Monday, 29 July 2013

Class, politics and land reform in Zimbabwe

Many readers of this blog will have already read Professor Sam Moyo's important pair of articles in the Journal of Peasant Studies (here and here) analysing Zimbabwe's three decades of land reform. These usefully contextualise the post 2000 period, and help us understand the social and political character of the recent land reform.

In his recent edited book for Codesria, Beyond White Settler Capitalism: Zimbabwe’s Agrarian Reform, Moyo pulls much of this work together, and extends it, in a scene setting chapter on land.

He offers a periodisation of the land reform experience in Zimbabwe since Independence, thus:

Between 1980 and 1989, land reform was based on state-led purchases of land on the market and its allocation to selected beneficiaries, in the context of heterodox economic policies, which enabled increased public spending on social services and peasant agriculture. From 1990, neoliberal policies restricted state interventions in markets, in general and restricted social welfare subsidies. Furthermore, land redistribution slowed down, despite the adoption of land expropriation laws. In the third phase, an escalating social crisis, which culminated in extreme political polarisation by 1997, saw the land redistribution programme shift towards land expropriation, leading to extensive land redistribution and increased state interventions in the economy, alongside bitterly contested elections. (page 30).

In each of these periods, different political and economic imperatives were at play, and with these different narratives – about the role of land in economy, about farming and farmers, and about who should be the appropriate beneficiaries. This historical contextualisation is important as it situates the more recent period as a radical break with the past, shattering past relations of settler monopoly capitalism, as he describes it. The chapter offers a detailed overview of the main outcomes of land reform, and its impacts on gender relations, labour, elites and others. He shows that the post 2000 land reform unfolded through a number of phases – he identifies four – each with different political and economic characteristics. It is this more detailed, textured analysis that periodises, unpacks and contextualises that really helps push forward our understandings of the politics and economics of Zimbabwe's land reform, and the chapter usefully complements the special issue and book edited by Lionel Cliffe and colleagues that pulls together much recent research on Zimbabwe’s land reform, showing the broader, but geographically and temporally varied, outcomes.

In the concluding sections, Moyo turns to the political consequences of land reform. Drawing on multiple research sources, he once again has to refute the popular assumptions about who got the land, in order to draw out the implications (see earlier blog, here). He notes:

Contrary to the media- driven assumption that only cronies of the ruling party benefited from land redistribution, empirical data demonstrate that more 'ordinary' people (poor peasants, workers and the unemployed) benefited from land redistribution . Over 75 per cent of the beneficiaries in A1 farms and/or the small-scale family A2 farm units were peasants with rather limited formal connections to political parties (page 57).

As also discussed in our work on land and social differentiation, this pattern of land ownership and the associated class positions that result, has important implications for wider politics, and the process of political mobilisation, including around the elections this week. Moyo observes:

Party political mobilisation and fragmentation over land has largely been a petty-bourgeois accumulation contest over A2 land allocations, more so since the leadership of the ruling party had reigned in its radical elements, particularly among the lower-echelons of the war veterans association from 2004. Power struggles within the ruling party shifted from the radical nationalist political unity associated with the Fast Track period towards factionalism associated with the succession contest. Currently, ideological differences across political parties are focused on the privatisation of redistributed land, with ZANU-PF being focused on maintaining the peasantry's support, through providing access to farming inputs.

But political mobilisation and fragmentation over access to land between ZANU-PF and the MDC and within the former have been less visible than other divisions. Factionalism has not fully degenerated along the Shona-Ndebele ethnic line, although this partly obtains around electoral tactics, while the rural-urban divide continues to shape ZANU-PF vs. MDC political mobilisation. Despite this divide, party politics and ethno-chauvinism are more centred on differences over the regional distribution of state support to farming and class differences over the role of the state, although the fact of having promoted land redistribution still benefits ZANU-PF electorally.

Instead, local politics are being re-shaped by the changing local administrative and political power relations that resulted from replacing white farmers' control over land, territory and labour…. Local power struggles mainly involve lineage-clan leaders, chieftaincies, farmer and social associations and local bureaucracies. The powers wielded by war veteran leaders of the land occupations have been displaced. Sparse local government authorities are ill-equipped to regulate the expanded land administration regime and ubiquitous natural resources and mineral extraction. The hereditary chiefs demand more powers to fill these regulation gaps (pages 57-8)

Power struggles between different players are therefore shaping a hotly contested rural politics, with both intra-elite struggles, and disputes between peasants, workers and new landed elites. The configurations of political actors in rural areas has dramatically shifted since 2000, and continues to change, affected by national as well local and regional processes. Ethno-regionalism continues to have an influence in some areas, as local claims over land are asserted, and this in turn feeds into wider political dimensions. The current electoral contest will reflect some of these machinations, and the wider implications for a longer term political settlement have yet to be realised. The main political parties really do not know their rural constituencies yet, as they have been reshaped, reshuffled and recast in recent years.

Overall, Moyo concludes, "The FTLRP land redistribution partly addressed outstanding national questions, which the decolonisation process evaded" (page 58). The Zimbabwe case is important, he argues, because land reform has been possible "despite the hegemony of neoliberalism" (page 70). Speaking to a wider audience, he argues that the Zimbabwe case shows that:

"… land reform can be mobilised nationally and involve various classes, while transcending other divides such as rural-urban, worker peasant and ethno-regional differences. Implementing radical land reform required decentralised structures and coherent leadership, which the liberation war veterans stimulated. Both direct popular action through land occupations and state expropriations, led by the petty-bourgeoisie within and outside the state, shaped the actual redistribution process by balancing the demands of popular and other classes (pages 70-1).

He is clear however that the contradications thrown up by land reform have not been resolved, and that the different groupings in the tri-modal pattern of land use that has evolved are far from agreed, and that struggles continue. He does conclude, however, that despite the failings and limitations that he is not shy to present, "agrarian structural change has opened up diverse, 'productive'and 'non-racial' paths to rural social transformation" (page 63).

Let us hope that the difficult conversation around choices for development paths that will unfold following the elections this week, will take account of the complexities on the ground, but also capitalise on the successes and potentials of such radical agrarian change.

This post was written by Ian Scoones and originally appeared on Zimbabweland

Friday, 26 July 2013

Responsibility at the Science-Publics-Policy Interface: What I learnt at the 2013 Science in Public Conference

The village of Onna, after the 2009 L'Aquila
earthquake. Photo: Darkroom_Daze (Flickr)
by Stephen Whitfield
DPhil Student, Institute of Development Studies

This year's 'Science in Public' conference hosted by Nottingham University was excellent. I came away from two captivating days of presentations, discussions and (at times heated) debates having learnt a lot… and inevitably feeling frustrated in the knowledge that there was so much more to be learnt from the panels that I wanted to, but couldn't, attend.

This is my attempt to summarise the ideas and messages from the conference that most challenged and changed the way that I think about science and society.

Science in Public
In 2012 this annual conference series, which was originally known as 'Science and the Public', underwent a radical name change, becoming, as it is today, the 'Science in Public' conference. OK, so it's not a particularly drastic change, but this subtle alteration reflected an important discontent about the separation of science and public as distinct spheres of operation. Of course, such a distinction is neither straightforward nor necessarily appropriate, as I'm sure almost everyone at the conference would agree – with the possible exception of the keynote speaker Harry Collins (whose presentation was aptly described in the most popular tweet of the conference as 'unusual').

