J Hous and the Built Environ (2013) 28:381–396 DOI 10.1007/s10901-012-9311-8 POLICY AND PRACTICE
The policy-planning divide: an evaluation of housing production in the aftermath of operation Murambatsvina in Zimbabwe L. Chipungu • A. A. Adebayo
Received: 4 February 2011 / Accepted: 28 August 2012 / Published online: 7 September 2012 Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012
Abstract There is a very thin line of divide between policy and planning, let alone between policy and politics. In most post-colonial states, the situation has been aggravated by the ruling elites’ determination to divorce themselves completely from colonial practices. This in turn has significantly transformed the policy environment to an extent where its interface with implementation is obscure. This paper examines the policy-planning divide from a housing perspective. It singles out policy issues as well as the political environment as key factors that influence the physical planning environment for housing. Using the case study of housing reconstruction in the aftermath of slum clearance (Operation Murambatsvina/Operation Clean-up) in Zimbabwe, the paper argues that if national policies that impinge on physical planning are not well defined; they can have negative implications on the implementation and outcome of projects. The situation is further complicated by unlimited influence party politics has on physical planning. What emanates from the case study is a mere manifestation of elite decision making driven by the economy of affection. The emerging issues from this discourse clearly show how difficult it is to operate in a public domain riddled by selfish motives. Keywords
Housing Policy Politics Planning Reconstruction
1 Introduction Ever since Zimbabwe entered the twenty-first century, it has been engulfed in socioeconomic and political problems. The turbulent environment, arising out of a controversial land reform programme, aggravated by the political impasse on the part of the main political parties, has grossly affected all sectors of the country. In the face of these raging L. Chipungu (&) A. A. Adebayo School of the Built Environment and Development Studies, Howard College, University of Kwa-Zulu-Natal, Durban 4001, South Africa e-mail: [email protected]; [email protected] A. A. Adebayo e-mail: [email protected]
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conflicts, the economy has been gradually declining to the extent that the government resorted to temporal and stopgap measures to try to avoid total collapse. It is also in the heat of such developments that the government tightened its grip on all sectors of the economy with the intention of having direct control but with virtually no clue (whatsoever) as to where the solution lies. This centralisation of power permeated not only all sectors of the economy but also affected the conduct of professionals in various institutions. Expanding on this brief background, this paper analyses how the government policies enacted between 2000 and 2007 have impacted the development process. The analysis is followed by an evaluation of the housing reconstruction programme (code-named Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle (OG/HK) which the government embarked on in 2005 after Operation Murambatsvina/Operation Clean-up (OM/OC). It should be remembered that OM/OC was a country-wide campaign conducted by the government in May 2005 that was aimed at (among other things) removing informal housing in urban areas. The campaign, which involved demolition of informal housing, left thousands of people homeless. It was in a bid to accommodate the affected people that the government embarked on OG/HK. In the light of this housing reconstruction programme, this paper evaluates how the policy environment responded to the pressing social needs in terms of project design and implementation during this particular period. It has to be reiterated at this early stage that OM/OC and OG/HK were not policies in their own right, but the nature of their implementation helps to understand the policy environment in which they were programmed. OM in particular, as observed by a number of researchers (Chipungu 2011; Vambe 2008; Kamete 2007), signified a protracted interference of party politics and military power in urban management which resulted in the improper application of development control mechanisms by the state.
2 Methodology The collection of data for this paper was largely influenced by the unfriendly social and political environment that prevailed in the country since the turn of the millennium in 2000. Since the onset of the Fast-Track Land Reform Programme (FTLRP) in 2000, the government became protective of its public programmes. This was a result of the international criticism it received due to some of its controversial programmes such as the FTLRP and OM/OC. On the other hand, the events on the ground unfolded much faster than formal communication was taking place within central and local government structures. Hence the unfriendly nature of the environment prompted the researcher to employ the snowball approach in data collection. This involved identifying key informants within and outside the central and local government structures who were directly or indirectly associated with government decisions during the period in question. A total of 10 key informants were used and these were largely drawn from offices in Harare and Bulawayo where most of the reconstruction was being undertaken. Three of these key informants were former planners, two of which worked in the central government when these operations were implemented. The other one is a former employee of the Harare City Council. In addition, the researcher depended heavily on direct observation of some of the projects that were being implemented. Projects in Harare, Bulawayo and Norton, to a large extent, contributed to the empirical evidence that was gathered through observation. Above all, information that came through the national public media (especially The Herald and The Chronicles) also contributed significantly to this research since the reconstruction
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programme was highly published by the government. Collecting data for this paper was a slow process which began in 2005 and was completed in 2006. It must be pointed out that this evaluation only covered developments that occurred between 2000 and 2007—hence issues that emerged after this period (such as the Government of National Unity) are not discussed to any significant depth. However, the large body of information cited outside this period (such as in Sect. 3) is meant to provide a broad background to the issues under discussion.
