Elizabeth Mpofu

Elizabeth Mpofu

Age at interview: 59

Shashe, Zimbabwe

Elizabeth Mpofu is the chairperson of the Zimbabwe Smallholder Organic Farmers’ Forum (ZIMSOFF).[1] She is extremely soft spoken, and when we meet her, she appears troubled. She occasionally attempts a few strained smiles before revealing how worried she is about her 12-year-old grandson, who is terribly unwell. Doctors have, so far, not been unable to diagnose his condition. She checks her phone occasionally for news of his condition and only stops checking when she gets engrossed in sharing her story. She is seated in her office swivel chair, in which she fidgets and rocks back and forth as she shares the more painful moments of her journey. When she speaks of land and food, she is surprisingly still and clear. She insists on serving us an organic lunch, despite it being a particularly difficult day for her.

My name is Elizabeth Mpofu. I was born in South Africa into a family of eight. There were three boys and five girls, and among the girls, I’m the eldest. I am not sure what year my parents got married, but the eldest child in our family was born in 1950 in South Africa. Then the second one in 1955 and myself in 1959. Right now, there are four of us remaining. The rest have passed on, which makes it very challenging for my old mom, who has to look after the young kids who were left behind by my siblings. It is even more challenging for my mom because my father also passed away, so she’s doing this on her own.

I’m a small-scale farmer. I’m a married woman with three children. I had four, but one has passed on. All of them are adults and have already started their own families. On the farm, I just take care of myself and my husband.

The end of my education

As a child, I went through several challenges, with one of them being not managing to finish my education. Although my parents had initially sent us all to school, when I completed seventh grade, that was, unfortunately, the end of my education. The culture at the time did not allow for girl children to go further with education in a family where there are boys. They preferred to send the boys to secondary education. If you were a girl and able to write a letter, then the idea was that you had all the education you needed. Parents were happy because, with that level of education, you could communicate by letter with whomever proposes to marry you.

My family was very involved in agriculture, so after seventh grade, I stayed at home to assist my parents. Occasionally my father, who was working in Harare, invited me to come to the city just to pay a visit. When I was 17 years old, my youngest brother got ill, and so my father, who at the time was living with an old man who was like a traditional healer, decided to take my brother to Harare. He took my brother to live with him, hoping that the old man was going to be able to treat him. I was asked at that time to come to Harare to help look after my brother.

Because I was resisting

That time in Harare is the saddest of all the moments I have experienced because this old man took advantage of my father’s absence and raped me while my father was out working. While this old man raped me, he also beat me because I was resisting. All of this happened in front of my brother, who was 11 years old at the time. It was very unfortunate. When my father came home, telling him what had happened was another challenge. The old man and my father had a big fight, and I was beaten again by the man. He then proceeded to kick us out of his home after the confrontation with my father.

We left his home and found another place to stay for the week before I went back home to the village with my brother. I got pregnant due to this rape. I gave birth to a son who is still alive, but the father is now dead. Nothing ever happened to this man. He got away with what he did to me, and my father did not get the customary compensation.

I’ll find ways

Sometimes I think my experiences are what drove me to work so hard to contribute to the women’s movement in Zimbabwe. One of the issues at the time that I was violated is that I did not know my rights, because I was still very young. As time went on, I realised that there is a need for me to address these issues of violence against women, because it was something which I saw continuing to happen to girls and women in my community.

I remember thinking, “We cannot just keep quiet like this! We have to do something.” At the time I didn’t know where to start, but I thought to myself, “I’ll find ways.” Though that period of my life holds one of the saddest stories of my life, which I’ll never forget, it has also given me strength to fight for the rights of women.

Stopping and working at farms along the way

I’ve got little knowledge about my family or clan history because I was not born here in Zimbabwe. My parents met in South Africa, where my father was working and where my mother lived because she is South African. I was born in South Africa and came to Zimbabwe when I was five years old. When we moved to Zimbabwe, I did not know any relatives from my father’s side of the family. On arrival, we were hosted by my father’s elder brother and his wife, but they were visibly unhappy about having my mother and her children join their home.

