Neil Batsirai Maheve


Research Cluster


Prof. Dr. Sally Matthews, Rho­des Uni­ver­si­ty

Prof. Dr. Aram Ziai, Kassel University

PhD Project Title

Rethinking development and resistance in post-colonial Zimbabwe: the case of the CAMPFIRE project in Dande 1990-2016


Since the turn of the 21st century, the Global South has been underplaying, despising and dismissing the importance of ‘westernised’ development as emancipatory tool from the socio-economic bondage of poverty and underdevelopment. The study demystifies and challenges the successful position  accorded to Communal Areas Management Program For Indigenous Resources (CAMPFIRE), a development scheme, as the only viable solution to mediate the ‘exploitation’ of resources and upgrading the socio-economic lives of the local people. Conservation of flora and fauna in Africa has, since time immemorial, been grounded in traditional knowledge. Nevertheless, this changed when African countries achieved self-autonomy. In the 1980s western conservationists believed that local man from the global south was destroying his environment at an alarming pace and they agreed to put in place programs aimed at developing the local man using his environment. In Zimbabwe, the government alongside various NGOs, introduced (CAMPFIRE). The pith of CAMPFIRE was the right to manage, use, dispose of and benefit from the resources. CAMPFIRE in theory was meant to change the everyday lives of the buffer zone dwellers, but once enacted the standards of living of the residents of Angwa deteriorated. CAMPFIRE was centred on economic growth, stability and easing the suffering of 'underdeveloped' people, but it failed to do that.

My study examines development in Dande, using two related theories- Post-development and Post-colonial. Post-development as a discourse ‘rejects the entire paradigm’ of development, and can be seen as a fundamental critique, which called for ‘alternatives to development’. Post-development criticizes ‘development’ for ignoring differences in cultures and values, assuming that there is only one standard according to which societies can be measured and categorized. Post-development theory enables this study to provide nuanced local perspectives on development (CAMPFIRE), debunking from the ‘economistic’, ‘reductionist’ development thinking and the ‘bureaucratized’ development practices. The study explores ‘alternatives to development’ from grassroots movements and communities reclaiming their lives in different spheres and contributes to post-development debates, in Southern Africa, which have been largely ignored.  Additionally this study uses Post-colonial theory which advocates for the decolonization of knowledge and production of transformative knowledge. By presenting the West as unappreciative of past achievements and traditional African ways of doing things, the theory proffers an option to nuance contemporary debates of development in the global South.  Post-colonial suggest of a range of traditional ways as 'alternative' or 'indigenous' methods to challenge the Western biased development.

By using post-development and post-colonial theories interconnected, the emphasis will be on exploring the ways in which aspects of different traditions and practices express the interweaving of past and present, of indigenous and non-indigenous, into fruitful cultures, identities and practices. Rather than a nostalgic reinstatement of utopian traditional conservation ways, the two theories will aid in coming up with alternatives to development; this approach may have considerable value in development studies. An interconnection of post-development and post-colonial theories aids in providing fresh interpretations about development and knowledge on alternatives to development in Zimbabwe and Southern Africa.

Educational Background

Professional Experience

  • August 2017- November 2019: Culture Officer in the Ministry of Youth, Sports, Arts and Culture, Zimbabwe
  • September 2013- June 2017: Secondary school teacher History and English language for the Ministry of primary and secondary education, Zimbabwe


  • Review of ‘The challenges of Transfrontier conservation in southern Africa. ASQ volume 19, Issue 3-4(October 2020)
  • ‘Kumajahwi ndekweMachawa’, Muslims belong to the wetland’. Spatial contestations in Mvurwi township 1990-2010,  Zimbabwe Historical Association annual conference, Midlands State University, Zvishavane campus July 2019
  • ‘Chivanhu KumaBwidi, A religious history of stone sculpting at Tengenenge Zimbabwe Historical Association annual conference, University of Zimbabwe August 2018.
  • When a culture synonymises poverty’; a social history of the Tembo Mvura 1980-1990. African History Symposium University of Zimbabwe 2017.


Social/Political Activities

  • Member of the Maidhona Foundation Trust, a Non-Governmental Organisation in Zimbabwe