CRITICALLY EXAMINE THE ECONOMIC, SOCIO-CULTURAL
AND POLITICAL FACTORS WHICH HAVE INFLUENCED THE SUCCESS
OF ZIMBABWE’S CURRENT LAND REFORM PROGRAMME.
In the light of recent events (1997) in Zimbabwe, which will be reviewed in this essay, it would appear inappropriate to refer to Zimbabwe’s current Land Reform Programme as a success. A critical examination of the economic, socio-cultural and political factors giving rise to this assumption is required. This involves giving one’s judgment about the merit of theories or opinions or looking for the truth in line with the facts, and to then support one’s judgment by discussion of the evidence. Having defined the word ‘Critically’, I first want to provide an outline of the essay structure. I will establish the historical basis which is largely responsible for the Land Reform Programme in question. Then, I attempt to answer the question – What is Land Reform? The main content of the essay is a critical examination of the economic, socio-cultural and political factors which have influenced the success (or lack of success) of Zimbabwe’s current land programme. My conclusion reviews the motivation factors of the colonial settlers who chose to remain, President Mugabe, ZANU-PF and the citizens of the Independent Zimbabwean.
The idea gleaming and dancing before one’s eyes like a will-of-the-wisp
at last frames itself into a plan. Why should we not form a secret
society with but one object, the furtherance of the British Empire
and the bringing of the whole uncivilised world under British Rule,
for the recovery of the United States, for the making the
Anglo-Saxon but one Empire?
What a dream, but yet it is probable, it is possible.
Cecil Rhodes (aged 23) in His Confession of Faith – 1902
Cecil Rhodes – similar to religion, gave encouragement and endorsement to the people of the declining British Empire. Rhodes referred to the fact that since Africa was lying ready for take-over, it was the duty of the people of the British Empire to acquire it. Rhodes, at the age of 21, is said to have sided with those,who believed that everyone was entitled to the same opportunity. However, 7 years later, he no longer believed in this idealism.
The timing of the arrival of Cecil Rhodes in South Africa is a very important contributing factor to his success.
‘An Industrial and technological revolution in Europe and the United States had given him unique advantages at the precise moment he was able to profit from them. When he arrived, it took 8 months to receive a reply by letter from England. In the next decade, when Rhodes was ready to expand his interests, Southern Africa had been transformed. The telegraph offered instantaneous communication. Cape Town, and Kimberly were linked by rail and the journey to London had shrunk to 19 days’ (Thomas, A. 1996: 348)
Opportunities abounded. Financial markets became accessible. There was dynamite for mining purposes and electricity available. Labour was plentiful and virtually without value, economic or otherwise. ‘Rhodes achieved a near-monopoly of the world’s diamond markets, by audacious take-overs and the secret purchase of shares. He had a perfect understanding of public relations and the power of the press, acquiring newspapers, both openly and secretly, in the belief that ‘the press rules the minds of men” (Thomas, A. 1996: 12,13)
The foregoing paved the way for what is known as Settler Colonialism which began in 1889. Cecil Rhodes by way of the British South Africa Company (BSAC) received a Royal Charter of Incorporation from Great Britain. This meant the BSAC had power to make agreements and treaties with African Rulers and Headmen to expropriate land. This land they then distributed to white settlers. The BSAC exploited the mineral resources. They hoped to find similar wealth generating deposits to those found in South Africa. However, Rhodesia was not sufficiently mineral rich and the focus switched to agriculture.