3 An overview of the general policy environment in Zimbabwe An overview of the Zimbabwean policy environment shows that there are a number of key features that characterise the policy-making and implementation processes. These features, to a large extent, are reflective of the main features that underline the elite decision-making process: political arenas as sources of policy, directives evolve into policies, lack of consultation, new laws to accommodate new policies, conflicting nature of policies, politicisation and policy issues as operations. These are discussed in detail below. One major source of policy is the political arena. This is expected because there is a very thin dividing line between policy and politics. The power of the modern state is derived in part from its capacity to direct and control production systems (Low, 1996) and more so, in being able to make decisions and to control the destiny of its people. Such power in most developing countries is entrenched in ruling political parties. In the case of Zimbabwe, as far back as 1984, the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU PF) emphasised that the party directed the government and not vice versa (Chigudu 1988). Since then, the ruling party has been tightening its grip on policy formulation, especially after the advent of the structural adjustment programme in the early 1990s. These policies, as has become a tradition, are proposed at special party meetings such as congresses. Policies proposed and later adopted at such platforms are used as ‘‘frontal attacks or operations’’. As noted by Barkan (1984), when such policies are initiated, they are dramatized so much that they produce a sense of urgency in order to avoid any delay in implementing them. This is clearly shown in the Fast-Track Land Reform Programme (FTLRP) that was initiated at high party levels and used as a campaign tool during the runup to the presidential elections in March 2002. It is in this same vein of political expediency that programmes like OM/OC and its successor, OG/HK were undertaken. Thus policy-making is largely party-centred with few closely-linked elites making decisions. The nature of the system is such that even the bureaucrats in the party do not have the influence to make the political leadership conscious of the need for alternative policies (Human Development Report 2000). Another common feature of policy formulation in Zimbabwe is that policies at times begin as directives from ministers. Such policies tend to be beyond criticism by junior bureaucrats. Ironically, those in authority will always defend their decisions in the name of the public interest despite the fact that public participation is not given audience in the first place. The then Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing defended this position when he told participants at the Association of Urban Councils that ‘the government will not remove directives’ since it aims to protect the public interest (The Herald, 06 June 2002). Normally, such directives result in policies that are ‘revolutionary’ in the sense that they aim to bring drastic and immediate change. It is this characteristic feature that Hyden (1983) labelled ‘motivation outruns understanding’ since no time is taken to understand the implication of the policy. These directives are articulated in such a
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way as to institute urgency in their implementation. Unfortunately, when these directives eventually evolve into policies, they tend to undermine and disregard the needs of the very institutions charged with that responsibility because the focus is on ‘change now’. Yet systematic parameters through which these policies are supposed to be implemented are not clearly defined. Consultation is a key input for a healthy policy environment. Literally, any multistakeholder society requires a participatory forum for policy development. But the current institutional design and political culture in Zimbabwe seems to undermine the existence of such a platform. Healey (1998) rightfully argued that in a multi-stakeholder society, there must be emphasis on argumentation on policy principles. But since 2000, consultation in Zimbabwe has been at its lowest ebb. Ironically, the country has a number of institutions through which consensus-building can be achieved. Among such institutions is the Tripartite Negotiation Forum that brings together business people, labour movements and the government. Yet the government does not take these institutions seriously. As Kanyenze (2000) rightly observes, these institutions have been reduced to ‘talk shops’ since nothing productive comes out of these talks. As a result, policy design has since been relegated to a top-down process. It is therefore not surprising that most policies have been failing dismally at implementation level as they lack that aspect of national ownership and identity. Commenting on some of the government’s policies, one senior official noted that ‘with some policies, you just proceed otherwise you do not change anything because you do not expect to get 100 % consensus’ (Vasity Times, June 2002). But the results are always disastrous, as witnessed after the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (ESAP) of 1991 which was adopted by the government without consultation with some sector ministries (Agere 1988). The development of new policies and their subsequent implementation in Zimbabwe has been backed by the inauguration of new laws to legalise them. These laws and regulations are derived from the interplay of economics and politics, and mediated through normal institutional practices. However, some social and political commentators have argued that such laws are meant to safeguard the policy-makers and eventually the ruling elites’ selfish motives (Madhuku 2004; Chigudu 1988). For instance, the coming into being of the Constitutional Land Amendment Act No. 16 of 2002 was a result of the domestic and international pressure to legalise the controversial Land Reform Programme. Hence through new legislation, it is hoped that such policies would gain respect and credibility. Also common in Zimbabwe’s policy environment is the conflicting nature of policies. As already indicated above, these policies are always urgent in nature and therefore they lack adequate debate by stakeholders. Such policies tend to be wrong, inappropriate