Graduate School
Welcome to Stellenbosch University

Dr Emaculate Hungwe

Home country: Zimbabwe

Year of enrolment: 2011

Graduation date: December 2014

Department:  Sociology

Supervisor: Prof Simon Bekker

Dissertation title: Land transactions and rural development policy in the Domboschave peri-urban communal area, Zimbabwe

Abstract: Urbanization in Sub-Saharan Africa has led to the proliferation of peri-urban settlements close to cities. Development policy in these areas is multi-pronged. Residents with local tribal, as well as migrant backgrounds take land matters into their own hands. This leads to diverse land transactions and changing household survival strategies. My research investigates the complex interactions between land transactions, Rural Development Policy (RDP), and the emergent household survival strategies between 2002 and 2012 in the peri-urban communal area of Domboshava in Zimbabwe located northeast of Harare the capital city. Domboshava is classified as 'rural' and is administered by traditional authority as well as a local authority called Goromonzi Rural District Council. This Council considers RDP as a solution to increased individualized land transactions. My thesis is based on field research of a case study comprising four villages of Domboshava. Forty-one local residents, as well as a number of key informants such as Traditional Leaders and local government officials were sampled for the study. Qualitative data were collected through structured interviews, review of pertinent documents, as well as observation. The research findings reveal that the rapid pace of urbanization across Africa is widespread and poses key challenges to policies on rural development and land tenure more generally. Research evidence shows the changing practice in access to land rights in Domboshava by migrants from other parts of the country. As a result, land transactions shift from customary inheritance in the tribal line to individualized land transactions such as direct land sales and renting thereby privileging financially better-off households. Household survival strategies also shift from farm based to off-farm and non-farm activities because of the influence of land transactions and a multi-pronged RDP. Changes in household survival strategies of community residents of Domboshava were however not influenced by land transactions and RDP alone, but also by wider political and economic shifts and state interventions such as Operation Restore Order/Operation Murambatsvina and the Fast Track Land Reform Programme. The practice of a multi-pronged RDP as a solution to land transactions in Domboshava became part of the problem as land transactions proliferated unabated. This research is an important topic within the Sociology of Development, and provides useful insights regarding debates on land, policy, and survival strategies in peri-urban communal areas, not only in Domboshava in Zimbabwe, but in sub-Saharan Africa. Appropriate policies that address these peri-urban challenges in Zimbabwe are sorely needed.

Click here to download full dissertation:

Click here to access Dr Emaculate Hungwe's research outputs​​​