husbands collect the cheques from the Cotton Marketing Board, and the women never see the money."10

I will describe how today in Zimbabwe there are a range of women's groups and movements, some with special interests such as law reform and women's land rights. Many of these groups and movements are strengthened by the solidarity shown to them by international NGO's and empowered by an increasing awareness of the similar struggles of other rural women in the Third World for gender justice and equality.

The number of rural black female-headed households has been increasing steadily over the last decade, although it is not possible to get accurate data. There have been a number of reasons for this increase. In some cases it is due to the deaths of husbands from AIDS; it is also due to an increase in divorce rates; and it has been compounded by the significant losses of urban jobs because of retrenchment due to the horrific economic situation in Zimbabwe since structural adjustment programmes began (though the economic collapse of the country, where inflation now has reached 365%, cannot simply be ascribed to these failed policies). What it means in practice is that women have a desperate need for land, especially in these female-headed households. Women who are married stand a better chance of land as they can have access to it through their husbands who are still favoured in government land policies. There are grounds for hope for women in their fight for gender justice in relation to land with its implications for them in terms of capabilities for human flourishing. Although such a term for many of them is inappropriate at present, as the best they can struggle for is simply survival in the harsh prevailing conditions within their country.

Gender equality: a revolution in the making

Fighting for gender justice in Zimbabwe is part of a world-wide struggle. Regrettably in the Gender-related Development [GDI] index rankings, given in the UNHD annual reports, Zimbabwe has slipped from 82 in 1995 to 113 in 2003. The 1995 UNHD report states,

"One of the defining movements of the 20th century has been the relentless struggle for gender equality, led mostly by women, but supported by growing numbers of men. When this struggle finally succeeds - as it must - it will mark a great milestone in human progress. And along the way it will change most of today's premises for social, economic and political life."11

While sex refers to women's and men's biological differences, gender refers to roles and relationships that are socially constructed, which relate to ways of perceiving ourselves and being perceived as women or men; and which shape and influence how as men or women we act and think. Over the last two decades there has been a shift from an emphasis on analysing the roles of women and men separately to stressing the need to analyse the relationships between them and the "sources of power in society"12 that influence these dynamic and changing relationships. In every society of the world, today, there are gender inequalities, imbalances and injustices with women continuing to be subordinate to men. Research in many fields used to be gender-blind, now new tools of analysis and special areas of research have furthered the study of gender and of our awareness of the gendered nature of our societies.

International treaties concerning human rights and specific agreements on anti-discrimination against women, as well as law reform and changes in social and cultural attitudes and values have all played diverse roles in many countries in the movement towards gender equality. However there is still an immense amount left to be done.

"Women still constitute 70% of the world's poor and two-thirds of the world's illiterates. They occupy only 14% of managerial and administrative jobs, 10% of parliamentary seats and 6% of cabinet positions. They often work longer hours than men, but much of their work remains undervalued, unrecognized and unappreciated. And the threat of violence stalks their lives from cradle to grave."13

CHAPTER ONE

MARTHA NUSSBAUM'S CAPABILITIES APPROACH

The focus of the approach and the gender equality motivation behind it

As I have just said in my Introduction, I am using Martha Nussbaum's current development of the capabilities approach as the theoretical basis on which I will assess gender, land and women in Zimbabwe. Nussbaum writes,

"This approach to the measurement of quality of life, and to defining the goals of public policy, holds that we should focus on the questions, 'What are the people of the country in question actually able to do and to be?' "14

Behind this question is a moral stand of working for gender equality, Nussbaum is deeply concerned about gender disparities. The capabilities approach is one of a number of contested attempts to provide ways to measure how life is for people in the different countries of our world. In this chapter I will be explaining what the capability approach is as Nussbaum envisages it, and looking at the way in which she handles the objections and difficulties that have been raised in connection with it. I will say why I, too, am not entirely happy with her exposition of the capabilities approach. She acknowledges her debt to the work on the capabilities approach of Amartya Sen that has been significantly influential in the production of the UNHD reports. She writes, "For the time being, I shall take the nation state as my basic unit, and the question I shall ask is, 'How is the nation doing, with respect to the quality of life of its citizens?'"15 She states,

"The basic claim I wish to make - concurring with Amartya Sen - is that the central goal of public planning should be the capabilities of citizens to perform various important functions."16

A universalist approach - a shared humanity and equal rights

Nussbaum is a universalist. She writes, "Begin with the human being: with the capacities and needs that join all humans, across barriers of gender and class and race and nation."17 As she surveys the human race, both globally today and throughout history, she believes it is possible to point to much that human beings of any epoch and of any part of the world have in common. That we all are mortal and that we all have a natural aversion to pain are two examples of what human beings have in common. However while she emphasises the commonalities, she allows for the fact that there have been and still are many different ways in which these commonalities find expression, and especially is this so in relation to such commonalities as food, shelter, and clothing or planning one's life or enjoying recreational activities. She is not though a universalist in the sense of believing in some form of metaphysical realism. Her universalism is based on empirical studies. She does not accept that it is possible for human beings to have the detached viewpoint of the gods, if there are any, as to what human nature essentially is. It is not possible for us to get outside the conditions under which we live and under which we construct our realities. Nor is there any form of essential human nature that is open to some form of a priori intuition. She notes that people such as Aristotle were quite clearly conscious of the humanness we all share no matter what our ethnicity, class or gender are. For Nussbaum this shared humanity implies equal rights for all. She quotes from his Nicomachean Ethics "One may observe in one's travels to distant countries the feelings of recognition and affiliation that link every human being to every other human being."18 From time immemorial human beings have been clear that as a species they are different from the animals and plants as well as from the gods who inhabit their stories.

Empirical essentialism and gender equality

She is not then an essentialist in any metaphysical sense; however she does see herself as an essentialist in an empirical and ethical sense. For she considers that it can reasonably be argued that there are commonalities that make up a minimum description of what might count as a human life and that there are normative development goals which suggest a threshold above which a person may be said to have a good human life.

"My proposal is frankly universalist and 'essentialist'. That is, it asks us to focus on what is common to all, rather than on differences (although, as we shall see, it does not neglect these), and to see some capabilities and functions as more central, more at the core of human life, than others."19

She allows that these development goals are contested and that charges of imperialism have been and continue to be made especially over matters concerning the status of women in society. She accepts that the capabilities approach is tentative and open-ended. It is an international, multi-cultural enterprise. She acknowledges that people in all cultures have their blind-spots in terms of their self-awareness and that it often is people of another culture who are able to shed light on these blind-spots. This may lead to a fuller, broader and more complex understanding of what we mean by being human. She writes of how many people have noted that human beings frequently will accept their status believing that it is natural and normal, that it cannot be challenged, that it is how things are and how they will always be. In 2000 a survey in Zimbabwe on equality for women with men indicated that a majority of black women

"wanted complete equality before the law, in employment and education and other spheres of public life, but they took it as axiomatic that a man had to be the boss in the home and that therefore women could not have completely equal rights in all spheres."20

There can often be a conflict between tradition and modernity, between those inside a culture and those outside it, between a better educated urban community and a less well educated rural community, or between the older members of a society and its younger members, between its women and its men, or between its conservatives and its liberals, and radicals and feminists. She reports on the experience of others, such as Indian widows who have broken with tradition and who by doing so have acquired a new self-awareness and a clearer sense of the injustices that they have suffered as a result of their culture and tradition. Nussbaum includes a provocative quotation from Catharine MacKinnon: "Being a woman is not yet a way of being a human being."21 She takes this statement to be an indictment of the way in which women in every part of the world have been constrained and restrained by the traditions and cultures of their societies, so that they have not had the opportunities to explore and discover the diverse ways in which one can experience what it is to live a full and meaningful human life. Her capabilities approach with its higher threshold above which a good human life becomes possible is suggestive of how being a woman and being a human being might coalesce in a good and fulfilling experience of life lived to the full.

Human commonalities, basic capabilities and limits

As she describes the capabilities approach, she begins with a general set of characteristic features of human life. Human beings are mortal, we will all die at some point in time. We all have a human body, and through it experience needs for food and drink, for shelter and clothing, and after a certain age become aware of sexual need and desire. Curiously she does not mention the need for sleep or the necessity to breathe. It is because of our bodies that (unless we are immobilised) we can of our own accord move about. As human beings we have the capacity to feel both pleasure and pain, and share a dread and an aversion to pain. Unless we are damaged in some way, or ageing has diminished our powers, we can perceive, imagine and think, and seek for understanding. While we may not remember much about our childhood, we recognise that infancy and the dependency that goes with it are the first stage of life for all human beings. Reasoning, planning, managing, and making choices and decisions are part of a normal human life, as are ethical questioning and action. Our lives are characterised by relationships of two main kinds: those within family circles and close friendships, and secondly those in the community. She notes that human beings recognise themselves as a species different from other living species (though with similarities to them as well), and different too from the rest of nature, we also are aware of our need and dependence on nature and of a responsibility towards it. Humour and play are further features of human existence. The experience of being separate from other people is another aspect of being human. Our consciousness is our own, nobody else can feel our pain, and every society has words for 'mine' and 'not mine'.

She argues that these very general features of being a human being have been and are expressed in manifold ways throughout the world. They may be described as limits and capabilities. Being human and remaining alive involve responding to those limits. For example, we cannot live for long without water and food, and our bodies need clothes if we are to survive extreme cold. On the other hand we have basic capabilities - we can be taught and educated, we can be trained in a range of skills, we have the capacity to develop relationships, and we can work and relax and play.

Two distinct thresholds in relation to human life

Nussbaum now moves on to the second part of the capabilities approach.

