Land Reform and the Calculus for Power in Zimbabwe’s Democratic Transition
At the centre of the intrastate democratization conflict in Zimbabwe was the historical land question which the state sought to resolve during the course and context of unprecedented political contestation over democratization. The Fast Track Land Reform (FTLR), a wave of land invasions which began soon after the defeat of the government sponsored constitutional referendum in 2000 lasted more than a decade. Based on literature review and unstructured interviews, this paper examines the nexus between land reform and democratic transition. We interrogate why the resolution of such a long outstanding issue took place at this historical juncture, in spite of the conceivable national consequences. We posit that the survival of electoral hegemonic authoritarian regimes rests on a strategic manipulation of available political resources and hegemonic coercion to attain political goals. Thus the FTLR provided critical political resources at a time when ZANU PF faced a crisis of domestic and international legitimacy, as well as genuine threat to its hold on power.