'Science in Public' – which gives a nod to Gregory and Miller's 1998 book – although perhaps slightly clunky, makes more sense than the previous name. In fact, what was clear across the panels was that science operates within multiple publics; that publics operate within science; and that politics, policies and power pervade. But the organisers can be excused for not opting to host the "Science in Publics in Policy in Science in Policy in Publics in Science" conference, which in all but name the conference was.

Across the panels that I attended, a number of really interesting ideas were expressed about how the components of the science-public-policy nexus relate to each other.  I summarise some of those that I found more surprising here:

  • The public are primarily concerned with how science is governed (even at very early stages). Karen Parkhill (Cardiff University) presented a fascinating report on her involvement in running public consultations around the SPICE (Stratospheric Particle Injection for climate Engineering) geo-engineering project.  She said that much of the public concern was not necessarily about the specific risks and benefits of the project, but that the project should be guided and regulated by structures and processes of good governance – that research funders and policy makers were being closely consulted about issues of uncertainty; that international governments were involved in the conversation around these; and that these conversations should be happening even at the early stage of project feasibility evaluation.

  • Funders and scientists must consider the diverse political implications and impacts of 'basic' research. Richard Jones (University of Sheffield) pointed out that there has been a funding shift in the UK from 'applied' science to 'basic' science (which focuses more on explaining fundamentals rather than developing products), and as a result there is more pressure on basic science to demonstrate impact. Kirsty Kuo, an engineer working on the SPICE project, described how she came to realise that even a feasibility study, which aimed to better understand the materials and properties of a tube that might ultimately deliver particles into stratosphere (and carried no direct risks or benefits), had political implications. She explained that concerns about the message that such a test may send out about the UK government's long term geo-engineering intentions, ultimately led to the study being cancelled.

  • Policy makers need a better understanding of the processes by which science is legitimized. Franca Davenport, a specialist in science communication from the University of West England, pointed out that there is an appetite for and intention to pursue a pluralistic form of evidence-based policy amongst policy makers, but there are a number of challenges in translating multiple evidences into policy. One particular challenge is to be able to make judgements about evidence (a point that also came out in Harry Collins' keynote), and central to this problem is that policy makers are not familiar enough with the processes (and subjectivities), such as peer review, through which science generates legitimized and accepted evidences. She argued that science communicators could have a role in bridging this gap between the processes of the science community and those by which evidence is translated into policy.
It seems that there are particularly important roles to be played for those at the interface between science, publics and policy. One of the strong themes of the conference was that the roles and responsibilities of science communicators and science media centres are contested, conflicting and often poorly defined, but nevertheless crucial.

Rethinking Responsibility
Coming to the conference, I was familiar with, but by no means an expert on, the Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) agenda (pdf) and I was relieved to discover at the conference that there isn't really a standard interpretation, accepted definition, or application of the concept of RRI within Science & Technology Studies that had somehow passed me by.  Discussions over what RRI means – the how, why, what, by who, and for whom – took place throughout the two days. The panels led by Jack Stilgoe, which focused specifically on this subject,  were particularly engaging and evidently inspired new ideas, the seeds of which were emerging within the discussions themselves, and I'm sure will be developed as a consequence of them. I was struck by two points in particular:
  • Responsible innovation is also about making sure that innovation happens. Richard Jones made the point – which on reflection seems blatantly obvious, but it came as somewhat as a revelation to me – that responsible innovation is not simply about safeguarding publics against inappropriate or risky innovations; it's also about the responsibility of ensuring that beneficial and important innovations do make it to markets and publics, such that the benefits are optimised and that innovation continues to be encouraged and motivated to progress. As such, responsibility relates not only to scientific processes or to the end products of innovation, but also to the pathways of innovation, involving critical and inclusive reflection on the risks and benefits associated with the possible (and uncertain) future trajectories of research and innovation.

  • We have a responsibility towards scientists. I am much more used to thinking about responsibility as something that scientists do for the public, so it was really eye-opening to hear from people considering the reverse relationship in terms of responsibility. I was fascinated to hear Ikuko Kase (University of Tokyo) talk about how Japanese scientists who had participated in public engagement exercises around the Fukushima earthquake and nuclear plant incident had been 'wounded' by the experience, during which they had felt politically conflicted and had been publicly criticised.

    This situation was echoed in the case of the Italian scientists prosecuted for the public predictions they made about the L'Aquila earthquake, a case study that was recounted by Giuseppe Tipaldo (University of Turin) at the conference. Ann Kerr (Leeds University) made the point, in relation to some of her work on the careers of post-doctoral researchers in health innovation, that there is a need to recognise a responsibility of care towards scientists and innovators. It was clear from the cases of Japan and Italy that some of this responsibility must fall on publics, media and policy-makers.
Responsibility is a concept that remains up for negotiation, and cases were differently made (and critiqued) for it being founded on principles of 'justice' and 'care' and involving attitudes of ambivalence and processes of anticipation, reflection, inclusion and response. But what is clear is that responsibility is multidirectional and cuts across the complex relationships that make up the science-publics-policy nexus.

I really look forward to reading the accounts and reflections of others at the conference, which also included sessions on social media (including a live link-up to the International Congress for History of Science, Technology and Medicine in Manchester); 'science versus the greens'; storytelling as a means of public engagement with science; and the role of science fiction in the social construction of science and technology – all of which I wish I could have attended. I'm sure that the ideas and thinking that the conference has sparked will lead to some really interesting and insightful outputs within Science & Technology Studies over the coming months.

This article was originally posted on The Crossing.

Monday, 22 July 2013

The Politics of Zimbabwe’s Global Political Agreement

As the 31 July elections near, reflection on the period of coalition government under the 2009 'Global Political Agreement' is useful. This severely tested the ability of a true 'unity' government, and the assessments of achievements are mixed. While economic stabilization was an important achievement, many other issues remain to be dealt with, leaving any new government a precarious situation.

A useful overview of this period is provided in a book edited by the leading academic and political commentator, Brian Raftopoulos. The Hard Road to Reform: the Politics of Zimbabwe's Global Political Agreement (published by Weaver Press in Harare, and also available in e-format for Kindle) is a good guide, written by a number of leading Zimbabwean commentators, many of whom have been involved in the MDC formations over the past period. It is a sanguine account, confronting the real politik of Zimbabwe head on. While ZANU-PF's machinations are critiqued, the MDC groupings are not spared either.

The book offers, from a set of particular perspectives of course, an important primer for thinking about the next steps. July 31 and its aftermath will give us more clues as to what may lie ahead.

