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Abstract

Local level governance is crucial in delivering benefits of conservation to communities. This paper provides a historical review of the evolution of governance and the emergence of elite capture in Masoka’s wildlife program in Zimbabwe between 2009 and 2011. Fifty-four key informant interviews and reviews of numerous secondary data sources analyzed in order to understand accountability mechanisms, collective decision-making, and the allocation of wildlife revenues into various local initiatives. The local narratives and secondary data suggested that the governance had flipped from one of impersonal and democratic rule to one based on personal rule of traditional leaders. These outcomes were in part a result of the shift in meso level structures that previously supported the program structures at community level, the shifting national politics that led to increased sense of enfranchisement and impunity among traditional leaders, and non-merit based system of appointing committee members. The results suggest that locally elected committees when left at the peril of strong and unchecked powers of traditional leaders they are bound to collapse. Second, the findings also indicate that in the absence of weak land tenure rights, locals have no “teeth” to challenge tradition-based authorities in order to demand for accountable governance. We conclude that given such condition of weak tenure and access to resource rights, local democratic institutions do not emerge naturally even if most people want them and if not protected from outside, they are bound to fail and superseded by personalized ones.
Journal of Sustainable Development; Vol. 10, No. 6; 2017
ISSN 1913-9063 E-ISSN 1913-9071
Published by Canadian Center of Science and Education
28
Re-assertion of Elite Control in Masoka’s Wildlife Program,
Zimbabwe
Shylock Muyengwa1 & Brian Child2
1 School of Natural Resources, Univeristy of Florida, USA
2 Department of Geography, University of Florida, USA
Correspondence: Shylock Muyengwa. 15 Ridge Road Avondale Harare, Zimbabwe.
shylock.muyengwa@gmail.com
Received: April 9, 2017 Accepted: July 5, 2017 Online Published: November 29, 2017
doi:10.5539/jsd.v10n6p28 URL: https://doi.org/10.5539/jsd.v10n6p28
Abstract
Local level governance is crucial in delivering benefits of conservation to communities. This paper provides a
historical review of the evolution of governance and the emergence of elite capture in Masoka’s wildlife program
in Zimbabwe between 2009 and 2011. Fifty-four key informant interviews and reviews of numerous secondary
data sources analyzed in order to understand accountability mechanisms, collective decision-making, and the
allocation of wildlife revenues into various local initiatives. The local narratives and secondary data suggested
that the governance had flipped from one of impersonal and democratic rule to one based on personal rule of
traditional leaders. These outcomes were in part a result of the shift in meso level structures that previously
supported the program structures at community level, the shifting national politics that led to increased sense of
enfranchisement and impunity among traditional leaders, and non-merit based system of appointing committee
members. The results suggest that locally elected committees when left at the peril of strong and unchecked
powers of traditional leaders they are bound to collapse. Second, the findings also indicate that in the absence of
weak land tenure rights, locals have no “teeth” to challenge tradition-based authorities in order to demand for
accountable governance. We conclude that given such condition of weak tenure and access to resource rights,
local democratic institutions do not emerge naturally even if most people want them and if not protected from
outside, they are bound to fail and superseded by personalized ones.
Keywords: governance, elite capture, democracy, impersonal governance, institutionalized rule
1. Introduction
Masoka’s Wildlife Management program was considered a robust and successful case of a local wildlife
managing community in Zimbabwe judged by data (e.g. high wildlife populations, increased income to
community, and relatively high number of community funded projects) (N. Nabane and Matzke, 1997; Matzke
and Nabane, 1996). The retrospective opinions of people interviewed between 2007 and 2009 (Taylor and
Murphree, 2007a; Taylor, 2009) also indicated that Masoka was a successful Communal Areas Management
Program for Indigenous Resources (CAMPFIRE) project managed through an impersonal and institutionalized
governance system that delivered development and cash benefits to its members(Murombedzi, 1997; Taylor,
2007). However, between 2009 and 2011 it lost its impersonal and institutionalized rule as the elite centralized
the governance of CAMPFIRE benefits. The exertion of elite control that occurred in Masoka is a common
feature of nascent local level democratic CBNRM institutions. This paper explores how and why these changes
took place in Masoka between 2009 and 2011 in order to understand the complex interactions among the elite
and non-elite in the allocation of resources.
The changes in Masoka can be best described with the concept of personal rule, informal and formal rules
(Acemoglu et al., 2003; Bretton, 1966; Jackson and Rosberg, 1984). Personal rule fosters trust in individuals
rather than institutions. Within a personalized systems, big-men allocate resources based on their will and
personal procedures (Daron Acemoglu et al., 2004; Williamson, 2000; Jackson and Rosberg, 1984). The later
years of CAMPFIRE show that rules shifted to serve the needs of gatekeepers. On the other hand, the relative
success of the first phase of the program demonstrates how formal rules build more inclusive and efficient
governance. CAMPFIRE reforms in the initial years devolved rights to wildlife to communities and created
highly participatory arenas for important collective functions such as quota setting and revenue distribution. The
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highly impersonal system improved the flow of public goods in CAMPFIRE communities including equitable
benefit sharing and participation. Institutional reforms consist of improved local rules for managing wildlife
resources and incomes, the protection of these reforms through higher level political institutions, and the
monitoring and enforcement of these rules (North, 2003). In this case, it refers formal and informal monitoring
of adherence to the “CAMPFIRE Principles”.