In 1930, the Land Apportionment Act segregated land into legal racial holdings. The European land mass was 50.8%, the native purchase areas a mere 7.7% and the native reserves comprising 22.4%. Only 5% of the population were European settlers who could purchase land in the superior areas while Africans could only occupy poor land areas. The ‘Divide and Conquer’ strategy was applied by Great Britain resulting in a small number of Africans being allowed to purchase land. These were to be the indigenous ‘elite’ who would distance themselves from the masses creating hostility sufficient to prevent the formation of a united front that could challenge the minority settler population. However, the intention was defeated by the lack of credit facilities and the existence of discriminatory pricing mechanisms which applied to this elite and not the white settlers and which excluded them from assimilation with the settlers. It is worth noting at this stage the impact of the Christian Church on African Nationalism. When the missionaries arrived in the early 1800’s, to advance African Nationalism was not their concern. In many ways, they have been visible supporters of colonial rule. Their contribution to African Nationalism was by default. Before the missionaries arrived in Africa, there were 700 languages but only 4 had a script of their own. This meant a very real problem with illiteracy. By 1959, literacy had increased to 10-12%. Education is cherished in Africa and the ambition of even the poorest of parents for their children.
Ian Smith, The Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia, a British colony since 1923 – rejected British conditions proposed for Rhodesian Independence in 1965. Britain responded by imposing sanctions which fueled the internal conflict between the White 5% minority and the African majority.
‘We can safely say then that the study of history has placed very powerful political weapons in the hands of many Africans and that historical consciousness is one of the chief factors under-girding African nationalism. The educated African has very powerful ideas and ideologies that are highly explosive and dangerous due to colonialism’ (Sithole, 1959: 61)
Reference is often drawn to the docility of the African people who had to all appearances, acquiesced to white domination. History, the education first provided by the Missionaries, effected the dissolution of tribalism in favour of nationalism. There was a time when African students used to resent being taught by a black teacher. However World War II altered opinions. For the first time, Africans saw their ‘betters’ suffer defeat. This fostered the de-mystification of the white man. Sithole sums it up as follow:-
‘Time has given birth to a new African who is more self-asserting, more enterprising, more aggressive and more self-reliant than his forebears. It is impossible to push this new African into Time’s womb…’ (Sithole, N. 1959: 159)
The outcome was that in April 1980, Zimbabwe became Independent. The Lancaster House agreements with Britain brought to an end 15 years of unilaterally declared independence. The former white minority Rhodesian Government withdrew and The Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) have been in power since 1980. It was a coalition government with Robert Mugabe as Prime Minister, and Rev. Canaan Banana in the largely ceremonial role of president. However, the transition was not smooth, factional differences arose between the former Guerrillas. In 1983/84, unrest by Pro-Nkomo dissidents in Matebeland resulted in thousands of Government troops being deployed – many Matebele died and vile atrocities were carried out. By 1988 this was resolved. Joshua Nkomo (Matebele) and Robert Mugabe (Shona) signed a Unity Agreement and ended the conflict.
In 1991, ZANU-PF initiated a substantial economic reform process. In the mid 1990’s, Parliament approved legislation allowing the compulsory acquisition of land by the Government, which was further facilitated by President Mugabe winning the elections held in those years. Cracks became apparent in 1997. The Government was accused of misusing funds intended for veterans of the Independence Struggle. The Government responded by granting large benefits for the war veterans which were financed by increased taxation. The response from the Trade Unions was strike action and demonstrations. President Mugabe re-focused on the land resettlement programme, the ideal scapegoat to capture the attention of the dissatisfied masses. In 1997, Mr. Kangai said ‘it was what he termed a fact of history that these countries had, in the past, pledged financial support for land reform in Zimbabwe’ (Internet, BBC News Online: Despatches, 1997). He also said that the white settlers would not be financially compensated, that the obligation to remunerate them rested with the UK. In November 1997, a list of 1,000 targeted properties was published. ZANU-PF stated their goal to acquire 5 million hectares over a five year period. Moreover, 223,112 hectares (120 farms) were offered for sale in 1998.
What is Land Reform?
Encyclopaedia Britannica describes it as a purposive change in the way land is held or owned, how it is cultivated and moreover how it relates to the rest of the economy. Land reforms may be initiated by Government, revolution or the work of interest groups. In the past, the aim of Land Reform has been concerned with the abolition of feudalism or colonial owners. The aim is to improve the conditions of the peasants.