Timothy Scarnecchia has offered a helpful summary overview and review on African Arguments that I reproduce here. It gives some helpful excerpts from the six chapters in the book, and highlights some of the main points very well.
The following is reproduced directly from African Arguments:

Chapter 1: Brian Raftopoulos: "An Overview of the GPA: National Conflict, Regional Agony and International Dilemma"

Here is Raftopoulos' helpful summary of the GPA period:

"The GPA and its many challenges was the product of a convergence of factors, namely: the unwillingness of a party of liberation to accept electoral defeat; the inability of the opposition to claim state power due to the militarisation of the ruling party's response to defeat a clash of different notions of state sovereignty in which the electoral wishes of the Zimbabwean citizenry were subordinated to selective nationalist claims of the ruling party; and the role of SADC in facilitating an agreement that attempted to balance the need for regional sovereignty against outside interference with the legitimate electoral demands of the Zimbabwean electorate. The results of this complex mix of ingredients was a brew that placed a short term halt on the rapid political and economic decline in the country and opened up some space for new political arrangements, while also providing an authoritarian regime with opportunities to regain lost ground. The period of the Inclusive Government generated a new set of dynamics that made it impossible for ZANU-PF to return to the status quo ante, while also exposing the strengths and weaknesses of the former opposition parties as they took part in unequally shared state power." [28]

As Raftopoulos states in the introduction, it is important to focus not only on the MDCs' ability to maneuver in the GPA years, but also to focus on how ZANU-PF has managed to use these 4 years to regroup. He writes: "The politics of ZANU-PF is not only one of destruction and obstruction; it is also constitutive of the new social and economic forces that have emerged in the last 10-15 years." (xv). While the issue of ZANU-PF political violence is raised in the introduction and elsewhere in the collection, it is noticeably absent given the amount of emphasis the Solidarity Peace Trust's Reports have previously given to this element of Zimbabwean politics. It is perhaps one of the book's strengths, however, to focus on the shifting political landscape, especially the changing constituencies and interests represented by ZANU-PF and the opposition, rather than continue to focus solely on the repressive actions of the past 13 years.

Chapter 2: James Muzondidya, "The opposition dilemma in Zimbabwe: A Critical Review of the Politics of the Movement for Democratic Change Parties under the GPA Government Framework, 2009-2012."

Historian James Muzondidya, a research manager at the Zimbabwe Institute, a think tank well known for its links to the MDC, takes a particularly critical look at the performance of the MDCs during the GPA, but he first notes the limits on their actions:
"…the ability of the opposition parties to use their leverage during this phase has been restricted because ZANU-PF is not interested in any reforms that would loosen its hold on power. While agreeing to some of the reforms negotiated in the GPA, ZANU-PF was bent on using them and the new institutions to legitimise itself and push its own agenda. The Zimbabwe electoral Commission (ZEC), for instance, appeared to be broadly representative but was, in fact, still dominated by ZANU-PF through their control of its secretariat and support staff. In addition, ZEC was starved of both material resources and manpower to carry out its tasks, and this has ensured that the partisan Registrar General's office remains in control of the election processes, from voter registration in the counting of the votes. " [49]

The above observation about the ZEC seems to be playing out at the moment, the lack of resources available to run this election is particularly startling, and will likely become a major issue in determining the outcome of the election.

Muzondidya explains just how stacked the GPA has been in ZANU-PF's favor:

'The ZANU-PF strategy, consistent with its hegemonic political culture, has been to engage in cosmetic political and economic reforms that will not result in further democracy or result in a loss of its historic monopoly over power. …Indeed, over the last four years, ZANU-PF has kept the strategic doors to its power, such as the security sector and the mining and agricultural industries, firmly closed." [50]

Muzondidya does not hold back, however, in his criticisms of the MDCs' performance. He gives a valuable analysis of the differences between the MDC-Tsvangirai and the MDC (formerly the MDC-M for Arthur Mutambara, then the MDC-N for Welshman Ncube, the current leader, and now simply the "MDC" under Ncube's leadership). Muzondidya outlines the major differences between the two MDCs and most importantly describes ethnic factionalism that has developed between the two MDCs and within the MDC-T. Those familiar with the history of political parties in Zimbabwe and in the African nationalist parties before Independence will recognize a depressing pattern of divisions around personalities, perceived "intelligence" differences within party leadership, and the ever-present ethnic solidarities that at times seem exaggerated yet over time become self-fulfilling. This chapter will be very helpful to those new to Zimbabwean politics wanting to make sense of the divisions between and within the MDCs.

Muzondidya also summarizes the corruption charges against MDC-T urban councilors that have grown in number over the past few years, showing the vulnerability of a group of leaders tasting power for the first time. While subsequently censored by the party, these cases have damaged the MDC-T's image as a party of "Change". Such cases included:

"the Chitungwiza land scandal which resulted in the party firing all its 23 councilors in 2010; the mismanagement and looting of Council land and resources by councilors in Bindura; the Kwekwe audit report findings of 2012 which unearthed serious financial irregularities involving the under-banking of collected revenue and the Marondera corruption case which resulted in the suspension of the mayor by his party in March 2012 for receiving kickbacks from companies and individuals in return for tenders. The corruption among the party's representatives in local authorities, MDC parliamentarians and government officials, as the MDC leadership itself has admitted, has the potential to cost the party dearly during the next elections." [57]

For those who built the coalition of trade unions and civics in the late 1990s that eventually created the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) and the MDCs, the last four years have more often been a disappointment as the links between these formative groups and the MDCs has been strained or broken by the MDCs' participation in government. Muzondidya concludes,

"ZANU-PF has, in fact, been more shrewd in its engagement with the transitional process than its political opponents, including both political parties and civics as well as international opponents such as the US and EU countries. It has been effectively using the transition arrangement to regroup and reorganise, and is now better organised than it was in 2009. " [59]

Chapter 3: Gerald Mazarire, "ZANU-PF and the Government of National Unity"

Historian Gerald Mazarire gives us a helpful contemporary history of the splits both in the MDC and ZANU-PF that many people outside of Zimbabwe may not fully understand. He starts by providing a summary of the somewhat questionable MDC and ZANU-PF versions of the story. Based on Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's own account of it in his autobiography, Mazarire suggests that then South African President Thabo Mbeki, along with "the support of some Western embassies in Harare", had been involved in splitting the MDC in favor of Welshman Ncube's faction and ZANU-PF in favor of Emmerson Mnangagwa. This strategy ultimately failed in 2004 but it did lead to major conflicts in both parties. Mazarire explains that Mbeki returned to intervene in Zimbabwean politics during the violent crisis of 2008, and the resulting Unity Accord was "hurriedly concluded" by Mbeki so that he could "attend to a crisis at home that led, in September 2008, to his own ouster from the leadership of the ANC and the South African presidency." [73]

Mazarire then outlines ZANU-PF's version of the story, based mostly on Jonathan Moyo's writings, in which the GNU was carried out mostly to stop 'regime change' orchestrated from Washington and London, as the Security sector refused to go along with the MDC in declaring a government based on the original presidential election results. Mazarire then does an excellent job of showing how and why ZANU-PF managed to continue to dominate the GNU with strategies to keep the MDC out of key sectors of governance. In reference to ZANU-PF's "Pursuit of Hard Power", Mazirire writes:

"ZANU-PF's display of power is traceable to its ability to lose an election and stay in power. Starting with the delays in announcing the outcome of the March 2008 Presidential Election as opposed to the efficiency and speed with which the winner of the 27 June Presidential run-off was announced, ZANU was already at work to make sure that whatever arrangement would obtain thereafter should find them securely in position. Contrary to the view that ZANU-PF's arbitrary exercise of power and its assertiveness stem from increased confidence in the political and economic situation obtaining since the formation of the GNU, ZANU has always been determined to be a triumphant loser." [88]

