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This article investigates the effect on rural livelihoods of the displacement of people in Chilonga communal area in Zimbabwe. Various studies in Africa, including Zimbabwe, have shown that land displacements happen where the political elite, in collusion with multinational companies and powerful individuals, take advantage of weak land governance systems particularly in communal areas to displace people. Lack of title over land, which is mostly vested in the state, makes communal areas most vulnerable to displacement. This is evident in the current case study of Chilonga, where various statutory instruments have been enforced to evict people. The Chilonga displacement, enforced by the state to accommodate large-scale lucerne farming, ignores that land is a source of livelihoods and identity for communal area dwellers. It has also shown that people from communal areas have limited freedom to resist displacement that curtails access and use of land. We argue that the Chilonga case study illustrates our contention that, where African land governance is weak, political elites and their connections use it to achieve narrow interests regardless of the impact on communal area dwellers through displacement and loss of livelihoods.
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