This paper shows how institutional reforms increased the flow of public benefits, but the elite later reversed
these reforms into a personalized system. In addition, we view institutions as “… consisting of cognitive,
normative, and regulative structures and activities that provide stability and meaning to social behavior.” Scott
(1995:33). The cognitive and normative view of institutions provides a framework for interpreting local
perceptions of the local governance processes. While macro level changes affected the performance of the
CAMPFIRE, local narratives focused on micro explanations of institutional failure.
This paper seeks to answer the question whether the case of Masoka provides empirical evidence that inclusive
local regimes of participatory governance (as designed by CAMPFIRE) promote multi-dimensional development
(i.e. income and voice) compared to more centralized (at local level) regimes? The second undertaking is to
interrogate why Masoka ‘declined’ in the latter period of CAMPFIRE. Local narratives are used to interrogate
people’s perceptions and the lack of collective action (Olson and Olson, 1965) aimed at replacing a personalized
system with a more inclusive and democratic institution. In what follows, we discuss briefly the origins of
CAMPFIRE in Masoka and immediately focus on the social and political processes in CAMPFIRE governance
and then focus on the local narratives gathered between 2009 and 2011in order to explore local governance
processes.
The study uses historical process tracing and a deductive inquiry case-design approach to understand the
governance changes that occurred in Masoka. (Beck, 2006; Bryman et al., 2008; George and Bennett, 2005). We
conducted fifty-four open-ended interviews with committee members, Masoka employees, traditional and
religious leaders and interacted extensively with local community members. We complemented our discussions
with trace data-i.e. minutes and documents kept at the Masoka offices and conducted informal group discussions.
2. Theoretical Framework
Good governance of local community projects has been a major theme among development practitioners and the
concept of elite capture has attracted attention and debate over how it both affects the performance of projects
and how to design projects in ways that minimize the negative impact of the elite on social
investments(Dasgupta and Beard, 2007; Fritzen, 2007). The concept of elite capture is defined as “… the capture
of the distribution of resources, project implementation and decision making which negatively impacts non-elites
or the target population or is deemed to be corrupt under the law” (Musgrave and Wong, 2016) broadly
represents the phenomenon that took place in Masoka. In order to find ways of working with elite within
community driven develop projects, the two main perspectives are that either the elite are co-opted or countered
in order to shape the project outcomes (Wong, 2010). The story is rather complex as empirical evidence suggest
that both the elite, and non-elite rely on multiple factors to bargain for power and control.
Community based natural resources management (CBNRM) entails that (a) communities are empowered to
manage and benefit from natural resources through leasing of concessions, (b) the revenues that accrue are
deposited in a local account, and (c) communities make choices over how this money is allocated through
elected decision-making bodies. In most cases, both the elected and non-elected local elites decide how money is
spent on a yearly basis or specific time. CBNRM thus, is about the devolution of power and ensuring that
communities benefit (Araujo et al., 2005; Iversen et al., 2006; Saito-Jensen et al., 2010). A number of CBNRM
programs were crafted in southern Africa’s wildlife sector; in Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia, and
Zimbabwe. In Botswana for example, small communities manage funds up to USD 300, 000 per year (Rihoy and
Maguranyanga, 2007) and decide how this money is spent annually. There are local level decision-making
frameworks that include quarterly meetings and a premier annual general meeting. The same structure exists in
other countries. These cases provide a routine decision making framework that can be used to evaluate whether a
small group usually controls decisions and benefit more from these programs-it eliminates Non-Governmental
Organizations and State interference. Elites in these communities include elected board members, employees to
some extent, and non-elected traditional authorities such as chiefs and religious leaders.
Our case study demonstrates the complex interactions among the elite and non-elite and the various mechanisms
used by the elite to control the flow of resources in their favor within a CBNRM project. The primary goal of
this paper thus, is to illustrate how the changing macro and meso levels can serve as cues for the elite to capture
community projects. Previous studies show how national political process contribute to the decline in local level
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governance but do not provide specific mechanisms that enabled local elites to destroy local level participatory
processes (Mapedza and Bond, 2006; Mashinya, 2007; Rihoy et al., 2007). We seek to explore this power
dynamic in a more nuanced way. The rest of the paper is organized as follows: a) we provide an historical
perspective of the CAMPFIRE, b) the development of CAMPFIRE in Masoka, c) discuss the main findings, c)
discussion, and d) the conclusion.