A basic foundation for a land reform programme is that it must be concerned with restructuring an existing system of landed property. Normally what happens is that the State acquires the landed estates at the estimated market price with the intention of subdividing them into small parcels, and to sell these with full private property rights of use and exchange, to the beneficiaries. The rationale being efficiency and equality (Atkins, 1988). The fact that Third World poverty has not been eradicated is seen as a systematic failure by the left as well as the proponents of the market economy (Sobhan, R. 1993). Collectivist failures have occurred in other countries such as Taiwan, Russia, North Korea but on the other hand re-distributive agrarian reforms of a highly egalitarian nature took place in Japan and South Korea. In these cases – an external force played the catalytic role. The US instructed the re-distribution of the 37% of arable land to 66% of all agricultural households.
‘Within the constitutional constraints inherited by the first black government in Zimbabwe, there was not much scope for major land reform, but there was scope to buy out white settlers and to bring unused lands under cultivation. Thus abandoned farms were taken over and surplus lands under white settler farms were subsumed by the State, with payment of compensation. ‘This was designated for distribution to the landless and the poor’ (Sobhan, R. 1993: 73). 35,000 peasant families, per consequence of this, were assembled in 50 settlement schemes. By 1984, 18% of the land held by white settlers had been redistributed to Africans. It is important to consider the role of bureaucrats and bureaucratic agencies. The reality is that they have vested interests in the protracted proceedings relating to Land Reform and in particular the Ministries of Agriculture and Lands and certain para-statal affiliated groups, who have no desire for a resolution which would entail a loss of job for them or their supporters. Moreover international aid agencies can likewise hinder policy and planning discourse. International aid is about shifting funds to Third World governments and sometimes it is necessary to have a vehicle to effect the transfer. Land settlement schemes provide a useful method. (Hulme, D, 1987).
At the centre of the rural development issue is the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, i.e. the World Bank. The World Bank raises its money from international capital markets and re-lends it charging interest to governments to finance specific projects. The World Bank together with its associate the IMF, were set up in 1944 at Bretton Woods. The aim was to encourage free flows of trade, investments and profits, the main promoter being the US. Irrigation schemes are funded and sponsorship is available. The World Bank is presently supporting ‘green revolution’ technology in line with its poverty lending focus. The World Bank is still in favour of conservative fiscal policies, liberal trade, exchange rate policies and protection of foreign investment. Lending policies thus favour right-wing military regimes. In other words, those who redistribute the income and benefits derived from economic growth to the rich (Williams, G. 1981). This falls in line with the urban-bias practice engaged in.
Over 11 million hectares of land is owned by approximately 4,500 commercial farmers (Internet, IRIN). 9th September 1998 Mugabe warned of Land Reform Anarchy while attending a conference in Harare to raise funds for redistribution of land. Donors had pledged to provide $1.5 m but were considering withdrawing from the commitment. Mugabe informed them that if the 5 year plan did not come into effect, squatting would increase to the point of anarchy. The last number of months in Zimbabwe has seen a high proportion of this reality. There has been an invasion of white-owned farms. The accusation is that ZANU-PF have breached their promise for land redistribution (Internet, BBC News, 1998).
Zimbabwe, like other indigenous African countries, has a corrupt ruling elite. They boast and display their wealth. In a speech in 1989, Robert Mugabe similar to Joshua Nkomo, having tried to place a check on the corruption, capitulated and said ‘I suppose we have to learn how to be rich as well as having to learn everything else’ (Lessing, D. 1992: 9). It is acceptable that it is a difficult transition, involving a whole new process of learning but one hopes that ‘in learning how to be rich’ that the corruption that ‘can’ accompany being rich, could be displaced.