Mazarire explores some of the areas where ZANU-PF insiders have excelled at enriching themselves at the expense of the state, and as an historian he can't help but point out the hypocrisy of this given ZANU-PF's earlier socialist rhetoric in a section labeled "ZANU-PF: from Socialism to Capitalism." Mazarire describes two main areas of this transition, namely the indigenisation and mining sectors. Pointing out as well that there were a key handful of white businessmen who have helped ZANU-PF insiders along the way to indigenization, he ends with respect for ZANU-PF Minister of Mines, Obert Mpufo, for his "almost single-handedly" winning the war against the "blood diamonds" charges from the Kimberley Process system. Mazirire's final advice to readers is worth contemplating as elections near. "Readers are starkly reminded that with ZANU-PF, literally anything is possible." [112]

Chapter 4: Bertha Chiroro, "Turning Confrontation into Critical Engagement: the Challenge of the Inclusive Government to Zimbabwean Civil Society"

This chapter by Betha Chiroro, a research specialist at the African Institute of South Africa in Pretoria, is essential for understanding the strained relations that have developed between the MDC parties and the civic organizations and NGOs that had been so supportive (and instrumental in forming) the MDCs in the first place. Chiroro is also the only contributor to address the fundamentally important role of women's organizations in the continued opposition to ZANU-PF authoritarian rule.

"An equally important sector is the female voice: as expressed by the Women's Coalition, (a network of women's rights activists with chapters in Bulawayo, Masvingo, Beitbridge, Gweru, Gwanda, Bindura, Marondera, and Mutare) and WOZA during the term of the IG. Although some have expressed their frustration that their participation is no more than 'tokenism and deception', Zimbabwean women have continued to strive for a democratic political environment together with other CSOs [Civil Society Organisations]." [128]

"Zimbabwean civil society's response to the IG [Inclusive Government] has continued to reveal ideological tensions between its human rights obligations and its need to deal with broader developmental requirements. Political advocacy around issues of human rights and violence often takes centre stage at the expense of developmental issues and issues of social and economic rights, rural development, poverty and inequality. While public service delivery remained very poor, with massive water and electricity shortages, poor waste management and poor sanitation remaining the order of the day, civil society has not made a clear and concerted effort to ensure that these issues are addressed by the IG." [136-137].

Chapter 5: Sabelo J Ndlovu-Gatsheni, "Politics behind Politics: African Union, Southern African Development Community and the Global Political Agreement in Zimbabwe."

Historian Ndlovu-Gatsheni provides a very clear and useful contemporary history of African Union and SADC attempts to mediate the political crises in Zimbabwe since 2000. One is simultaneously impressed by the number of these continental and regional interventions as well as by the lack of substantive results. There is a lot of value here for understanding the 2013 elections. In particular, the current head of the AU, South African Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, has been outspokenly supportive of ZANU-PF's drive for elections in 2013, while South African President Jacob Zuma's lead SADC negotiator on Zimbabwe, Lindiwe Zulu, has recently come under heavy criticisms from Mugabe for her own stance that further reforms are necessary before elections could be held. Reading Ndlovu-Gatsheni's chapter will help make some of these differences clearer.

Ndlovu-Gatsheni's characterization of why GNU negotiations occurred offers a particularly helpful and succinct view:

"What led the political formations to negotiate were the stark political realities facing them: despite emerging victorious in the 29 March 2008 elections, the MDC political formations were prevented by ZANU-PF from ascending to power and its support base was exposed to unprecedented and unbearable violence. ZANU-PF clung to power by violence but its legitimacy was completely eroded. Added to this, the Zimbabwean economy continued to degenerate to its lowest ebb and international, continental, and regional pressure together with sanctions, contributed to ZANU-PF's decision to accept negotiations as the only game in town if it was to survive politically." [160]

Ndlovu-Gatsheni concludes his discussion of AU and SADC interventions:

"After 2008, the problem shifted from pushing for credible elections as a solution to the Zimbabwe problem to a search for a power-sharing arrangement in a context where there was no legitimate government in Harare. Currently, the Harare disputants have gone full circle to the issue of elections as a resolution of the Zimbabwe problem. This push for elections is taking place within a context in which SADC mediation and facilitation has lost momentum. The key facilitator is pre-occupied with local problems rocking the ANC, and ZANU-PF is taking advantage of the situation to push for elections before the completion of key reforms."

Chapter 6: Munyaradzi Nyakudya. "Sanctioning the Government of National Unity: A Review of Zimbabwe's Relations with the West in the Framework of the Global Political Agreement."

Historian Munyaradzi Nyakudya's chapter is an important one, especially as the Zimbabwe sanctions debate has been so contentious and often full of inaccuracies. Most importantly, Nyakudya details how ZANU-PF has effectively used the continuation of Western sanctions to its advantage during the GNU period. Nyakudya writes:

"The West has grappled with two scenarios: either to engage Mugabe, lift sanctions, and support the GNU, or to shun him completely and maintain, if not tighten the sanctions. The latter scenario has largely prevailed. It must be conceded that the US, EU and their allies' various Sanctions Bills all stipulated the need for tangible progress in terms of establishing democracy, respecting human rights and upholding the rule of law before re-engaging. There has simply been no such progress, with the reform deficit clearly still outstanding. ZANU-PF has persistently and consistently refused to implement critical electoral, judicial, media and security sector reforms necessary before new elections can be held. " [188]

Offering an insight into how determined ZANU-PF is to NOT carry out any reforms in the security sector, Nyakudya states:

"…on the issue of the security sector, the ZANU-PF Congress of December 2009 passed the following critical resolutions: 'ZANU (PF) as the party of revolution and the people's vanguard shall not allow the security forces to be the subject of any negotiation for a so-called security sector reform,' ostensibly because the 'security forces are a product of the liberation struggle'. The party thus argues that 'calls for security sector reform violate Zimbabwean sovereignty.' This simply throws spanners in the GPA implementation process: the MDC formations have vowed not to accept that general elections be held before security sector reforms are instituted, maintaining that the latter have been politicized, as revealed in their proclamations not to accept any leader without liberation war credentials." [190]

As elections approach and following the Constitutional referendum in March this year, the EU, Australia, and the US have stepped down from their hardline on targeted sanctions, removing many from the lists and promising even further lifting should these elections be peaceful and "credible". On the one hand this can be seen as assisting the MDCs in terms of letting them take credit for holding up their promise to work towards the lifting of sanctions. On the other hand, it also would appear to be a realpolitik hedging that ZANU-PF will win the elections and that Western powers are preparing for a full rapprochement with ZANU-PF in order to continue mining for platinum and dealing in diamonds there. The competition with China, who is fully involved with ZANU-PF on a number of economic and intelligence fronts, offers an incentive to back off on sanctions before the elections. Former US Ambassador to the UN, Andrew Young, travelled to Harare on the invitation of the State Department to visit Mugabe in April this year, which was a real sign of this hedging by the Americans, and even Reverend Jesse Jackson was in town on a "private" visit to meet with Mugabe and Tsvangirai, although he was accompanied by US Ambassador Bruce Wharton when meeting with Mugabe.

