Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in Urban Planning Advocacy: Lessons from Zimbabwe

Elmond Bandauko
2015 Journal of Advocacy, Research and Education   unpublished
This paper provides a review on the role played by civil society organisations (CSOs) in urban planning advocacy in Zimbabwe. To demonstrate this, the article draws on the cases of the residents, associations and other CSOs from Zimbabwe's major cities and towns namely Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru and Mutare. CSOs such as Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA), Harare Residents Trust (HRT), Gweru Residents Association, Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association, Mutare Resident and Ratepayers
more » ... ent and Ratepayers Association (MURA) and Zimbabwe Homeless People's Federation and Dialogue on Shelter (ZHPFDS) are instrumental in championing the interests of the urban poor, so that their concerns are represented in the urban development discourse. CSOs are also critical in bringing good urban governance and social justice in cities. Other Civil Society Organisations such as ZHPFDS specialise solely on advocacy for housing land and, within their ambit, work towards ensuring that the housing poor and homeless have a roof over their head. This is an emphasis on the ‗hard infrastructure' provision. On the other hand, there are CSOs concerned almost purely on the ‗soft infrastructure' like public awareness campaigns on making city authorities account for their service provision and other related urban governance issues. These groups, like Harare Residents Trust (HRT) often use threat to organise protests and campaigns against bureaucratic injustices and making the resident empowered in informational terms. The paper suggests mutuality and close linkage between CSOs in development and CSOs in the advanced agendas for social justice towards urban sustainability and meaningful governance. Such an approach can be replicated within Zimbabwe, and ultimately across Africa and beyond.