3. Literature Review
3.1 History of the CAMPFIRE Program
Zimbabwe is one of the places where CBNRM originated through the Wildlife Industries New Development for
All (WINDFALL- 1978) and CAMPFIRE (1982) programs that sought to reverse the loss of wildlife on private
and communal lands. Zimbabwe introduced new legislation in 1960, and boldly the 1975 Parks and Wildlife Act
that devolved the rights to use and benefit from wildlife to private landholders and encouraged the diversification
of profitable commercial uses of wildlife. Once the country stabilized in 1980, wildlife rapidly became an
important form of land use as terms of trade and economic incentives increasingly favored tourism and hunting
relative to livestock and agriculture commodities. In 1982, the government modified the Parks and Wildlife Act
and devolved user rights to communal communities. However, legally, the lowest formal institution in communal
lands was the Rural District Council (RDC), formed through the Local Government Act. To bridge this gap
between policy, intent of wildlife officials, and the existing organizational structure of the Ministry of Local
Government and Rural Development, a strategic compromise was reached and Appropriate Authority was
devolved to District Councils with a gentleman’s agreement that this be further devolved to wildlife “producer
communities” (Taylor, 2009; Campbell et al., 2001; B. Child, 1996a) . The CAMPFIRE document then set out a
policy of replicating the successes of private conservation in communal lands by devolving proprietorship of
wildlife to small communities formed on a voluntary basis (Martin, 1984, 1986).
The CAMPFIRE program partially decentralized the power to manage natural resources to local authorities,
which then passed it to locally elected committees. In essence, CAMPFIRE democratized wildlife governance by
moving the authority from central state and traditional leaders to formalized constituted institutions. In seeking
to avoid creating parallel local institutions, the government vested these rights in the Village Development
Committees (VIDCO’s) and Ward Development Committees (WADCO’s) as substructures of the Rural District
Council (RDC). CAMPFIRE empowered VIDCOs and WADCO’s relative to the traditional systems of chiefs,
headmen and village heads. However, the development committees remained sub-structures of the RDC instead
of community jurisdictions in their own right as the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Management
(DNPWLM) hoped (Murphree, 1996).These changes often led to challenges as the newly created democratic
institutions often struggled against the informal and norm based traditions, especially when communities have
weak rights over land and natural resources (Ribot, 2007). The partial devolution resulted in communities with
weak rights and limited power in managing the wildlife but they only retained the rights to manage funds and not
the wildlife (Songorwa, 1999).
CAMPFIRE required that the RDC and communities collectively manage wildlife resources. The first step was
to generate revenues. The primary mechanism for achieving this was to sub-contract hunting and tourism
concession to private outfitters in arrangements called joint ventures. DNPWLM passed the authority for
negotiating these to the RDCs and producer communities. This helped drive up their value by building the
capacity of communities to sell them through open, competitive and transparent arrangements which quadrupled
the value of wildlife (Child and Weaver, 2004), but also led to communities getting roughly 33-40% of the gross
turnover that safari outfitters received. Policy makers considered the rest a ‘fair’ return on the costs of marketing,
outfitting, and the capital investment of running high-end safaris. Transparency was enhanced by having the
outfitters pay trophy fees or a percentage of gross turnover in US$ so the communities could share the rapid
exchange rate gains associated with the weakening Zimbabwe dollar. The second stage was to organize
communities to “spend” money in ways that entrenched participatory face-to-face democracy and accountability
in order to maximize the public goods, equitable benefit sharing, and informed participation.
In 1989, the Parks and Wildlife Authority granted Appropriate Authority (AA) to two districts (Nyaminyami and
Guruve) and thereafter to ten districts with a potential for wildlife businesses. The work in Nyaminyami
provided much of the initial drive to the CAMPFIRE program, but over-capitalization and over-centralization
meant that Nyaminyami did not perform well and paradoxically failed to conform to the CAMPFIRE principles
(Murombedzi, 1992). The proponents of Nyaminyami were Department of Parks and Wildlife Management
(DNPWLM) which was seeking to encourage wildlife conservation in the face of rapid in-migration and land
clearance and Save-the- Children who saw the income from wildlife as a means of combatting poverty
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(Murphree and Metcalfe, 1997). These local level initiatives led to the development of other CAMPFIRE
programs such as the one that emerged in Masoka.
3.2 Development of CAMPFIRE in Masoka
During the early days of CAMPFIRE, Marshall Murphree and the Center for Applied Social Studies at the
University of Zimbabwe were working in the mid-Zambezi Valley and became concerned that a top-down
donor-funded project to settle the Zambezi Valley (the Mid-Zambezi Valley Resettlement Project) (Derman,
1993, 1987) was doing local people harm. The plans ignored the fact that people already lived there and seemed
naïve of the ecological realities of this hot, dry, and infertile region. They began to work closely with the wildlife
agency and advocated the devolution of CAMPFIRE revenues to producer communities as a means of promoting
local economic and political empowerment and combatting top-down blueprint land use planning with
bottom-up participatory development. This argument gained considerable traction with the wildlife agency,
which promoted ideals that included local self-determination and preferred adaptive management to blueprint
planning in stochastic and non-linear social ecological systems.
Masoka refers to the people of Dande Area, that settled in the area under chief Chisunga (Murombedzi, 1997).
Masoka lies in Mbire District (formerly Lower Guruve) in the Zambezi valley in Zimbabwe. It is inhabited by
different ethnic groups: Korekore (majority), Karanga (immigrants) and Tembomvura (minority) with a total
population of approximately 2,348 (Sicilia, n.d.). Masoka is rich in wildlife but is underdeveloped (Sicilia, n.d.).