Critical examination of the socio-cultural and political factors which have influenced the success of Zimbabwe’s current Land Reform Programme:
‘The government has no economic or social record on which to campaign. With the country in deep crisis – long queues for diesel and petrol, increasingly frequent power-cuts, a dire shortage of foreign exchange, massive government borrowing, numerous reports of corruption in government and state owned companies – ZANU-PF will campaign on emotive issues such as land and race. If the party win next month, it will be by exploiting the land issue, depicting the business community and especially the 70,000 white minority as economic saboteurs, and promising a new ZANU-PF, albeit with many of the same leaders’ (Financial Times, 2000)
I cannot describe the current Land Reform Programme in Zimbabwe as a success. Based on the foregoing history and the land reform issue, it is apparent that land redistribution is mainly a ploy used by President Mugabe and ZANU-PF to remain in power. If President Mugabe wins over the rural community and is re-elected in April, the cost to Zimbabwe will be high. International donors – the US, Sweden, Norway, and the The Netherlands, have provided US$920,000 through the UN Development Programme, as yet another tranche of funding to Zimbabwe recently. The purpose of this donation was to aid the Zimbabwean Ministry of Agriculture to progress the inception phase of the land scheme drafted to resettle 77,000 rural families on millions of hectares of farm land in a 2 year time period.
Why 20 years after Independence is the land redistribution issue so prominent? 1% of the population are white settlers holding most of the productive, income yielding land, the remainder are the indigenous population. Zimbabwe wanted the US$193 million which the IMF reluctantly pledged to them in August 1999 on the basis of Zimbabwe’s officials’ confirmation that it was spending only $3 million per month on keeping troops in the Congo to support the Congolese government. October 4th, the Financial Times, had sourced an internal memo from the Zimbabwean Finance Ministry showing that $166 million had been spent over 6 months, January to June. This highlights the reliance that the IMF and World Bank have on local staff. The emphasis on truth and trust is made more difficult in the light of such revelations. This method is unreliable. Whistleblowers need to be fostered to reveal any discrepancies (Economist, 2000: 64). Given the foregoing, the following question is pertinent but extremely difficult to answer.
Will the donors continue to fund and what will be the implications if the donors withdraw?
White Supremacy in Action, comprises white people, who equate economic power with political power. The economically strong are also politically strong. Given this premise, it follows that the objective of the European ideology of white supremacy is to keep Africa politically weak. The means of effecting this is to keep it economically weak. In other words, political domination presupposes economic exploitation. Zimbabwe is predominantly an agricultural economy, the crops include tobacco, cotton, sugarcane. Gold is also mined. Zimbabwe gained Independence in 1980. The Zimbabwe of 1980 was more industrialised than most other African countries. It had a diversified productive base, a well developed infrastructure and a sophisticated financial sector. To date, most large-scale commercial farms are owned by the white minority. Agricultural land is the main foreign exchange earner in Zimbabwe. From 1991 to 1995 Zimbabwean economic growth was approx. 1.7%, this increased to 7.6% in 1996 but dropped to 3.5% in 1997 (mainly due to poor performance in agriculture and mining). Growth in 1998 was 1.6% and similar for 1999.
Zimbabwe is now an unstable economy, exports are considerably reduced, the currency devalued 90% since November 1997. Inflation runs over 60%. The reality is that the commercial farms will have to be revived to generate economic returns. An election looms, an opposition poses a threat, namely the Movement for Democratic Change, Mugabe lost the draft constitutional referendum in February, he accuses the white farmers of causing this. To regain the much needed rural support, he has now introduced a constitutional amendment to seize white-owned farms. Written by Mr. Mugabe himself, the clause says that Britain is obliged to pay for the land that Rhodesian colonists took from the Africans. If Britain does not pay then the Zimbabwean Government can confiscate the land without compensation. (Economist, 2000, 58).