My father had no homestead here in Zimbabwe because he went to South Africa as a boy, and so this was why we had to live on my uncle’s homestead when we arrived. I was told my father ran away to South Africa when he was still a young boy after finding out that his twin brother was killed at birth. Apparently, during that time, giving birth to twins was considered taboo, and so people often killed one twin at birth. My father did not know that this is what had happened until he was about seven years old, and that is when he ran away.

He left home and gradually made his way to South Africa on foot, stopping and working at farms along the way. He told us that he would arrive at a farm and work there for about a week or two, and then he would move on. He was determined to go to South Africa because he believed his family would never find him there. His fear was that he, too, would be killed by his family the way his twin brother had been killed. My father described feeling a deep hurt and a sense of loss when he found out about his twin.

My mother chose to bring us here

When my paternal grandmother died, my father did not even know about it. At some point during their marriage and life together in South Africa, my mother decided that she wanted to know about my father’s family and that she wanted to travel to Zimbabwe to meet them. I have no idea why this was so important to my mother. But she packed her bags and her three youngest children, and off she went. My father wanted to remain in South Africa, working, and he was also afraid that if he came back, his family would still remember the way he ran away from home and would not accept him. After all these years, my father still did not trust his people. Perhaps, he trusted them even less the longer he was away.

My father only moved back to Zimbabwe when my mother declared to him that she would no longer return to South Africa. By the time my father came back, his father was extremely old and could not tell us the story surrounding my father’s running away. I feel lucky that my mother chose to bring us here, because I would not have this relationship with the land, my ancestors’ land, if we had grown up as city kids in South Africa.

Even if people in the community are not supportive

When we moved to Zimbabwe with my mother, the first months were challenging. We settled in Buhera, where we stayed with my uncle — or babamukuru, as we called him — and his wife, whom we customarily called maiguru.[2] His wife was particularly unhappy about the situation and was very hostile to us. Once, my mother travelled back to South Africa to get some money from my father and left us in the care of our aunt. She neglected us and left us to sleep outside with no food. We went for days unbathed.

When my mother returned, she brought food and money, including money for school fees for my uncle’s children. That was the only time my aunt was friendly to us.

Maiguru was not really an approachable member of the community. If a neighbour wanted to borrow something, like salt, they would go past her home to ask a more distant neighbour because she was really unaccommodating and extremely stingy. She didn't want to share anything, and that is why getting food for me and my siblings was such a struggle.

This is her land

As time went on, my mother negotiated with the headman to get our own piece of land.[3] When we got the land, my mother built a home for us. One thing I learnt from my mother is how to do things for yourself, even if people in the community are not supportive. Many of my father’s relatives didn’t believe someone from South Africa could survive in Zimbabwe. Yet, the seven-room house that was constructed at our homestead was the product of my mother’s labour. She would go and carry stones with her bare hands, and she would also mix the soil and cement.

By the time my father came to Zimbabwe to join us, we had a well-established home, and I feel his absence was very unfair to my mother, because she had to do everything on her own. My mother, despite coming from an urban family with no farming experience, developed a keen interest in farming. In no time, she had become the best farmer in the district.

I never found out why my mother chose to stay here — considering the challenges we faced in those first few months and being so far away from her own family — but she is clear that Zimbabwe is her home. This is the land on which she raised her children, and she has told us she wishes to be buried here. My mother in now 79 years old, but she is still managing to do some work on the farm. Her decision to move to Zimbabwe remains an interesting one to me.

