Kudzayi S. Tarisayi
This paper utilizes French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu’s conceptualization of social capital to interrogate the social capital of the Tokwe-Mukosi flood survivors relocated at Chingwizi transit camp in Mwenezi, Zimbabwe. The Tokwe-Mukosi floods and the subsequent relocation of flood victims to Chingwizi, Chisase and Masangula have been widely covered in journalistic reports and recently in scholarly studies. However, most research on floods around the world in general and the Tokwe-Mukosi floods in particular focusses on property loss, livelihoods implications, human rights issues and government assistance to flood victims or lack thereof. Thus, there is an apparent research gap on the sociological perspective to the implications of flooding on communities. This present study utilizes a case study approach and purposive sampling to bring to the fore the social capital implications of forced relations of the Tokwe-Mukosi flood victims. The study concludes that social capital at Chingwizi transit camp was negatively affected at the individual level but at the community level here was an apparent increase in social capital.
Key words: Social capital, floods, Chingwizi transit camp, Tokwe-Mukosi, Zimbabwe.
This paper interrogates the social capital of the Tokwe-Mukosi flood survivors relocated at Chingwizi transit camp in Mwenezi, Zimbabwe. The Tokwe-Mukosi floods and the subsequent relocation of flood victims to Chingwizi, Chisase and Masangula have been widely covered in journalistic reports and recently in scholarly studies. However, most research on floods around the world in general and the Tokwe-Mukosi floods in particular focusses on property losses, livelihoods implications, human rights issues and government assistance to flood victims or lack thereof. Thus, there is an apparent dearth in literature on the sociological perspective to the implications of flooding on communities. A study by Tarisayi (2014) reveals that the Tokwe-Mukosi floods adversely affected twelve villages in Masvingo province, specifically Chekai, Jahwa, Zifunzi, Mharadzano, Chkandigwa and Vhomo in Nemauzhe communal lands; and Tagwirei, Ndove, Matandizvo, Chikosi, Mashenjere and Nongera in Neruvanga communal lands. The affected villagers were subsequently relocated to Chingwizi, Chisase and Masangula by the government. An analysis of contemporary literature reveals that other perspectives to the Tokwe-Mukosi floods have been proffered. However, researchers have not explored the social capital perspective of flood victims in general and of the Tolwe-Mukosi flood victims in particular. Bourdieu (1986:244) reasons, “It is in fact impossible to account for the structure and functioning of the social world unless one reintroduces capital in all its forms and not solely in the one form recognized by economic theory”. Thus, to get a complete depiction of the Tokwe-Mukosi flood victims it is imperative that other forms of capital be reintroduced to the discourse. These capitals include are not confined to economic capital but include social capital and natural capital. Hence, this paper deviates from the economic theory and incorporates the social capital perspective into the debate on the implications of the Tokwe-Mukosi floods and the subsequent relocation of victims.
Chingwizi Transit Camp
Chingwizi transit camp was located in Mwenezi district, Masvingo province in Zimbabwe. Chakanyuka (2014) states that more than 3000 families were relocated to Chingwizi transit camp about 200 km South-East of Masvingo town in early February 2014 after they were displaced by floods. The transit camp was created to temporarily accommodate families affected by the floods while permanent resettlement plots were being arranged by the government. According to the District Administrator for Mwenezi district the population at the camp increased from the initially expected 2, 514 households to about 3, 338 households. (OCHA Zimbabwe, 2014).
This study is guided by the social capital theory as propounded by Pierre Bourdieu, Coleman and Putnam. Various perspective to the interrogation of the concept of social capital have been availed in different disciplines. This study traces the concept to the work of Pierre Bourdieu, contributions by James Coleman and Robert Putnam. The original theoretical development of the concept was by the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu (1980) but contributions by American sociologist James Coleman (1993) and later on Robert Putnam (1993) expanded the concept. Putnam (2002) argues that one of the strengths of the social capital concept is its use in the fields of economics, public health, urban planning, criminology, architecture, and social psychology, other than political science and sociology where it originated. Therefore, due to its wide usage in different fields diverse conceptualizations are bound to reveal themselves to a greater extent. A comparative exploration reveals that there is no apparent consensus on the definition of social capital. Bourdieu (1985:248) defines the concept as “the aggregate of the actual or potential resources which are linked to possession of a durable network of more or less institutionalized relationships of mutual acquaintance or recognition”. Consequently, it follows according to this definition that people build and invest in relations for the benefits that they would bring later in their lives. Therefore, in Bourdieu’s conceptualization social capital, economic capital and natural capital are all part of the social order.