Chapter 7 Shari Eppel, "Repairing a Fractured Nation: Challenges and Opportunities in Post-GPA Zimbabwe"

Shari Eppel is a leading authority on transitional justice issues in Zimbabwe, particularly pertaining to the Gukurahundi period (1983-1987) when thousands of Zimbabweans were killed as part of ZANU's consolidation of power and the crushing of former rival ZAPU's power. Eppel is therefore highly qualified to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of truth and reconciliation efforts during the GPA, and in the future.

Like the other contributors to this volume, Eppel does not refrain from criticizing the opposition. In this case, she has in mind the difficulty observers sympathetic to the MDCs have in criticizing inter-party violence, as well as violence carried out by MDC supporters against ZANU-PF supporters.

"While the existence and extent of political violence by MDC in the last ten years remains an issue that civics in Zimbabwe is nervous to explore, at some point in the future it will be necessary to confront this issue if we are to avoid another cycle of impunity under an MDC government. The MDCs have undoubtedly had the odds stacked massively against them, with the police, army, and CIO all arresting, torturing and assaulting MDC supporters with impunity, as have war veteran groupings, you militia, Chipangano, and other informal arms of ZANU-PF. But on the ground in some rural villages and urban suburbs, inter-party violence has become much more evenly matched in recent years, and this is seldom admitted to by civics on the argument that the ZANU-PF elements of the state have dishonestly blamed much of their own violence on the MDC, and to produce forensic proof of some MDC violence would be to add credence to the patently false ZANU-PF position that most of the violence is by MDC." [234, emphasis in the original]… "Clearly, there are some people in Zimbabwe who are justified in seeing MDC supporters as perpetrators. Furthermore, members of the MDC faction headed by Welshman Ncube would point to internal violence in the MDC as a major contributor to the split in the party: beatings and torture of MDC's own activists have taken place in their political headquarters and structures over the years, as several—largely uncirculated—MDC commissions of inquiry reveal." [234].

Eppel also explores the roles of two new institutions developed by the GPA . The first is the Organ of National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration (ONHRI) and the second is the GPA Joint Monitoring Committee (JOMIC), which is made up of representatives of all three political parties, and tasked with "investigating violent incidents together". (238) Eppel analyzes the potential value of the ONHRI while exploring some of the fundamental difficulties facing any institution in Zimbabwe wanting to seriously deal with issues of transitional justice. The ability of the JOMIC to not only monitor but prevent future political violence is questioned, and although all three political parties have been sanguine about JOMIC's abilities to make these upcoming elections "violence free", questions remain over how a JOMIC without enforceable powers will be able to act beyond making public pronouncements.

This book provides an important account of this crucial transitional period. Where the transition is headed is a question that many would like to know, but the book helps us understand the political conditions that are shaping the future.

This post was written by Ian Scoones and originally appeared on Zimbabweland

Monday, 15 July 2013

How China and Brazil are engaging in African agriculture deserves a closer look

Chinese and African people on a farm2013 is turning out to be a big year for food and agriculture in Africa. It is a decade since the launch of the African Union’s CAADP initiative, an important focus for African governments’ efforts to improve agriculture. The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, which seeks new partnerships between Western governments, African governments and the private sector, was discussed at the G8 summit and attracted further attention during President Obama’s recent tour of Africa.  Last but not least, the so-called ‘Rising Powers’ of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa met for the first time in Africa this year, at the 5th BRICS summit.

The tensions and convergences between these different initiatives are still being worked out. Do the BRICS represent a new challenge to the Western donor-driven model of aid and development assistance? In fact, though the BRICS summits are new, for many years diplomatic and business links have supported a flow of African agricultural development specialists to Brasília, Delhi or Beijing. However, this flow has sped up dramatically in recent years as the BRICS strengthen their efforts to promote their ‘models’ of agricultural development as the key to unlocking Africa’s agricultural potential.

A new IDS Bulletin, China and Brazil in African Agriculture, looks at two of the BRICS countries which display contrasting models of investment and co-operation, and their relationships with Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. It is the first collection of empirical and analytic articles on the subject.

Much recent work on ‘the BRICS in Africa’ has emphasised the geopolitical scale, as these new players engage in areas dominated in the past by western donors and companies. However, as the IDS Bulletin shows, the countries grouped together under the generic BRICS label have very different interests and priorities, and within these countries there are battles between different approaches, reflecting domestic political debates.

Brazil in Mozambique

One example of so-called south-south development co-operation is Brazil's efforts to support agricultural development and food security in Africa.  ProSavana, perhaps the most ambitious and high-profile initiative, is expected to cover 14 million hectares of land along the Nacala corridor, an area spreading across three provinces of northern Mozambique, to reshape the region’s economic landscape and transform it into a highly productive region. More than 100 farmers, especially from the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso, are reported to have visited Mozambique in recent years. ProSavana has provoked strong reactions in Mozambique – praised by some as a way of replicating Brazilian success, and criticised by others as a top-down initiative which fails to include farmers and civil society and may drive people off the land.

But Brazil’s own history is more complex than that demonstrated by ProSavana and other large-scale initiatives: family farms, landless farmers and minority communities struggling for land rights, agro-ecological alternatives and interactions and confrontations between government and society are also part of the story.

China and agricultural technology

China agricultural demonstration centre, ZimbabaweIn 2006, Chinese President Hu Jintao announced the establishment of ten Agricultural Technology Demonstration Centres (ATDC) across Africa, as part of moves to consolidate China-Africa partnerships. In Zimbabwe, the US$30 million ATDC Centre is designed to showcase Chinese successes in technology and methods of production, provide training and conduct research. The Centre is a donation from the Chinese government and was established as part of the commitments made by China to Africa from the 2006 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) conference and reiterated at subsequent such gatherings. The inclusion of the ATDC as part of the aid programme with China could challenge the perception that Chinese technology is inferior to that of the West.

Aside from technology transfer, China is also engaged in contract farming arrangements in the country. These have become a more significant way to fund agriculture in Zimbabwe as traditional sources of funds have become less able to do so.  In 2012, China maintained its position as the top buyer of Zimbabwe’s tobacco, and is also strongly involved in the cotton industry. The strengthened relationships with China and Brazil have been important to Zimbabwe during a period of relative isolation and sanctions from the West.

Opening up the development game

In many respects the arrival of new players on the scene in Africa has opened up the development game. The old, narrow conditions no longer apply, and African governments do not need to be constrained by the rules of Western development aid. With new players, carrying with them different discourses and practices rooted in their own recent development experiences, the room for manoeuvre by African states may be increased.

Chinese, Brazilian and African leaders meetingYet engagement always comes with strings attached, despite the warm-sounding rhetoric of ‘South-South cooperation’, ‘mutual benefit’ and ‘political solidarity’. China and Brazil need Africa, just as Africa needs them. Africa’s resources, including its land, are critical both for longer-term global food security, particularly in the populous parts of Asia, and such low cost resources, labour and market connections are vital for agribusiness and trade plans.

From the colonial era and through post-colonial development, African policymakers and technical experts have learned to negotiate around technology transfer, economic reform or loan agreements. ‘Africa’ has not just been a passive recipient in many of these cases.

