Strong relationship between peasant farmers and city-dwellers in Zimbabwe

In Zimbabwe farmers are highly dependent on family members in cities for their income. City-dwellers feel a strong link with the rural area from which they originate. According to Jens Andersson, a development sociologist from Wageningen University, this results in very few political contrasts between urban and rural areas. The picture that the media generally give of Zimbabwe is that of a big conflict of interests between urban and rural areas. The black rural residents are depicted as supporters of the governing party who wish to evict white farmers from their land. According to Jens Andersson this picture is not a true representation of the facts. The interests of rural and urban inhabitants are strongly connected with each other.

The sociologist suspects that the ruling party is making an issue of the inequalities in land ownership in order to draw attention away from the economic crisis that the country has fallen into. The government has failed, by means of industrialisation, to bring a halt to the rising unemployment and decreasing economic growth.

Jens Andersson studied the people of the rural Buhera district. Although farming is the main economic activity, it appears that the Buhera people mainly depend upon family members who have gone to the capital city to work. Without the financial support of the salaried family members in the city, the farmers would, for example, be unable to buy seeds and fertiliser.

In turn the city-dwellers are strongly connected with their family in rural areas. Family contacts are indispensable for finding work and accommodation in the city. At Christmas almost everybody returns to the village where they were born, laden with goods purchased in the city. Men mainly marry women from the same district. Often city-dwellers choose to return to the countryside due to family ties and because their ancestors are buried there. Sometimes people exchange a well-paid job in the city for a poorly paid position in the village

Contact: Mr Michel Philippens
31-70-344 0784
Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research

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