Urban Housing Policy in Zimbabwe and its Institutional Structures: Reflecting on the Housing Challenge in Harare, 1980-2020.
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This thesis is a contextual analysis and reflection of the urban housing policy making process in post-independence Zimbabwe, buttressed by empirical research. The focus of the thesis is on understanding the nature and characteristics of the urban housing policy in Zimbabwe and how its formulation and implementation processes are influenced by institutional structures embedded in urban councils. The thesis relates to institutional structures such as the vision and mission statement, the institutional hierarchy of authority, discipline systems, principles and value systems, rules and operational codes of conduct as well as the institutional culture. Central to this thesis is an exposition of how these institutional structures influence and regularise the activities of urban housing policy actors in Zimbabwe’s urban councils. The research proceeds from a global analytical perspective of the evolution of urban housing challenges to a conceptualisation of urban housing policy. The thesis describes how Zimbabwe’s urban areas are the main hubs of economic activities and labour magnets for the country’s economically active population – a situation that has generated housing shortages, resulting in widespread residential overcrowding and the proliferation of irregular settlements that lack basic services like piped water and electricity. Moreover, the thesis elaborates on how the urban housing situation in Zimbabwe has put urban local authorities under the spotlight as they are expected to not only be responsive to the institutional requirements but also advance proactive planning measures to deal with persisting housing predicaments in the country. Principally, these contextual measures constitute urban housing policies which are formulated and implemented as guiding frameworks for the development of programmes, projects and strategies to combat the persisting urban housing challenges. Qualitative methods namely, key informant interviews and focus group discussions were used to collect data. Twenty-five key informants were purposefully selected and interviewed to provide analytical insights into urban housing policy formulation, its implementation and how is influenced by institutional structures. Given the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, some of the key informant interviews were telephonic. The study found that while institutional structures are the functional operatives of urban housing policy decision making in Zimbabwe, they have contributed to the formulation of inconsequential urban housing policy and the implementation thereof. The research also found that urban housing institutions in Zimbabwe have a politicised and inflexible institutional structures which makes it difficult for these institutions to formulate appropriate housing policies to provide adequate housing to the people. As the research revealed, institutional structures have generated regularised channels of policy decision-making and this has become institutional weaknesses against successful urban housing policy making in Zimbabwe. This dent is compounded by limited financial resources to implement the designed housing projects. The study established that ineffective urban housing policy formulation and implementation has left the majority of urbanites with severe shelter shortages, socio-economic deprivation, thereby undermining their daily livelihoods. The thesis proposes that delinking urban housing institutions from political control and structural impediments can facilitate innovation in urban housing policy making and contribute substantively to the improvement of housing provision in urban Zimbabwe.