or inadequate—factors that lead to undermining of national goals. Among the policies that fall in this category are the Land Reform Programme of 2000, the Price Control Policy and the Economic Development Policies (especially those adopted after 1997). On the other hand, the growing parallel market for foreign currency and food shortages have been blamed on the poor economic and price control policies respectively. In other words, these policies defeated the government’s effort to resuscitate the economy. No consideration was given to the impact of the policies on employment, food security and services that affect a large percentage of the population. Perhaps the worst development in the formulation and implementation of policy in Zimbabwe is the extent to which politics have been allowed to filter from parent political institutions (via ministers) to the bureaucratic organs of the government. This is simply because the policy-making machinery is in the hands of the ruling party and, as such, it is heavily tilted towards one political party. Unfortunately, this is an inevitable situation
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given that the extreme power of the executive president allows him to appoint ministers, 30 members of parliament, members of various commissions, judges, executive heads of ministries and ambassadors who are all party members (Human Development Report 2000). Commenting on this balance of power among policy-makers, Chigudu (1988) argued that these are in essence political appointees who are appointed into positions so as to safeguard party supremacy. Unfortunately, politicisation has since cascaded to the civil service. There is no objection to the civil service being controlled by politicians since they are supposed to carry out the policies of the duly elected representatives of the people. But if civil servants’ perception of politics develops beyond the rational and professional framework, then they become sycophants and mere time-servers. The development of the economy of affection and its associated political spoils is grossly affecting the efficient running of the public service. Hence, in as much as the policies are highly politicised, so is the implementation process. This normally results in misrepresentation of facts as policymakers and implementers try to appease those in high office. This clearly reflects the supremacy of politics in issues that require professional conduct. Finally, of interest to note is that most of the Zimbabwean government’s policies enacted after the year 2000 were tagged with the name ‘operations’. While there is virtually nothing wrong in using such a term, it is the connotation associated with the term that brings it in the spotlight. The Concise Oxford Dictionary (2002) defines operation as ‘management, governing or supervision’. It further defines the same word in military terms as ‘action, manoeuvre or campaign’. Indeed if one is to go by its military meaning, then it is easy to discern that all this is in tandem with the general policy frameworks that have been alluded to in the preceding paragraphs. But this is also an inevitable situation given the gradual militarization of most government institutions (such as the National Railways of Zimbabwe and the Grain Marketing Board) which have since been placed under the leadership of retired army personnel. As a result, most policies came on board reflecting an element of instant action in the form of immediate implementation. Hence even genuine policy issues were transformed into mere projects—an aspect which created implementation anomalies. A glaring example is the FTLRP, which reminds one of a situation that did not have a firm policy base other than poorly constituted programmes. In the same vein, programmes and projects which come on board are designed in an environment with a plethora of all these negativities outlined above—a factor that results in poor delivery. This indeed is further reflected in other programmes and projects such as OM and OG/HK. The above portrayal of the policy environment will help one understand the environment in which service delivery was done in Zimbabwe in the period in question. One major problem that emerged from this policy environment is that there was a very thin dividing line between the policy-making process and party politics. The urgent nature of some policy proclamations at times resulted in a mix-up of programmes and projects with stringent implementation requirements. In a nutshell, one could argue that public policymaking and its implementation in Zimbabwe resembled Hyden’s ‘we run while others walk’ approach (1983). This is an approach that to a large extent depends on the undisputed authority of the political leader. It is a radical approach, which does not respect conventional methods. Here, policy-makers do not use past experience to guide them into future programmes due to the strong desire to ‘remove the vestiges of colonialism’. Under this approach, the structures and boundaries of the bureaucracy and the political actors are hazy. The bureaucracy itself is highly politicised, so much so that it is under the control of the politicians. This authoritarian approach to policy-making is typical in countries that had followed the path of socialism and strong military rule soon after independence. Thus ideology, to a large extent, impinged on the overall policy-making process. This approach
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can be equated to the elite (mass) model which is based on the assumption that the elite are firmly in power and that they know best and therefore consensus exists within the elite group (Cloete et al. 2007). 3.1 An overview of housing policies and strategies in Zimbabwe 3.1.1 The policy framework When Zimbabwe became independent in 1980, the government’s concern was to deal with the dual economy that had left most of the indigenous black people without adequate services and infrastructure. In the urban environment, this was characterized by inadequate housing for the majority of the black people. This situation was aggravated by the increase in the population of the black people who after independence saw urban areas as the only source of better opportunities. Driven by the egalitarian principles of socialism, the government outlined its first low-income housing policies and strategies in the First Transitional National Development Plan of 1982. They focused on the home ownership, minimum housing standards, self-reliance and cost effectiveness and on private- and public-sector partnership as summarized in Table 1. To achieve these policies, the government adopted a number of strategies which were supposed to be vehicles through which housing could be delivered. These strategies included the implementation of site and service schemes, the use of building brigades and adoption of cooperatives. These strategies are discussed below. 188.8.131.52 Site and service schemes The site and service approach was a colonial creation which was introduced into the mode of housing production in the late 1970s by the colonial regime. This strategy, therefore, was a mere continuation of colonial policies that were crafted as a response to the increase of indigenous Africans in the urban environment. This Table 1 Key features of housing policy in zimbabwe Policy features
