Masthead header

The Land Reform Deception – Violence Maps

Little was known about where violence proliferated and what types of violence predominated during Zimbabwe’s Land Seizure Era (LSE). To assessing the mechanisms of violence, Charles carried out a systematic and longitudinal assessment of the type, frequency, and location of violent acts. Mapping the longitudinal violence data allowed Charles to identify clusters where violence occurred. This enabled him to explore the proliferation (or absence) of violence in unexpected areas, and the distribution of violence around major cities.

The following maps depict political violence during Zimbabwe’s Land Seizure Era, the period from February 2000 to March 2008 when agents operating at the behest of the Zimbabwean state were violently seizing commercial farms across Zimbabwe. The study ends in March 2008, when most from seizures had already taken place and violence had shifted almost exclusively to the suppression of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party in urban areas.

The maps were compiled by coding 90 reports from the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (‘Forum’), an NGO that tracked incidents of violence nationwide throughout the LSE. Charles derived 21,491 individual acts of violence from this source in the following eight variables: Abduction/Unlawful Arrest, Assault, Intimidation/Verbal Threat, Murder, Attempted Murder, Property Damage/Theft, Rape and Torture. The data were then depicted on a map for the corresponding month of the study to yield 92 violence maps (data was unavailable for January 2000 and July to December 2000). Note that each coloured circle shown on the maps below represents one act of violence.

Violence maps demonstrate three key aspects of the LSE:

  • First, very extensive violence was perpetrated by state agents nationwide against both rural and urban victims.
  • Second, there are obvious concentrations of violence in Harare and the three Mashonaland provinces. For a detailed discussion how these concentrations relate to the acquisitiveness of state agents and the suppression of the opposition Movement for Democratic Chance (MDC), see Charles Laurie’s The Land Reform Deception.
  • Third, the Zimbabwean government has routinely claimed that political elections are non-violent.However, the maps show that March 2002 – when presidential elections were held – was the most violent month of the land seizure era.

Violence maps are available to view in two ways. The Violence Map Slideshow provides all 92 maps in a movie-like sequence. The slideshow can be paused, re-wound and fast-forwarded. The Violence Maps Lightbox allow individual maps to be selected and displayed in a large-screen format.

Violence Maps Slideshow


Violence Maps Lightbox

Source of Images:  © Charles Laurie