Three decades of land reform in Zimbabwe ended in an ambiguous victory for youth. Focus on the cumulative outcome, in terms of scale and scope, led to conclusions that the exercise was a success, which obscured the resultant forms of exclusion. This article attempts to sketch an analytical context in which the dynamics of Zimbabwe’s land reform may be understood. It focuses at the broader policy and societal levels, and investigates the socio-political dynamics, and their combined effects on landing the economy for youth. It highlights the challenges associated with poverty reduction through land and agriculture for a semi-proletarian youth, and suggests that a policy of agricultural modernisation is unlikely to succeed in changing the economic circumstances of young people.