Conversion of all government-owned housing from rental to home ownership New housing schemes were to be based on home ownership
Minimum housing standards
Stipulate the type of materials to be used for housing (i.e. burnt or cement brick walls under asbestos or iron sheets with smooth cement flooring finish) Minimum plinth area of a core house is 50 m2 Minimum stand size is 150 m2 plot The smallest size of a habitable room is 7 m2
Self-reliance and cost-effectiveness
Based on self-help principles Emerged out of the need to engage beneficiaries in mobilising labour, finance and materials Closely linked to the strategy of site and services
Private- and public-sector partnerships
Popular in the 1990s Mainly driven by donor funding (especially the USAID and the World Bank) At their peak in the 1990s, 45,000 housing units were delivered in all urban areas Common partnerships exist between the public sector and financial institutions which have a mandate to manage donor funds for housing production
Sources: Author from various sources (2011)
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strategy, to a large extent, strengthened the government’s home-ownership policy and selfhelp approach since it gave beneficiaries the freedom to make extensive decisions on their housing. But this freedom could only be practiced where the government provided serviced land (i.e. land provided with reticulated water, sewer and roads) and at times (depending on the nature of the scheme) where a wet core was provided. Other than that, there was no freedom of housing production on sites that were not designated for that purpose. Above all, housing production was strictly monitored and approved to meet the specific requirements of local authorities as governed by the standards outlined in Table 1. It is through this strategy that private capital finally got its way into low-income housing production, as beneficiaries approached financial institutions for mortgage loans. 184.108.40.206 Building brigades Another strategy which the government introduced in order to facilitate low-income housing provision was the introduction of building brigades. It was believed that such an approach would tap into the large pools of the unemployed excombatants and urban youths, thereby contributing towards alleviating unemployment while at the same time reducing production costs. This, it was further assumed, would eliminate the element of profiteering on the part of the private builders. To make it mandatory, the government, through Circular No. 8 of 1983 (Ministry of Public Construction and National Housing), instructed all local authorities to terminate the use of private contractors for all housing schemes that were funded by the government. This became a massive drive against private contractors which, by 1984, saw building brigades operating in 33 local authorities (Chikwanha 2005:91). 220.127.116.11 Co-operatives Through this strategy, home-seekers were expected to pool their resources to achieve affordability through collective construction of each member’s house. In essence, this approach to housing delivery was to be based on the principles of collective action. The government urged all local authorities to allocate land to co-operatives in order for them to be actively involved in housing production (Kamete 2006:987). However, there was a slow start to the acceptance of the co-operative strategy due to the negative attitude of the urban dwellers who viewed such an approach as backward. Besides, as Rakodi (1994) contends, most urban dwellers are by definition full-time workers and were therefore not interested to contribute significant labour inputs to housing production. But against all odds, this approach later proved to be one of the most convenient vehicles for housing production.
4 Background to OG/HK Zimbabwe, since attaining independence in 1980, has been one of the few countries in Africa that has shown proper adherence to the principles of modernist planning in urban areas. In this regard, the country witnessed very low levels of illegal and informal settlements within its cities. However, the gradual but steady growth in the urban population increased in the 1980s reaching 30 % by the early 1990s. Comparative levels of urbanisation reflected in Table 2 show that by the year 2000, the level of urbanisation in Zimbabwe had reached 35.3 %. These increasing levels of urbanisation did not match the economic capacity, which had already started showing signs of sluggish growth in the 1990s. Such developments curtailed the capacity of the government to efficiently provide both social and economic
