The Struggle For Land in Zimbabwe (1890 – 2010)……Land Tenure Act of 1969


By 1969 the Zimbabwe revolution, Second Chimurenga, was already in full swing, with the first Second Chimurenga battles having been waged at Sinoia (Chinhoyi) in 1966 by ZANLA forces, and in Lupane in 1967 and 1968 by ZIPRA forces, writes Dr Felix Muchemwa in his book The Struggle For Land in Zimbabwe (1890 – 2010) that The Patriot is serialising.

IN 1969, the Land Tenure Act of 1969 was passed.
Under the Act, the division of land between European settlers and Africans was finalised for ‘all time’, and the native reserves became known as tribal trust lands (TTLs), with a total land size of
40 200 000 acres (or 16 080 000 hectares of land) mostly in the remote waste ‘crown lands’ in the dry, tsetse fly and mosquito infested lowveld of the Zambezi, Odzi/Sabi and Limpopo valleys. (Martin, D. and Johnson, 1981: p.55)
Land Tenure Act of 1969
European occupation of the central Zimbabwean highveld, agricultural regions one, two, three and four remained almost 100 percent in white settler-hands.
By 1969 anyway, the Zimbabwe revolution, Second Chimurenga, was already in full swing, with the first Second Chimurenga battles having been waged at Sinoia (Chinhoyi) in 1966 by ZANLA forces, and in Lupane in 1967 and 1968 by ZIPRA forces (Sobel, 1978: p.35).
This time, Chimurenga was not only waged for the total restitution of ancestral lands, but also for the total emancipation of Zimbabwe from colonial white rule. Only then could the land issue be resolved once and for all.
Second Chimurenga 1966-1979
Herbert Wiltshire Chitepo:
“I think everybody who knows about revolution knows that revolution has been about land everywhere in the world.
It is about land because land is the thing on which you live.
You build your house on it; you get your food from it.
Life is sustained on the land, and without it you are really facing death.
That is what revolution is about.
It is for that reason that our people — the Zimbabwean African people — for years have thought … back in the early 1950s … there was a chance for progression in Zimbabwe to achieve or towards independence, self-Government and towards majority rule.
But, the usual steps which had been taken elsewhere in the British Commonwealth or around the British Empire year-by-year from time-to-time, the vote was extended.
There was more and more representation of African people until you got parity, later on you got a majority of Africans and gradually you reached independence. That’s what happened in India, that’s what happened in Burma, that’s what happened in Ghana, that’s what happened in Tanzania.
That’s what happened everywhere in Africa but it didn’t happen in Zimbabwe.
But, we in Zimbabwe, back in the 1950s thought it could also happen in Zimbabwe. So, we built up our national organisations; Zimbabwe African Congress in the early 1950s… Went on. But when it began to speak and speak boldly for justice what happened?
It was proscribed.
It was banned.
The leaders were arrested and detained without trial for years in the jails of the Government. The jails of the white racists.
We were not content.
We thought, well, it was an aberration perhaps.
We might well try again.
We set up a National Democratic Party.
Within a year, it too was banned.
Property of the party taken, the leaders arrested and detained.
Put in prison without trial.
Some of them are still there today as I am speaking!
They have been 10 years in jail without trial.
And others have been released and taken back again because they would never give up the struggle.
We still didn’t stop there.
We created another one.
The Zimbabwe African People’s Union.
Within a year, that too was banned.
It became clear to some of us really, the road to independence, the road to majority rule via constitutional discussion and agreement and changes of a peaceful nature was not open. It was a dead-end road.
The whites would imprison, detain, proscribe, ban and banish anybody who dared do no more than speak for justice … shout in the street in favour of justice.
What more?
What shall we do?
We looked upon the situation we were facing.
It was clear we were facing a situation of assault – a situation of violence.
We were to all intents and purposes being made, under compulsion, under force, under duress of a very vicious type, to serve in the mines, to be minions, to have no place, no education, to live like serfs in the country of our birth.
We thought: ‘No! The time has come to change tactics. We will have to confront the regime. We can no longer beg it to talk to us. It won’t talk to us. We must now confront it!’
So, back in 1963, the Zimbabwe African National Union of which I am the acting … the chairman at present.
Our president is still in jail, Rev Ndabaningi Sithole was created on the very slogan of confrontation.
It was called direct confrontation.
Very shortly after its establishment, massive attempts of confronting the regime by violent action, with stones and sticks, with hands and matches took place.
As a result, Ndabaningi Sithole was arrested and charged.
I happened to have been a lawyer and I went and defended him on those charges. It was a little booklet of 30 … nearly 30 pages of charges which I think he was served with.
It was alleged then that he had been responsible for all the violence that had been taking place in the eastern and southern districts of Zimbabwe, because he had advocated it.
He was arrested.
He was tried.
Even before the case was over, the party was proscribed and banned.
We … some of us happened to be outside the country.
We continued the struggle.
We felt the time had come to strengthen the form of confrontation.
In the early days with Sithole, it was done with stones, hammers, sickles and anything we could lay our hands upon.
We sought to sharpen the weapons of resistance … the weapons of confrontation. We acquired weapons … modern weapons.
So we prepared for the day.
In November 1965, the white settlers, in an attempt to get complete and unlimited freedom to exploit and oppress our people, declared what is now commonly known as UDI.
Nothing angered us so seriously as that.
We retaliated, you will recollect, by the Sinoia battle early in 1966, by battles at Hartley etcetera.
We didn’t really make much progress in those battles.
We got a lot of press publicity, but we didn’t really make much progress.
We realised before very long why we hadn’t made very much progress.
It was because there had not been a complete hug between the freedom fighters and the masses of the people in Zimbabwe.
And, it is for that reason that during the period that followed, we concentrated on a regime of political education of the masses to get them to appreciate the goals that the struggle was aiming at.
To be fired by the new vision of a new Zimbabwe and to participate in its realisation and to realise that the realisation of the new Zimbabwe, the new vision that we tried to sell, which we tried to inspire in their hearts, could only be achieved by struggles which involved life and death.
By armed struggle!”


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