"we want to describe two distinct thresholds: a threshold of capability to function beneath which a life will be so impoverished that it will not be human at all; and a somewhat higher threshold, beneath which those characteristic functions are available in such a reduced way that, though we may judge the form of life a human one, we will not think it a good human life."22 As examples of lives that she would not judge human at all are the lives of people who in old age can no longer recognise their loved ones, who can no longer reason or think. She includes too the baby who is born severely deformed, and who will never be able to be educated. Personally, I am not happy with this sort of classification, and I do not consider that it is necessary to her argument. I will have more to say about this lower threshold later on. Her main concern though is to concentrate on the higher threshold. When people exercise their capabilities and receive care and support so that their lives may be judged to be above this higher threshold, then they may be said, she claims, to be living a good human life. Development is about providing the opportunities and the appropriate assistance so that all people can live well above this higher threshold and live flourishing human lives. She has another list that includes the following capabilities that relate to the higher threshold. Not dying prematurely, being able to have good health, having sufficient food to eat, proper housing, opportunities for sexual satisfaction, having choice in matters of sexual reproduction, and having freedom of movement. Being free as much as possible from unnecessary pain and being able to have pleasurable experiences. Being able to have a good education and so be trained in the use of imagination, reasoning, and thinking. Being able to develop an aesthetic and spiritual appreciation and awareness. Having guarantees protecting freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom to practice a religion and to participate in political life. Being able to think what a good life might be, being able to plan one's life and make decisions about one's life without interference, e.g. in relation to "marriage, childbearing, sexual expression, speech and employment."23 Being able to seek for employment. Being able to form close relationships, having the capability for justice, compassion and friendship. Being able to be ecologically concerned. Being able to laugh, play and enjoy recreation. Being able to live one's life without fear of unwarranted search or seizure, being shown respect in relation to one's property. Being treated with dignity. Human functioning and capability: one norm or two? Nussbaum asks the supremely important question in the light of centuries of women's subordination world-wide whether there should be one norm of human functioning and capability or whether there should be two - reflecting the supposed separate natures of women and men and their purportedly distinct roles and responsibilities. She divides those who think there should be two norms into Positions A and B and having described their reasoning puts up her own defence for only having one norm for all humanity. As we shall see, to her it relates to the vital claims of equality and gender justice. A tendency to maintaining the status quo and its gender imbalances In Position A women and men share the same limits and capabilities, and both can develop, it is held, beyond the higher threshold and lead good human lives. However because of their differences they will live out their capabilities in different spheres - the women largely in the home and the men in the public arena. In theory Position A is not incompatible with gender justice and equality, though in practice it tends to be, for women and men might freely choose these differing roles. Nussbaum responds by arguing that "gender divisions have been socially constructed in morally arbitrary and injurious ways, and once we insist, instead, on using common humanity as our moral and political basis, it is difficult to see what good arguments there are for Position A, which just happens to maintain in place divisions that have often proven oppressive to women."24 Nussbaum argues that there is no good reason to hold women back from the public sphere, it is the place for both women and men to be working out their capabilities. The home is a place too for both women and men to work out their capabilities, with far more sharing needed today of the work and responsibilities of the home. She draws attention to how in societies where there are still strong divisions between women and the home and men and the public sphere, there is continuing evidence that women do much less well than men in all sorts of significant ways, such as health and nutrition. For women to be kept in the home is to continue an unjust oppression.

Differing basic capabilities?

Position B emphasises a strong difference between women and men, and holds that they have differing basic capabilities. Nussbaum argues that even if in some limited area of excellence, such as geometric ability, there is some evidence to suggest that men do better than women, this does not effect her broad conception of basic capabilities, such as the capability of practical reasoning. The capabilities as such transcend gender divisions and may be and are expressed in a variety of ways. Furthermore since we are all, right from our birth, exposed to the influence and shaping of gendering, it is not possible to get beneath culture to see if there are different basic capabilities. If one looks at history, and how men and women have been gendered differently and prepared for different roles in society, one can recognise that both the women's and the men's training left them incomplete as human beings. In each case certain capabilities were selected and presented as the appropriate ones, but this meant that others were not. So men were often short-changed in the emotional areas of their lives and women did not receive support in areas such as training for public life. These are further reasons why Nussbaum believes that all the basic capabilities are important for all human beings and that it is a matter of justice that both women and men should be assisted to fulfil these capabilities and reach a good quality of life above the higher threshold.

Local and cultural expression of human capabilities

This list of capabilities to function is deliberately expressed in general terms to allow for local and cultural expression. As we have just seen, Nussbaum contends that if any of these capabilities are missing then a person will not be able to live a good life. She writes, "it would be reasonable to take these things as a focus for concern, in assessing the quality of life in a country and asking about the role of public policy in meeting human needs."25 It would not be hard to find general agreement among most people that health is better than sickness, to have good health services is better than to have poor ones, good nutrition is better than malnutrition, knowledge is better than ignorance, living into old-age (with reasonable health) is better than dying prematurely. Nussbaum claims that human beings through their capabilities exert moral claims in the political sphere and that these capabilities should be developed. So there is a particular responsibility on government to assist its citizens to develop their capabilities by providing both the required help and the opportunities for the exercise of the capabilities. I am concerned with capabilities and their meaning for black Zimbabwean women in relation to land.

Women, land and capabilities

I intend to show in this thesis that if government policies change in relation to access to land so that women become entitled to land in their own right, then this will have the potential to enable them to use more capabilities and live with more dignity, autonomy and freedom. In the present context of life in Zimbabwe, there is massive unemployment and fewer and fewer urban jobs. Land gives a woman a chance to have a home of her own, to have work and to have the opportunity to support herself and her children, if she has any. If she becomes separated, divorced, or widowed land gives women a choice and an alternative to traditional ways to cope in such situations. She can become autonomous and independent, she need not, for example, marry her late husband's brother. Having land means a woman can plan her own crops, get the benefits of her hard work, and use the proceeds as she decides herself. There is a better chance that she can feed herself and her children properly; on the other hand if she is staying with relatives in an over-crowded urban township house and dependent on them for food, she and her children may not have adequate nutrition. Some women in the townships in order to raise an income become prostitutes and are likely to become infected with HIV/AIDS. Land gives women the potential for more self-respect, control over their lives, and security. I will also argue that women who are married need equal rights to men in relation to land, and that title deeds or leases should be able to be issued in both their names. I will also be arguing for cultural and legal changes so that the power relations between men and women change to give women the opportunities to use their capabilities, such as planning and decision-making, and so experience fuller human lives. Clearly support services such as bank loans, training in agriculture, and accessibility of markets and health clinics need to be available to women if gender equality and justice are to be realised and women's opportunities to flourish are to be enhanced by government policies and practice.

The capabilities approach v other theories

We have noted that the capabilities approach has been built into the methodology of the work that goes into producing the UNHD reports. Nussbaum points out how other approaches using GNP or in terms of utility ("polling people concerning the satisfaction of their preferences"26) are unable to give a true picture of how the citizens of a country are doing in their lives. So for example, a country might have a relatively high GNP but low literacy rates, high infant mortality rates, the percentage of women in employment might be very low and no indication of the quality of racial or gender relations would be indicated. On the other hand "if we rely on utility as our measure of life quality, we most often will get results that support the status quo and oppose radical change."27 This is for the reason noted already that quite commonly deprived people come to accept their living conditions as normal and natural, and even if they have expectations of change they set their sights quite low. Given the global imbalances in the treatment of and opportunities for women as against men, Nussbaum does not trust quality of life as measured by traditional cultural preferences that invariably regard women as subordinate to men. She rejects arguments that by providing some sort of conception of what makes for a good human life she is depriving people of making that decision themselves. She argues that a key capability that she lists is to be able to plan one's life and to exercise one's freedom of choice in a range of significant areas. Nor will she accept the relativists' positions. She believes she has (in a tentative open-ended way and through cross-cultural dialogue) drawn up a list of commonalities found among human beings. She argues that the general nature of her lists of limits and capabilities allows for local expression and diversity, whether in culture or in public policy. She contends that some relativists mistakenly take this rich diversity to mean that there can be and are no commonalities.

Some queries and criticisms of Nussbaum on 'human life' and a 'good human life'

The lower threshold

I said I would comment further on her lower threshold below which she claims there can be no human life. That is to say that the elderly person who no longer recognises loved ones and who cannot think or reason is no longer living a human life. Nor is the badly deformed baby a human being. It seems to me that 'once a human being, always a human being' and that what parents reproduce when they have babies are human beings, no matter how deformed. I may become frail and forgetful, I may become severely brain damaged in a car crash, but I cannot belong to any other species than the human race no matter what happens to me. And nor can the worst criminal who has committed the most heinous acts of brutality. To my mind, what Nussbaum needs to ask is about the ways to measure how a society looks after its most vulnerable and marginalised members. Are they being provided with as good a quality of life as possible? Is a stroke patient being nursed in such a way that she will not develop painful bedsores or other complications? What support is being given to the parents of the badly deformed baby who is still and always will be their daughter or son? And what attempts are being made to rehabilitate the brutal criminal? I see no reason why a UNHD Report cannot provide some answers to these sorts of questions. Indeed the moral health of a society is often said to be indicated by how it looks after its weaker members.

Not reaching the higher threshold

I also want to make a comment about Nussbaum's concept of the good human life and her contention that someone who does not reach the higher threshold will not be said to have had a good human life. There are millions of the rural (and urban poor) in Zimbabwe who do not reach that threshold today. Now clearly to have suffered constant malnutrition and to have had to live in a shack made of cardboard and some plastic and to shiver within in it day after day through the winter's bitter cold weather is not good. But are there not other ways in which one might want to say that a person had lived a very good life. After all Nussbaum's capabilities includes the sphere of forming relationships. What about the desperately poor woman who deeply loves her husband and children and who cares about some very close friends as well as her neighbours? She is gifted with a beautiful voice, and can be heard at times of an evening singing to her children and giving them great delight. She herself is pleased to have such a beautiful singing voice and enjoys using it. Perhaps the influence of her life will continue on from one generation to another as people come to read the book written about her life, and how she became a public champion of human rights and capabilities, as she fought and contended for better housing, for jobs and for government aid in times where many were suffering from malnutrition. How do you evaluate such a life? It did not reach the higher threshold, but in many ways did more for the world and its people than many a person who had reached the higher threshold. So I would like to see Nussbaum revise this aspect of the capability approach. However I am in broad agreement with her over a number of key issues which I will now list.

Summary of capabilities approach and its implications for women and land

Any human being on being born into our world exerts a range of moral claims on others, in particular on those in government. In infancy there are the claims very broadly speaking on parents, health workers, and government for adequate care in terms of housing, clothing, nutrition, medication (e.g. immunisation), love and security, respect and attention, training and disciplining. In childhood there are additional moral claims in such areas as education and recreation, socialisation and peer support, and for many of the freedoms that adults need as well. In adulthood there are the moral claims to have the freedom to plan one's life, to set one's goals, to have work to do, to develop one's life, to make choices with regard to sexual identity and expression, marriage, reproduction, and number of children. There are also the moral claims in relation to freedom to express oneself and one's convictions in terms of political and religious affiliation, and to act on those convictions. The moral claims of being human mean that women and men should have equal rights and that gender justice should be promoted. There should be no gender discrimination in terms of such matters as inheritance, land, employment and pay, and marriage and divorce. Thus human beings' limits and capabilities mean that moral claims are exerted in both the home and in the public sphere because of the inherent worth and dignity of each human being. To live is better than to die prematurely, to have sufficient food is better than malnutrition, to have adequate housing is better than poor or no housing, to be healthy is better than to be sick, to be educated is better than to be ignorant, to have company is better than loneliness, to be loved and to be able to love is better than not to be able to love and to receive no love, to be able to plan one's life and make choices and decisions regarding one's life is better than having others controlling one's life, to have meaningful work is better than no work or boring and demeaning work.

Given what life is like for millions of people in the world today, there are clearly many such moral claims that are not being met. The struggle for gender justice, and other forms of justice too, for equality, for respect, for power re-distribution, for the giving up by some of their privileges, for gender mainstreaming, and for better living conditions must go on not just for the sake of those alive today, but also for those to be born tomorrow, and in memory of those now dead who were unable, largely as a result of unjust structures and attitudes, to live a life worthy of the potential that was within them.