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services. Service delivery in urban areas, especially the provision of housing, suffered significantly, a factor that led to the proliferation of slums and squatting. Developments in the housing sector, like in any other sector of the economy, came to a head when the government embarked on the FTLRP in 2000 in order to resolve the colonial land imbalance. This saw the development of large-scale unauthorised housing in and around the cities where farms were invaded. Such informal developments were not only a characteristic feature of the housing sector—in fact, the whole economy saw the mushrooming of informal activities as the population struggled to cushion itself against the tides of the flagging economy. The government did not take to this kindly and in 2005 it launched OM/ OC, an exercise to rid the cities of informal settlements which were accused of harbouring criminal and indecent activities. This led to the demolition of informal developments that had become a key source of housing among the urban poor. So widespread was the campaign that close to 700,000 people were directly and indirectly affected (UN 2005). The aftermath of this blitz saw the government embarking on a national housing reconstruction programme (code-named OG/HK) in all the urban centres. 4.1 Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle (OG/HK) OM/OC, which began on the 18th of May 2005, officially came to an end on the 26th of June 2005. The 40-day operation was subsequently replaced by OG/HK that was meant to provide housing to people affected by the blitz. However, no actual date can be noted as the exact date when the operation began, since there was no official communication, other than statements that appeared in the media. In its response to the UN Envoy’s special report on OM/OC (August 2005), the Government of Zimbabwe argued that OM/OC was not an end in itself; rather, it was a precursor to OG/HK whose objective was to provide decent and affordable housing as well as to create an enabling environment that promotes the development of medium- and small–to-medium-scale enterprises (MSME). It further argued that this was in line with its policy objectives on housing delivery and MSMEs development as enunciated by the ruling party in its manifesto for the parliamentary elections of 31 March 2005. In order to begin the exercise, the government announced a budget of Z$3 trillion (approximately US$300 million) as seed money to embark on a massive construction programme nationwide. The major impediment for the government to successfully achieve meaningful strides in housing provision was lack of funding—especially after the flight of donor support. The 2005 National Budget did not cater for such a massive reconstruction programme as that which the government embarked on, but somehow, the government was able to mobilise funds for this programme. The government further urged the private
Table 2 Levels of urbanisation Area
Level of Urbanisation (%)
Urban Population (000)
Source: UN-Habitat, 2003
2010 425, 596 1,783,600 –
2020 589,408 2,231,108 543,166
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sector, Pension Funds and individuals with the capacity to complement government effort to do so to make the programme a success. This was quite an ambitious programme with very high targets. The government set a target of building 300,000 houses countrywide by the end of August 2005. While this was a noble cause, it has to be understood in the light of the previous government endeavours in housing delivery. The Sunday Mirror (12 June 2005) critically noted that housing for all in Zimbabwe has remained an elusive dream. Out of an annual target of 162,000 units set between 1985 and 2000, the actual delivery ranged between 15,000 and 20,000 units per annum. The production levels fell further to as low as 5,500 plots in the major urban centres against an estimated annual demand of 250,000 units in 2002 (Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing 2003). More so, with the underachievements witnessed from the Start-Paying-for-your-House Scheme of the late 1990s, it was really difficult to tell with precision how the government was going to accomplish this task. When the government embarked on OG/HK, the aim was to provide both fully completed housing units and individual plots for housing development. The proposed housing units were two-roomed structures on minimum plot sizes of 150 m2. These were to be built with brick walls under asbestos roofing sheets. In addition, all units were to have access to all-weather roads, water and sanitation as provided by the housing policy. On the other hand, plots for housing development were to take the form of serviced sites, where only a serviced piece of land was provided and the beneficiaries were supposed to gradually build the houses using their own resources. Beneficiaries of this reconstruction housing programme were to be drawn from the people who were affected by OM/OC. The implementation of this programme saw the switching of roles between the central government and the urban local authorities. Despite the fact that areas that were undergoing reconstruction fell under the jurisdiction of the local authorities, the central government spearheaded the development process. A complete departure from the normal approach was witnessed when the central government took upon itself to identify the land for reconstruction and also to select the beneficiaries of the new housing schemes. Once land was identified, plots were pegged and hastily allocated to beneficiaries by the central government’s new arm of administration—the Inter-agency Provincial Operation Committee. But traditionally, identification and selection of beneficiaries was done by local authorities who had full records of applicants who were in genuine need of housing and therefore were on the waiting list. The Chronicle of 27 August 2005 published the names of 524 people from 33 co-operatives in Bulawayo Metropolitan Province who had been allocated stands at Cowdray Park. Similarly, in Harare, The Herald of 17 June 2005 published the names of 4,470 stand beneficiaries out of a total of 20,447 applicants. Such a move flew in the face of the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing’s mandate of co-ordinating central and local government programmes and development initiatives through local authorities. If anything, this is a duplication of the role of the local authorities who manage housing waiting lists in their areas of jurisdictions and accordingly communicate with prospective beneficiaries. The splashing of names of prospective beneficiaries in the public media simply substantiates the government’s desperate move to redeem itself in the face of international criticism on OM/OC. But this move was contrary to the practice which over the years saw the central government playing the role of an enabler in the development process. While it was very clear that the central government embarked on the programme without the consent of the local authorities, it argued that it did not sideline local authorities since it was utilising land that was lying idle within the jurisdiction of local authorities.
