DPhil Theses

Papers List

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Women’s Participation in Water Governance and Reform In Zimbabwe Women’s Participation in Water Governance and Reform In Zimbabwe

Grounded theory research methodologies that encompass the use of in-depth individual interviews with key informants, group interviews and focus group discussions as well as case studies within a catchment study were used to unravel the complex institutional and normative frameworks associated with access to water and participation in its governance. The women’s law approach was used in the research to explore from the women’s different lived experiences, the discrimination they encountered which was intersectional as based on political, economic, social, cultural and other prohibited grounds. The findings show deep seated tensions between customarily informed norms and institutions that entitle rural women to have open access to water for drinking, sanitation, food production and livelihood purposes from common pool resources such as rivers, streams, wetlands and riparian land on one hand and formal IWRM informed laws and policies bent on cost recovery and profit maximization implemented by ZINWA officials on the other. This situation, which happens against unclear and pluralist dispute resolution frameworks that are both formal and informal have the most dire impact on women as the traditionally acknowledged major water users for reproductive and productive purposes. As drawn from the findings made in this study, my key recommendations are that the State; (i) conducts nationwide human rights and Constitution awareness campaigns focusing specifically on rural communities for the eradication of gender based discrimination and gender stereotypes that negatively impact on rural women’s realization of their human right to water and participation in its governance; (ii) adopts in its policies the broader framework of the human right to water for rural women as understood customarily; within the 2013 Zimbabwe Constitution; Article 14 of CEDAW and in accordance with the UNCESCR’s General Comment 15 of 2002; (iii) effectively strengthens and enhances local traditional dispute resolution mechanisms that deal with water conflicts through judicial training and the promotion of traditional environmental conservation methods that are pro-poor.It is now a globally acknowledged fact that there exists a human right to water for “basic needs” that allows everyone to enjoy an adequate standard of living that guarantees one the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. What is less known however is what that right means to different people in different contexts especially poor and marginalized rural women in the developing world who use water holistically for multiple purposes that are all aimed at lifting themselves out of the endemic feminized poverty that has been associated with them. In this thesis based on an empirical study conducted on four A1 small scale resettlement farms in Mazowe Catchment I locate different social groups of women on the farms at the intersection of formal and informal norms and institutions that determine whether they are included or excluded from accessing, using and controlling water for personal, domestic, food production and livelihood purposes, from the local to national levels. Situating the international human right to water in a local context; the aim is to interrogate the extent to which this right as conceptualized at international and national levels resonates with how women within these rural communities use water in its multiplicity to ensure general social well being within their households and the community at large. Set against a legal pluralist environment, the extent, to which the different social networks within which different women are embedded impact on their capability to realize the right to water, is also interrogated.

By Dr Elizabeth Lwanda Rutsate

Using Women’s Voices and Experiences to Interrogate the Efficacy of the International Criminal Justi Using Women’s Voices and Experiences to Interrogate the Efficacy of the International Criminal Justi

This study analyses the interactions between the International Criminal Justice System (ICJS) and survivor witnesses of conflict related sexual violence (CRSV) committed during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. While the ICJS, as partly represented by ICTR, focused on punishment, deterrence, and upholding the human rights of perpetrators of genocidal rape, this study reveals survivor perspectives on the notion of justice. Its findings from are key to assessing the legacy of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) from the perspectives of survivors.  Though comparatively, the ICC has one of the most innovative regimes on witness participation and reparations, the neglected voices and silences of survivors in this study can influence the future prosecutions on rape, and create a process through which victims participate as empowered survivor witnesses.


The study positions survivors of genocide as partners in the ICJs, rather than objects of the process. Pillar survivors identified as crucial to justice: timely and context specific sensitivity, flexibility and respect can assist judicial bodies globally to dispense a form of justice which takes cognisance of the totality of the needs, concerns and aspirations of the key stakeholders of ICJS. Whilst this study acknowledges the achievements of the ICJS in setting up tribunals such as the ICTR and making them functional as indicated by some of the internationally acclaimed success stories – some survivor witnesses see the ICTR’s legacy through very different lenses.


Specifically, the process seemed to have been characterised by lack of political will to prosecute rape. Where rape was prosecuted, there remained weaknesses in the process, from the prosecutorial strategy or lack thereof, to the discretion used to call survivor witnesses to testify before the tribunal. The ICJS has left many survivor witnesses disillusioned about how it could benefit their healing process.


