Repository logo

Surviving marginalization in development-induced displacement in Zimbabwe: a case study of Tokwe Mukosi Dam Project.

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



This thesis focuses on the state-people relations in the Tokwe-Mukosi dam project and the subsequent displacement in Masvingo, Zimbabwe. It dwells on the implications of the displacements on social networks and local institutions. It then proceeds to look at the adaptation mechanisms deployed by the flood victims in the new environs. Emphasis is made on the significance of livelihood assets, social capital, social networks and local institutions in dealing with marginalization. The study was grounded in qualitative methodology and participant observation, unstructured interviews, Focus Group Discussions and secondary sources of data were used as data gathering techniques. The study is actually based on the actual narratives of the Tokwe Mukosi people derived from twelve months of research at Chingwizi. Findings point to ambivalent relations between the Tokwe Mukosi people and the state. Of note is the fact that from the state’s perspective, the displacements are necessary in the interest of ‘the greater good’ and development. Conversely for the affected villagers, these displacements can never be justified since they had adverse effects on their livelihoods, social networks, local institution, as well as their social wellbeing. This has culminated in an unpalatable impasse between the residents and the state in this development-displacement paradox. Of note is the fact that despite enormous interest on the plight of the Tokwe Mukosi people nationally and internationally, research tended to evaluate them as passive victims of the state. The study nonetheless reveals that the Tokwe Mukosi people are far from becoming passive victims of their situation. The aptitude of the displaced people of Tokwe Mukosi to act based on agency is very clear in their ability to resist perpetual relocations at Chingwizi, as reflected in this study. In the same philosophy, the findings reveal their capacity to mobilize local resources to build resilience in the post displacement milieu. Central to their survival is a cocktail of livelihood assets, social capital and social networks. I highlighted that a significant number of the displaced people are falling back on local institutions. Emphasis was on how they are mobilizing and or creating new local institutions to build resilience. I also argued that their strategies for survival range between individual strategies and collective responses. These responses are enabling them to deal with the evacuated futures, and to continue aspiring for better life in the hostile and marginalized environment. I however argue that many of the livelihood options adopted by the residents in question border on immorality, illegality and criminality. Nevertheless, the displacee status becomes the sanctifier of those anti-social and immoral strategies. The thesis also revealed that the livelihood options for the Tokwe Mukosi people are binary in nature. This means that they are either survivalists, or they are more sustainable in orientation. Findings also revealed that the Tokwe Mukosi people have been surviving for more than half a decade with very little state protection, but there is always a danger of justifying the state’s inaptness under the guise of agency. The research highlighted that some residents are actually suffering from the unintended consequences of intended actions (survival strategies). In this study, I triangulated the Sustainable Livelihood Framework, the Actor Oriented Approach and the social capital theory to analyze the findings made herein. Complimentary concepts like legibility, strategic essentialism, capacity to aspire, times and the futures are also used to have a nuanced understanding of the Tokwe Mukosi people as rational calculative and strategic actors.


Doctoral Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.