Migrants to Harare: Research Questions & Methodologies
In 1985, when my research on migration and urbanization in Zimbabwe began, the backdrop was the shift from an institutionalized migrant labour system and restricted urbanization to relative freedom of movement, but with continued longterm economic insecurity in towns for many as they grew old, unemployed or could otherwise not work. At the time debates about rural-urban migrants in Zimbabwe tended to focus on the rural side of the equation because of the national significance of rural livelihoods and land reform. Agricultural and land reform policies disadvantaged rural-urban migrants, and various policy proposals suggested the possibility of a serious threat to their landholdings. Yet, the questions of what were the nature of migration and the characteristics, intentions and motivations of migrants in Zimbabwe at that time were largely ignored. It seemed important that these should be understood if sensible and just policies with respect to rural land holdings and migration were to be devised. Key questions were: what were the characteristics of migrant households and how did this affect the use of rural landholdings; what proportion had land in the CAs, and how far did landlessness contribute to urbanward migration; how dependent were urban households on rural production; and what strategies were migrant households adopting to farm their land and tend their cattle?
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