These flaws have been obstacles to gender justice, demonstrated through the lack of political will at every level of the judicial process, and reflected by the low number of rape cases brought for trial and few convictions at both the trial and appeals level. They are also evident in the disturbing gaps in witness protection, which leaves survivors more vulnerable and disempowered. Additionally, the disconcerting absence of compensation/reparations for survivors leaves them vulnerable and disproportionately affected by the consequences of armed conflict. The study reveals a fundamental flaw in the ICJS at different levels:  a lack of context-specific approaches, scarce discernment of the gender nuances generally surrounding conflict related genocide. The voices of survivors interacted with reveal the need for a gender sensitive form of justice which identifies, addresses and redresses the reality of different categories of women who suffered during genocide.


Dr Renifa Madenga

The Policy and Legislative Framework for Zimbabwe’s Fast Track Land Reform Programme The Policy and Legislative Framework for Zimbabwe’s Fast Track Land Reform Programme

This study explores the rights of Zimbabwean women to access agricultural land on the basis of equality with men and in their own right under the country’s Fast Track Land Reform Programme (FTLRP). The focus is on the policy and legal framework that governed the land reform process between the years 2000 and 2015 and how the legal framework interfaced with different women’s lived realities in their efforts to access agricultural land and effectively utilise it. To understand the lived realities of the different women during the process, field research was undertaken in three resettlement sites in Masvingo province namely, the Hippo Valley Sugar Estates, Chidza and Lothian Farms and Ward 16 in Masimbiti, Nuanetsi Ranch. Three communal land sites in Chivi District namely Sese, Shindi and Gororo and one site in Masvingo District, namely Musvovi were identified for purposes of comparing the situation of women who went to the new resettlement areas with that of women who remained behind in the communal areas.


My argument in this study is that failure to address factors that affect women as women led to their discrimination and ultimately failure for women in different social and marital status categories to be treated on the basis of equality with men during the country’s FTLRP. These factors included the failure to create a conducive policy and legal environment for the participation and recognition of women in the land reform programme. The absence of such a framework in turn led to the emergence of a number of challenges that worked against women’s opportunities to engage with the FTLRP. Such challenges included the violence that accompanied the first stages of the FTLRP, the emergence of a state of legal pluralism, failure to recognise the value of women’s unpaid work and contribution to the FTLRP and the emergence of power dynamics that stifled women’s participation in the process. The result was that women got only about 12% of the land that was available under the A2 resettlement scheme and 18% of the land that was available under the A1 resettlement scheme. Those that managed to get land continued to suffer discrimination as women after their settlement on the farms. The discrimination included limited access to agricultural resources by women when compared to men and failure to include women in the farm level governance structures, yet such structures played a key role in determining access to farming resources after settlement, which in turn determined the level of success in one’s farming endeavours.


In order to address these challenges, I argue that new laws and programmes must address the shortcomings that were inherent in the FTLRP. I identified the 2013 Constitution of Zimbabwe and Statutory Instrument 53/2014 as important instruments that seek to address the rights of women to agricultural land. The 2013 Constitution has important and progressive provisions, which if fully implemented can address the issue of discrimination against women and the need for women to be treated on the basis of equality with men generally but also in relation to access to land. I also argue that S.I 53/2014 is progressive in that it acknowledges the rights of women to fast track land. It however protects existing entitlements to land acquired under the FTLRP. The result is the entrenchment of men’s rights over the land since the bulk of the land went to men under the FTLRP. The mere recognition of women’s rights to land without the provision of an attendant framework to ensure access to land by women therefore fails to address the inherent inequality and discrimination faced by women in accessing land. The land audit, if and when it is implemented is an opportunity to identify available land and make sure that most if not all of that land is given to the women of Zimbabwe as an attempt to even out the gender skewed access patterns post fast track. The research generally contributes towards the growing literature on the Zimbabwean FTLRP but specifically contributes towards an understanding of the role of policy and law in addressing gender disparities in land reform, acquisition and allocation in post-independence Zimbabwe


A limitation in the research was that the fieldwork was undertaken in a small and limited geographical site and in one province of Zimbabwe. As a result, the findings, conclusions and recommendations may not necessarily reflect the reality in every part of the country.