Even more power in the home

My two elder brothers, Moses and Peter, did not initially come to Zimbabwe. They remained in South Africa with my father because they were already going to school. When my mother moved to Zimbabwe, she brought me and my sisters, Simbisai and Grace. My siblings Hazel, Maurice, and Ruramai were born later in Zimbabwe. When Moses and Peter came to Zimbabwe with my father some years after we moved, it was difficult to build a relationship with them. Part of the issue was that they were boys and we were girls, but also that they had the attitude that as brothers they had power over us. They were rude and rough, and so we never developed a close relationship.

After my father came to Zimbabwe, he did not live with us in the village in Buhera. He instead went to work in Harare, which meant that he spent most of the time there, which gave my brothers even more power in the home, especially Moses. He really tortured us in the home. I am still unsure what did the most harm to him — the time he lived in the townships in South Africa or his time in the camps during Zimbabwe’s independence struggle.

Liberation fighters used to recruit fighters from high schools. In 1975, Moses was in boarding school and decided to join the war. He did not tell any of us. It was only when he did not come home during the school holiday that we noticed he was missing. We guessed he had joined the war, but we were unsure. For years we did not know whether he was dead or alive.

He was cruel

It wasn’t until 1979 that he returned home. I wish I could say it was a blessing to have him back home, but sadly, it was not. He was even more cruel and brutal when he returned. He often hit us for the smallest mistakes, many of which you did not realise you were making. He would ask you a question, and if you did not give the answer he wanted, he would hit you.

One of the worst things he did was give me money to go to the shopping centre to buy him beer, but before I left, he would spit into the sand and tell me to run because if his spit dried before I came back, there would be trouble. I did not need to be told what that meant because I knew what a harsh person he was. The shopping centre was eight kilometres away. I don’t even think he bothered to check if the saliva was still there or not when I came back. He just liked instilling fear, and if he wanted to beat you, he certainly didn’t need a reason. He was cruel. At one point, he even tried to hit our mother. Living with him was frustrating and torturous, to be honest. My brother Peter, on the other hand, mostly drank and was rude from time to time — but he would never hit a woman.

When we were in trouble

I grew up in a very close relationship with my sister Hazel. She had a personality a little bit like me. She was not a difficult person, and she generally did what she was asked to do. Simbisai also did not cause any trouble, but she was very quiet. She hardly spoke, and she kept mostly to herself. She would prepare for school in the morning and walk with us without speaking a word. Grace was the troublemaker. She was stubborn and lazy, and we used to fight all the time, mostly because she didn’t want to work.

My mother used to prepare food and leave it for us to eat after school. On one occasion Grace ran home ahead of us and ate all the food our mother had left for lunch. We had a huge quarrel, and then Simbisai and I hit her. Grace ran off and hid somewhere, so when my mother came home, she was nowhere to be found. My mother asked us where she was, and we insisted that we did not know. When she inquired about whether we had eaten is when we told her the full story about what had happened.

Grace did not come back home until about midnight that day. She had run into the mountains nearby. There is a cave which she used to go and hide, so even if we looked for her, we could not find her. She hid there because our mother had told us that if ever she hit us and we ran to someone else’s home for protection or just to hide, that we should consider that home our new home and never return to her home. So, when we were in trouble, we never ran to the homes of neighbours or relatives like other children used to.

Sadly, Grace passed on about five years ago. She was married and staying with her husband and kids in Chihota.[4] Her husband abandoned her and the kids after several years of marriage and moved to Harare with another wife. Grace fell ill and passed away in Chihota. Ordinarily, custom dictates that a married woman be buried in her marital village, but since her husband had abandoned her, we had to carry her to our rural home in Buhera to bury her there.

That’s how life goes

I had four children, but my second child, Xavier, passed away. Now I have the two boys and one girl and nine grandchildren. Nyarai, my only girl, is the third and last child, and she is a police officer. She is divorced and has two children. My eldest son, Patrick, is married with three kids and is usually a truck driver. But he is currently unemployed. My son, Tichaona, is not working. He is a stubborn boy. He lives with his wife, who is a hard worker, and their children on the two and a half acres of land that my husband and I bought and that used to be the home that our children grew up in. We gave that land and home to him and his family to help them out.