Both Nussbaum and the UNHD reports have taken specific stands on the moral rightness of working for gender equality and "on what functions of human beings are most worth the care and attention of public planning, the world over." 28 My contention is that in Zimbabwe for millions of women to have capabilities for human flourishing they must have access to land in their own right (if not jointly with their spouses). They must have control of its resources and benefits, and have reasonably secure tenure, whether outright ownership or long leases. If this happens a serious gender injustice would be removed and the struggle for women towards equality would be immeasurable advanced. Writing about women gaining land rights in Zimbabwe, Rudo Kwaramba of the Musasa Project said, "[it] would be one more step towards their empowerment." 29

CHAPTER TWO

THE PRE-COLONIAL AND RHODESIAN ERAS

Gender analysis

"History is likely to judge the progress in the 21st century by one major yardstick: is there a growing equality of opportunity between people and among nations? …The most persistent [inequality]…has been gender disparity, despite a relentless struggle to equalize opportunities between women and men."30

Although we still " live in societies that are permeated by gender differences and gender inequalities"31 academics, among others, know that they must try not to write any longer from a gender-blind perspective. We need to be made aware in our societies of the gender inequalities if gender justice and equality are to be achieved.

"Gender analysis of various kinds is therefore required to bring these [gender] inequalities to the surface and to the attention of people who can make a difference, so that their decisions are taken in a manner that is sensitive to and reflects the outcome of gender analysis"32

This present chapter contains a historical survey of pre-Independent Zimbabwe, and in it I hope to show the gender disparities that existed in relation to access to land, its use and the control of its resources as they affected black women. By understanding more clearly the patriarchal nature of society in this period, and the social and cultural attitudes and values that helped construct it, one is better placed to analyse the successes and failures of today's Zimbabwe in relation to gender justice for women in relation to land and to meeting their needs and providing them with capabilities for human flourishing.

The Pre-Colonial era

Migration and settlement

In the history of sub-Saharan Africa the creation of nations and their national borders came as a result of European colonisation. The land which is the particular concern of my thesis had no specific name in pre-colonial times, thus when I use the word 'Zimbabwe' and the names of other African countries in what follows in this paragraph, I do so simply to identify particular regions in sub-Saharan Africa. The Shona people, who are the main ethnic group today, are descended from ancestors who had migrated south and crossed the Zambezi river which now forms the northern boundary separating Zambia and Zimbabwe. These ancestors were part of the Bantu tribe. They had entered Zimbabwe about one thousand years ago. The Ndebele people came up from South Africa in about 1840 and settled in the southwest of Zimbabwe. There were some 16th century and 17th century traders, from both the Middle East and Europe, who came to this region of Africa. However the first foreign settler group only arrived in the second half of 19th century. Most of these first settlers came up from South Africa in search of gold, the most famous being Cecil Rhodes. They encountered the Ndebele people first, and their chief, Lobengula, was deceived by both German and British prospectors, with the British winning out and gaining considerable mining concessions and rights to land in exchange for a paltry amount of guns and some money. As they moved up the country they met with the Shona people who lived in fear of the annual raids of their Ndebele neighbours who stole cattle, crops, and their women from them. The Ndebele have traditionally looked down on the Shona and despised them for their cowardice in battle. By the beginning of 20th century it had become clear that gold would not be found in such abundance as it had been found in South Africa nor other minerals, and more settlers began to turn to farming. The British flag had been raised in 1896 in Salisbury (today's Harare) and the country had been claimed by Cecil Rhodes with little military difficulties for the British Crown, though there were two courageous, albeit minor, rebellions fought by the Shona and the Ndebele. While the black and white populations living in this region had many differences, they both had social and cultural attitudes shaped by patriarchal societies. Though a comparison in terms of human capabilities at this period would show that the white community generally had more capabilities for human flourishing than the black communities, and in both women were discriminated against along gender lines.

Rural livelihoods

Before the arrival of these European settlers the Shona and Ndebele had lived in small groups of a few hundred people under a local chief. They were subsistence farmers, except for those who at one period of their history had exchanged gold with Arab traders for commodities such as beads and other ornaments. When the land became exhausted they found another site nearby and close to water too. The men cleared the trees and shrubs and made small areas for planting crops. The whole family would have been involved in building a new set of rondavels - gathering poles, cutting grass, and carrying mud from an adjacent ant-hill that provided soil that made a mortar. Water had to be carried to the building site to mix with the soil from the ant-hill.

"Amongst the Shona, the chief was caretaker and dispenser of land-use rights and each adult male who succeeded as household head had use rights to a given piece of land. Women did the bulk of farm labour yet throughout their lives obtained access to land only by virtue of their subordinate relation to men (of their own lineage, of their husband's lineage) who possessed rights to sub-divide land to women as wife/wives or inherited widows."33

There was plenty of land at this time with a much smaller population in the country than the twelve million of today. It is estimated that there may have been about seven million people. There were no towns or cities, although the few stone built partially-ruined fortifications found in several parts of the country suggest that people may have congregated at these places during inter-tribal warfare and in the case of Great Zimbabwe for trading purposes. Neither the Shona nor the Ndebele peoples at this stage had an alphabet or written language, though they had a rich oral tradition, and some remarkable Rock paintings usually depicting scenes relating to hunting. They had their own religions, their dances for times of celebration, their witch doctors and herbalists for times of sickness. They had a strong belief in the spirit world and in the living dead, whose spirits protected them, and who were due the utmost respect by each family. Obviously at this stage there were no written laws in Zimbabwe nor a central government nor a state Constitution. In the culture of these small tribal societies, the tribe as a whole thought of itself as possessing the land that it had traditionally inhabited. Where necessary they would fight to defend it. It was a strong patriarchal society. Women's place was subordinate to men as I explain in subsequent paragraphs. It is not clear what was the reason for land being allocated to a wife by her husband, however it may be connected to labour division and food security within polygamous families - each women being responsible for the food security of her children. Writing of traditional women's rights to land, Mildred T. Mushunje contends,

"it is obvious that even before the colonialists came, women's rights were not explicit. The fact that a woman was allocated a piece of land after she had given birth to her first child, implies that those who were unfortunate to be childless were never considered to be worthy of a piece of land and were thus never allocated…The whole system smells of a manipulative patriarchal system that gave women half measures in terms of 'rights'…Clearly there was no protection of women's rights, and this has perpetuated into the current policies and practices…Even in traditional society, women were short changed in as far as rights to land were concerned, and that has perpetuated itself into the modern society."34

Traditional marriage customs

Both the Shona and the Ndebele people practised a strict custom of lobola. In effect a man who wanted to marry had to compensate his wife's parents for taking away a worker from them. The lobola at this time was paid in cattle. While the vast proportion of the lobola was received by the bride's father, her mother would normally receive one or two cattle. This was about all she would ever own plus any calves the cattle might have in the future. Though she might additionally receive something for brew making, but this tended to be after the time a currency was introduced into the country by the white, mainly British, settlers. Lobola contributed to the gender inequalities within marriage, "The main problem …is that a man feels that he paid lobola for you and he feels you are his property."35 As a result women did not feel that they had control over their sexual or their reproductive lives which Nussbaum argues quite correctly are important human capabilities for women in order to flourish. These attitudes continue to be held by many women today as a recent survey indicates, "Women still feel that they have to be submissive to the spouse even if it is against one's wish to be intimate at a given time."36 In so far as control over reproduction is concerned, traditional attitudes were expressed by the husband who said, "the wife can never tell me the number of children she wants to have."37

A woman could not divorce her husband, but he could divorce her, and would likely do so if she did not produce any children or if she committed adultery. Of course divorce at this time did not mean court proceedings, the wife was simply sent home to her parents who may have returned some of the lobola, depending on how much had been paid, for it was often paid in stages over a period of years. On the other hand, the husband could both commit adultery with impunity and could have more than one wife if he could afford the lobola. In a society where men were regularly killed in hunting or in tribal warfare, there were often as a consequence more women than men, although this was counter-balanced to some extent by women dying in childbirth. Polygamy at least had the effect of giving more women a chance to be married, and to have children within a family setting. But not every polygamous family was happy, often there were severe jealousies and rivalries between the wives. It meant that women in such polygamous settings often led lives of sexual frustration and were deprived of the love, communication and comfort that a wife in a monogamous relationship could have. For a man to have more than one wife increased the size of the family's labour force, with women having to work exceptionally hard.

Rural women's working lives

In these pre-colonial days, women were responsible for caring for their husband and children and maybe grandparents too. They worked on the land, they fetched water, and went out to collect firewood to use both for cooking with and in winter for warmth too. There were no cash crops, and all the family had jobs. There were no schools, so children and young people were available to help all day. Boys would herd the goats and cattle, girls would assist their mothers, and men, apart from clearing land for new fields and helping with ploughing and harvesting, spent a good deal of time with other men as they formed the political community of their tribe. Periodically the chief would call all men together to discuss with them some issues facing the tribe, seeking to arrive at some consensus, rather than taking a vote over the matter in hand. Women had no say in these meetings and were not consulted.

The widespread gender injustices experienced by women

Women had very little say over their lives. In terms of Nussbaum's capabilities list, for example - participation, representation and decision-making in the public sphere were human capabilities denied to women on gender grounds, nor did a woman have the freedom to plan her life, to set her own goals, to make choices in her married sexual and reproductive life. If a woman was pre-deceased by her husband, one of his brothers or another next-of-kin was expected to take her as his wife, she had no choice. "I learned about…widows ...forced into re-marriage to a relative of the dead husband."38 If on the other hand she was very elderly when her husband died, she would probably not re-marry, but be cared for by one of her sons. She did not inherit property from her late husband as this was appropriated by his family. Women in traditional Shona and Ndebele societies felt subordinate to their husbands and to men in general. There was neither equality nor justice for women nor did they have political representation, let alone participation. Whether as single women or as married women or as divorced or widowed women they had no entitlement to land.

The Rhodesian era

The division of land

The face of the land - Rhodesia as it was named in memory of Cecil Rhodes - began to change as 20th century unfolded. Towns began to be built, most of them initially around the mines. But as more and more settlers took to farming, so too did agricultural towns develop. Salisbury became the capital. The new rulers divided the country up into several regions. Although some consultation did take place with local chiefs, so that it could be ascertained where they would like to be based and what land they needed; this certainly did not always happen. There was considerable displacement of both Shona and Ndebele families. The policy was to set aside the vast proportion of the best land for settler farmers (soil, rainfall, water resources, altitude and temperature all being factors to be taken into consideration). Much of this land was bush and so would need to be cleared before any crops could be grown. While these new farms in the grazing and dryer areas might cover 4,500-9,000 hectares, in the main cropping regions the farms ranged from 225-1350 hectares. On the other hand, in the Native Reserves, or Tribal Trust Lands as they were later called, an average family might have 1.2-1.6 hectares for their crops, with a shared area for grazing with several families all using it.

