Villages, politics and the everyday statemaking of post independent Zimbabwe
Item statusRestricted Access
Embargo end date30/06/2023
In this thesis I retrieve a stubbornly enduring polity, villages, from the margins of society, and propose that the everyday moments of their inhabitants have been at the core of some of the very important post independent political developments. In order to develop this argument, rather than focus on the dramatic or, readily observable political events such as farm invasions or other forms of social protests, I have grounded my research in Scott and Certeau’s theories on everyday resistance. Drawing on ideas and research methods from political ethnography and using an empirical case study of a small communal area in the south east of the country, Ndanga rural district, my contention is that villagers’ everyday struggles against the state can help to explain post independent local statemaking in Zimbabwe. I argue that through the post 2003 environmental regime, largely constituted by the 2002 Environmental Management Act and the newly established Environmental Management Agency (EMA), which is the government’s environmental “watchdog”, the post independent Zimbabwe state attempted to embed a specific type of authority that was characterised by recentralisation of state power. Villagers in Ndanga experienced these attempts as aggressive, punitive and illegitimate, spawning a repertoire of everyday strategies to contest the state’s actions. The ensuing struggles between the state and villagers, in the view of this thesis, shaped the direction of the post 2003 state in a variety of ways; it limited its capacities, restructured its practices and changed the manner and language with which villagers and local state agents talked about it. In my conclusion, I argue that ignoring everyday struggles between local state actors and villagers risks missing a much more complete understanding of the nature of the Zimbabwean state and the processes that have shaped its present day configuration.