Life is not so easy for my grandchildren because my sons are not in good places. My husband and I have to take care of their kids, and it’s a big challenge because the kids need to go to school. We have to look for a way by figuring out what to sell from the farm in order to support them to go to school. From time to time, we have to sell our cattle so that we can pay school fees for our grandchildren. That’s how life goes, but maybe one day it will get better.

I am not really worried about my daughter because she is employed and is a hard worker. My daughter and I are starting a piggery project, where we will keep pigs in order to sell them. We already built the pigsty on the land that my husband and I now live on. And with the money that my daughter sent, my husband was able to buy some pigs. This has been great, because it will also help me to raise some income to be able to care for these grandchildren of mine.

I wanted to be a farmer like my mother

My husband is now a retired police officer. When we first got married, we lived in a police camp in Harare, which meant that we had little land.[5] All I thought about was how badly I wanted to be a farmer like my mother.

Because of my mother I knew the benefit of being a farmer. Although it is hard labour, you don’t need to go and buy food every day, and you produce what you want to eat. I found it challenging to live in the camp because of this. Despite the tiny portion of land, I grew leafy greens and tomatoes that I used to sell to others within the camp.

My husband found it difficult to part with the money he earned, and that meant if I did not find an income for myself, running the household would have been a nightmare for me. I did not even know how much my husband was earning. I did not enjoy a single cent from his salary, not even for a pair of shoes or dress. Fortunately, with the little plot of land, I managed to survive.

The way my mother had always grown food

When my husband finally retired, he wanted to buy a house in the city, and I said, “No, I really want to find a place where I can also practise farming.” We bought land in 1997, when he retired from work. This is the two-and-a-half-acre plot of land in Gokomere that my youngest son and his family now live on.[6] That is where I started the farming practice I had always envisioned, growing the food that I wanted. My children did not like the change from urban to rural life. When my husband received his pension, the children had wanted him to buy a second small house in the city, but I persuaded him to buy some cattle instead. Having cattle is useful, because we no longer need to hire cattle to plough our own fields.

When we began farming on the two-and-a-half-acre plot in Gokomere, we were not practising agroecology or farming systems based on indigenous knowledge. We were using chemicals and chemical fertilisers. Then, in 1998, a community women’s club that I was a member of joined the Association of Zimbabwe Traditional Environmental Conservationists [AZTREC], and that is where I started to learn about agroecology.[7] This organisation was formed by spirit mediums, traditional chiefs, the independence war veterans, and some community members like myself. Its main purpose was to revive indigenous knowledge practices. I was very excited to learn more about agroecology because it reminded me of the way my mother had always grown food and the way she also taught me to grow food. I became the chairperson of AZTREC within two years of joining the organisation.

I was unsure about how to lead but was very interested in the way we were reviving our traditional norms and values, specifically about our own indigenous seeds. AZTREC is the very first organisation that really motivated me to take an interest in indigenous knowledge and agroecology. When I joined AZTREC, I stopped using chemicals and chemical fertilisers when farming because of the knowledge I was getting about agroecology and because regardless of how much fertiliser I used, I did not produce quality food.

They insisted that I could do it

I attended the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2002 as the chairperson of the AZTREC board, alongside other organisations that were members of Participatory Ecological Land Use Management [PELUM] Zimbabwe.[8] I did not know what to expect when I went to the summit, because it was still the beginning of my journey in agroecology. I was selected as my country representative by the other Zimbabwean participants present at the summit. I was scared and told my colleagues I could not do it because, in addition to barely speaking English, I felt I did not have the necessary knowledge or skills. But they insisted that I could do it and that I would learn.

The different Zimbabweans who were supported by PELUM Zimbabwe to attend the meeting spent the days attending different sessions and then meeting in the evenings to share the information we had gathered during the day. We would have these evening sessions in our own languages, Shona and Ndebele, which was really helpful. We would discuss the issues we were confronted with in terms of land and food sovereignty.

