Autocracy, Institutional Constraints and Land Expropriation: A Conceptual Analysis of Land Redistribution in Zimbabwe



Using the Zimbabwean case, this article explores the assertion that autocracies are better placed than democracies in land redistribution because of lower institutional constraints and concentration of power which makes policy implementation easier. This is rightly so, because such political systems have the notoriety of neutralizing or eliminating the veto gauntlet which is normally strengthened by institutional autonomy.  Extant literature on land reform continues to grapple with overarching questions as to why countries redistribute land, relating to the type of conditions that incubate the need for reform and the political purpose that redistribution serve in this world. Equally important, is the need to interrogate the real beneficiaries of land reform. The study notes that in the post-Cold War globalized era of ‘fractured sovereignty’, redistribution from above remains attractive despite its protracted nature. However, against a post-colonial settler land discourse that memorializes race, privilege, dispossession, and restitution, the article evinces that land redistribution is tainted by elitism, clientelism, and partisanship which eventually distort its structural transformative power.

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