Local farmers practice small scale agriculture and lack draught power due to tsetse (Taylor and Murphree, 2007).
Cotton and maize are major crops in the area. Low rainfall (~600mm) and lack of draught power limit extensive
agriculture and this provided an impetus for adopting CAMPFIRE as alternate land use model. Locally, an
important catalyst in Masoka was an emerging partnership with World Wide Fund for Nature (WW F). The first
important activity combined land use planning with a new electric fence so that the people of Masoka centralized
themselves in order to protect their crops from elephants and other animals. Revenues began to flow to the
community from its abundant wildlife, especially after they replaced their hunter by outsourcing hunting
competitively to a joint venture partner. While the process for revenue allocation was not as formally structured
as the ‘revenue distribution processes’ developed in Beitbridge and Mahenye (Brian Child, 1996a), it was
nonetheless highly participatory.
Despite the post 2000 turmoil in Zimbabwe, reports on Masoka remained positive, because it managed to
implement projects and negotiate for increased revenue share with RDC(Taylor and Murphree, 2007; B. Child,
1996b; Murombedzi, 1999). In 2006, Masoka, alarmed at its loss of revenue to the RDC, allied with the
CAMPFIRE Association to renegotiate this position with the council. Masoka claimed that since the wildlife
lived on their land are entitled to a fair share of the revenue, and if they did not they would no longer conserve it.
The result was a countrywide agreement that hunters automatically and immediately pay half of their fees to
producer communities (Jonga, 2006).
Despite these positive stories, there were indications that all was not all was well in Masoka. A number of events
had occurred that ran counter to the initial principles. These included: the collapse of the electric fence, the loss
of careful honest leadership provided by Headman Kanyurira with his death, and there were other signs of
decline, both in local attitudes but also in the retention of more revenue by the Rural District Council (RDC).
The value of hunting was further depreciating due to the collapse of the Zimbabwe dollar.
In the following section, we present the study findings, which illustrate how the first phase of the Masoka
program was highly participatory, with clearly defined rules and delivered benefits to community members. In
the later years, the elite captured most of the program benefits. The last section presents an analysis of some of
the factors that led to the changes reported in this study.
4. Results
4.1 Masoka’s CAMPFIRE Program Pre – 2009
As discussed above, Marshall Murphree and the Center for Applied Social Studies (CASS) were instrumental in
the founding of the Masoka CAMPFIRE program. The adoption of CAMPFIRE not only redefined natural
resources governance, but also created new opportunities for Masoka residents, including hitherto marginalized
women (Nabane and Matzke, 1997). For example, the community used CAMPFIRE revenues to build
infrastructure and purchase supplementary food during times of drought (see Table 1 for a list of projects and
Table 2 for a list of important events ). In addition, it also provided jobs (game guards, fence minders, hunting
industry) and paid committee positions. CAMPFIRE also introduced an open and highly participatory system
that allowed women to participate in village affairs. Compared to other communities in many ways Masoka was
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Table 1. CAMPFIRE projects
Project Year
Primary School (4 Blocks)
Secondary School (2 Blocks)
Dividends
Clinic
Secondary school
Tractor
Truck
Employment
1989
1990-1995
1996
1996
1998
2005
2007
6 Game scouts , 6 Guards, 2 teachers, 1 nurse
aid, 1 pump minder, 2 drivers, 3 clerks
Source: (R. D. Taylor and Murphree, 2007)
Table 2. Important events in Masoka
Important Events
Year
First Income
Electric fence constructed
First settlements outside the fence
Death of Headman Kanyurira
Fence collapses
Confrontation with RDC (Get 50% income )
New Headman
Direct payment system from Safari Operators
1989
1990
1997
2001
2003
2006
2006
2007
Source: (R. D. Taylor and Murphree, 2007)
4.2 Masoka’s CAMPFIRE Program 2009-2011
While the voluntary relocation of people to move inside the fence in 1990 to pave way for wildlife had signaled
a strong community support for the CAMPFIRE program ( Hughes, 2001) by 2003 all was not well. The
respected, influential, and modest Headman Kanyurira had died. The community was no longer maintaining the
fence. In-migration to the area was obvious along the access road to Masoka, and even in Masoka, there were
now higher numbers of people living outside the previously fenced area. People expressed unhappiness with the
program, and asked that the light-touch facilitators like WWF and Murphree to help them again.
This section describes the situation in between 2009 and 2011 based on field interviews and a review of minutes
of meetings held during the period. We interviewed fifty-four people that include the Chief, Headmen, former
CAMPFIRE committee members, ordinary villagers, religious leaders and employees. The results showed
respondents were concerned with the following: (a) the committee no longer handled finances transparently; (b)
CAMPFIRE assets were personalized (c) the committee was allocating CAMPFIRE revenues to the Chief,
Headmen, and less to community projects, and (d) there was poor regarding the management of community
funds (collapse of the participatory planning process). We discuss these concerns in detail below.