‘Sub-Saharan Africa women produce between 60 and 80 percent of agricultural foodstuffs and cash crops. Yet, in many parts of the African Continent, women lack legal access to land and support services for production and distribution. As a result, women are frequently left to provide for their dependents without adequate agricultural, educational, institutional, and financial support. Firstly, legal barriers to women’s land rights must be challenged. Second, women have to be provided full extension and support services tailored to their needs. Third, support must be given to non-governmental organisations and movements that actively promote women’s land rights’. (Peters and Peters, 2000: 7)
By custom, by way of colonial policies and in such schemes as Julius Nyerere’ Tanzanian Ujamaa Village Act – women only have usufruct. The advantages derived from the land or property belong to their husbands or male guardians. This precludes women from gaining credit, joining co-operatives and being available to marketing facilities. Women in Africa are often left to provide for their families without substantial educational, agricultural, and financial support. Women often work 16 hours a day, and still do. They carry out the ordinary tasks as per the gendered division of labour but moreover they are involved in the agricultural work while husbands migrate to the urban areas for work. Yet, while permit holders, mainly men, can raise government sponsored credit, through the Agricultural Finance Corporation, women do not have access to loans in their own right. In spite of the evident and essential contribution of women, in August 1994, President Mugabe stressed that cash crop production was the main goal of resettlement in Zimbabwe, but while saying that there should be Justice for both partners in a marriage – he rejected calls for the registration of both spouses’ names on land permits, saying that these were foreign ideas not acceptable in Zimbabwe where the man was head of the household’ (Resettlement Now 1994, 7). This could only be described as a biased statement and unjust.
It was kinship and inheritance that provided the basis of organisation for the Shona and Ndebele. Interestingly, land was not owned in pre-colonial Shona and Ndebele societies. The male chief of the Patrilineage held and distributed it. Daughters were often granted usufruct rights over the lands of their fathers, the same applied to a divorced woman.
‘Land Reform as an instrument of development policy was widely acclaimed in the 1960’s and 1970’s and was vocally, if not financially, supported across the whole political spectrum. The broad support rested on a range of opinion which saw traditional land tenure systems as responsible for political unrest, the reproduction of social injustice and as a principal cause of economic stagnation (Atkins, F. 1988: 935)
‘For both the reformers and revolutionaries, ‘in the post-colonial era agrarian reform was seen as one of the levers to modernisation and structural change of their ‘backward’ societies’ (Sobhan, 1993: 1).
Land Reform was seen as a means of eradicating poverty.
Capitalism represented development and the reformers wanted to provide incentives to the agrarian workers so that they would engage in more intensive farm methods. The surpluses in turn would be used to underwrite the industrialisation process. The aim was to remove the elite of the ‘ancien regime’ (Sobhan, 1993: 1). Zimbabwe has a high donor presence. They include the World Bank, the European Union, the IMF etc. Many countries also donate e.g. US, Britain, Nordic countries etc. Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO’s) are very much involved in areas relating to HIV (Aids), gender, community development. The World Bank has 8 active projects in Zimbabwe and has contributed funds amounting to US$448 million. Projects supported include finance, public sector management, agriculture, environment, infrastructure and social sectors (World Bank, 1999). Sustainability is a most important factor. It involves environmental, institutional, social and economic dimensions. The urban bias is easily identified in Harare, the capital city. Harare 1992 provided a needy respite for world-wide construction related business. Architects, Engineers, Contracts Managers and large international companies diverted their attention from the recession/depression of their home market in the UK and Ireland, and adapted to Third World markets, in favour of profits. Ironically, the buildings which tended to be the largest were the Reserve Bank, the 17 Storey Post Office Savings Bank, the armed forces accommodation areas/runways etc. What will the impact of e-commerce be? This was not envisaged! The locations of employment are mainly for para-statal bureacracy. What about Eco-Tourism?
‘The external debt of developing countries climbed steeply during the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. Servicing this debt places a heavy burden and imposes a serious constraint on the economic and social development of the poorest and most indebted Irish Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) is given solely as grants, never as loans. Ireland is actively involved in international measures to alleviate the debt burden’ (Irish Aid – Ireland’s Official Development Assistance 1998; 18,19).
