Foresights: The Urban Water and Real Estate Development Nexus in the Mount Hampden ‗New City‘ Project, Zimbabwe


  • Yvonne Munanga


real estate, urbanity, spatial planning, territorial planning, decentralised water system


The article interrogates and exposes the criticality of water as a
crucial aspect defining urban and real estate development projects in
territorial planning, design and implementation. It questions how
and why a century after Mt Hampden (outside Harare) was
discarded as a potential site by the British Pioneer Column, it has
suddenly become possible to establish the same site and environment
as a seat of government. The new Parliament Building is already
under construction by the Chinese and, once it is completed, is
believed to become a puller of investment and various other urban
functions. It would appear that „things‟ were better then, than now.
Using a triangulation of literature review, document review and key
informant interviews, the article observes several critical
developments in scholarship, policy and practice. In policy and
practice, it is has observed that the Pioneer Column saw simplistic
and rudimentary measures such as retreating to living in proximity of
open water sources (in this case Mukuvisi River in Harare) as the
low-cost and cheap and only possible option then. Technology had
not been developed to harvest water, including groundwater for a
growing urban-like population such as they were. Secondly, the
choice of Harare Kopje as the epicentre of development then was
much about security, seeing that the new white migrants were
settling among a sea of the autochthons – the Shona – they were not sure of how they would react. Thirdly, the New City is a
development that is a post-modern development taking place in a
context of deep poverty in the country and might appear as a sign of
extravagance on the part of the government, hence insensitive to the
"people‟s needs‟ at the moment.