4.3 Non –Transparent Management of Funds/ Indirect Impacts of the Direct Payment System
The mismanagement of CAMPFIRE funds dominated the local narrative as it deviated from the relatively well
functioning system established around 1989. In the initial phases, Masoka community planned collectively with
the support of WWF who capacitated committees to manage finance and collective formulation of budgets.
Collective planning and budgeting was possible because at the time, the outfitter would pay the RDC large sums
of money on an annual basis. The RDC would bank this and in the New Year, the community would be informed
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34
of its share and would sit together to plan how they wanted to allocate it. The RDC then released money to the
community. As we noted above, with the meltdown of Zimbabwe’s fiscal circumstances, the value of payments
depreciated under the forces of rampant inflation and the financially stretched RDCs appropriated an increasing
share of the money. Instigated by Masoka, CAMPFIRE Association negotiated a nation-wide change whereby
the hunter would immediately pay half of the required payment for each hunt to the producer community directly
(i.e. its minimum share), rather than through the RDC. Therefore, instead of communities getting a lump sum
payment annually, they now received regular payments throughout the hunting season.
Interviews around 2011 showed that was no longer the case. The changes from an indirect to direct payment
system were not followed by a shift in governance. The direct payment required that community members meet
regularly to decide how income is spent. However, interviewed community members indicated that there was
little to no consultation regarding how committees were spending incomes. Most interviewed community
members indicated that they received reports of how committees had spent income but they rarely participated in
the budgeting process. With the introduction of the direct payment system communities needed to meet regularly
in order to decide how to spend their wildlife income but this did not occur. As one committee member
remarked:
“We are getting our money monthly. We cannot make long-term plans. Council is making a these decisions
without consulting us. The RDC only informs us after it has made its decisions. 1
… If we get small amounts,
we cannot implement anything meaningful.”
The statement above shows that the respective committee member did not understand how the direct payment
system works and used this as a basis for justifying the lack of projects. Most committee members felt that
spending money as it comes limits their ability to implement projects.
Ordinary community members attributed the failure to implement projects to a collapse of participatory
democratic processes. As indicated earlier, collective decision-making correlated with significant social and
infrastructural investments in Masoka. Planning meetings were important because they allowed community
members to understand and vote for important projects. Immediately after the community selected projects, each
project received funds for the entire year. Between 2009 and 2011, the committee implemented projects in an ad
hoc manner and the state of local infrastructure showed a dearth of funding toward repair and maintenance. For
example, the schools, office, and the clinic were dilapidated and the previously maintained roads were in a bad
state. In addition, the secretariat did not keep proper records of meetings. When asked why committees no longer
held these planning meetings, ordinary members reported that they had no knowledge such meetings were called.
4.3 Personal Benefits and Shifting Ethos
Between 2009 and 2011, committees consistently allocated funds for allowances, travel, and per-diems. The
culture of allowances contrasts with the “old” system that was largely accountable to community members. In
2009 for example, the committee members paid themselves sitting allowance for 12 meetings, which achieved
little except to gobble up money that could have been allocated to buying books and chalk for the school. This
prompted a member of the School Development Committee to comment: “We should not prioritize allowances;
we need to develop the school.”
The opinions of Masoka’s political and traditional leaders had also shifted with the popular narrative placing
them over and above ordinary community members. They perceived the CAMPFIRE project as a personal
project. The local headmen for example, modified community wishes list so that the Safari Operator builds him a
house and buys him a car. One of the community members raised an objection noting that CAMPFIRE was a
community and not a private project. In response, the local councilor felt those personal benefits were deserved.
The Headman remarked; “The wish list includes my vehicle. You should not be astonished because we “should
not be same” -traditional leaders and local people are not equal and the program needs to treat us differently.2
While locals recollected the initial principles of CAMPFIRE that emphasize equity in distribution of income,
local elite had shifted their focus toward personal enrichment plus total disregard for community views.
It is important to understand how and why the elite dominate local projects despite dissent by local community
members. That the Chief and the councilor chose to ignore community voices in Masoka is a broader
phenomenon that relates to traditional power relations between Chiefs and their subjects in rural African (Eggen,
2011; Ncube, 2011; Russell and Dobson, 2011). In our case study, the Chief dismissed committee members who
1 Interview with Step Coffee, Masoka Wildlife Development Committee (MWDC) secretary, August 2011
2 Panyaya ye Wish List pane pick up yaHeadman. hazvifanire kukushamisai nokuti hatifanire kufanana. Community members later molded
bricks for the house. During my visit, bricks were already piled at his house.
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refused to honor his requests because that challenged “his authority.” –for example asking him to submit receipts
to support his expenditure constituted insubordination. The Chief also dismissed village heads for non-apparent
reasons. These village heads, in most cases can assist in regulating the power of the Chief3. The power plays
entrenched patron-client relationships that eventually usurped bottom up systems of accountability initially
developed for CAMPFIRE. Thus, during this period, committee members served the needs of traditional leaders
in order to safeguard their positions.