[These lands] "lie mainly in ecological zones characterized by low, erratic rainfall and soil types with limited capacity to retain moisture (classified in Zimbabwe's agro-ecological survey as regions iv and v)."39

The imbalances in the agricultural system had begun, and black women, who traditionally did most of the agricultural labour, bore the brunt of the harsher environment in which they were forced to live. There were huge difference in wealth, food security, and power between settler and indigenous population. The old system whereby the Shona and the Ndebele migrated to better soils came to an end, now they had to stay put. Gradually the white government began a system of education in alternative ways of farming in the Tribal Trust Lands, emphasising the use of fertiliser - at first cow dung, and later chemical products, and promoting contour ploughing and ways to conserve the land from soil erosion, due in part to the tropical storms and also to cutting down trees. Those farmers that gained a certificate in these new skills became Master farmers and were allocated more land in specially designated areas called Purchase Farming Lands. This might mean that eventually they would become the owners of 32-40 hectares, having paid off a loan to buy the land over a number of years. It was very rare for a woman to become a Master farmer, and even if she did she would not have been permitted to be allocated land in a Purchase Farming area.

A double injustice for black women

It should be noted that like black women in their African culture, white women in their 'colonial' culture also had a subordinate role to white men among the white population in Rhodesia. Those who married, mostly in Christian marriage services, promised to obey their husbands. The ways in which these women were gendered meant that they did not think of themselves as potential farmers running a large commercial farm, nor did the men think of women in this way either. Those white women who lived on farms saw themselves as assisting their husbands who were the 'farmers'. As far as black women were concerned, they suffered a double injustice. Along with their men they suffered the injustice of having too little land allocated to them by their colonial rulers to give them the capability for sustaining rural livelihoods that would support human flourishing, and within their own culture having no entitlement to land themselves. There were then injustices based on both gendered and racial grounds suffered by African women. While their colonial masters had begun the process of providing schools and hospitals, many doors were closed to able black people especially the white-controlled professional jobs, although in the sixties and seventies this gradually changed.

The break-up of traditional society

The growth of the towns, the expansion in the mines and the labour needed on the white-owned farms meant that more and more men were leaving the Tribal Trust lands to take up employment. It was socially very disruptive for traditional Shona and Ndebele communities. Work in the town might mean a menial office job, or some form of manual labour, such as on the roads, or it might mean in domestic service as a cook or gardener. Generally speaking men who lived on the job such as those in domestic service, but also on the mines and sometimes on the farms too, were not allowed to bring their wives to live with them nor their children. Often they would find a town wife who managed to find somewhere to live, perhaps in one of the growing poorly serviced townships. Perhaps she had a job as a nanny in a white home. Men who had work as messenger boys, council labourers, and other poorly paid jobs, who were not provided with accommodation on the job often brought a woman from the Tribal Trust Lands to live with in a township as a second wife. The first wife remained with the children looking after the land.

In one sense, this movement of the men away from the Tribal Trust lands, meant that women had more control and responsibility at home, but also more work. However her husband would still make the decisions as to what crops to grow. "The men make the plan for growing food and cash crops. Our dispute is over the fact that women do all the work but cannot make the plan".40 Here again in terms of human capabilities for a good human life, women have been unjustly prevented, on gender grounds, from making decisions in relation to their work. Gradually markets for cash crops expanded, although there were always huge problems, such as transporting crops to these markets. If a loan to buy seed and fertiliser became possible, then it would be in the husband's name and he would regard as his whatever proceeds there were after the harvest and the sale of some of the crops - perhaps sunflower, cotton, maize, or groundnuts. Women did not have control over the rewards of their hard work, "It boils down to the fact that he owns the land, wants control and therefore claims the proceeds." 41 As primary education became slowly more available, often through mission schools, so children would have less time to spend on the land. This meant for women that more burdens fell on them, and the elderly found themselves spending the day herding goats and cattle until the weekend or the holidays when the boys could take over again.

Creating and codifying laws

"Who…knows what tradition and culture are really about?" asked Judith Chikore, the director of the Zimbabwe Women's Resource Centre in Harare. She continued, "What is considered to be tradition is often what supports men's superior position."42 Within the culture of the Shona and Ndebele peoples there were unwritten laws, such as the customs surrounding marriage, which everyone had to obey. With the coming of colonial rulers the country began to develop two systems of written laws, which I will also refer to in the next chapter. There was the general law (based on Dutch-Roman law) and there was African Customary law. The latter built on the traditional practices and precepts, with some modifications, of the Shona and the Ndebele tribes. Although neither African men nor women had the vote, men were treated as adults in African Customary law, while on the other hand women were treated as minors. "Married black women, legally, were not entitled to keep their wages,"43 but had to give them to their husbands. Being a minor meant that a woman always had to have her guardian's permission before she married, it meant she could not sign legal documents nor could she apply for credit in her own name. For any transactions in which she might be involved, if a woman was single she had to get her guardian's signature; or if she was married, her husband's signature; if she was separated, divorced or widowed, she had to find a male relative to act on her behalf. Even though a woman might have trained in agriculture and received a Master Farmer's certificate, she could not apply in her own name to buy a farm in the African Purchase Land areas. A title deed for the farm could not be made out in her name. Legally she could not own it. If her father owned a farm in a Purchase Land area, and if her mother was dead, and she was the only child, her father was not permitted to pass on the farm to her in his will. Because of African Customary Law she could not inherit property, it had to go to some male relative. On the other hand, among the Europeans living at this time in Rhodesia, if the only child in a family was a daughter there was nothing in the general law system which would prevent this woman from inheriting her parents' property; and the title deeds to land or a house would be put into her name. She could use it as collateral if she was looking for a loan from her bank. An African woman did not have the same entitlements or rights. This has been one of the most serious gender injustices that have delayed and prevented the development of black women in their own country. They are denied capabilities that men have. We will see in the next chapter how a Supreme Court ruling, in 1999, which drew on the gender injustices enshrined in African Customary Law and in the Constitution was made in post-Independent Zimbabwe infuriating women's groups and putting back their march towards gender equality and justice. "A beginning has to be made in breaking the cycle of violation of women's human rights in the name of custom and tradition."44

Looking towards an Independent Zimbabwe and the needs of women

Gender justice, human capabilities and the new State

"Women's access to and control over land and the benefits derived therein is a determining factor in their overall living conditions, particularly in the rural areas. Land is essential to women's everyday survival, economic security, and physical safety; some would even argue that it is the most critical factor in women's struggle for equality in gender relations and empowerment. Women's reliance on land for economic security and survival in Zimbabwe is only deepening as the number of de facto and de jure women headed households expands. Despite the importance of land to women, the overriding feature in women's relationship to land is their lack of security of tenure. This is largely as a result of economic and social discrimination against women, more particularly gender biased laws, policies, traditions, and colonial hangovers that prevent women from owning and inheriting land in their own right."45

Mushunje's assessment (though she fails to mention that poor rural men have had, strictly speaking, no legal entitlement to land in the Tribal Trust lands) leads us now into the next two chapters where the high aspirations expressed by the Zimbabwean government of Robert Mugabe and ZANU PF in terms of gender justice and equality for women and the rate of real change and progress for women since 1980 will require careful consideration. Has this government really recognized the moral claims of women for justice and development so that they may be given the capabilities for human flourishing? Pre-colonial societies and the governments of the Rhodesian era did not, as I have sought to explain in this chapter.

CHAPTER THREE

GENDER AND LAW: PROBLEMS FOR WOMEN

The Liberation Struggle

In 1960's and 1970's the indigenous peoples of many countries on the African continent fought their liberation struggles and gained independence from the colonial powers that had ruled them. In 1965 the government of Rhodesia made its Unilateral Declaration of Independence. This government and its army fought a largely rural campaign against the 'vakomana and the vasikana' (the boys and the girls of the liberation armies). Some of these liberation fighters had been trained in Russia, China and Korea in the methods of guerrilla warfare, but had also absorbed the political ideology of their host country, and some had set up camps in Zambia and Mozambique on their country's northern and eastern borders. During fourteen years of struggle for independence two main leaders emerged as heads of liberation/political organisations: Robert Mugabe, a member of the Shona grouping and Joshua Nkomo, a member of the Ndebele people. These two leaders, together with Ian Smith, the Rhodesian Prime Minister, and the British representatives signed the Lancaster House agreement on 14th December 1979. Its chief features were that it laid down a time-framework for elections and made provisions for British funding for the purchase of land from white farmers by the State for re-distribution on a 'willing seller/willing buyer basis'. Mugabe's party, ZANU PF, won the elections and on 20th April 1980 Rhodesia was re-named 'Zimbabwe'. Another newly independent country took its place alongside the other independent countries of the African continent.

Apart from the motive of seeking 'one man, one vote' and political independence, the liberation struggle had also been about land. "The peasantry's main aim during the war was the desire to regain its 'lost lands'."46 It was becoming increasingly difficult in the over-crowded Tribal Trust Lands (soon to be re-named Communal Lands) for black Zimbabweans to live sustainable rural livelihoods. The re-distribution of land, many would say its restoration, was one of the chief issues for the new government to tackle. How well though would this new government, that is still in power after twenty-three years, address the gender injustices that women faced in relation to land and that have seriously affected their capabilities to flourish as human beings?

