The paper discusses the findings of a study that aimed to analyse institutional dynamics around vleis utilisation. Vleis are wetlands, which provide numerous resources for the communities that access and benefit from them. For a long time vleis use and sustainable management has been a topical issue amongst academics and policy makers in Zimbabwe. The following study tools were used in data collection; questionnaires, focus group discussions, trend analysis, observations, mapping and interviews. Data collected show that cultivation of Zungwi vlei started before colonisation and has continued to date. Community perceived that the state of natural resources is declining rapidly especially after 1980. Zungwi vlei was endowed with numerous resource units such as trees, swamps, springs, land, grass and reed beds. Majority (68%) of the 34 non-scheme member’s interviews said they benefited from the vlei resources. The study also found that although everyone in Mazvihwa had access rights but not all those with rights to access Zungwi vlei did so. Power relations were pivotal in vlei access and use. The study identified 12 institutions, which were involved with Zungwi vlei. Customary institutions regulated access and use of resources in the vlei. Although different state agents implemented the preservative government policy on vlei utilisation and use, the study found out that they operated at a distance and were ranked lowly by peasants. Sixty percent of 76 respondents thought traditional institutions are better managers of natural resources, while 33% thought government departments should manage natural resources. Traditional institutions use customary law and mythical fences in managing natural resources. These mythical fences are threatened by modernisation. The paper concludes that traditional institutions should be empowered to be able to manage natural resources.