The birth of ZIMSOFF

During the World Summit, farmers from the Eastern and Southern Africa Farmers’ Forum [ESAFF] decided to form national chapters to ensure strengthened coordination at national levels and to strengthen in-country organising.[9] During the discussions amongst the Zimbabwean delegates about forming the national chapter, it became clear that we were interested in promoting the practice of natural or organic farming in Zimbabwe. We found that a lot of organisations at the meeting were focused mostly on ecological land use management and sustainability rather than agroecology. We really wanted to promote agroecology as a farming practice, and so after some more discussion, we decided to form a national organisation that would focus on agroecology. We organised informally for a while then formally registered ourselves as a nonprofit organisation in 2007. That was the birth of Zimbabwe Organic Smallholder Farmers’ Forum [ZIMSOFF].

The founding members realised that we needed a lot of support … to run an organisation as well as to develop our own knowledge about our organic practices. There was a period when it felt like I was always in some sort of training, meeting, or workshop. For the first set of trainings, we focused on leadership skills. Our attendance as ZIMSOFF members at these processes was supported by the Fambidzanai Permaculture Centre.[10] The director of the centre, Rob Sacco, was also the chair of PELUM Zimbabwe, and so he connected us to the trainings being run by PELUM Zimbabwe.

These workshops and training for farmers were important, because there was a lot needed in terms of knowledge and skills to run an organisation and mobilise a membership. When we started, we didn’t know much about policies, advocacy, and lobbying work, so we really needed these trainings. These trainings at Fambidzanai and those that were organised by a women’s organisation called Jekesa Pfungwa — which focused on women’s land and inheritance rights — were important in my own development.[11]

In 2013, ZIMSOFF became an official member of La Via Campesina [LVC], but years before that, in 2004, the two organisations established a relationship thanks to Rob Sacco.[12] In 2004 I was invited to attend a La Via Campesina conference, along with seven other members of ZIMSOFF. I was the only woman in our delegation. Though our members were already practising agroecology when we went to this conference, our budding relationship with LVC helped to strengthen our agroecology and food sovereignty practice. This contact with La Via Campesina started us off on a great journey that has now brought us to ZIMSOFF hosting the International Operating Secretariat of La Via Campesina for the second term.

Where my heart is rooted

Now I do not only take part in trainings and meetings, but recognising my own growth and believing that the information I have is useful to others and worth sharing, I also lead trainings, dialogues, and workshops. The projects for women that I run are the ones where my heart is rooted. I watch women like myself, that used to be insecure, standing up and speaking in front of people, and it gives me hope that ZIMSOFF’s work has value. Training rural women on agricultural policies, for example, enables them to fight for what they are entitled to. They, just like me, stop seeing access to land as a privilege and see it instead as both a right and a responsibility.

Right now, we are in dialogue with parliamentarians. We get rural women to come and talk to the parliamentarians about their concerns. The advantage of these dialogues, and what makes them more accessible, is that we don’t speak in English when we are there, because we use Shona, our own mother language. Many women travel very long distances from different parts of the country to come together for these dialogues with parliamentarians about agricultural policies. As part of our advocacy plan for these dialogues, we have been looking at the Maputo Protocol and how it can be used by women smallholder farmers to ensure ownership and control of land and other resources.[13] We haven’t always been aware of these different processes, agreements, and policies which guarantee the rights of women. We’ve learnt more about them and how we can use them through our participation in networks like the Rural Women’s Assembly.

There is no way we can just let this go

A challenge that we continue to struggle with is women’s position in the home and community. While knowledge and information amongst the rural women that ZIMSOFF works with have increased, so have the tensions in some homes. Men, including husbands, are not always supportive. Not all men are willing to allow their wives to be free to mix with other women and actively participate in the community. ZIMSOFF itself is not a women’s organisation. It has men and women, so sometimes when we organise our women’s meetings, we also invite the men from those communities so that they can come and listen, in an attempt to get their support.