By Dr Makanatsa Makonese

Makanatsa Makonese

Interrogating Marriage As An Organizing Framework In Land Based Businesses Interrogating Marriage As An Organizing Framework In Land Based Businesses

This study explores married women’s rights and entitlements in horticulture businesses located in irrigation schemes in Ward 25 in Nyadire District, Mutoko, Zimbabwe. The study is primarily directed at understanding the role and impact of laws and policies on marriage and business and the differential effect of these laws on the lives of women as compared to men. Central to the argument presented in this study is the need to transcend the historical male dominated notion of marriage in family business arrangements and look at it as a partnership relationship that defines the responsibilities between the parties to each other beyond the marriage relationship. In family business relationships, marriage should not be central and treated as it has traditionally been, that is, as the dominant framework, but, rather, the business relationship should define individual contributions to the marriage.

In this study, I am arguing that the under-valuation and chronic under-recognition of women’s contribution to family economies lie in the dominance of marriage as the organizing model for farming business activities in both communal and small scale resettlement land. The study focused on not just the contribution of women to horticultural production through their labour input into the plot and household, but also on the relationship between production and reproduction in a family business that came into being as a result of marriage. The findings show that women are given minimal recognition in the business as they are not involved in the major business decisions, most importantly decisions on how the income generated from the business is used. The business models discussed in this study are the family and co-operative models. These models are layered in a way that adversely affects women’s capacity to engage with them. The findings show that the family model dominates despite the overarching old co-operative model. Whilst the operation of the irrigation schemes is regulated by state law, in reality, operation is guided by a set of norms that are more applicable and seen as being more acceptable than state enforced laws. The study concluded that regardless of whether marriage is formalised under statute or custom, women in the irrigation schemes do not enjoy anything more than the mere rights to use the land. Married women rarely enjoy equal rights to control proceeds of the horticulture businesses.

This study, therefore, seeks to profile women horticulture farmers as serious contributors and to see them not only as wives but also as partners in the business. To achieve this, the first step is to recognize the economic value of women’s work in the home and in the horticulture plots. Valuing women’s work will show the extent of women’s contribution to the horticulture business. A platform for this has been created by the 2013 Zimbabwe Constitution through the provision of an unqualified equality clause in section 56. The national objective on marriage in section 26 also provides for equality of rights and obligations of spouses during marriage and at its dissolution; and that in the event of dissolution of a marriage, whether through death or divorce, provision should be made for the necessary protection of any children and spouses. This has been put into effect through the new Agricultural Land Settlement (Permit Terms and Conditions) Regulations of 2014 (SI 53/2014) which is discussed in this study.

By Dr Rosalie Kumbirai Katsande

Beyond Law: A Critique of the Participation of Women in the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commis Beyond Law: A Critique of the Participation of Women in the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commis

Truth commissions offer transitional countries emerging from conflict with an opportunity to re-tell, reflect, document and redress gross human rights injustices that were meted on victims by state actors paving way for reconciliation in post-conflict states. Like other public processes, they must be gender sensitive and inclusive for sustainable peace to be achieved. Therefore, participation, more so women’s participation, in truth commission processes has been alegal requirement and an example of democratic exercise of citizenship. It is against this backdrop that the study herein is hinged.

In Kenya, the National Dialogue and Reconciliation Framework that officially ended the 2007-2008 post-election violence provided for the establishment of a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission. The participation of women in the Kenyan TJRC was explicitly provided in its constitutive law. Nonetheless, this empirical research shows that the law is insufficient to guarantee women’s full and active participation in the TJRC, or other truth commission, due to complexities arising from a gendered legal mandate, prohibitive normative systems, societal stereotypes and attitudes on the place of women in the public space and intersectionality of differences amongst women. The study analyses these themes by interrogating the contested concepts of participation, power, gender, representation and intersectionality.

The research used qualitative research methodologies relying mainly on grounded theory, case study and ethnographical approaches. The study found that the extent and nature of women’s participation was inadequate as spaces of participation aretranslatedinto spaces of power between women and men, state and non-state actors and amongst women themselves within a patriarchal society. The spaces of participation also become sites of contestations of the multi-layered identities of women, which then impacts on women’s perceptions of their representation within truth commission processes. As a result, the accounts of women’s experiences of violence are skewed and inapplicable to the TJRC’s legal mandate. The study uses the experiences of women in Mombasa County, Kenya to illustrate these complexities whilst drawing on the practices of the South African and Peruvian predecessor truth commissions. The thesis ends by recommending raising the consciousness of women to build power within for active participation and the establishment of community based truth-telling processes that will create more women’s friendly and safe spaces for their participation.

By Dr Annette Mudola Mbogoh

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