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Nyika Vanhu: The Land is the People: An Examination of Natural Resource Management in Zimbabwe's Communal Lands

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Latham, C. J. K.
Conference: The Commons in an Age of Globalisation, the Ninth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Conf. Date: June 17-21, 2002
Date: 2002
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/921
Sector: Land Tenure & Use
Social Organization
Region: Africa
Subject(s): IASC
common pool resources
land tenure and use
indigenous institutions
customary law
traditional resource management
local knowledge
Abstract: "What I have been suggesting in this paper may incline the reader to the view that I am adopting the role of hagiographer of the traditional 'Little Society' and presenting it as an homogenous and harmonious group of equals. Far from it. The little society is as diverse and divergent as the larger world of which it is a part. What I am trying to emphasise, however, is that at local level the institutional arrangements of local traditional governance are what regulate society; that at local level it is local knowledge that is generally best equipped to deal with complexity and surprise and that as social scientists and practitioners we would be sensible to recognise the strength and elasticity of local institutions as the best instruments to manage and develop their resources in a manner most likely to be sustainable. To do this devolution of power to appropriate levels is imperative. By the nature of their institutionalised devolution of power, through nested levels of spatial and jurisdictional authority, the indigenous system of governance provides for systematic devolution and creates an environment for bottom-up accountability: 'ishe vanhu, vanhu ndshe.' The paradoxical reason for failure of CPR management of resources lies in the reluctance or inability of central government structures to devolve power to appropriate levels of management. The problem is that this requires also a shift of real decision-making powers from the national to the regional levels. National power groups normally, however, strongly resist giving up power once they have acquired it. (Stohr B and Taylor D, 1981; 471)."

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