The new Government: Socialism v Capitalism

Like other independent African states, Zimbabwean government policy initially showed a marked leaning towards socialism. Part of the meaning of the fight against colonialism included an antagonism towards Western capitalism. Mugabe's speeches in the early days of Independence contained references to the natural resources of Zimbabwe such as its mining deposits. On many occasions, he told the people that colonialism had meant exploitation, but that in the new Zimbabwe the government and the people would together share the benefits of their natural resources, profits would not leave the country in the same way as before. The multi-nationals such as Lonhro and Anglo-American were wary of this new leader. Some felt that his political inclinations were more communist than socialist. There was a crisis of confidence in the West over future investment in such key areas as mining, agriculture, tourism and industry. Might Mugabe and his government nationalise the mines, the land, the hotels, the major industries? Investors felt ambivalent towards the new government, what were their real motives and in what direction did their ideological thinking point, in practice would they lean more towards socialism or more towards capitalism? The Cold-War era had not yet ended and Mugabe proved adept at allaying many Western fears as well as those of the white business and farming community within his own country. He also managed to attract assistance from the East and awarded countries such as China with large contracts for the further development of his country in terms of the building of roads, hospitals, schools and government offices. On the other hand, he constantly spoke about new land policies and the urgent need to provide land for the black community. One of the models of the resettlement programme, that will be described below, was for co-operative farming. Writing of this early stage in the newly independent Zimbabwe, Susie Jacobs said, "Co-operatives are …envisaged … as the main basis for a future, socialist transformation of agriculture."47 She also noted,

"Peasant land resettlement is … officially envisaged in terms of socialist objectives. As in other socialist agricultural strategies, agrarian reform is conceived of as the first 'stage' in a series leading up to the establishment of state farms."48

The struggle between socialism and capitalism was interpreted differently both by those within Zimbabwe and by those looking in from outside. Perhaps a majority of people felt that at heart the black person leans towards being an entrepreneur as much as the majority of white people. Jacobs noted this tension and conflict in relation to land,

"The Ministry of Lands would prefer that [the large white owned commercial farms] continue as state farms or as large collectives. Others in the country and in the international aid fraternity would prefer them to be transferred to a black capitalist class. Mupawose and Chengu, in fact, report that by 1982 land was beginning to be acquired by black entrepreneurs on a much larger scale. These too can be expected to oppose vigorously any collectivisation, as the Ministry of Lands has recently recognised."49

It became clear that black entrepreneurs included government ministers. Before long the poor were beginning to recognise that these politicians were more concerned about promoting their own interests than anything else. They were building up their power bases, they had seen the opulence of many foreign government ministers in their visits, in particular, to Western countries and were intent on having similar standards of living at home and of sending their children to British schools and universities. To a critical observer living in Zimbabwe, like myself, in the first decade of Independence it seemed as if the needs of the poor, and especially of women, were pushed to the backs of their minds until the next election, when they would promise them land and persuade them to give them their votes. What Susie Jacobs commented on as the male perception of women in Zimbabwe would, I think, apply particularly to male politicians,

"A 'proper' Zimbabwean women is often seen as a rural women…it seems that one state definition of 'women', particularly rural women, is as passive and easily malleable."50

This attitude to women indicates that women in Zimbabwe have a hard fight ahead of them to win respect and justice. The treatment and rape of many teenage girls and young women in the 'war vets' camps over the last few years is indicative of a widespread attitude to women that neither respects their dignity, their person or their body.

"With those farm invasions came a class of 'war vets' who were championing the invasions and finding young girls and women to relieve themselves sexually in their 'camps'."51

The social condition of women in independent Zimbabwe, in which they struggle for gender justice continues to be the battle of people regarded as second-class citizens in a patriarchal society, despite some courageous progress that they have made. That many black women see themselves, in the home, as 'second-class citizens' and accept such a position as inevitable is a problem, as we will see in the next chapter, that feminist groups and other activists know that they have to address. They are also aware that such perceptions of themselves by women are not unique to Zimbabwe, but are found throughout the world in many countries.

"As Amartya Sen remarks, the fact that traditional women in the Third World seem to accept the unjust social arrangement in which they live, makes any solution that might otherwise be proposed more complex. That is to say, any policy designed to improve the situation of women should take as central the fact that among things needed by women in order to be able to function in many human ways is a change in the way they are socially perceived both by themselves and by others."52

Gender re-structuring in government

Officially the government is in favour of gender equality and has signed, as I will note below, several international and regional agreements in relation to anti-discrimination of women. Shortly after Independence a new Ministry was set up called the Ministry of Community Development and Women's Affairs.

"The Women's Affairs Section sponsors various Home Economics type programmes and small-scale industries for women rather than programmes directed towards women as agricultural producers. The segregation of women's issues under the administration of this Ministry from the business of peasant production which falls under the Ministry of Lands, Resettlement and Rural Development has real as well as symbolic significance."53

Jacobs observes that while this Ministry (of Women's Affairs) was seen as acknowledging the role of women in the liberation struggle and their low status generally in society, it is still regarded as "an 'inferior' Ministry…it is not inclined to disrupt the system of male domination under which woman live."54 The vast proportion of politicians are black men, they may be in favour of women developing, but they see women's development as a minor issue compared to black male entrepreneurial development, that is where they see the real power games being played. They do not accept that women can be major stakeholders alongside men or that both men and women should have equal capabilities to flourish as human beings. The real fight for gender justice for women is being fought in civil society by a whole range of women's groups, some of which are specifically concerned, as we will be seeing in the following chapter, with the hugely important issue of gender, land and women and this serious and continuing injustice.

So while the government acknowledges the need for gender sensitivity and gender mainstreaming, in practice so far, I will be arguing, little has been achieved for women in relation to their access to land and to their control over its resources. While it is true that government ministries have made appointments of people to monitor and evaluate new policies in relation to gender justice and that it repeatedly affirms its commitment to such gender equality, in practice far too few changes are occurring.

"In 1994, gender focal persons were established in all ministries to ensure gender mainstreaming in all governmental departments. In 1997 a gender issues department was set up in the Office of the President… to monitor the implementation of the national gender policy."55

A typical government policy statement was made by Mr C.W.E. Matumbike, of the Ministry of National Affairs, Employment Creation and Co-operatives, who was the Head of the Zimbabwean Delegation during the special session of the United Nations General Assembly entitled "Women 2000: Gender Equality, Development and Peace for the twenty-first Century" (Wednesday 7th June 2000). He said,

"Like most countries, Zimbabwe acknowledges that any meaningful development is unlikely as long as gender inequalities are not addressed. The lack of equal access to natural resources and opportunities negatively impacts on the social and economic development of women."56

These remarks were made against the background of the Ministry of Community Development and Women's Affairs now having been downgraded and no longer a separate Ministry in its own right, but a section within the President's office. Feminists and other critics would say that the government is good at political rhetoric, but is not serious about changing a patriarchal society. Men (most politicians are men) do not want to give away any power nor lose any of the privileges that go with it. They wish to retain their sense of mastery over women and retain the attitudes to women that support such a gendered and unjust viewpoint.

In 1998, two years before this United Nations General Assembly special session on "Women 2000: Gender Equality, Development and Peace for the twenty-first Century" Joseph Msika, the Minister for Resettlement, demonstrated the government did not have the political will to implement human rights for women in relation to land, and that the moral claim exerted by women on the state for their capabilities to be met was being denied. It was reported that Msika

"had rejected demands by women to grant land permits in the names of both spouses, or for land to be given to single women, or to women heads of households. [it was noted that] The … fear of many women is that unless they bend to the every whim of their husbands they could be divorced and left homeless, landless and helpless."57

Gender, land and women - the legal framework

Treaties, conventions and declarations

Firstly let us note that significant treaties, conventions and declarations have been signed and ratified by the government in Zimbabwe which all have a bearing on the practical and strategic issue for women of gender and land - I described in chapter one the significance in terms of the capabilities approach of women's access to land and control and use of its resources and the benefits that they may derive from it both directly (income, dignity, satisfaction, better provision for children, better nutrition and health) and indirectly (access to credit and loans). In particular I would point out that non-discrimination is a fundamental principle within the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 11 of the International Convention for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is concerned with the right to adequate housing and legal security of tenure. Article 14(g) of the 1979 Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) holds that governments

"shall ensure that women have the right to have access to agricultural credit loans, marketing facilities, appropriate technology and equal treatment in land and agrarian reform as well as in land resettlement schemes."58

By signing this treaty the Government agreed to

"incorporate the principles of equality of men and women in [its] legal system, to abolish all discriminatory laws and adopt appropriate ones prohibiting discrimination against women59 Furthermore by signing SADC Gender Declaration in 1997 the government committed itself to making sure that women are a central part of the development process. In the words of the UNHD report for 1995, " human development, if not engendered, is endangered."60 Problems with the Constitution of Zimbabwe

We have just noted the international treaties, conventions and declarations, signed and ratified by the government, that should commit the government to seeking for gender justice and equality of women. Next we need to consider in this and following sections several important questions. What is the impact on 'gender, land and women' of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, how has the dual system of law inherited by the government at Independence (described in the previous chapter) continued to hinder gender justice for women, and what legislation has the government passed that relates to women and their rights to land for human flourishing, indeed simply for their survival? And what judgements of the Supreme Court have had serious implications for women's struggle for liberation, gender justice and human flourishing?

First of all, it should be noted that the Constitution works both in favour of and against justice for women. In Chapter Two, the implications for women of African customary law were described and it was noted how these laws reflected the social and legal position of women in a patriarchal society in which they were denied equality with men in relation to the access, use and control of land and its resources. Section 23 (1) (a) states that "no law shall make any provision that is discriminatory either in itself or in its effects."61 On the other hand, Section 23 (3) states that

"nothing contained in any law shall be held to be in contravention of subsection (1) (a) to the extent that the law in question relates to any of the following matters: (a) adoption, marriage, divorce…(b) the application of African customary law in any case involving Africans where such persons have consented to the application of African customary law…62 This fundamental confusion and gender injustice within the Constitution of Zimbabwe remains to be addressed and reformed.

New controversial legislation for women

Despite this glaring anomaly within the Constitution, the government passed a key piece of legislation in 1982 that did give new recognition to women and which changed in certain important respects their legal position within the country. This new law was entitled the Legal Age of Majority Act (LAMA). Commentators bring out the significance of this legislation in different ways, but are agreed on its chief features. For the first time in their history LAMA gives black women in Zimbabwe, on reaching the age of eighteen, their legal majority status. It gives them the vote. If they wish to contract a marriage with their husband under African Customary Law they no longer have to have parental or a guardian's consent. They are now permitted legally to make contracts and to own property in their own names. This means that a woman could now buy a large commercial farm if she had the means to do so. However such women, at present, would be in a minority, the vast majority of rural women are poor. And as Susie Jacobs pointed out, "in the communal and resettlement areas there is no market in land."63 Rudo Gaidzanwa noted that the new legislation would improve the situation for women in relation to the custody of their children on divorce or on becoming widows, "it enabled women …to get custody of children on divorce or widowhood."64 In a chapter entitled "The gendered politics of land reform" Jacobs comments that LAMA authorises women to represent themselves in law.65 However there was opposition to LAMA among the many conservative black men within Zimbabwe whose inherited attitudes towards women were forcibly expressed by one MP, Livingstone Manhambo, who argued

"What is good in England and America does not …mean the same should apply in Zimbabwe…The Executive should [say] it loud and clear that beyond, [women] voting, this House is against LAMA"66.

That there are men in Zimbabwean society who recognise the gendered injustices inflicted on women and who want to see change and the move to a fully equal society is indicated by the following remark, which no doubt was intended to exclude such men as Mr Manhambo, "men of quality are not afraid of equality"!67 Mildred T. Mushunje argued strongly that progressive legislation like LAMA was made a mockery of by the sections of Zimbabwe's Constitution mentioned above which provided for the priority given in certain circumstances to African Customary Law over general law.

