How much did property rights matter? Understanding Food insecurity in Zimbabwe: A critique of Richardson

How much did property rights matter? Understanding Food insecurity in Zimbabwe: A critique of Richardson

Author: 
Andersson , Jens A.
Place: 
New York
Publisher: 
Oxford University Press (OUP)
Date published: 
2007
Record type: 
Journal Title: 
African Affairs
Source: 
African Affairs, Vol. 106, Issue 425, October 2007, pp. 681-690
ISSN: 
0001-9909
Abstract: 

Zimbabwe's current crisis arguably constitutes one of Africa's most contentious issues. What once appeared to be a thriving economy exporting maize to neighbouring countries has turned, in the course of a few years, into a country facing recurrent food shortages. Craig Richardson's recent article in African Affairs explores the collapse of Zimbabwe's economy from an economic perspective, linking annual rainfall figures to GDP growth. He finds that, in this agriculture-dominated economy, ‘sudden changes in government policy’, rather than drought conditions, are responsible for the recent break of the relation between these two variables. Richardson sees government's ‘expropriation of commercial farmland’ in 2000 as ‘the most important reason for the economy's collapse’,1 exemplifying a popular, but problematic, perspective on Zimbabwe's economic crisis. Characteristic of this perspective is its focus on the post-2000 collapse and the tendency to blame all of Zimbabwe's economic ills on recent government policy. This article seeks to counter this kind of short-term cause and effect reductionism: first, because it thrives at the expense of an historically informed understanding of the underlying causes of crisis and government reaction (however malevolent such reactions may have been), and second, because it might contribute to undue optimism for a post-Mugabe era and, possibly, ill-informed policy formulation.

Language: 
Country focus: 

CITATION: Andersson , Jens A.. How much did property rights matter? Understanding Food insecurity in Zimbabwe: A critique of Richardson . New York : Oxford University Press (OUP) , 2007. African Affairs, Vol. 106, Issue 425, October 2007, pp. 681-690 - Available at: http://library.au.int/how-much-did-property-rights-matter-understanding-food-insecurity-zimbabwe-critique-richardson-3