This chapter explores the interface between informality and national politics in Harare, the capital city of Zimbabwe. We argue that urban land is used by opposing political parties as a currency with which to buy political loyalty from citizens and this spurs informality in the city, in a context of democratic deficit. The government of Zimbabwe has used its power to regularize informal settlements accommodating predominantly supporters of the ruling party, the Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF), thus bypassing the opposition-led council of the City of Harare. Regularization is a strategy to reward those active in politics and also loyal to the ruling party. Simultaneously, this process plays a vital role in allowing citizens to occupy land and set foot in the city. Whilst the use (and abuse) of space in Harare is political and largely determined by the interests of the ruling party, social movements and housing cooperatives also play into these dynamics, carving out socio-political spaces for the urban poor to navigate the hitherto rigidly controlled housing development arena. As a result, there are signs of changing attitudes towards slum upgrading and legalization in Harare.
|Title of host publication||The Routledge Handbook on Informal Urbanization|
|Editors||Roberto Rocco, Jan van Ballegooijen|
|Place of Publication||New York|
|Publisher||Taylor and Francis|
|Publication status||Published - 21 Dec 2018|