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Housing projects were hastily developed on land that was not serviced. The big projects such Whitecliffe in Harare and Cowdray Park in Bulawayo were not connected to water and sewer reticulation as per the requirements of the housing standards guidelines of 2004. Projects of this magnitude cannot be undertaken without essential infrastructure, for such a move compromises health, safety and social and aesthetic values. The roads that were put in place were not tarred as per the provisions of the housing standards. Ironically, all these developments were undertaken despite the inadequacy of bulky infrastructure to accommodate them. The City of Harare had actually suspended any new developments in the southern part of the city due to inadequate sewer reticulation that would not accommodate new developments (see Chipungu 2003, 2005). One aspect which is now mandatory for any major project is the undertaking of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). This is done in line with the provisions of the Environmental Management Act of 2002 (Chapter 20:27). The purpose of this policy instrument is to ensure that development projects likely to have significant consequences are subject to both meaningful environmental planning by development agents and thorough review by government before they are allowed to proceed. Aspects pertaining to urban infrastructure and housing are outlined in Volume 8 of the EIA Guidelines. These are a mere elaboration of the principles underpinning the policy issues contained in Volume 1 (EIA Guidelines of 1997) whose focus is on human sustainability, environmental sustainability, participation of all stakeholders (including the general public), project monitoring and management and assessment of social and economic costs. In most local authorities, EIA is a responsibility of the planning division since most of these issues are incorporated in the development plans. But when the government embarked on OG/HK, no EIA was undertaken in order to evaluate and come up with mitigatory measures where problems were foreseen. Initial observations show that there have been some shortcomings in the nature of the sites that have been chosen for new housing schemes. Observations on current projects show that some on-site and off-site factors were not considered at the initial stage of the design process. Among the critical factors that emerged from the initial observation are developments within electricity servitudes (as in the case of Norton), some developments on underlying parent rock (Cowdray Park in Bulawayo), sites on expansive soils and some in disregard of the direction of prevailing winds. The dilemma on some of these sites is that it proved difficult to break the rocks without causing structural damage to the housing units. As a result, this stalled the reconstruction process. As far as implementation of the housing projects was concerned, the central government spearheaded everything in its usual hasty style. A strategy to deliver housing plots and complete housing units in the shortest possible time was unveiled and it included: • • • •
Capital-intensive site preparation and construction methods. Incorporation of military personnel to effectively speed up construction. Use of youth building brigades to back up labour requirements. Reconstruction Committees for each province were formed to oversee the construction process. These reported to the National Chairman for the Reconstruction Programme. • Government ministers formed key teams that would routinely visit provinces in order to assess progress. However, it should be remembered that the government started this programme on a weak financial base but, despite that quagmire, it went on to create new housing management structures to spearhead the programme. Unfortunately, these new structures only helped to siphon the meagre financial resources from the project—thus further undermining the government’s financial position. Ironically, most urban local authorities had the
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capacity to plan, implement and manage projects if funds were availed to them. Hence there was virtually no need to create new institutions to oversee new projects. The creation of these task forces and ministerial committees only made the whole exercise more complicated, bureaucratic and unnecessarily expensive. Above all, they overshadowed the local authorities whose mandate (as given by the RTCP and UCA) is to guide development in their areas of jurisdiction. Was this a response to a genuine need to house the urban poor who were made homeless? Or was it meant as a smokescreen in response to the international pressure and outcry over the impunitive nature of OM/OC on the hopeless households? Despite all these challenges, it must be acknowledged that the government reconstruction programme for housing was a mammoth task that required massive mobilisation of resources from all sectors. While the whole idea was a noble cause, given the plight of the people who were tragically affected during OM/OC, it had its own discrepancies. The hasty manner in which the whole programme was undertaken further reminds one of Hyden’s (1983) observations that some programmes have an element of urgency even where it does not exist. But this new twist to low-income housing came as a surprise, given that, for a long time, such housing was guided by physical planning requirements since all initial stages in the development process were planning related. But somehow during OG/ HK, physical planning played a subservient role as these responsibilities were undertaken at a high level with very little cognisance of planning inputs. What are the planning and policy implications that emerged from the development of these new housing schemes?