When we first started, I remember I would go back home, and my husband would start beating me. This wasn’t unique just to me, as many women in the community said this also happened to them after attending a ZIMSOFF meeting or training. As women, we came together and said there is no way we can just let this go. We really wanted to push boundaries.

The women whom ZIMSOFF has been working with are really strong women who are now more empowered to be able to explain to their husbands, and other people, the need for them to socialise, to work, and to be respected. It is less the case now that we face resistance as women. I am sure that in the near future a bigger percentage of the men will be more supportive and also join the agroecology movement. I think they will eventually understand and accept that women are very important and that the role they play deserves respect.

The work I do and the value it has

In the past I used to insist that I did not “work”.[14] But then one day, when I was in a training with PELUM Zimbabwe, I was asked about my daily routine, and I found myself describing a lot of work in and around the home. It was then that I realised that the things I spent my day doing were work, but I had been raised to believe that all that domestic work was not actual work. It was only through these PELUM Zimbabwe and ZIMSOFF trainings that I started realising the work I do and the value it has.

Now I make it my job to ensure that other women realise the value of their labour. As we do this work of enabling women to see their value and teaching them the practice of agroecology, we see the importance of planning and working with the women along with their husbands. In this process, the men might learn to recognise the work done by the women in the domestic space as real work.

We have made steady progress

One of the other strategies which we use to advance our struggle to ensure women’s rights is to approach the chiefs, the headmen, to share our concerns. We explain our work to them and why it is important for women to self-organise. We also discuss with the traditional leaders that we want to be able to decide what to grow on the farm. The women are often the ones doing the hard work on the farm, and yet the husband is the only one who decides how many cows to sell or what to do with the money.

The ZIMSOFF women’s team wants the traditional leaders, when they are interacting with the men from our community, to bring up such conversations and encourage men to allow women the space to make decisions too. It hasn’t been easy, especially in the area I come from, but we have made steady progress. Now the men in Shashe are encouraging their wives to engage in the groups and clubs or to attend meetings.[15]

We, as ZIMSOFF, also facilitate exchanges between women in different provinces of Zimbabwe to promote the continued sharing of knowledge and ideas. Right now, in Shashe, where I live, the majority of ZIMSOFF members are women, and the men are just saying, “Go, go, go, please” when we, for instance, hold our seed and food fairs.

Food sovereignty is tied to control over land

Many people were not really familiar with food sovereignty when we were starting ZIMSOFF. The general population did not know what it meant, because what we would hear about was food security. What food security aims for is seeing a lot of food on the table or in the market, regardless of how it was produced or what type of seeds were used. But when we as ZIMSOFF talk about food sovereignty, we mean owning the land, each farmer deciding what to eat and how to produce the food.

The pitfall of focusing on food security, instead of food sovereignty, is that people might have food to eat but don’t necessarily have an appreciation that not all foods are good or safe, depending on how they are produced.

A large part of food sovereignty is tied to access and control over land. The land that I live on now was previously made up of six farms owned by three white farmers. [N]ow, as we speak, about 350 to 360 families are living on that land because of the land reforms that happened in Zimbabwe.[16] These three farmers were largely using the land as grazing land for between 600 and 800 cattle. Now the same area is supporting 3,600 or more cattle.

Our sisters were killed during the independence struggle because the struggle itself was a struggle for land. Our comrades, our sisters, our brothers died so that the Black majority in Zimbabwe could get access to land. The land reform programme, to me, was a very good way forward, even if some may not think that was the way to go. I believe we really needed it.

I love everything about being on the farm

You see, when I sit in an office, I feel like I am in prison. Being on my farm in the morning around four and hearing the birds is my favourite time and place to be. It is my own time to wake up and do work, starting with sweeping the yard. Then, before I even try to do something else, I go to the kraal to check on the cattle and the goats, and to ensure that no one tampered with them. Even though I know my husband will go there too when he wakes up, I have to go there myself to check as well.