But the range of choice presents dilemmas. Should Mozambique, say, go down the route of smallholder agricultural production, and low input agriculture, promoted by many western donors and NGOs? Or should it aim for large-scale commercial, mechanised agriculture, modelled on the Brazilian Cerrado experience, or the large farms of northern China?

To understand the new encounters in development cooperation brought by the BRICS and others, we have to get to grips with the details, and the cultural, social and political relations at play, as well as the wider political economy that structures such engagements. Whose interests are being served? Who wins and who loses? These questions will be keenly watched as Africa’s farmers, food producers and politicians look to partners in the South for a new future.

Read more

  • FAC-Bull444-cover-sIDS Bulletin (44.4): China and Brazil in African Agriculture edited by Ian Scoones, Lidia Cabral and Henry Tugendhat
    July 2013

    There is currently much talk of the role of the 'rising powers' in Africa, and whether their engagements represent a 'new paradigm' in development cooperation. This IDS Bulletin examines Brazilian and Chinese agricultural development cooperation in Africa focusing on different financial modalities, practices and politics of engagement, the 'encounters' that occur during negotiations, and the intersection of widerframing discourses with practices on the ground.
  • Project: China and Brazil in African Agriculture
This post first appeared on the Future Agricultures blog.

Al Jazeera on Zimbabwe’s land reform

Al Jazeera recently aired a discussion on Zimbabwe’s land reform in their South2North slot. The video is below.

The panel included Professor Sam Moyo, the leading land scholar in Zimbabwe who has worked on these issues extensively over 30 years, and recently edited an important new book; Teresa Smart, one of the co-authors of the now well known book Zimbabwe Takes Back Its Land, a popular review of research on the post 2000 land reform period; and Charlene Matonsi, a female ‘commercial farmer’ whose parents had acquired a farm in the 1980s.

Compared to most media coverage of the issue, it was a good discussion, where a range of issues were aired. The questioning was sensible, but probing, and the responses all clear and illuminating. Professor Moyo in particular pointed to some of the political processes and contradictions of the land reform, highlighting the importance of the alliance between what he termed the middle classes and land poor peasants, while equally highlighting that the land reform’s impacts have to be viewed in a larger context, as the end of monopoly settler capitalism, but clearly not a transition to socialism. It was not completely clear why Ms Mathonsi was on the programme, as her farm was not part of the new ‘middle class’ accommodation in A2 farms post 2000, but part of an earlier era of incorporation of black players into capitalist farming. She did however offer an enthusiastic endorsement of farming as a business, and certainly challenged the stereotypes of Zimbabwean ‘commerical farming’.

As I commented before, maybe there is a change in styles and foci of reporting on Zimbabwe at last. Al Jazeera are usually ahead of the curve, with their finger more firmly on the pulse than most.

Do watch the programme here:

This post was written by Ian Scoones and originally appeared on Zimbabweland

Monday, 8 July 2013

Getting the facts right on land grabs: 5 new (free) articles

jps_green_grabs_250As part of its series on land grabs, The Journal of Peasant Studies has released a collection of 5 new articles on the problem of recording accurate and reliable information on global land deals. The edition includes a contribution from STEPS co-director Ian Scoones.

Here's the description from the JPS:
"The recent 'land rush' precipitated by the convergent 'crises' of fuel, feed and food in 2007–08 has heightened the debate on the consequences of land investments.

This 'land rush' has been accompanied by a 'literature rush', with a fast-growing body of reports, articles, tables and books with varied purposes, metrics and methods. Land grabbing remains a hot political topic around the world, discussed amongst the highest circles.

This is why getting the facts right is important and having effective methodologies for doing so is crucial.

Several global initiatives have been created to aggregate information on land deals, and to describe their scale, character and distribution. All have contributed to building a bigger (if not always better) picture of the phenomenon, but all have struggled with methodology. This JPS Forum identifies uncertainty about what it is that is being counted, questions the methods used to collate and aggregate 'land grabs', and calls for a land grab research which abandons the aim of deriving total numbers of hectares in favour of more specific, grounded and transparent methods."

The articles can be accessed free of charge for a limited period by following this link to the Taylor & Francis website.

Table of contents:
  • The politics of evidence: methodologies for understanding the global land rush
    by Ian Scoones, Ruth Hall, Saturnino M. Borras Jr, Ben White & Wendy Wolford
  • Messy hectares: questions about the epistemology of land grabbing data
    by Marc Edelman
  • Methodological reflections on 'land grab' databases and the 'land grab' literature 'rush'
    by Carlos Oya
  • Creating a public tool to assess and promote transparency in global land deals: the experience of the Land Matrix
    by Ward Anseeuw, Jann Lay, Peter Messerli, Markus Giger, and Michael Taylor
  • Collating and dispersing: GRAIN's strategies and methods
    by Grain
This is the second part of the JPS Forum on Global Land Grabbing – Part 1 is here.

Other articles from the Journal of Peasant Studies
The JPS has made 40 articles from its back catalogue freely available online to mark its 40th anniversary – visit the Journal's website to download them (free registration required).

Documentaries on land reform in Zimbabwe

A recent review article in the Journal of Southern African Studies by University of Pretoria based Rory Pilossof (see my review of his book in an earlier blog) discusses three film documentaries on land reform. The article in particular takes issue with our work and spends much of it launching a number of critiques. But, despite these diversions, in the end it comes to a sensible conclusion with which I agree wholeheartedly.

The review includes our short films, Voices from the Field, profiling seven farmers in our sample in Masvingo (see also youtube channel). Of course these were never ever thought of as documentaries as they were on average 5 minutes long, and simply as complements to the book and other more detailed material. The other two films are the much hailed, but heavily criticised, Mugabe and the White African (running to 94 minutes and big budget – certainly relative to ours) and the campaign film, the House of Justice, again focusing on farms in Chegutu, including that of Campbell and Freeth at Mount Carmel (running to 24 minutes, and lower budget).

With Miles Tendi and others, I have commented on the Mugabe film – and the even more extraordinary book by Ben Freeth. It is a shame Pilossof did not review Simon Bright's excellent documentary, Robert Mugabe… What Happened? This is a much more appropriate contrast to the Mugabe film, showing how over a similar length of film, depth, nuance and complexity can be conveyed while still not losing its punch. I have my issues with this film too (as does Miles), but these critiques are not in the same league.

In my view, these three film contributions are very unlike and not really appropriate to compare. Pilossof however mainly uses the article as a platform to critique our work in particular. I will come to a few responses to this in a moment. However his overall conclusion I agree with entirely:

The lack of simple answers and the range of experiences, outcomes and processes make the land question a hugely complicated entity to study. More needs to be done to access the nuances and overlaps, rather than the dramatic and the separate. In part this entails conversations between white farmers, farm workers and beneficiaries…..the failure to situate land reform in the much wider political struggles of this period, and the history that informs them, is much more of a concern….

This is exactly the argument we make in our book, and has been made many, many times on this blog (see blogs on white farmers, labour etc.). Yet Pilossof complains about our film:

"Voices [our film] contains even less historical background than Mugabe and no commentary on the political context of the FTLRP. There is no mention of the violence surrounding the land allocations, of the processes of political patronage in land allocations or, most problematically for Scoones et al, the displacement of earlier land beneficiaries for new groups deemed more worthy".

