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This article investigates the effect of the politicisation of land on the social capital and agricultural livelihoods of beneficiaries of the A1 villagised model of the Fast Track Land Reform Programme (FTLRP). The model allocates individual arable and residential plots to beneficiaries, while they share grazing land, social infrastructure and services. Beneficiaries rely on social capital to access resources for agricultural production. Proponents of the FTLRP have portrayed the model as successful because it creates livelihoods. Missing in these studies is the politicisation of land through reallocation of land within the model to advance individual political interests, and its effect on livelihoods. The resultant strain on social capital negatively affects agricultural production, which depends on it heavily. The article argues that Zimbabwe’s top-down land governance system leaves it open to manipulation by politically connected individuals in the service of their own personal and political interests. It further argues that this weakness in the governance system is due to the fact that the state owns the land, which means that beneficiaries of the programme do not have the power to challenge the decisions of politicians and bureaucrats.
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