Traditional leaders and the politics of labour recruitment in Zimbabwe's platinum mining industry

Darryl K. Chanakira*, Joseph Mujere, Sam Spiegel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Whereas much literature on traditional leaders and mining centres on land alienation and displacement, less has focused explicitly on the interface between traditional leaders, articulations of belonging and local labour recruitment dynamics. Using the case of Zimbabwe Platinum Mines Holdings Limited (Zimplats)’s platinum mining operations in Mhondoro-Ngezi district in Zimbabwe, this article analyses the centrality of the politics of belonging in the platinum mining industry's local labour recruitment regimes. The article examines how traditional leaders use autochthonous claims to land to negotiate access to jobs for job-seekers under their jurisdiction and also explores the flaws and contradictions within the local labour recruitment regimes set up by mining companies to appease local communities. The relationship between mining capital and traditional leaders resulted in the emergence of a local labour recruitment regime in which traditional leaders played a significant role. Traditional leaders’ demands for jobs from mining companies whose activities led to their displacement can be viewed as a form of ‘insurgent citizenship’ which led to greater access to mining jobs by local communities. As demonstrated in this study, local communities’ access to mining jobs should not be viewed as a result of the corporate paternalism of mining companies, but coordinated efforts by traditional leaders and local communities who lost their land to mining operations. The article also highlights the fraught nature of a local labour recruitment regime that is centred on traditional leaders. Apart from instances of corruption in how traditional leaders manage the local labour recruitment system, the article also highlights the contentious nature of the psychomotor tests used by the mining company in recruiting labour.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1274-1281
JournalExtractive Industries and Society
Issue number4
Early online date21 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019


  • autochthony
  • belonging
  • labour recruitment
  • traditional authorities
  • Zimplats


Dive into the research topics of 'Traditional leaders and the politics of labour recruitment in Zimbabwe's platinum mining industry'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this