One view is that witch beliefs are being manipulated to justify expropriating people from their land. In some areas of post-war Mozambique, for instance, women, who after their husbands died, insisted on holding on to the couple’s land, have been accused of being witches by the relatives of the deceased (Bonate 2003: 11, 74, 115). Others were accused when refusing to give up the land that they had rented during the war. (Gengenback 1998) (4) Land disputes are also at the origins of many accusations in Kenya. In both countries, land scarcity adds to the intensity of the conflicts.
More broadly, witchcraft accusations are often a means of enclosure of communal land. As international agencies, with the support of the African governments, press for the privatization and alienation of communal lands, witchcraft accusations become a powerful means to break the resistance of those to be expropriated. As historian Hugo Hinfelaar points out, with reference to Zambia:
« In the current era of uncontrolled ‘market forces’ as preached by the present government and other supporters of neo-liberalism, confiscating land and other forms of property has taken on a more sinister dimension. It has been noted that witchcraft accusations
and cleansing rituals are particularly rife in areas earmarked for game management and game ranching, for tourism, and for occupation by potential big landowners…Some chiefs and headmen profit from selling considerable portions of their domain to international investors, and fomenting social disruption in the village facilitates the transaction. A divided village will not have the power to unite and oppose attempts to having the land they cultivate being taken over by someone else. As a matter of fact, the villagers are at times, so engaged in accusing each other of practicing witchcraft that they hardly notice that they are being dispossessed and they have turned into squatters on their own ancestral lands.” (Hinfelaar 2007: 238)
Silvia FEDERICI, Witch-Hunting, Globalization, and Feminist Solidarity in Africa Today p. 5-6