Politics, Profits and Protection: Zimbabwe’s tobacco industry since 1947 | National Inquiry Services Centre

Politics, Profits and Protection

Politics, Profits and Protection: Zimbabwe’s tobacco industry since 1947

Zimbabwe’s tobacco industry since 1947

By Sibanengi Ncube
Size: 170x 240 mm
Pages: 172 pages
ISBN 13: 978-1-920033-00-2 (paperback)
Published: December 2022
Publishers: NISC (Pty) Ltd
Recommended Retail Price: R 32,500.00 325.00
Cover: Paperback

About the book

Zimbabwe’s agrarian history has attracted robust scholarly attention over time. Much of it has, however, focused on encounters between white settler farmers and Africans over control of resources. Scholars have also focused on how the postcolonial state has undermined the country’s agricultural sector through unsound policy interventions, notably the chaotic land reform programme of 2000. In both cases, emphasis is placed on the role of the state, either colonial or postcolonial, in propping up or undermining the country’s agro-based economy. While this is an indispensable approach, Politics, profits, and protection: Zimbabwe’s tobacco industry since 1947 provides an alternative yet complementary way of looking at the development of agriculture in Zimbabwe. The book uses the case of Zimbabwe’s tobacco industry to situate white settler agriculture in the broader context of post-Second World War British imperial policy and, to an extent, American foreign economic policy, decolonisation, and global tobacco trade politics. It concludes by highlighting policy continuities and discontinuities across the colonial-postcolonial divide. By pursuing these matters, the book makes a significant contribution to Zimbabwe’s economic history and to the growing literature on settler-colonial and postcolonial studies, with broader implications for regional and international trade debates. To achieve this, it draws on an extensive coverage of archives in Zimbabwe and South Africa, coupled with relevant newspaper reports, interviews, and industry publications.

Reviewer’s Comments

This is a well written work with a clear narrative line…It is a veritable source of information for the tobacco industry watchers, historians, political economists, agriculture economists, economists, and political scientists.
Professor Olutayo Adesina, Department of History, University of Ibadan, Nigeria

This study…brings a rather fresh perspective to the scholarship on tobacco production in colonial Zimbabwe. It does so by not only making use of hitherto unused sources (Smith papers), but also by demonstrating how specific dynamics on the global front affected tobacco production, pricing, marketing as well as their overall bearing on tobacco farmers in the country. This is a very useful contribution to the existing body of knowledge on colonial agriculture generally and particularly on tobacco production in the country.
Dr Tapiwa Madimu, Department of History, Rhodes University, Makhanda, South Africa

Part of the African Humanities Series

About the Authors

Sibanengi Ncube is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the International Studies Group of the University of the Free State in South Africa. He researches agrarian and commodity histories of southern Africa. Dr Ncube has published articles in the Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, International Journal of African Historical Studies, African Economic History, African Studies Quarterly, Journal of Southern African Studies, and the Journal of Asian and African Studies.


Chapter 1: The dollar crisis and consolidation of colonial Zimbabwe’s tobacco industry 
Chapter 2: Contestations in colonial Zimbabwe’s tobacco trade, 1953–1962
Chapter 3: Settler politics, tobacco growers, and the build-up to UDI, 1962–1965
Chapter 4: UDI, sanctions, and the reconfiguration of the local tobacco industry, 1965–1972
Chapter 5: War and sanctions in the twilight of white minority rule, 1972–1979
Conclusion: London deal, Lancaster House talks, and land reform, 1947–2021


Order Enquiries

You may contact NISC to purchase this book, however other purchasing options are available. Please see ordering details below:


Order online through from the African Books CollectiveAmazon or order from your local book store.


Order from the African Books Collective.