4.4 Weak Property Rights and Lack of Protection of Democratic Processes
The inability to overcome elite domination between 2009 and 2011 is a result of weak property rights and the
alignment of traditional leaders with the ruling elite. The following transcript illustrates that it is difficult to
establish local level democracy where individuals within communities have weak property rights to both land
and the share of the wildlife collective. While most of the community members wanted to revert to the original
CAMPFIRE principles as espoused by Marshall Murphree, weak tenure and politicization of CAMPFIRE were a
major hindrance. Regarding the community’s failure to reinstate the CAMPFIRE principles, one respondent
noted:
Member A: We need to go back to what we used to do. We need meetings like in the old days
with Professor [referring to Prof. Marshall Murphree] …
Interviewer: Why do you not challenge these things?
Member A: It is the leadership. Some have been in the committee for seven years and they
refuse to step down. We are scared because this involves political leaders. People are too clever
these days and we need to change ... especially the councilor.
The transcript illustrates two important issues: a) locals’ benchmark CAMPFIRE’s performance against the
principles developed during the time of Marshall Murphree and b) the politicization of CAMPFIRE requires
different mechanisms in order to hold leaders accountable. The Headman for example, threatens to evict local
voices of dissent. One respondent noted the following regarding village heads; “They are not doing anything.
The headman suppresses their voices. If they complain they are threatened with eviction or are asked to leave the
area.”4 These high levels of intimidation have led to cooptation of other community elite, especially committee
members who then account upward to political leaders such as the Chief and Councilor and not to the
constituency in order to safeguard their position in the committee.
The transcript goes further to identify the councilor as the source of the problem in Masoka. In 2007, the
Environmental Management Act stipulated that local councilors become de-facto chairpersons for all
environmental committees. Masoka community initially opposed this decision as it tied local wildlife
management issues to political party lines and it represented top-down planning. Post 2007, CAMPFIRE’s
political role became highly visible in the country and more so in Masoka where the wildlife revenues paid
ZANU-PF sitting allowances. In addition, it was a period where politicians acted with impunity. As one
participant noted:
The leaders steal CAMPFIRE revenue. Committees label community members as uneducated and troublesome
and they should not be involved in CAMPFIRE decisions.5
The collapse of democratic processes elevated traditional and religious leaders to manage the affairs of the
CAMPFIRE, compared to the period before where they sat as ex-officio members. In 2009 for example, the
Headman was involved in the day-to-day running of the program, parked the community truck at his house
regardless of a by-law that prohibited this, and often used the truck for his private business. It was only when
some community members threatened to burn the truck that he relinquished control. Despite these small victories
toward reinstating CAMPFIRE principles, little had changed by 2011 toward restoring collective
decision-making.
4.5 Information Distortion
In the initial years, the Masoka program meticulously recorded its finances and these records fed into the
participatory planning and project implementation (see Taylor and Murphree, 2007). This robust system had
3 Iyesu masabhuku takatombopihwa ma punishment for six months. Hatina kana kumboziva kuti mhosva dzacho ndedzei? [Even us as village
heads, we were punished (suspended for 6 months). We were never told what we had done wrong
4 Interview with OMJK. August 2011
5 Vakuru vacho ndivo vanenge vachiba mari. Saka vanotsigirana pamwechete nevashandi vavo. Vakasangana pachezvavo unonzwa
vanongoti vanhu havana kudzidza, siyanai nawo.
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36
collapsed by 2009, as most members were not aware of the exact incomes that the community received from
safari hunting operations. One community member noted:
“If we look at what happened last year, they spent $97000 [2010] without building anything.
Even the workers are not getting their salaries. The new committees are only tasked with
clearing debts from the old committee...”6
The quote above represents a common perception among most of the community members, that the CAMPFIRE
program is generating a lot of income but there is little to show for it due to mismanagement. In general,
community members reported higher income figures compared to committee members and did not understand
the finances well. As indicated earlier, this is partly due to changes in financial payments from an annual payout
to monthly deposits had not been accompanied by governance changes. What most people indicated is that
compared to the earlier days where finances were presented well (and with the help of the World Wide Fund for
Nature).By 2009, the committee kept most of the important financial records such as salaries and other expenses
on loose pieces of paper. Without proper documentation, tracking expenditure is difficult but from the existing
records, we could establish that a planned conference center had not been built. Breaking down these systems
allows the elite to personalize the benefits (Chabal and Daloz, 1999).
5. Discussion
Between 2009 and 2011, the Masoka CAMPFIRE program shifted from highly participatory to a personalized
program controlled by the elite, mainly the Chief, Headman, Councilor, and the Committee. As a result,
Masoka’s CAMPFIRE program failed to deliver communal benefits compared to the previous years. Most
community members are aware of the collective benefits of the impersonal governance system and felt they
could not challenge the status quo. The narratives presented in this paper contrasts with people’s sentiments
before 2009. Prior to 2009 for example, the Chief, Headman, and spirit mediums “exercised functional
responsibilities.” (Matzke and Nabane, 1996) and decisions were based on collective consensus (Cutshall, 1989;
Matzke and Nabane, 1996; Jonga, 2006; Taylor and Murphree, 2007). From speaking with community members
and reviewing archival sources, evidence suggests the dictatorial tendencies of the Headman and the subtle
imposition by the Chief, affected locals perception of the CAMPFIRE program. In addition, the personalization
of CAMPFIRE benefits has been a commonly observed trend in other CAMPFIRE programs (Mapedza & Bond,
2006; Rihoy, Chirozva, & Anstey, 2010). The collapse in governance in Masoka was due to the loss of external
protection plus, the culture of impunity, and re-exertion of personalized rule at national and local levels in
Zimbabwe post 2000 trumped what the people liked, wanted, and allowed the re-exertion of personalized rule to
play out at local level. Table 3 below summarizes these explanatory factors.
