Recently, the media spotlight turned on so-called ‘land grabs’ â€“ whereby agribusiness, investment funds and government agencies acquire farmland in Africa, Latin America and Asia. Private sector expectations of higher food and commodity prices and government concerns about longer-term food and energy security have made land a more attractive asset. But land is central to livelihoods, culture and identity for millions across the developing world.
During the past decade, Zimbabwe has undergone a radical process of land redistribution. A new book to be launched by the Royal African Society explores the successes and failures. By Ian Scoones (Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex) Zimbabwe’s land reform has had a bad press. Images of 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 gone largely unrecorded. The story is not simply one of collapse and catastrophe. It is much more nuanced and complex. As Zimbabwe moves forward with a new agrarian structure, a more balanced appraisal is needed, requiring solid, on-the-ground research aimed at finding out what happened to whom, where, and with what consequences. This was the aim of work we carried out in Masvingo province over the past decade. The question posed was simple: what happened to people’s livelihoods once they got land through the ‘fast-track’ programme from 2000? The answers are extremely complex, and discussed in detail in Zimbabwe’s Land Reform: Myths and Realities. The study involved in-depth field research in 16 land reform sites across the province, involving a sample population of 400 households. The study […]
In April 1992, the Provisional Government of Eritrea enacted the Referendum Proclamation and the Eritrean Nationality Proclamation, created a Referendum Commission and fixed the date of the referendum for April 1993. The two proclamations provided for enabling legal and administrative frameworks that facilitated the registration of Eritreans as well as the conduct and supervision of the referendum.
The first question asked during the drafting of the proclamations was: “Who Votes?” The answer: “an Eritrean”, only led to the next obvious question: “Who is an Eritrean?” The answer was found in an Italian colonial decree on Eritrean “subjects” which defined as Eritrean all persons, with the exception of Italian “citizens”, residing in the country before the end of 1933. This then was the basis for the Eritrean Nationality Law.
Mary Harper is Africa Editor, BBC World Service News “Do you know what the Kenyan police call Somalis?” asked a successful Somali businessman from his office in downtown Nairobi. “They call us ATM machines. That’s because the only way we can navigate the situation here is to bribe the police at every turn.” The man never uses his name in dealings with the authorities because it would be “commercial suicide”, and, to make things easier, he has a non-Somali business partner. He has good reason to speak like this. Life is becoming increasingly difficult for Somalis in Kenya. They are treated with suspicion even though many of them are natives of the country. In central Nairobi, I watched every ethnic Somali – identified by the security guard by their distinctive physical features — being scanned with a metal detector and searched as they entered an office block; non-Somalis were left alone. In August this year, the Central Bank of Kenya directed all financial institutions in the country to monitor the transactions of Kenya-based Somalis suspected of having links with Islamist insurgents in Somalia. But Kenya has reason to be nervous. In September, the Kenyan police leaked to the media documents containing […]