1998 – IRISH AID TO ZIMBABWE
- £1 million approximately
- Population: 11.2 million
- Human Development Report Ranking 130th out of 174 countries
Zimbabwe at one time was the 10th wealthiest country in the world but this is far from the case at present. Equity in debt provision by donors is a key factor. The objectives for donors i.e. apart from altruism, is to gain significant financial returns, given the risk element. Idi Amin (Uganda), to Banda (Malawi), to Mobuto (Zaire) to name but a few, provide prime examples of how donated funds can be misdirected. Ultimately no-one gains by corruption and particularly those 70% of the peasant population who work the land in the case of Zimbabwe.
By the time of UDI (Unilateral Declaration of Independence), exports amounted to 47% of GDP with imports at 36%. At Independence, Zimbabwe’s indigenous population were better educated than their counterparts in other countries. Large publicly floated companies like Lonrho, RTZ, BAT existed. Historical dependence on foreign capital inflows, imported technology, and expatriate managerial inputs through transnational arrangements provided a strong support system.
Will Zimbabwe survive in the globalised markets of today? In the case of Zimbabwe it is not a question as to whether the Government will use power, it is how they use the power? The direction to which it is put is the prerogative and given the foregoing, there appears to be a ‘hedging bets’ strategy in place. In 1990, Robert Mugabe formally abandoned Communism. The Economic Structural Adjustment Policy (ESAP) was the new policy in vogue at that time. Some commentators viewed this as a method of getting the most out of capitalism without having to let go of socialism. The message to the people was ‘The sugar is over’ (Lessing, D. 1992: 431). Investment is sought by the Party from international markets. Does this equate to pleasing the Master i.e. the Donors. A survival by a new form of paternalism.
The fabled riches of Africa – ivory, gold, diamonds, emeralds, copper. Crops like cotton and palm oil could be grown on plantations cutting out direct sales. Africa was too rich to be left to the Africans who they considered to need civilisation and Christianity. The Africa they seized was technologically in the Iron age and politically divided into thousands of units. Paternalism was the ploy used by the Europeans to win over the Africans. Africa was a storehouse and was steadily exploited. The Africans received only a small fraction of the wealth generated. For the Africans, ‘Wonders have come’ – this was the general response to what the West offered. They learned skills, they worked on construction sites, they worked as carpenters, bricklayers, they worked the land etc. They still do. Africans did benefit from the provision of schools, hospitals, modern administration systems, infrastructure but we must never forget that European occupation was short but the impact was considerable. ‘The coming of European powers brought to Africa: the coming together of different tribes, better communications, a new economic system, the creation of new classes among African people’ (Sithole, 1959: 68). What is interesting is that the colonial powers in their assistance with de-tribalisation paved the way for nationalist aspirations. The development of the infrastructure also had the by-product of facilitating nationalism. The media, the press, the radio opened up whole new areas of information to the indigenous, another beneficial resource. The change from the tribal African to the nationalist African occurred. I commenced this essay with an outline of the history of Rhodesia/Zimbabwe, I then reviewed land reform. The main context contains a critical examination of the economic, social-cultural and political factors which have influenced the success of Zimbabwe’s current Land Reform programme and under this section I have looked at women’s contribution to agriculture in Zimbabwe. I do not consider the Land Reform Programme a success as can be concluded from this essay.
I will conclude my drawing reference to a poem called The Boss, which is referred to by Doris Lessing in her book, African Laughter. Accompanying the poem, in a prominent position, in a Government office was the following quote.
‘Zimbabwe is run by Bosses – Robert Mugabe is a good man fallen among thieves’
The message: It is easy to be a ‘Boss’ but not so easy to be a ‘leader’
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HILARY TERM SOCIOLOGY ESSAY
FOR THE ATTENTION OF T. GALVIN / SEAN REYNOLDS
FROM: MICHELLE CLARKE – 2ND YEAR BESS 1999/2000
 Law, the use and enjoyment of lands or tenements without the rights to alienate such
Revised:- 28th April 2019