When I’m here in the ZIMSOFF office in Harare, I feel a little lost. I know this office work must also be done and that it keeps us connected to other farmers and enables sharing of knowledge, but I cannot pretend that I am happy in the office. When I am in the office, I feel a little bit like a fish out of water. If I could get wi-fi access on the farm, then I could avoid working from the office.

I love everything about being on the farm. I even enjoy the dust that rises when I’m sweeping. I love the shade the trees around my homestead give when I take a nap in the heat. There is a deep sense of community when I am on the farm. The women from nearby homesteads come and visit; we talk and laugh and enjoy homemade drinks, such as maheu.[17] There is no opportunity to nurture these kinds of connections when I am engrossed in busy city life.

Knowledge is not in short supply amongst farmers. What is lacking is the documentation and the spread of this knowledge. If there is any knowledge that I would like to leave for the next generation, it is about the importance of land. To me, this is very critical, because there is no other way I feel I can support them. Yes, education matters, but not all education is useful education. It is important to know the purpose of the education and therefore have education that is useful to your future.

The future generation should really know how to produce food and understand more about land. What is land? What are the benefits of land? Where is the food you are eating coming from?

These are all important questions, because even the president, even the doctor, even the pilot needs food. Land is life itself.

  1. Formed in 2003, Zimbabwe Smallholder Organic Farmers’ Forum (ZIMSOFF) envisions improved livelihoods of organised and empowered smallholder farmers practising agroecology.
  2. Buhera is a village in Zimbabwe, within Manicaland Province.
  3. A headman (or village head, village headman, or village chief) serves as the community leader of a village or a small town.
  4. Chihota is a communal area in Mashonaland East Province.
  5. Police camps are residential sites for police officers that serve in a specific area. Often police camps have their own schools and clinics to serve the police officers and their families. Families living in a police camps are subject to the same regulations that police officers have to abide by.
  6. Located in Zimbabwe, 16 kilometres from Masvingo, Gokomere is known for its rock art dating from 300 to 650 AD.
  7. A community-based organisation, AZTREC aims is to revive African knowledge systems that were degraded during colonialism and to promote endogenous development.
  8. PELUM Zimbabwe links local civil society organisations that work in agroecology and community development. It is part of PELUM Association, a regional network founded in 1995 to promote participatory ecological land use management practices in the hope of improving livelihoods.
  9. A network of grassroots small-scale farmers’ organisations, ESAFF works in 15 countries in the Eastern and Southern Africa regions. The movement started in 2002 during the World Summit on Sustainable Development.
  10. Fambidzanai, one of the oldest permaculture centres in Africa, came into being in 1988. It has been at the forefront of development organisations promoting food security through sustainable land use management (permaculture) in Zimbabwe.
  11. An indigenous Zimbabwean nongovernmental organisation, Jekesa Pfungwa Vulingqondo works with women’s groups at the grassroots level for the mobilisation and development of women in rural and poor urban areas. Though its history dates back to 1947, the organisation has evolved over the years and remains primarily focused on marginalised women.
  12. Farmers’ organisations from Africa, Asia, Central America, Europe, Latin America, and North America founded La Vía Campesina as an international peasant movement in 1993.
  13. The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, better known as the Maputo Protocol, guarantees comprehensive rights to women.
  14. “Work” here means paid work or work formally recognised by the cash economy.
  15. Shashe is a community in Masvingo Province in Zimbabwe. The peasant families in Shashe are members of ZIMSOFF.
  16. The Zimbabwean government formally announced a fast-track land reform process in July 2000 by which they aimed to acquire land from white commercial farmers for redistribution to poor and middle-income landless Black Zimbabweans.
  17. Maheu is a traditional fermented drink of maize meal, millet, and sugar.