5 Emerging issues The preamble to this paper did indicate how some policy issues emerge. Indeed the policy environment does have serious implications for the planning landscape. As such, it is not surprising to encounter the type of programme implementation being taken by the government during OG/HK. Since the year 2000, general observations show that planning of projects in Zimbabwe was gradually withdrawn from the public realm in order to serve special interest groups at the expense of the general populace. The undertaking of OG/OH further substantiates these observations and they can be further analysed in relation to elite decision-making, politics, the public interest and centre-local relations. OG/HK, just like its predecessor, OM/OC, clearly shows that the nature of the environment that determines the planning and implementation of housing is driven by ‘elite decision-making’. Reade (1983) defines this form of decision-making as elite interaction since it is an approach that is completely sealed from the community and therefore does not embrace any form of popular participation. Policies that emerge from these closed circle decision-making platforms are ‘Piece-meal, ad-hoc, short-term and incremental’ (Reade 1983: 162).The biggest problem with elite decision-making is that it is completely insulated from reality in the sense that it does not relate itself to the market or public participation, let alone to planning practice. Such decisions are a clear reflection of nothing more than expediency and distribution of power among the elite themselves. These elites are not merely politicians. They also include professionals and senior administrators who conceivably have influence on the system and, more so, who benefit from the system. Indeed this is observable in OG/HK as high-profile committees at ministerial levels were created to spearhead development. On the other hand, little or no consultation was with local authorities whose jurisdiction (among others) is to direct programmes at the local level. The planning machinery of major centres in Zimbabwe was one of the best and, as such, it
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could not fail to spearhead such developments. The case of Cowdray Park in Bulawayo clearly substantiates this observation where the government used a residential layout which the local authority had long prepared for housing development. But despite this, the state still felt it was appropriate to impose its newly created management taskforce on the production of housing in urban centres where the local jurisdiction has shown efficacy over the years in handling projects of a similar magnitude. The power of party politics should never be undermined in elite decision-making because politicians make up the greater percentage in such circles. Planning is regarded as a rational process but one of the major challenges to fulfil its goals is party politics. Party politics signifies personal competition for a place. It is a disreputable activity, competitive and short-range in its practice, of wheeling and dealing with the aim of consolidating privileges among its contenders. Such political plagues have been witnessed in the Zimbabwean environment and these have been the major hindrances to technical freedom, proficiency and competence. The cases of the FTLRP, OM/RO and OG/HK clearly demonstrate the power of politics. But this should not send a wrong signal, that planning is completely devoid of politics. A number of authorities (such as Faludi 1973; Klosterman 1978; Blowers 1986) rightfully recognise the complementary role of politics in physical planning. They argue that politics decides on the ends, while planning indicates the means for their attainment. Professionals such as planners and policy-makers provide the knowledge base that is vital to the politicians’ decision-making process. In this regard, some decisions emanating from professionals like planners are also reflective of politics since they respond to policies and actions of government—but not to the whims of pettiness. It is the impulse towards the uncomplicated and undisciplined programmes that makes professional decision-making and politics unacceptable partners. The fear of living in exactitude by the political leadership has induced some professionals to rest on individual taste and a preference for political machinations in their professional conduct. It is in this same tone that, in Zimbabwe, space has become the state’s primary political instrument since the year 2000. This is echoed by Lefebvre’s (1979) observation that ‘The state uses space in a way that ensures control of places … and segregation of parts’ (p. 288). Such space was administratively controlled from above, even beyond the level of policy-makers and implementers. Spatial design became a political instrument of social control with relations showing reproduction of existing social relations. The people who at the height of the FTLRP invaded land for housing (but whose houses later succumbed to OM/OC) are the very ones who became instant beneficiaries of OG/HK. All these events together form a time-line of decisions that were taken at very high political levels with little, if any, professional input from practitioners. To what extent was the public interest at the centre of development in Zimbabwe? Healey, in her paper ‘Collaborative Planning in a Stakeholder Society’ (1998), clearly noted that the function of planning is centred on the individual property owner with a development project and the wider public interest. She further noted that the public interest is the state’s interest since the focus is to safeguard the state policies for infrastructure investment as well as to address adverse externalities on other property owners and stakeholders. These noble causes are legitimised through regulations and other zoning ordinances. In this regard, the public interest is not a prerogative of a small clique of partisan political party supporters at the expense of the wider interest of the community. More so, it becomes a mockery of the philosophy of the public interest when key stakeholders (such as local authorities) are marginalised or coerced into programmes meant to benefit the minority. Tewdwr-Jones (1996), quoting the American Planning Association Code of Ethics, portrays clear perceptions of planners when he noted that:
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A planner shall seek to expand choices and opportunities for all persons, recognising a special responsibility for the needs of the disadvantaged groups and shall urge the interaction of policies, institutions and decisions which militate against such objectives. (p. 239) In the same resonance, to what extent was the planning machinery in Zimbabwe able to objectively fulfil these requirements in the years 2000–2007? Contrary to the theoretical dimension we see above, OG/HK was not anywhere closer to achieving the public interest. The fact that most local authorities were not willing to participate or were coerced to participate in the development of their areas of jurisdiction is a pointer to the nature of the negative relations that prevailed. Procedurally, their management styles were overtaken by those from above which were imposed on them. For instance, selection of beneficiaries of the new housing schemes was undertaken by the central government, with long lists of beneficiaries appearing in government-controlled media. Did this not sideline those who were patiently waiting on the local authorities’ housing waiting lists for years? What worsens the situation is that most beneficiaries were linked to the ruling party and to the structures that were involved in the implementation of the projects, such as provincial heads of government departments. Centre-local relations also came into the spotlight during OG/HK. The turbulent political environment saw local authorities becoming more of ‘opposition political camps’ while the central government become more of the stronghold of the ruling party. This created a tense relationship characterised by fear, mistrust, defiance and intimidation in professional conduct. The centre curtailed the powers of local authorities (and hence impinging negatively on professional practice) through its dominance and coercive tendencies. But in this era of post-modernism, is it not expected that planning should exhibit approaches that are more oriented towards decentralisation and diversity? Such an approach should exude a pragmatic planning ethos based on problem definition, problem formulation, and plan implementation. This is an approach that is guided by procedural dimensions of pragmatic planning. But what was observable in Zimbabwe seems to be a new era of pragmatism driven by political conventions with close partisan political party decision-making powers. These manifested themselves in negative outcomes on both the planning environment and on the recipients of projects. It is the interplay of all these factors which prompted the UN Special Envoy to Zimbabwe to conclude that: Operation Garikai to a very large extent shows conflicting development policies, overlapping jurisdictions and lack of clear definition of and respect for the roles and competencies between central and local spheres of government. (UN 2005:8)
6 Conclusion and recommendations The paper started off by painting a general picture of the policy-making and implementation environment in Zimbabwe. This served as a background in order to understand the environment in which implementation of programmes takes place. However, the general flow of the paper is based on the major events that were witnessed in the country since the turn of the century (between 2000 and 2007). It noted that decision-making during the period in question had degenerated into a closely-monitored state function cushioned by partisan political decisions. The core issues of planning (that of guiding appropriate developments to the right places, resolving conflicts between activities and of conservation) had become
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areas of elite decision-making, as substantiated by the case of OG/HK—thus overshadowing the technical responsibilities of elites. However, despite the negative undertones emanating from this paper, it can also be noted that there are some valuable lessons that can be deduced from the government’s intervention measures. What emerges significantly is the political will of the government to undertake a project of this magnitude in the face of inadequate resources. So strong was the political will that it allowed for innovation through learning, adaptation and change in decision-making. The bureaucrats and politicians would have found it difficult to support the new housing developments if they were not coerced into doing so by political will. This is similar to what Hudalah et al. (2010:16) observed in the new regional road development conflict in Indonesia, when the government used its political muscles to enforce development. But such political will requires thorough consultation with other stakeholders in order to legitimise interventions. The resistance displayed by local authorities is a pointer to the failure of the government to engage other key stakeholders in decision-making and project implementation. As Moroni (2010:10) noted, institutions are designed for a purpose and their existence is evidence of having been created to serve that particular purpose, and therefore they cannot be easily bypassed without redesigning them. In addition, the case of OG/HK, though correctional in nature, also shows how governments can go out of their way to mobilise resources beyond traditional avenues. The use of the army in the housing reconstruction programme in this case study is an innovative way of utilising and redistributing idle resources within some sectors of the economy. Globally, soldiers are used to fulfil emergency programmes and there is no question why they should not be utilised in times of peace to undertake government programmes. This in itself cuts down government expenditure while at the same time contributing towards efficiency in the use of meagre resources. However, for the government to further improve its delivery in developmental programmes, it is advisable to clearly draw the lines of responsibility between the local authorities and the central government. Indeed other researchers (such as Kamete 2007; Bratton and Masunungure 2007) had also lamented the government’s overwhelming powers which at times overshadow other spheres of government like local authorities. Hence there is a need to clarify these responsibilities and clearly adhere to them through legislation in order to be mandatory. Above all, the government should undertake programmes in such a way that there is adequate lead time between planning and implementation supported by a healthy financial budget. Undertaking rushed decisions without adequate resources contributes towards inefficiency and failure in the development process with unintended future repercussions. However, the dust is yet to settle from the impact of OG/HK. More so, with the formation of the Government of National Unity (GNU) in 2008, maybe a new horizon of pragmatism shall emerge. But it must be emphasised that the GNU is a creation that stemmed from a botched democratic process and as such, it is there partly to fulfil political mileage. As a result there have been observations that other than searching for common ground to craft new policies, some sectors of the GNU indulge in systematic manipulative behaviour shrouded in hidden agendas with a focus on winning and gaining personal credit (Chigora and Guzura 2011:24). But nevertheless, it must be admitted that the GNU does fill a void in the socio-economic development of the country. For instance, the inclusive government must be commended for bringing sanity to the economy through the Short Term Emergency Recovery Programmes (Sterp I and Sterp 2), which have managed to address issues pertaining to runaway inflation and economic instability. But on the housing front, there is still continuation of the old policies, with housing projects commenced under
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the failed OG/HK being handed over to local authorities. In essence, it has managed to neutralise the opposing poles that, for some time, had existed between the central and local government—a situation that, if continued, would allow amicable co-ordination of urban development. However, as Sachikonye (2006:53) equally noted, there is a compelling need to revisit the National Housing Policy of 2001 in order to establish a framework for a stakeholder-driven approach in housing delivery.
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