Harare: Informality and urban citizenship - housing struggles in Harare, Zimbabwe

Davison Muchadenyika*, Molin K. Chakamba, Patience Mguni

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


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.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook on Informal Urbanization
EditorsRoberto Rocco, Jan van Ballegooijen
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherTaylor and Francis
ISBN (Electronic)9781315645544
ISBN (Print)9781138183889
Publication statusPublished - 21 Dec 2018


Dive into the research topics of 'Harare: Informality and urban citizenship - housing struggles in Harare, Zimbabwe'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this