"This section [of the Constitution] clearly takes away whatever rights women may have had with regard to land and property rights. It makes a mockery of progressive laws passed after Independence like the Legal Age of Majority Act, which in 1982, made women majors in their own right …at attaining 18 years of age."68

African Customary Law

Until the special position of African Customary law in the Constitution is changed women will continue to suffer gender injustice. Indeed many feminists and others would argue that African Customary law has no place in the building of a modern egalitarian society. African Customary law causes all sorts of problems for women. For example, in the case of many black marriages lobola is frequently paid, little by little, over a considerable period by the husband to his in-laws, and frequently they will not allow the couple to register their marriage under African Customary law until all the lobola has been paid. One man

"when asked why he has not registered the union…says, 'the in-laws normally dictate to the mukwasha [son-in-law] when they can register the union, I have not paid much of the lobola, until I do so, the in-law would not allow me to register the union.' "69

This has often meant, especially since the spread of HIV/AIDS, that husbands have died and left widows without a marriage certificate since their marriage had not been registered under African Customary law. A number of cases taken to the community courts which deal specifically with African Customary law have given judgement against women, because they had no marriage certificate as evidence of their marriage and these courts then permitted the late husband's relatives to move in and remove the family's property. If this happens in a rural area, the woman loses her access to the land she had been farming and becomes dependent on the whims of often avaricious relatives, themselves maybe starved of land too and of the means of supporting a rural livelihood.

"Lynnettte Hamadziripi, a teenager, felt it very unnecessary for the law to demand these marriage certificates in the event of the husband dying. [She said] "If people stay together for years and there is no marriage certificate, but lobola has been paid [even if not completely] that should be a legal marriage at court of law." "70

Lynnette wishes to be married under general law (which is for monogamous marriage) rather than under African Customary law (which allows for a husband to marry several wives). She said, "Customary law is dangerous, property can be taken and the woman risks being chased out of the home and the husband can marry many wives." 71

Supreme Court judgement, Magaya v Mugaya

Community courts tend to deal with issues that come under African Customary law as the preceding paragraph illustrates. Cases under General law are heard in the District Courts or in the High Court or in the Supreme Court. However in 1999 a case came before the Supreme Court in which a black woman had been left her father's house, but on his death had been evicted by her half-brother. The basis of her case rested on the rights to own property that LAMA had given to women, the argument was that this law superseded the denial of a right for women to own property in African Customary law. To women's horror, shock and outrage (as well too of some liberal men)

"The court ruled that women could not be considered equal to men before the law because of 'African cultural norms, and the nature of African society'. In a 5-0 decision, [in favour of the half-brother] which cannot be overruled, the court went on to say that women should be treated as 'junior males.' "72

The judges referred to Section 23 (3) of the Constitution that upholds the special position of African Customary law. This decision, following on seventeen years after the Legal Age of Majority Act, has been interpreted as anti-discriminatory by women's groups in particular.

"In a letter from a woman's organization to the Supreme Court criticizing the ruling, the author (un-named) cites that the ruling is in violation of CEDAW Articles 2(a), 2(c), 2(f), 3 and 5(a), which declares that state parties to the Convention agree to take all appropriate measures to eliminate practices that discriminate against women, and to enable women to effectively exercise and enjoy their human rights and fundamental freedoms on a basis of equality with men"73.

Reform of the law

In the dual system of law in Zimbabwe, the General law does provide justice for women in terms of divorce and inheritance. Reform of the law in Zimbabwe needs to focus on whether there is still a place for African Customary law that traditionally has not provided justice for black women in terms of access to and control of land, and to just provisions for them in cases of divorce and inheritance. Law Reform also needs to address the question of tenure and security in relation to land in the Communal Lands and in the Resettlement areas. This issue concerns both male farmers as well as female farmers, but particularly the latter who make up the majority of poor black rural farmers. "Some 70% of the rural poor, 80% of whom are women, rely on agriculture for survival."74 At present, the legal position is that the allocation of land in both the Communal and Resettlement areas is in the hands of District Councils, although in practice in the Communal Lands the old system of the chief and his headmen being in charge of this allocation of land still prevails. The District Councils delegate the tasks of allocation to them and work in tandem with them, though a Councillor acts in the team for allocation too. I agree with the view that "the government's support of women's rights can best be described as half-hearted"75, they are failing badly in so far as the capabilities approach is concerned in relation to women.

Making a stand on a key moral issue - gender disparities

I subscribe to the contention of Martha Nussbaum that, "The situation of women in the contemporary world calls urgently for moral stand-taking. Women, a majority of the world's population, receive only a small proportion of its opportunities and benefits."76 Such moral stand-taking needs to be based on Nussbaum's concept of universalism - of human commonalities that transcend gender and other differences and divisions between people. The relativist views of Livingstone Manhambo and the injustices inherent in African customary law cannot be sustained in the light of human commonalities and equal rights for women and men. Zimbabwe has a very small percentage of ways to sustain livelihoods in industry or in services, the bulk of the population looks to the land for survival. This is where capabilities for human functioning get lived out. How have women been treated as far as new land policies are concerned by their government in this post-independent country with its traditional patriarchal gendered injustices towards women? This question forms the basis for the next chapter.

CHAPTER FOUR

GENDER, LAND AND WOMEN

Resettlement programmes: Part One 1980-1990

Lancaster House agreement period 1980-1990

A survey of the land resettlement programmes in Zimbabwe falls into two periods. Firstly, there is the period covered by the Lancaster House agreement, already mentioned in the previous chapter, which confined the government to the 'willing seller - willing buyer' scheme. Secondly, there is the turbulent and violent period from 1990 to the present day which in due course I will consider; though other matters in addition to the Lancaster House agreement require to be discussed first. The Lancaster House agreement stated that for the first ten years of Independence land could not be compulsorily purchased or otherwise acquired, except on a 'willing seller/willing buyer' basis. This meant that a white commercial farmer who wanted to sell his farm had to offer it first to the government, and only if the Ministry of Lands, Resettlement and Rural Development issued a certificate of 'no interest' was the farmer permitted to put the farm on the open market. There were a number of reasons why these large scale commercial farms were being sold at this time. For example, like many urban white families, some farming families were emigrating; other farmers had reached retirement, either they had no children or else none of their children wanted to farm. In this way the government acquired a considerable land bank and the process of resettlement began.

The land situation at Independence

Krieger and Kinsey give similar summaries of the land situation at Independence. Krieger states that, "At the end of the war, 6000 white commercial farmers owned 47% (15.5 million hectares) of agricultural land, while 700,000 Communal Land farmers lived on 49% (16.4 million hectares) of farm land."77

While Kinsey describes the land situation in this way,

"In 1980, the new government of Zimbabwe inherited a dualistic economy, most visibly in the agricultural sector. The division of land was extremely skewed, with some 700,000 smallholders occupying about half the farming land, generally of low potential, while 5,000 - 6,000 large-scale farmers occupied the other half, mostly prime land. An ambitious resettlement programme was quickly launched to benefit the poor, the landless - or near-landless - and the economically disadvantaged."78

Resettlement models

In the Resettlement programmes of 1980's there were a number of models used, the most popular being Model A. This Model allocated land to individual families. As Jacobs writes,

"there are indications that the schemes were conceived in terms of male household/female labourer/housewife. This can be illustrated by a consideration of the fact that a policy of 'reuniting families' was behind Model A."79

One of the conditions at this stage, although it was later removed, was that the husband, as the male-head of the household and the applicant for land, was not allowed to have any other form of employment, particularly urban employment. Nor was his wife permitted to be in 'paid' employment. Both black men and women had endured years of separation due, largely, to male migrant labour, and so, consequently, to be reunited as a family in many respects was welcomed. However, this resettlement model still had its injustices. Firstly, it did not address the existing gender imbalances and hierarchy within African families.

"From a Western feminist perspective which sees the family under capitalism and in socialist societies as the main site of women's oppression and subordination, a socialist strategy which seeks to (re)-establish the family as the basic social unit without a prior transformation of gender relations is suspect."80

Secondly, for the sake of their children's welfare a wife and husband might decide to make the sacrifice of living apart most of the time, as was the norm in the Communal Lands. However in the case of Model A, if a wife had a husband in urban employment, she could not apply in her own right to be resettled, so that she could increase the family income by farming in such an area. It should be noted that women did not regard being separated from their husbands as satisfactory for themselves or their families, "in Muchena's survey, for instance, one of women's demands was to make rural areas economically viable so that families could live together." "81

Other resettlement models included various forms of co-operatives, which I have referred to already in chapter three, but despite the political rhetoric and ideological speeches of the early days of Independence, in fact such co-operatives were only tried in a small number of cases.

Eligible applicants and criteria for application

"Three categories of persons were initially defined as eligible for selection for resettlement. These were (i) refugees and people displaced by war (ii) the landless and (iii) those with insufficient land to maintain themselves and their families."82

It needs to be noted that the dominant interpretation of 'persons' has been 'male persons', and so these three categories have excluded women applying in their own right for land, except for widows and a very small percentage of female headed-households who have found ways to have their applications accepted and processed. Was the following despicable method a part of one way?

"In allocating land, though not documented, some women have alluded to the fact that the traditional leaders abused their position by asking for sexual favours from single women in order to be put on the waiting list for land allocation. Not even allocation, but just to be put on the waiting list!! "83

In terms of Nussbaum's capabilities approach, women's needs for human functioning and development were being unjustly denied. Access to land for the majority of women then has continued to depend on their marital status.

"Women have expressed a great deal of dissatisfaction with their continued lack of rights over land. This sentiment was widely voiced in a Zimbabwe Women's Bureau rural needs survey… "why is it that only the names of men who have taken courses and have qualifications are being taken for resettlement? We women have also taken some courses but (the resettlement officers) are not taking our names. So it means that we women are not counted in any development activities being undertaken in Zimbabwe. We struggled much to win this Zimbabwe, but it seems that our Government has forgotten that, and it is not interested in women's development and needs."84

Phineas Gwafa, a rural conservative elder had his own response to such women's moral claims for gender justice, "What! There is no such thing as …women owning land in their own right. If it's for widows that's understood."85 Another black male, Sabalo Makubalo, had a similar statement to make,

"I totally disagree with a [land] quota system for women; it will lead to increased divorce cases. A single woman has no capacity to run her own land. What happens to it when she decides to marry and move to her husband's village? "86

In a country ridden with HIV/AIDS what made Sabalo Makubalo think that all women would wish to marry (whether or not they take the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS into consideration)? Why assume that if she does marry she will move to her husband's village, it might be better if he moved to hers? What grounds has he for saying that a woman could not run a farm, the evidence on the ground points in the opposite direction. K. Truscott reporting on the 'Women in Wedza project' told how the women had said,

"In the fields, all the acres are given to men, the man is the owner of the household. But men are not always in the fields. It is the women who do the planting, weeding and harvesting while men drink beer. We women must have our own fields."87

Two approaches to resettlement

In his Peace Studies M Phil. thesis, Ralph Laurie describes two approaches to resettlement,

"the historical approach seeks to address the issue of land reform from the basis of redressing past wrongs…proponents of the practical approach would argue that a successful land reform programme would consider the capability of the recipient before distributing the land."88

In chapter two I referred to the conditions under the colonial regime for Africans who wanted to buy land in the African Purchase land areas - they were required to have the Master Farmer's certificate. Indeed in the case of white commercial farmers who applied for Crown Land on which to open up new farms during the same period, they too had to satisfy the Ministry of Agriculture that they had suitable training and skills, as well as some financial assets. In post-Independent Zimbabwe, in the first decade of resettlement an applicant for resettlement land had to show evidence of farming experience and qualifications such as the Master Farmer's certificate, and if such a person had been farming in the Communal lands had to agree to give up his rights to his land there. The exceptions today are the war vets who would seem to be taking the historical approach.