It is true in our five minute films we did not cover the whole history of colonialism, nor the wider political and policy context for resettlement after 1980 and during the fast-track period. This was not the intention. They were simply an opportunity for a few farmers, representing the range of experiences we found in the field – different livelihood combinations (farm and non-farm), different crops (market gardening, livestock, cotton, sugar) and different scheme types (A1 and A2) – to share their perspectives and experiences. The choice of seven was not statistically representative at all, and not intended to be, simply offering a range.

Our films were short profiles not full length documentaries, and could only do so much in the time (and a very limited budget). They were always meant to be complemented by the book where pages and pages discuss history, politics, economic context and present data backed by a rigorous sampling frame and both qualitative and quantitative data. As anyone who has read our material and this blog will know, we do not give a simple black and white view about land reform in Zimbabwe, as this review suggests. The films open with the following:

"Chaos, destruction and violence have dominated the coverage. While these have been part of the reality, there have also been successes which have thus far have largely gone unrecorded. The story is simply not one of collapse and catastrophe, it is much more complex. There have been many successes as well as failures".

The films simply allowed a few farmers to speak, and tell their own story. They were indeed from different backgrounds, doing different things, many with previous employment. Pilossof regards this as a problem, proving somehow that they were not making a living from agriculture on their new farms. They were, but they were also doing other things, both before land reform and since. This is the reality of rural Zimbabwe, and the land reform settlements, something we wanted to get across.

Unlike Ben Freeth and co, such farmers have not had the opportunity to share their experience in their own words to a wider audience. It was heartening to find the BBC interested in following up, and Martin Plaut and his team did a series of interviews with some of those presented in the films. To hear Mr Nago speaking on Radio 4 while eating my breakfast in the UK was a fine change from the usual diet dished out by the BBC and other international media. Yes, these are only one set of voices, but they are important ones surely?

Pilossof then provides another line of attack, claiming that our "entire research project was supported by Agritex". Yes certainly we worked closely with colleagues in Agritex, but also we worked with others at UZ, AIAS, Ruzivo Trust and so on. We were supported financially by the UK's ESRC via a grant through PLAAS. All this is very clear in our materials. He goes on: "This collusion with the state is never discussed". I don't think we were colluding with anyone, and our work has been widely shared in many fora, and have been always very open in our partnerships. But he argues that we had special freedoms and "…the compromises entailed include a blinkered focus on beneficiaries, ignoring the reform process and its associated violence". As discussed in many previous blogs we totally reject this claim – and our writing and commentary just simply does not bear such accusations up. He goes on: "Scoones et al are as guilty as Bailey and Thompson [the filmmakers involved in the Mugabe film] (and to an extent Freeth) in refusing to acknowledge the tortured processes of land transfer in Zimbabwe, past and present". This again is of course quite ridiculous, betraying a lack of attention to our work.

For some reason he seems determined to discredit our work. The overall result is that, by dismissing our findings and inappropriately in my view criticising our film through a false comparison, Pilossoff ends up supporting the interpretations in the other films. To be honest, I would have expected a more thorough argument in JSAS. Maybe I am being overly sensitive as I actually agree completely with his conclusions, even if not with most of his arguments. Take a look at the review for yourself, but I am afraid you will have to pay £23.50 to read it in full (for only 5 pages!) as it's behind a paywall. Sorry…

This post was written by Ian Scoones and originally appeared on Zimbabweland

5 July: China and Brazil in African Agriculture - news roundup

By Henry Tugendhat

This news roundup has been collected on behalf of the China and Brazil in African Agriculture (CBAA) project. For regular updates from the project, sign up to the CBAA newsletter.

China’s support for African Agriculture
According to the China Chamber of International Commerce, 174 private Chinese enterprises invested $320 million since July 2012, contributing to the creation of more than 42000 jobs. The article explains Chinese private enterprises are in a better position to help African agricultural development than SOEs and gives examples of projects in Mozambique, the use of loans, technology transfers, knowledge transfers, etc.
(China Daily)

Food security summit in Addis Ababa
The AU, FAO, Lula Institute conference on food security in Africa took place this past weekend with 15 heads of African states under the title “Toward African Renaissance: Renewed Partnership for a Unified Approach to End Hunger in Africa”. The articles below review key statements of the conference:
Daily Times
/ Instituto Lula on FAO (in Portuguese) / Instituto Lula on AU president’s comments (in Portuguese) / Instituto Lula on Joint statement (in Portuguese)

Lessons for ProSavana from Mozfoods
This FT article looking at ProSavana’s challenges draws on a UK-based company’s experiences in Mozambique to highlight the challenges faced in turning a profit on agricultural developments in the region. The article concludes that finding the balance between company profits and developing local farmers’ productivity and interests will be the key challenge in this project. (FT)

Greenpeace report criticises use of toxic pesticides in Chinese agriculture
A Greenpeace study of traditional Chinese herbal medicines showed residues of pesticides considered highly hazardous by the World Health Organization (WHO). A similar study on tea was said to find similar findings. Chinese sales of agricultural chemicals doubled between 2000 and 2009 and are predicted to grow by almost 3% per year until 2050. Greenpeace has criticised this as a reflection of “the cracks in the current industrial agriculture system” and have urged the Chinese government to impose stricter control on pesticide use and focus more on ecological farming.

World Bank urges Ethiopia to shift focus away from agriculture towards industry
Following strong growth rates based on agricultural outputs, the World Bank has urged the country to shift its focus towards industry, ensuring that businesses have sufficient access to finance. At present the industrial sector stands at 10% of GDP and credit to the private sector was equivalent to 14% of GDP compared with a regional average of 23% according to the WB. The Ethiopian government says it is keen to seek investments particularly from the BRICS countries.
(Ventures Africa)

Indian Exim-Bank pushes for African shift away from agriculture towards infrastructure
In an interview on the sidelines of the African Export-Import Bank’s 20th anniversary, the Chairman and Managing Director of India’s Export-Import Bank (Ranganathan) gave an interview saying that infrastructure should be a more important focus for Indian investments than agriculture.
(The Hindu)

African East Asian Affairs Journal
A second edition of this journal has just been launched including articles on “Lending money: Latin America and China’s New Engagement (Lilliana Avendaño)” and “Chinese economic co-operation with Central Africa and the transfer of knowledge and know-how (Théophile Dzaka-Kikouta, Francis Kern, Chiara Gonella)” among others. The first issue of the journal was published in 2012 and before that was known as the China Monitor having started in 2006.
(Centre for Chinese Studies [pdf])

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

New UK climate envoy, Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti, on climate change and conflict

Today's Guardian reports comments on climate change as a global threat from the first interview with the UK's interim Special Representative for Climate Change, Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti, since he took up his post.
"Morisetti's central message was simple and stark: "The areas of greatest global stress and greatest impacts of climate change are broadly coincidental."

