TILCOR-Sanyati Irrigation: A case of development within the decentralisation policy context in colonial Zimbabwe, 1956-1980.
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Extensive global and African scholarship exists on how decentralisation has been implemented to achieve rural growth. Pre-eminent scholars like Liihring, Mutizwa- Mangiza, Fortmann and Hankla contend that decentralisation is good for governance and that its merits for development are indisputable. This article interrogates the dynamics o f development within the decentralisation policy context in colonial Zimbabwe between 1956 and 1980, using TILCOR-Sanyati as a case study. It is motivated by the challenges of promoting irrigation development in a decentralisation context. Although the observed upsides o f decentralisation are well-founded, the article challenges the 'advantaging' notion o f the policy in Gowe-Sanyati irrigation. Data gathering combined documentary, case study and archival research. The study's major findings firstly are that TILCOR, operating on the 'modernising’ pedestal provided by the colonial government, did not employ the decentralisation strategy to achieve economic growth for rural Africans. TILCOR failed to achieve decentralised development because it was pro-white and anti-African as illustrated by its support for the former and not the latter. Devolution o f power to irrigation plot-holders remained a pipedream, as instructions were issued from above. The limits of decentralisation led to peasant disillusionment with the policy as there was a gap between people's expectations and what the state was willing to offer. Secondly, the politically-driven growth dynamics o f Gowe-Sanyati during the decentralisation debate (1956-1980) were responsible for bringing 'modernisation' without real development, as colonial-type decentralisation had a 'big centralisation focus'. Thirdly, leveraging community-development planning on the assumption that remarkable agricultural results were to be based on the training o f a 'unicjue' individual to transplant new techniques onto the whole society was difficult. 128 M. Nyandoro 129 Development had to be society (people), not individually-driven. Fourthly, while in the period up to 1975 decentralisation was the favoured policy-priority among Rhodesian policy-makers, the state frequently determined the extent and level of application o f the strategy. As part o f the colonial government's import substitution programme, African agricultural production (for instance, wheat) was merely 'to fill the gap' but not to surpass European production. Hence, the years after 1975 marked a quiescent phase in the decentralisation debate in Sanyati. The article concludes that whilst the post-1980s experienced huge improvement in agricultural production, some o f the colonial practices and frameworks like the lease agreement o f 1967 remained in force, providing a major source o f social resistance. While initiatives were taken to expand the size o f land under T1LCOR, this did not directly benefit individual irrigation farmers whose holdings remained the same in size, a problem its successor (ARDA) had to grapple with.
Additional Citation InformationNyandoro, M. (2015). TILCOR-Sanyati Irrigation: A case of development within the decentralisation policy context in colonial Zimbabwe, 1956-1980. Zambezia, 42(2), 128-151.
University of Zimbabwe Publications