The gender injustices over land that women had suffered from in pre-Independence days continued in the first decade of these resettlement schemes and women remained marginalised with some minor exceptions, they continue to be denied the opportunities for excercising and developing capabilities that, as I have explained, land would give them.

Numbers of families resettled

There is a small discrepancy of figures for the first decade, which is not surprising as accurate statistics are often hard to find. Kinsey maintains that,

"Some 75,000 families were resettled under the original programme, the major component of which resettles families into clustered villages and allocates them a 0.4 ha residential plot, a uniform 5 ha of arable land and the right to use a variable amount of grazing land on a communal basis."89

On the other hand, Krieger states,

"instead of the planned 162,000 families being resettled in [the first] five years, only 70,000 families had been resettled on 3 million hectares of white farm land after ten years."90

One of the implications of these figures is that huge numbers of people remained in the vastly overcrowded Communal Lands finding it increasingly difficult, as the Structural Adjustment Programmes were beginning, to meet the new costs such as the fees for education for their children and expenses in relation to visits to a health clinic. Once again, women as the main providers of food security for their families carried the greatest burdens of worry and work. Some sought in addition to their farming to crochet and knit, selling their products in local markets, and thus diversifying their rural livelihoods. If one of the capabilities for human flourishing is the opportunity for leisure, then for many of these hard-pressed black rural women church attendance was one of the very few activities that they would not have counted as work. We should not overlook that some of the people on the waiting list for resettlement were the urban poor, increasing numbers of whom, towards the end of the first decade of Independence, were being retrenched at work as the economic situation in the country declined.

Hardships for women

In terms of the capabilities approach it can be argued that the lack of good infrastructure and resources in the resettlement areas have made women's lives harder and more difficult than they might have been before. More gender sensitive programmes would have prioritised the need for good infrastructure and facilities nearby. For example, in her former life in the Communal Lands or in an urban township, the nearest health clinic would most likely have been much closer than it would be in a resettlement area, Kinsey writes of "reduced access to facilities"91 It is true that

"compared with their areas of origin, resettled families typically have much more arable land (about double the amount they formerly had), better soils, grazing land that is under less pressure."92

However this in itself can increase women's work, if for instance during the growing season her husband becomes unable to work for long hours because of weakness caused by HIV/AIDS, or indeed she could be trying to work herself despite her weakness and sickness as an HIV/AIDS victim.

A good resettlement scheme requires comprehensive gender-sensitive planning, financial investment, new infrastructures and assistance in practical terms for the new farmers who may lack draught power for ploughing and need credit facilities for seed, fertiliser and chemical sprays for disease control. In practice in 1980's the standards achieved fell far short of these requirements and as the decade progressed less and less money was available for this development work. Jacobs observes that

"by April 1983, 21,000 families had been resettled and 33,000 were to be settled on land then in hand. Following the budget cuts of July 1983, however, the programme has slowed down."93

Not only does each family's farm have to be pegged on what was once a large scale

commercial farm that used to have one owner- family living on it and 30-100 farm labourers and their families housed on a compound on the farm too. But new roads need to be constructed, more boreholes for water need to be sunk, a primary school needs to be built and staffed. If the resettlement area takes in what were once several commercial farms then a health clinic and a secondary school will also need to be built and staffed. Furthermore provision will need to be made for small business stands for shops and for such buildings as churches. Resettled families were expected to build their own homes which they did by making their bricks, cutting branches from trees for the roofing and collecting grass for the thatching. While the Ministry of Lands, Resettlement and Rural Development undoubtedly had plans to develop resettlement area to a high standard, the pressure on them to allow people to come onto the land was very considerable. Partly because of lack of funds, but also because of the magnitude of the task of preparing former large scale commercial farms for resettlement, inevitably the new resettled population had to live with many deprivations and faced much hardship. Jacobs notes,

"Kinsey asserts that the pace of resettlement has been in itself an achievement, yet is has thrown up its own problems, most notably a lack of planning and preparation…settlers may reside far away from economic services, such as marketing facilities, or social services such as schools and clinics. The promised building of infrastructure, particularly water supplies, has not yet materialised."94

Land tenure and security

The lack of secure tenure in both the Communal Lands and in the Resettlement Areas and the lack of title deeds have had significant implications for both black men and women, especially in order to get credit or loans. However, as black men have often been migrant workers and have had control over the proceeds of the harvest, they have been more likely to have built up some financial assets to act as collateral for loans, while women have generally not had these advantages. This is not a problem peculiar to Zimbabwe, nor indeed to Africa as a whole.

"The UNICEF survey carried out by Muchena indicated that women were nearly unanimous in their desire for lands rights. Ninety-nine percent of women as well as many men wanted the past tenure system abandoned or modified."95

To-date the government has not responded to their wishes. In resettlement areas "currently settlers have a lease on their land, which can be revoked should they not comply with the various terms and conditions of the scheme."96 In a survey from which this last quotation is drawn most people, who replied to the questions which they were asked, agreed that the government was right in its policy in relation to resettlement areas to emphasise the qualifying requirement for applicants to have a Master Farmer's certificate and that furthermore the need for productivity and efficiency was important. However they also stated that people should not be threatened with removal and that they needed title to their land.

Resettlement programmes: Part Two 1990-2003

Government initiatives

During this period the government introduced significant new legislation in relation to land re-distribution such as the Land Acquistion Act (1992) that set up a commission to research and report on such issues as land tenure policy (the Land Tenure Commission); the government also prepared various reports including the Land Reform and Resettlement Programme (1998) and the 1999 Draft National Land Policy, "with the explicit aim of ensuring equitable and socially just access to land."97 In the last five years of this period, i.e. from 1998-2003 a combination of the invasion by the war vets of the white-owned large-scale commercial farms, and the subsequent harassment and violence suffered by both the white farming families and their black staff and their families, together with the longs lists produced by government of the designated white-owned farms has accelerated a move off their farms by about 80% of white farmers. A designated farm is one that will be compulsorily taken over by the government, the farmer will not be paid the price of the land, but only be compensated for capital improvements made by him. It is in this period, I believe, that the majority of female-headed households have managed to get access to land and to begin a new future. Mushunje records that

"the Ministry [now re-named] of Lands, Agriculture, Resettlement, and Development made a statement of intent in 2000 to allocate a 20% quota for women for all resettlement land [but she makes the following observation] This is still to be translated into policy and implementation in order to reduce the yawning imbalances within the resettlement process."98

However to return for a moment to the early years of 1990's - Mushunje cites Moyo and writes, "According to Moyo (2000) the Land Acquisition Act of 1992 was a formal recognition by the government that the first land reform process [1980-1990] had not been satisfactory."99 In 1993, the year after the Land Acquisition Act, it was recorded that there were "316,000 families on the waiting list"100 for resettlement. The Land Acquisition Act called for the setting up of a Land Tenure Commission (LTC) to assess land reform needs. This Commission, under the chairmanship of Professor M. Rukuni, which sat from 1993-1994 produced a report (The Report of the Commission of Inquiry into appropriate Agricultural Land Tenure Systems). This document, it is claimed by Phil O'Keefe and Sam Moyo, gave some encouragement to the idea that women be given the right to "become leaseholders"101 in resettlement areas. However the Zimbabwe Women Resource Centre Network (ZWRCN) contest this claim

"Women comprehensively called for gender equity in land resource use through allocation of land to 'women in their own standing'. Yet in the (LTC) Commission's three volume report evidence from women on this score was ignored in preference to maintenance of the male-chief status quo."102

In support of the interpretation of this report by ZWRCN, it can be pointed out that a few years later, in 1998, Joseph Msika, the Minister responsible for Resettlement rejected demands by women to have permits in their own names and also rejected the idea of permits in the names of both wife and husband jointly. On the other hand, evidence that would support O'Keefe and Moyo's position comes from Faith Gandiya.

"I … applied for the small scale commercial resettlement programme through the local council in our home area. In this instance the candidates were approved by the chief and councillor for consideration by the district resettlement committee. It was fairly easy to do this because there were not many people wanting to be resettled, my husband was up to date with payments on the village/council levy that each adult male or household must pay annually… When I went for the interview I had been told that I needed proof of up to date payment of levies, my national identity card, educational qualification, professional qualification in agriculture - master farmer's certificate, diploma or degree, ownership of equipment and livestock to start you off. There are a lot of women with master farmers' certificates since women are the ones working the land most of the time and the extension officers find them to be willing and enthusiastic learners. Unlike [my application for the large-scale farm] I did not need an elaborate plan of what I intend to do on the farm. At the interview, a whole group of us were called in - by wards from which we came. A decision had already been made of what farm we were going to be resettled on, so all I needed to do was to show my levy receipts for the previous few years before picking a number, and that would be the plot number on the subdivided farm. So I am a proud resettled farmer on plot number 29 that is approximately 20ha. It took even longer to get shown the piece of land, but it did happen in the end and we did start production in 2001. The war veterans were considered separately since their only qualification was that they must be known war veterans and they were called in and a certain proportion of resettlement farms was allocated to them."103

Women's groups: putting gender on the land agenda

What poor black rural women are campaigning for is similar to many of the basic and strategic needs of other rural women worldwide.

