The Varying Shades of Settlement Informality in Zimbabwe‘s Urban Areas and How this Impacts Public Sector Regularisation Attitudes and Responses
Keywords:housing, urban land, capacity,, land development, eviction, demolition
This article explores how differently assessed informal settlements inform state regularisation responses. It expands the understanding of state responses to informal settlements that are established by different actors. These include the urban poor on one hand, and the elite involved in manipulating peri-urban and urban land access and housing development, on the other. It draws on practical experiences with qualitative research into marginalised settlements. The article shows how the transition from state-led housing delivery of the mid-1990s to self-provisioning, riding on fast track (urban) land reforms from 2000 and harshly disrupted in 2005, created new forms of settlement informality. This transition muddied traditional state responses, exposing the reality that regulating extensive informality is simply daunting. The article shows the variability of Zimbabwe’s settlement informality in relation to settlement-specific i) extent of state involvement; ii) agency of different actors; iii) location and proximity to established services; and iv) past and prospective financing models. It shows that addressing urban informality requires a coherent, inclusive and sustainable approach. This will critically transform Zimbabwe’s traditional toolbox of evictions and demolitions while helping reconceptualise informality and responses thereto.