Another perspective is submitted by Coleman who defines social capital as:
“the set of resources that inhere in family relations and in community social organisations and that are useful of the cognitive or social development of a child or young person. These resources differ for different persons and can constitute an important advantage for children and adolescents in the development of their human capital” (Coleman 1994: 300).
This conceptualization according to Coleman’s submission entails that social capital is important as a resource not only to acquire status or credentials (as seen by Bourdieu), but also in the enhancement of people’s human capital. Thus, for Coleman, this is facilitated within the family and as such the family becomes the “archetypal cradle of social capital” (Field 2008: 29). In addition, community ties are significant for the benefits they yielded to individuals according to Coleman.
Another perspective to social capital is proffered by Robert D. Putnam in his publication: ‘Bowling Alone’. Putnam (2000:19) defines social capital as the “connections among individuals – social networks and the norms of reciprocity and trustworthiness that arise from them”. According to Putnam (2000), social capital includes bonding capital and bridging capital. “Bonding occurs when you are socializing with people who are like you; same age, same race, same religion and so on. Bridging is what you do when you make friends with people who are not like you”. Thus, Putnam elaborates that there are two forms of social capital, which are bonding and bridging social capital. In addition, Putnam (1995) avails a conceptual expansion of social capital by widening the unit of analysis from the individual, as espoused by Bourdieu and Coleman, to the whole community and country. Therefore according to Putnam (1995) the whole community also possessed social capital. Hence, this study adopts two units of analysis, namely the individual as championed by Bourdieu and Coleman as well as the community as expatiated by Putnam.
Portes (1998:03) states, “the consensus is growing in the literature that social capital stands for the ability of actors to secure benefits by virtue of memberships in social networks or other social structures”. Whereas, a simply definition is proclaimed by Fukuyama (1999:16), “Social capital can be defined simply as a set of informal values or norms shared among members of a group that permit cooperation among them”. Whereas, Bankston and Zhou (2002:287) state, “Social capital is a ‘metaphorical construction’ which does not consist of resources that are held by individuals or by groups but of processes of social interaction leading to constructive outcomes”. Thus, this therefore reveals a controversy in whether social capital is a process or resource like other capitals such as financial or human capital. This controversy emanates from the use of the word ‘capital’ in social capital which usually denotes a quantifiable resource. Bankston and Zhou (2002:286) further argue that social capital is not quantifiable and hence availing a difference between social capital and human capital or financial capital.
The researcher utilized a case study of Chingwizi transit camp in Mwenezi to get an in-depth understanding of the implications of relocations on the social capital of the victims. Yin (2003:13) states that the case study investigates a “contemporary phenomenon within its real-life context, addresses a situation in which the boundaries between phenomenon and context are not clearly evident, and uses multiple sources of evidence”. The researcher chose the case study method since it involves the collection of very extensive data in order to produce an in-depth understanding of the entity being studied (Borg and Gall, 1989:402). This study was principally qualitative in nature and rooted in the interpretive paradigm and thus employed semi-structured in-depth interviews and questionnaires as the fundamental data collection techniques. In addition, these questions in the interviews and questionnaires were mainly adapted from the World Bank Social Capital Initiative Measuring Social Capital: An integrated questionnaire (Grootaert et al, 2004). Therefore, the researcher probed questions in areas acknowledged by the Measuring Social Capital: An integrated questionnaire which are namely; groups and networks, solidarity and trust, conflict and violence, collective action and cooperation, social cohesion and inclusion and lastly empowerment and political action. The respondents were purposively selected as the researcher identified information-rich cases (Johnson and Christensen, 2000).