"for any effective and socially just land reform, the active participation of peasants and their representative organisations is vital in addition to a supportive atmosphere at national and international levels"104

So far there is not much evidence of national support or at least not strong support from the government which has been in power now for twenty-three years. The Report of the Commission of Inquiry into appropriate Agricultural Land Tenure Systems did not argue for radical change towards title for land in the Communal Lands or in the Resettlement Areas, although the Draft National Land Policy of 1999 does acknowledge that "the demand for land by women has hardly been catered for except with respect to widows and a few among the elite women who have gained access to land in their own right."105 The government's cultural and social values still reflect a patriarchal society to a considerable extent. In 1998 while an international donor conference was being convened in Harare to do with the issue of land reform in Zimbabwe, there was a training workshop held for field workers of the Women and Land Lobby Group. These are some of the findings from the workshop that they sent to the donors' conference

"We note with concern the lack of adequate consultation with women as a constituency on the land reform process, that the [Government's land reform policy document presented to the donors] does not adequately address gender issues, especially related to tenure and distribution mechanism. [They also sent the donors' conference some of their recommendations that included] we recommend that women be respected with dignity as a people, as full nationals with equal rights, that [they] have individual rights to land irrespective of their marital status, and, if married, we recommend joint title to ownership of land…that women participate in decision making processes on land at various levels and in various structures…that Government puts in place special mechanisms to guarantee women's participation in and benefit from land, through establishing a quota system for women."106

Many of the women's groups in Zimbabwe are linked to international women's NGOs. "Progressive NGO's and other concerned external actors can be vital allies of peasants, helping them to mobilise public support, provide legal aid, raise awareness and lobby."107 One of the Zimbabwean women's groups specialises in law reform. Speaking after the Supreme Court decision in favour of African Customary Law (described in chapter three) the director of the Zimbabwe Women's Lawyers Association, Lydia Zigomo, said, "It will not change our goal. We will continue working for justice."108 We have seen the need for gender justice for women in terms of access to land, control of its use and benefit from its resources and that the Constitution and African Customary law need radical reform. Radical feminist groups in Zimbabwe "question the subordination of women…[and] seek structural change…[they] are located nearer to the strategic needs end of the continuum"109 (e.g. structural changes such as law reform). In Zimbabwe, "80% of all household food security is generated by women…Gary Magadzire, a former President of the Zimbabwe Farmer's Union [said] 'The role of women… is the central pin to agricultural development"110 James Gustave Speth writing the Foreword of the UNHD report for 1995 stated,

The central message of the Report is clear: human development must be engendered. If development is meant to widen opportunities for all peoples, then continuing exclusion of women from many opportunities of life totally warps the process of development."111

Those in the United Nations and elsewhere who support gender justice and equality must surely support the women of Zimbabwe in their continuing struggle in relation to land. Nussbaum would concur, "The struggle for human capabilities is not just a theoretical construct. For women all over the world, and for everyone who cares about women's well-being, it is a way of life."112

CONCLUSION

The gendered politics of land

I have sought to describe, explain and analyse the story of women's marginalisation in relation to land, and what it means in terms of the capabilities approach for the sorts of lives that they can live. They have little control over either their productive or their reproductive lives, they experience fear, insecurity and violence, and suffer from a range of policies which do not take their gender needs and interests into consideration, such as convenient access to health care clinics in resettlement areas. We have seen how "men were the decision-makers [whether present or absent as migrant workers, and they have been and often still are the] controllers of accumulated wealth, and directors of family (especially women's) labour."113 We have noted women's unhappiness over their subordination and lack of power, "Our dispute is over the fact that women do all the work, but cannot make the plan"114 We have observed that certain groups of women - the single, the divorced and the widowed - are the most vulnerable,

"married women in the Communal lands only have secondary land use rights through their husbands, single women find that preference is given to their brothers, while divorced women are forced to leave the land with no guarantee that they will have access to land in their own home areas. And widows may be evicted from the land they have worked for years by male relatives of their husbands."115

These gender injustices suffered by women have been set in the wider context of the gendered inequalities, and at times racial injustices, of the patriarchal societies that have existed from pre-Colonial days to the present. Women's subordination to men and the continuing acceptance by many people of these gendered power relationships is a central factor that women need to overcome if they are to flourish. "The heart of the problem is the continuing primacy of male-dominant culture over the law and the Constitution."116 I agree with Caroline Sweetman's summary, "A gender analysis of the land question in Zimbabwe shows the inability of formal law to ensure women's rights to land when such laws are not socially legitimate and enforceable."117 I have not been able to establish exact figures either for the number of rural female-headed households or how many of them have been resettled under the various schemes of the present government, and am supported by Gandiya in doubting that accurate figures are available. I am aware that a figure of less than 20% of female headed households has been suggested by a women's land lobby group for the resettlement areas, but cannot vouch for its accuracy. It would seem that in some parts of Zimbabwe it is easier for women to be re-settled than in other parts, and that such factors as having a female Councillor on your side can help.

Women's struggle for gender justice and equality

Mushunje affirms that "there is a need to encourage women to find ways to identify potential opportunities within the current framework, while at the same time lobbying for the change of the framework" 118 Julie Steward recognises the need for law reform, but puts the emphasis on "a reform of attitudes and expectations."119 Others support her, "It is believed [by Zimbabwean policy-makers] that women are catered for by men."120; [Thomas Deve said] "we still operate according to traditional customary law where women's identities are shaped by a sense of 'belonging to the family'."121; [Rumbidzai Nhundu holds that] "women are not citizens until they are within a marriage."122 A common problem for many women's movements that we noted was the continuing sense among many women that in the home their husband is the boss. However despite all that inhibits change at present, there are hopeful and positive factors. In terms of basic capabilities, women's literacy rates are high (above 85% on GDI indices in 2003 UNHD report). This situation augurs well for women as they make themselves more aware of the gendered nature of their society. The Women's Land Lobby Group and other Women's movements are aware of the need for participation by rural women and representation by them of their needs. They can distance themselves critically from some of the international elite NGO's that support them,

"the very structure of a political deliberation in which the privileged determine and then represent the needs, situation, or capabilities of the non-privileged, reinforces systems of hierarchy between nations, and groups within nations, about who is more likely to have the truth. This is both patronising and disempowering."123

At a conference in Harare with the Global Fund for women and Zimbabwean activists, the Global Fund women were "impressed by the depth of knowledge and the commitment to women's issues evidenced by all the speakers."124 In the last election, many women were supporters of the opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change. They are attracted by its policy of putting "an end to women's invisibility in Zimbabwe"125 and to giving them equal rights. It is likely that the MDC will win the next election and this could help bring progress for women. It would be good, if in subsequent years, the Gender Empowerment measure were to indicate that more women have become involved at the highest levels of business and political life, and that policies are being constructed through women's eyes and with their gendered needs and interests at heart.

Citizen's who know their rights

Pat Made quotes Dr Patricia McFadden,

Land is a scarce resource…an entitlement that derives from the right of citizenship…women need to start from the question 'who is a citizen?' Citizenship entitles one to exercise one's rights, have access to resources."126

There is no doubt that more and more rural women, in their desperate struggle to survive at present in extremely harsh circumstances, have had their traditionally perceived passive and malleable natures transformed by deep anger, they cannot wait any longer. They know they are citizens and they want their rights. One group of determined and angry women were not satisfied that a government official had no authority to issue them with land re-settlement permits, as he was claiming. It was reported that he "jumped out of a third story window to escape …[these] angry women war veterans…who assaulted him with clubs, iron bars and fists in his office in Chinhoyi."127 He was admitted to hospital for treatment. While not in favour of this violence, I am in sympathy with the women's deep frustration.

"One of the primary reasons for advocating land reform…is that access to land by the rural population should be seen as an essential human right. With access to land, the rural poor [the majority being women] have the possibility of access to shelter, food, employment, and improved livelihood…[it] implies respect for minimum human dignity."128

I contend that the capabilities approach as expounded by Martha Nussbaum helps us see more clearly the Zimbabwean government's moral and political responsibility, given the present context in the country, to remedy a serious gender injustice by ensuring that women have access to and rights over land. I conclude that this would significantly enable such women to have real opportunities for human flourishing, development, and dignity and thereby overcome a second related gendered injustice.

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

BOOKS

Adams, Martin Breaking Ground: development aid for land reform, ODI, London, 2000
Armstrong Alice & Ncube Welshman (eds) Women and Law in Southern Africa, Zimbabwe Publishing House, 1987
Bassett Thomas J. and Crummey Donald (eds) African Savannas: global narratives & local knowledge of environmental change, James Currey, Oxford, 2003
Ghimire Krishna B. (ed) Land Reform and Peasant Livelihoods, ITDG publishing, London, 2001
Gittinger, J Price (et al) Household Food Security and the Role of Women, World Bank, Washington, 1990
Meena Ruth (ed) Gender in Southern Africa: Conceptual and Theoritical Issues, Sapes Books, Harare, 1992
Mirsky Judith and Radlett Marty (eds) No Paradise Yet - the world's women face the new century, Zed, London, 2000
Moyo, Sam (et al), Zimbabwe's Environmental Dilemma: Balancing Resource Inequities, Zero, Harare, 1991
Nussbaum, Martha C. and Glover Jonathan (eds) Women, Culture and Development: A Study of Human Capabilities, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1995
Nussbaum, Martha C. Women and Human Development, CUP, Cambridge, 2000
Owen, Margaret A World of Widows, Zed Books, London, 1996
Randall Vicky & Waylen Georgina (eds) Gender, Politics and the State, Routledge, London, 1998,
Stoneman Colin (ed), Zimbabwe's Prospects: Issues of Race, Class, State, and Capital in Southern Africa, Macmillan, London, 1988
Sweetman Caroline (ed) Women, Land, and Agriculture, Oxfam GB, Oxford, 1999
Sweetman Caroline (ed), Gender in the 21st Century, Oxfam GB, Oxford, 2000
United Nations Development Programme, Gender in Development Programmes, United Nations Development Programme, New York, 2001
United Nations Human Development 1995 report, OUP, New York, 1995
United Nations Human Development 1995 report, OUP, New York, 2003

JOURNALS

Bryceson, Deborah Fahy 'African Rural Labour, Income Diversification and Livelihood Approaches: A Long-Term Development Perspective' Review of African Political Economy, Vol. 26, No. 80, June 1999, pp.171-189
Gaidzanwa, Rudo 'Women's Land Rights in Zimbabwe', Issue, Vol. XXII/2, 1994, pp.12-16
Jacobs, Susie 'Women and Resettlement in Zimbabwe' Review of African Political Economy, Vol. 10, No. 27/28, 1983, p.33-50
Kinsey, Bill H. 'Survival or Growth? Temporal Dimensions of Rural Livelihoods in Risky Environments', Journal of Southern African Studies, Vol 28, No 3, Sept 2002, pp.615-629
Krieger, Norma 'Zimbabwe Today: Hope against Grim Realities', Review of African Political Economy, Vol 27, No 85, Sept 2000, pp.443-450
Mbiba, Beacon 'Security of Tenure Development Victims and the Limits of Environmental Impact in Zimbabwe's Communal Lands', Development in Practice Vol 9, No 3, May 1999, p.316-322
Mushonga, Allan 'Origins and Resolution of the Land Crisis' African Political and Economic Monthly, Vol 13, No 8, May 2000, pp.7-11
O'Keefe Phil & Moyo Sam 'Land Tenure in Zimbabwe' Review of African Political Economy, Vol 23, No 70, Dec 1996, p.579-580
Potts Deborah & Mutambirwa Chris, 'The Government must not dictate: Rural-Urban Migrants, Perceptions of Zimbabwe's Land Resettlement Programme, Review of African Political Economy, Vol 24, No 74, Dec 1997, pp.549-566

THESIS

Laurie, Ralph W. LeL. Paradise Lost: The Land Reform Crisis in Zimbabwe, M Phil Thesis in Peace Studies (Trinity College, Dublin) 2000

WEBSITES

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