Table 3. Key factors for successful devolution vs. elite capture in Masoka
Successful Devolution
1989 -2008
Elite Capture
2009-2011
CAMPFIRE Principles
Community adopted a constitution that guided
implementation of CAMPFIRE
Conformance Monitoring ×
Light touch facilitation ×
Good leadership – Leaders that bring people together
to make decisions ×
Clearly defined financial systems (book keeping and
financial statements) ×
Participatory meetings ×
Income
Quota setting ×
6 Community member, Zone 7 Masoka August 2011
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37
Size of community (Number of people) Small Large
Right to income ×
Rules around management of income ×
Compiled by authors.
Institutions are key in regulating human interaction and also define incentives that shape societies over time
(North, 1993). In order to ensure that CAMPFIRE functioned properly, the CAMPFIRE guiding principles were
drawn and adopted as a constitution. The study observed that committees no longer adhered to these principles
or the constitution. Some of the reason as members noted include the absence light touch facilitation from CASS
and the WWF on issues of good leadership, participation, and financial management and the direct oversight
from the Mbire RDC. The locals frequently requested for the assistance of Marshall Murphree in order to restore
the guiding principles – an appeal to externals to fix local issues.
The findings presented in this paper indicate that local democratic institutions do not emerge naturally even if
most people want then and if not protected from outside, they are bound to fail and superseded by personalized
ones. Following the withdrawal of external support to Masoka’s program, the elite were able to capture the
Masoka wildlife program. Masoka has consistently generated revenue but due to lack of participatory meetings
to ensure that all members benefit, it has failed to fund communal projects and repair existing infrastructure.
Whilst community members were fully aware of the collapse in CAMPFIRE, they felt disempowered to
challenge the traditional leaders, who often threaten to evict them from their land or dismiss them from the
CAMPFIRE committee.
Traditional leaders assumed a more active political role in post 2000 Zimbabwe. More importantly, the ZANU
PF led government-introduced benefits for the Chiefs that included cars and electrified houses. This led to an
increased sense of entitlement; hence, we see the Headmen and other traditional leaders demanding similar
benefits from CAMPFIRE. At the time, this ideology was popular ideology within ZANU PF, and was reflected
by how the elected councilor saw CAMPFIRE as an opportunity to enrich the elite rather than provide for the
greater good. These consequently led to some changes on Masoka’s budget, which was required to provide: (a)
allowances for the ruling party members (mostly at the ward meetings), (b) allowances for the Chief, (c)
headman’s allowances, and (d) the councilors’ vote.
The changes in Masoka also need to be seen within the context of Masoka’s exponentially increasing population,
which has grown more than 10-fold within two decades due to immigration. By 2000, the total number of
households had increased to 380 (Murphree and Mazambani, 2002) leading to increased ethnic diversity with 64
percent of the people in the area now characterized as migrants (Baudron et al., 2011).Without participatory
governance and collective planning, it will be difficult to satisfy a diverse community with potentially competing
land use options .
CAMPFIRE communities lack clear rights over wildlife (Balint & Mashinya, 2006; Mutandwa & Gadzirayi,
2007) and this weakens the ability of communities to deal with corruption and elite capture when it occurs. In
Zimbabwe, traditional leaders remain relatively more empowered compared to the community and more
specifically because they have authority over communal lands. In some cases, it is also interpreted to mean de
facto ownership of all natural resources in communal areas including wildlife. In the context of CAMPFIRE, we
highlighted that the Headman threatens to evict village heads that complain over the management of CAMPFIRE
revenues. Therefore, a weak policy that disempowers communities will allow elite capture to persist.
The collapse of local democratic governance in Masoka has led to some unintended outcomes. Some locals have
resorted to extensive agriculture migrants farm expansively compared to autochthons (3.2 hectares compared to
2.2 hectares) (Baudron et al., 2011). The expansion of cropping areas will lead to increased land clearance and
human wildlife conflict. Some farmers have introduced cattle in this fragile ecosystem.7 The human wildlife
conflict in Masoka has also increased reflecting the underlying social conflicts and people’s dissatisfaction with
elite capture of CAMPFIRE (Matema and Andersson, 2015).
6. Conclusion
The paper has demonstrated that in the absence of external monitoring, strong civil society and clearly defined
7 One community member has been keeping their cattle in the area for more than six months at the time of this research. Some community
members are also waiting to see the outcomes of this “experiment” before they can bring their own cows. Human wildlife conflict is likely to
increase.
