The Land Reform Deception
The Land Reform Deception looks at a particularly contentious period in Zimbabwe's recent history, from 2000-2008, when the government seized commercial farms using illegal and violent methods against a largely unarmed population of farmers and farm workers. Robert Mugabe's government began the seizures on a small, targeted scale in an effort to suppress political opposition groups, but they soon escalated into an out-of-control frenzy targeting all farms in
The state claimed that the seizures occurred in response to a public cry for land redistribution and to rectify colonial-era injustices, and were part of a structured land reallocation program. Yet, land was often distributed ad hoc to those with little or no farming experience. As a result, agricultural output contracted and inflation and unemployment rose dramatically in what became a social and economic disaster for the country. In The Land Reform Deception, Charles Laurie asks why
the state would target its own agricultural industry using such violent methods and risk such dire consequences. He also seeks to uncover the major actors and their motivations and strategies. Laurie argues that the seizure of the most valuable farms was largely carried out by politically influential
individuals for financial and political gain, rather than to address historical injustices. In fact, he finds that the scale on which the farm invasions were carried out and the violent methods used were never part of a planned government land policy. Indeed, Laurie shows that Mugabe initially opposed the seizures, knowing that they would wreck the economy, only to later support them in order to appease his supporters and retain political power. Incorporating unprecedented empirical evidence
gathered from in-depth interviews with senior politicians, members of the secretive Central Intelligence Organization, the military and police, along with farmers and farm workers who were targeted during the invasions, The Land Reform Deception strips away official explanations and delves into the
political and economic drivers that triggered the seizure of commercial farms in Zimbabwe.