Presentation and Discussion of Findings
Trust and Reciprocity among Chingwizi transit camp residents
The study revealed that there was lack of trust and reciprocity amongst the relocated Tokwe-Mukosi flood victims relocated at Chingwizi. The respondents revealed that they could not trust their neighbours by lending money among other assets. Due to the uncertainties that engulfed the transit camp the residents argued that they did not know for sure about their future and therefore could not invest in networks. One respondent argued, “My neighbours cannot pay me back, because they don’t even have a roof over their heads”. Thus, therefore, it can be argued that there was low social capital amongst the flood victims at Chingwizi as revealed by this study. In addition, the lack of trust can be argued to have emanated from lack of security for any borrowings or landings among the Tokwe-Mukosi flood victims. This finding concurs with Barr (2003) who observed that there was lack of trust in artificial communities (resettled communities) as compared to traditional communities. Thus, it can therefore be argued that Chingwizi transit camp aptly provides an example of an artificial community where there is lack of trust. While, Alesina and La Ferrara (2002) states that post traumatic events correlate negatively with trust levels among the victims. The residents of Chingwizi transit camp were traumatised by the floods that adversely affected their homes in the Tokwe-Mukosi basin and the challenges encountered in the subsequent relocations. Hence, these traumatic experiences impacted negatively on their trust and reciprocity amongst themselves.
Lack of trust for the government
The respondents revealed that they did not trust the government and government workers. There was general consensus among the respondents that the government had not adequately considered their plight from the period of the construction of the Tokwe-Mukosi dam, during the floods and the consequent relocations. Mutangi and Mutari (2014) argues that the displacement of communities led to negative perceptions towards the construction of the dam. Thus, even prior to the floods the affected communities which were supposed to be beneficiaries of the development expected from the Tokwe-Mukosi dam already lacked trust for the government. Ultimately, the victims of the Tokwe-Mukosi floods relocated at Chingwizi lacked trust for government institutions as they felt there was poor planning and lack of consideration for their welfare. This scenario was further compounded by allegations of sexual abuse of women and girls by government employees. Thus, the respondents’ revealed mistrust of the government can be explained by the allegation of abuse of women and girls by government workers and ZRP officers. This research finding is reiterated by Mtimba (2014:01) who states, “Flood victims at Chingwizi holding camp have accused government workers and Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers in charge of distributing aid of demanding sex from females in exchange for food and other commodities”. Thus, it can be argued that poor planning and allegations of abuse of women and girls adversely impacted on the social capital of the Chingwizi residents as there revealed a lack of trust for government.
This study revealed that there was an increase in political and civic activism among the Tokwe-Mukosi flood victims relocated at Chingwizi. The adverse conditions and unfulfilled promises by the government have availed a fertile ground for political and often militant action by the residents of Chingwizi transit camp. Due to the respondents’ perceived government efforts or lack thereof, the residents have evidently united against government efforts to relocate them to permanent resettlement plots without compensation and the promised five hectares of land. Chitagu (2014) reports that ten ministers were chased away and heckled by the people at Chingwizi transit camp. While in August 2014 anti-riot police officers were disarmed and had two of their trucks burnt as they fled the scene. Thus, it can be argued that the respondents revealed that they were forced by their plight to unite and take collective action against the government officials and police. Hence, this study reveals that this civic activism although rather militant is but indeed a form of community social capital for the Chingwizi transit camp. Despite, their exposed lack of trust and reciprocity among themselves, the Tokwe-Mukosi flood victims have united in their resistance and engagement of the government.
The paper concluded that the relocation of the Tokwe-Mukosi flood victims at Chingwizi affected their social capital differently as individual and as a community. The researcher concludes that the social capital at the individual level was affected negatively as it was revealed that there was lack of trust and reciprocity amongst the residents at Chingwizi transit camp. Whereas, at the community level the social capital was evidently positively affected by the dire conditions at the camp and allegations of abuse of women and girls. The villagers managed to unite and communicate their grievances to the government, although this resulted in violence but this was evidently an indication of the level of community social capital.
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 The disturbances were only quelled by the intervention of army.