He said governments could not afford to wait until they had all the information they might like. "If you wait for 100% certainty on the battlefield, you'll be in a pretty sticky state," he said.
The increased threat posed by climate change arises because droughts, storms and floods are exacerbating water, food, population and security tensions in conflict-prone regions."
As Damian Carrington, the article's author, mentions, the military has been making links between climate change and security for some time. It's a theme that was explored at a STEPS/SOAS symposium on the water, energy and food nexus last October.

With an increasing recognition that energy, water and food (among other things) are linked and put under strain by changes in the environment, it's understandable that potential conflicts over access to these resources should have come under attention from the military.

Indeed, some advocates pushing for climate change to be higher up the policy agenda may welcome this interest, but it may come at a price. Framings of climate change as a 'security' issue not only have an influence on foreign policy, but make their way into public statements - in some cases, justifying military or diplomatic engagements with countries or regions which are seen to be under potential or actual stress.

This article was originally posted on The Crossing.

Monday, 1 July 2013

The people’s declaration: land in South Africa

A hundred years ago, the Natives' Land Act was passed in South Africa. The implications of this far-reaching legislation are still felt today. This was discussed at the important Land, Race and Nation Conference held in Cape Town recently. As part of this, the People's Assembly, representing a network of small-scale farmers, workers and urban dwellers, issued a Declaration.

It opens: "Nearly twenty years after the end of apartheid, the 1913 Natives' Land Act continues to haunt the South African countryside. The land question, which was so central to the struggle against apartheid, remains unresolved".

The Declaration argues for a "comprehensive land and agrarian transformation". They note that:

"Only limited mobilisation and organisation around land has taken place since the end of apartheid. Struggles have been isolated and sporadic. But only mass mobilisation and sustained organisation will lead to meaningful land and agrarian transformation.  We can no longer wait for the government. Action needs to be taken now. We will take action….These struggles must be based on a new imagination that is based on a total re-configuration of South Africa, re-connecting the urban and rural areas and breaking down the racialised apartheid countryside

Among 27 different demands, the Declaration identifies several major priorities. The echoes with the Zimbabwe experience are very clear. These include an approach to 'land occupation', defined as "a legitimate form of land reform".  The Declaration goes on to demand that "we not be criminalised when we occupy land to build homes and to grow food for ourselves".  Further, in relation to 'land acquisition', the Declaration demands that "land reform be fast-tracked to enable black people to get access to land and also to change the land ownership patterns. Scrap the willing buyer, willing seller approach, to allow people to access land. There must be expropriation of suitable land for land reform purposes". And in relation to 'land redistribution', the Declaration argues that there must be "a transparent way of government informing everyone about public participation, including in identifying land and identifying who should get it. We need information about land in our areas; we are sick of being sent from pillar to post… We want to be part of policy formulation and decision-making about acquisition, expropriation without compensation, and the creation of land reform projects in our areas".

The Declaration continues through a series of demands to argue for subdivision, security of tenure,  effective land governance,  research support and so on, all towards a vision of food sovereignty. It concludes: "Now we are organising. Our movements are growing. We are organising across urban and rural divides. …We are not going to go away".

Of course there have been attempts to forge a social movement around land and landlessness before in South Africa. But the earlier Landless People's Movement faltered, and other civil society attempts have foundered on internal disputes and lack of organisational capacity. Is this different? Just maybe. This time there has been an active attempt to forge alliances between rural and urban social movements, and make links between workers and farmers. Only with such a wider alliance, in the context of South Africa's fractured politics, can political traction really be achieved.

The future is of course uncertain, the current consensus in South Africa fragile.  South Africa is of course not the same as Zimbabwe. But as Brazil and Turkey have found in recent weeks, the transition to an 'emerging economy', a 'rising power' can carry with it unexpected political unrest, with discontents unearthed, inequalities exposed, and past injustices revealed,  even in a seemingly booming  economic context (although less so in South Africa these days).  Who knows, but the racial inequalities of land use and ownership, the violent inheritance of apartheid, may yet act as the flashpoint for South Africa, making the alliances formed and the demands made by the People's Assembly 100 years after the Natives' Land Act especially important.

This post was written by Ian Scoones and originally appeared on Zimbabweland

26 June: China and Brazil in African Agriculture - news roundup

By Henry Tugendhat

This news roundup has been collected on behalf of the China and Brazil in African Agriculture (CBAA) project. For regular updates from the project, sign up to the CBAA newsletter.

High level forum on under-nutrition in Africa between the AU, FAO and Lula Institute
The meeting on undernourishment between the AU, FAO and Lula Institute will begin at the end of this week. Their discussions and agreements will focus on combating hunger by 2025 and feed into CAADP. According to convenors: “The meeting will also brainstorm (on) ways to support African countries, their governments and organised civil society to incorporate successful experiences from other countries”.
(AfriqueJet / Instituto Lula – in Portuguese)

The Africa Solidarity Trust Fund
The high level forum mentioned above will also discuss a new food security fund that receives money from its African members only. It is to be administered by the FAO, and has just received a $10m investment from Angola, following other contributions from the DRC, Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea. It will work with CAADP and has been described as an interesting model of South-South Cooperation.
(Instituto Lula – in Portuguese)

Donor conditions on Mozambique and Chinese logging
The 19 donors and funding agencies who provide direct financial support to the Mozambique state budget have pledged around $580 mil for 2014, but have warned they want to see progress in corruption issues. The case of China’s illegal logging is particularly highlighted, discussing the possible interaction between Mozambican government officials with representatives of the Chinese company MOFID.
(Club of Mozambique)

Ghana setting up quarantine centres at borders
Ghana is setting up quarantine centres on its borders to prevent animal, plant or humans pests and diseases coming into the country. This measure came after a group of Chinese nationals were caught at the airport trying to smuggle in 350 fertilized eggs which raised fears of avian bird flu.
(Ghana Business News)

John Briscoe talk on Brazil’s lessons for African Agriculture
John Briscoe, Director of the Harvard Water Security Initiative at Harvard University recently spoke on infrastructure and water management’s place in developing Africa’s agricultural sectors. In his talk he highlighted Brazil as a source of various good examples and spoke of the need for more investors into Africa’s agriculture.
(Event report / Video and presentations)

Chery’s Agricultural Technology Problems
One of China’s foremost agricultural technology brands, Chery (Heavy Industry), is said to be suffering increasing setbacks in the quality of its farming equipment; according to this article, due to its large number of mergers and acquisitions of late. After-sales service and reparations have been a big problem for farmers involved with faulty Chery products this year, and the article highlights the lack of such reparation protocols problem with Chinese agricultural technology companies more generally.
(NBD – in Chinese)

Royal African Society events
15 July 6-8pm: ‘The Great African Land Grab’ Book Launch. Written by IIED researcher, Lorenzo Cotula and chaired by Camilla Toulmin who is the director of IIED (a partner organisation of the CBAA project). The talk will take place in the Brunei Suite at SOAS. (RAS event page)
23 July 6-8pm: ‘China’s Aid and Soft Power: The Case of Education and Training’ Book Launch. Written by Prof. Kenneth King, Emeritus Professor of African Studies at the University of Edinburgh. (RAS event page)

UN’s “Land grab guidelines provide little aid to farmers”
A year ago the UN created an instrument to prevent land grabbing called the "The Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests." This article looks at its achievements and challenges to date.