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38
tenure, elites can capture easily well-intentioned programs such as CAMPFIRE. The paper has also
demonstrated how the shift in governance from an impersonalized system to a personalized one (between 2009
and 2011) led to significant decline in the quality of governance and the ability of CAMPFIRE to deliver
communal benefits. The future of CAMPFIRE, and community based conservation programs lie in significant
policy shifts in policy that clearly defines the rights of local communities and then creates mechanisms to protect
such institutions from predatory elites. The paper also demonstrated that the initial work in supporting
democratic governance helped community members understand and challenge, within the means available, the
non-consultative processes that prevailed between 2007 and 2009. Masoka community exuded local agency and
recollected clearly the positive benefits of democracy and collective participation. Given a supportive macro and
meso political context, community members will be able to dislodge the elite monopolizing communal benefits
and reinstate the pre-2009 CAMPFIRE.
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... In a country facing the serious challenge of high unemployment rates in the postindependence era (Mujeyi & Sadomba, 2019), any form of employment will become significant for peoples' livelihoods. Like in many other CAMPFIRE areas, some of the proceeds are used to pay for underprivileged children's school fees (Muyengwa & Child, 2017). ...
... The unequal spread of benefits from wildlife can threaten conservation efforts . Unequal distribution of CAMPFIRE benefits due to elitism in Masoka, Zimbabwe created rifts within the community which derailed its success (Muyengwa & Child, 2017). More often, elite capture excludes communities from decision-making process. ...
... More often, elite capture excludes communities from decision-making process. For instance, communities in Masoka noted that they were only notified of how the funds had been used, extremely excluded from budgeting process (Muyengwa & Child, 2017). Moreover, the findings from Masoka show that political and traditional leaders felt superior over local communities and made the CAMPFIRE their own personal project and they overruled any decision made by the local communities (Dube, 2019;Muyengwa & Child, 2017). ...
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Many developing countries have suffered under the personal rule of kleptocrats, who implement highly inefficient economic policies, expropriate the wealth of their citizens, and use the proceeds for their own glorification or consumption. We argue that the success of kleptocrats rests, in part, on their ability to use a divide-and-rule strategy, made possible by the weakness of institutions in these societies. Members of society need to cooperate in order to depose a kleptocrat, yet such cooperation may be defused by imposing punitive rates of taxation on any citizen who proposes such a move, and redistributing the benefits to those who need to agree to it. Thus the collective action problem can be intensified by threats which remain off the equilibrium path. In equilibrium, all are exploited and no one challenges the kleptocrat. Kleptocratic policies are more likely when foreign aid and rents from natural resources provide rulers with substantial resources to buy off opponents; when opposition groups are shortsighted; when the average productivity in the economy is low; and when there is greater inequality between producer groups (because more productive groups are more difficult to buy off).
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The Implementation of the Communal Areas Management Programme For Indigenous Resources (CAMPFIRE) in Zimbabwe's communal lands has resulted in the institution of a process of empowerment of local communities regarding the use and management of the natural resources at their disposal. The Masoka community trace the trajectory of this process starting with the precolonial resource management as they remember it in oral history, and ending in their current experiences with institutional development in the context of CAMPFIRE. This is the story of the experience of Masoka as told by the people of Masoka, who have lived through that experience.
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Zimbabwe’s Mid-Zambezi Valley is of global importance for the emblematic mega-fauna of Africa. Over the past 30 years rapid land use change in this area has substantially reduced wildlife habitat. Tsetse control operations are often blamed for this. In this study, we quantify this change for the Dande Communal Area, Mbire District, of the Mid-Zambezi Valley and analyse the contribution of three major potential drivers: (1) increase in human population; (2) increase in cattle population (and the expansion of associated plough-based agriculture), and; (3) expansion of cotton farming. Although direct effects of land use change on wildlife densities could not be proven, our study suggests that the consequences for elephant and buffalo numbers are negative. All three of the above drivers have contributed to the observed land use change. However, we found farmland to have expanded faster than the human population, and to have followed a similar rate of expansion in cattle sparse, tsetse infested areas as in tsetse free areas where cattle-drawn plough agriculture dominates. This implies the existence of a paramount driver, which we demonstrate to be cotton farming. Contrary to common belief, we argue that tsetse control was not the major trigger behind the dramatic land use change observed, but merely alleviated a constraint to cattle accumulation. We argue that without the presence of a cash crop (cotton), land use change would have been neither as extensive nor as rapid as has been observed. Therefore, conservation agencies should be as concerned by the way people farm as they are by population increase. Conserving biodiversity without jeopardising agricultural production will require the development of innovative technological and institutional options in association with policy and market interventions.
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This article reports some findings from an investigation of social policy researchers in the UK. The findings relate to the quality criteria that social policy researchers deem to be appropriate to quantitative research, qualitative research and mixed methods research. The data derive from an e-survey of researchers which was followed up by semi-structured interviews with a purposively selected sample from among those e-survey respondents who agreed to be interviewed. The article emphasises the findings that relate to quality criteria for mixed methods research, since this is an area that has not attracted a great deal of attention. Greater agreement was found regarding the criteria that should be employed for assessing quantitative than qualitative research. The findings relating to mixed methods research point to a preference for using a combination of quantitative and qualitative research criteria and for employing different criteria for the quantitative and the qualitative components.