Politics from the Pits: Artisanal Gold Mining, Politics and the Limits of Hegemonic State Domination in Zimbabwe

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In post-2000s Zimbabwe, artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) has become one of the major economic activities that provides income and livelihood opportunities to millions of people. The article attempts to make sense of how such mining activities intertwined with the country’s political economy and became implicated in shaping the dynamics of local and national politics. Taking the case of Kwekwe district, situated at the heart of the country, the article argues that ASGM as a socio-economic and political activity and a general way of life became the core of contemporary local Zimbabwean political relations, interactions and participation, and indeed a potent motor in party–state expansion and power consolidation. The new arrangements of politics, while facilitating the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union(Patriotic Front) (ZANU[PF])’s strong hold on power and territory in the face of powerful opposition politics represented by the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), also encouraged local actors to expand their own statuses and influence away from political marginality towards the traditional political and elite centres such as the capital, Harare. The article shies away from literature that has emphasised state domination and subordination; this is in order to demonstrate that the relationship between the new political actors (buoyed by gold extraction) and the state is a flexible network of bargains and negotiated fusions, exchanges and appropriations. Largely ethnographical, it engages with an aspect of artisanal mining and politics in Zimbabwe that has yet to receive systematic scholarly attention.




Nkomo, M., & Nkomo, L. (2023). Politics from the Pits: Artisanal Gold Mining, Politics and the Limits of Hegemonic State Domination in Zimbabwe. Journal of Southern African Studies, 49(1), 137–153. https://doi.org/10.1080/03057070.2023.2182982

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