4th Annual ZHA Conference Presenter #ZHA2018

Post-Colonial Social and Economic Urban Challenges in Harare and the Legacy of Colonialism

Terence Muzorewa

Terence Muzorewa holds a PhD, M.A. in Development Studies (MSU) and BA Hons degree in History (UZ). He has authored works including refereed journal publications on urban development and social history in Zimbabwe. Muzorewa is currently a lecturer at the Midlands State University (Harare Campus) Department of Developments Studies.


This paper investigates the root cause of economic, social and development challenges faced by the capital city of Zimbabwe during the post-colonial era. The paper links these challenges to colonial established structures which were inherited by the post-colonial administrators of the City. The colonial period which spanned over 90 years from 1890 up to 1980 was characterised by oppression of the African majority especially those who resided in urban areas. The country was divided into two parts which were White and African areas and the urban areas were considered White areas. The African urban dwellers were relegated to town peripheries which were characterised by poor infrastructure and service delivery. The colonial city administrators were against the informal sector which brought autonomous livelihood to Africans and used draconian laws to abolish the proliferation of the sector. A similar administration system was adopted by the post-colonial Harare. This paper analyzes the post-colonial challenges by tracing continuity of colonial policy, laws and structures in the post-colonial Harare. Although urban polices were ‘theoretically’ deracialised during the post-colonial era, the physical nature of the built environment remained the same and the spatial form of today’s Harare is an incarnation of Salisbury. The paper illustrates how modern urban development in Zimbabwe can been achieved on the basis of a totally different experience from the colonial established structures. Over-emphasis on the colonial established planning systems and strategies is tantamount to dwelling on western epistemology which posits Africa as an underdeveloped continent. The paper uses archival sources, oral interviews, newspapers and secondary sources (published books and journals) to establish the root cause of economic and social challenges faced by Harare in its endeavor to develop during the post-colonial era.

Key words:  Harare, Zimbabwe, Colonial, Legacy, Planning, Urban, Policy

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s