International Development Planning Review

Participatory farce: Youth and the making of urban places in Zimbabwe

International Development Planning Review (2006), 28, (3), 359–380.

Abstract

Discussions with Harare's youth and planners revealed that the direction, form and content of urban planning are cast in stone. In most cases, the outcome of planning is a foregone conclusion. This makes it impossible to factor in some grand schemes that are outside the confines of what has already been sanctioned in plans, regulations and policies that guide development in the urban built environment. Consequently, spatial planning practices inevitably confine public participation to the periphery. The most that citizens can do is provide information and raise objections. This paper argues that it is impossible to integrate meaningful citizen participation in urban planning within the present structural and operational environment. The observed tokenism and placation are the best that can happen under these constraints. For effective participation to be possible, structural transformations, an overhaul of planning practice, and a reorientation of the very spirit and purpose of planning are necessary.

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Kamete, Amin