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Paper to the South African Planning Institution International Conference on ‘Planning Africa 2002’, 18 – 20 September 2002, Durban, South Africa
Chalo Mwimba1 Zambia is a highly urbanized country in sub-Saharan Africa, apart from South Africa. A year before independence in 1963, only 21 per cent of the Zambians were living in urban areas. The proportion had more than doubled to 43 per cent in 1980 (Rakodi 1990: 144) reducing to 39.4 per cent in 1990 (CSO, 1995: 64)2. Being such an urbanized country, Zambia needs a town planning system that is responsive and can meet challenges of urbanization. It is evident in Zambia that town planning has failed in its basic and traditional tenets of ensuring orderly development of cities, towns or urban centers, with 80 per cent of the houses being informal or poorly serviced (TNDP, 2002:207). There are high demands for housing and access to land. The Zambian town planning system has failed to keep pace with demand for land for the urbanizing cities and towns since independence. The procedures for access to land are cumbersome and the local authorities charged with the tasks ineffective This has resulted in proliferation of squatter or unplanned settlements or illegal allocation or trading in plots. Some desperate residents therefore seek political offices to gain access to land and some resort to occupation of any available open land. This paper investigates the failure of town planning in Zambia to keep pace with urbanization. The premise is that the lagging of town planning in its responsiveness to the needs of the Zambian society is largely attributed to the unchanged and continued colonial town planning practices. To assess the colonial legacy, the paper looks at the current status of town planning in Zambia and the colonial practices after which the legacy is presented with respect to urban form and land uses, land delivery procedures, development control and the local government. The paper is concluded by suggesting the required evolution in the practice of town planning to make the profession responsive to the current town planning challenges. Current status of town planning and the colonial practices The aim of this section is to present the status of town planning in Zambia and assess the profession’s responsiveness to the needs of the Zambian society. As the paper is concerned with effects of colonial town planning policy and practices, these are also discussed in order to assess their effects on the profession today. Three aspects of town planning are discussed: urban policy and town planning philosophy, legislation and planning agencies and framework for establishing and managing towns. This is because to develop legislation, there has to be a policy; legislation is developed to achieve the policy objectives. The legislation would provide for the administrative structures or institutional framework to achieve the policy objectives. Urban policy and Town planning philosophy In the 1920s, the urban policy in Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) required the creation of an urban population which was available at wages below the full costs of production and which would pose no threat to colonial administrative control. This applied to Africans where the solution was to have a temporary urban labour force of male migrants. By retaining wives and dependants in the rural areas, employers needed not pay full wages sufficient to cover the full cost of production. The policy therefore was to maintain a transitory nature of urban population. Such a policy was manifested in construction of single quarters (these, for
Mr. Chalo Mwimba is a Planning Advisor in District Development Programme (ddp) supported by German Technical Cooperation, GTZ. He is formerly Physical Planner for Mazabuka Municipal Council. 2 The urban population can be expected to be just under 40% in 2002. Although the preliminary report of the 2000 Census of Population and Housing has not separated the population between rural and urban, the urban provinces of Copperbelt, Lusaka and Central total 38.7 per cent.
example, can still be found in Wusakili Township, Kitwe) for African workers since the wives, dependants and children were expected to remain in rural areas and the workers were expected to return to the villages after retirement. The employers were expected to provide housing to employees. Africans who were not employed were thus not accommodated. As the African population was considered to be temporal and transitional, there was no concern to provide quality, standard housing. In fact the legislation that was developed to address inadequacies in housing quality and standards, the Town Planning Ordinance and Public Health Ordinance of 1929 and 1930 respectively did not apply to African compounds and locations (Rakodi, 1986: 198). Contradictions in the transitory or circulatory labour migration policy for African workers gave rise to debates to a new policy of ‘balanced stabilisation’, allowing the African workers to stay with their families and have a reserve of enough population to provide labour in the mines as the need arises. By the 1940s, ‘married quarters’ were constructed. Furthermore, the 1948 Urban African Ordinance imposed obligations on large employers – with more than 25 people – to house their employees on employer-owned land or pay for accommodation in local authority administered housing. It came to be regarded as local authority responsibility to house employees not accommodated by the employer (Rakodi, 1986: 199). Thus the colonial urban policy aimed at controlling the influx of Africans to the urban centers or discouraging their permanent residence was enforced by housing and other means such as requiring identification certificates, tax receipts and visitor’s permits. In 1963, a year before independence, 21 per cent of the population was living in urban areas (Rakodi, 1990: 144) although it was still high for most African countries. Urban population more than doubled sixteen years after independence to 43 per cent in 1980, the trend which is currently existing. (Figure 1). With such high level of urbanization, one asks what policy there is in Zambia concerning urbanization for the colonial policy was that of transitory or migratory labour. There has been no restriction in migrations to urban areas since independence (for freedom of movement or migration is such one fruit of independence). Although there have been deliberate attempts to reduce rural-urban migration3, Zambia remains a highly urbanized country which is grappling with urbanization problems of providing housing, alienating land and servicing it for development or upgrading squatter settlements. This is because there have been little or inadequate policies in either town planning or legislation. Legislation The first town planning legislation to be enacted was the 1929 Town Planning Ordinance. The Ordinance, influenced by the British town planning legislation, was primarily concerned with the health and welfare of European population. Stringent British-type building regulations were applied in expatriate residential areas by the local authorities which turned a blind eye to conditions in the African compounds and locations (Rakodi, 1986: 198). Therefore the Town Planning Ordinance and the Public Health Ordinance of 1930 did not improve conditions for the Africans. Nonetheless, improvements were made whose results can be seen today in certain towns. The ordinance appointed a Town Planning Board with the power to prepare or have prepared a plan for any town referred to it by the governor; with standards in it to be enforced by the Board. In Mazabuka, for example, a Town Planning Scheme was prepared in 1954 by the Town Planning Board which subjected land within a radius of 8 km of the Boma to be under planning control (MSP, 1998:8). In Lusaka, the first development plan for the capital prepared by Professor Adshead and finalized by P.J. Bowling in 1933 could only be approved as a ‘Non-Statutory Development Plan’ because it was not referred to the Town Planning Board (Collins, 1969:10).
To reduce rural-urban migration rural industries were establishment such as the bicycle assembly plant in Eastern Province, Mununshi Banana Scheme in Luapula Province, Pineapple Factory in North-western Province and Kateshi Coffee Plantation in Northern Province
Zambia's Population Trends 1963-2000
7,000,000 6,000,000 Population 5,000,000 4,000,000 3,000,000 2,000,000 1,000,000 0
Residence rural urban Zambia Population
1980 3,403,232 2,258,569 5,661,801 1990 4,477,814 2,905,283 7,383,097 2000* 6,238,572 4,047,059 10,285,631 1963 1969 2,774,914 2,864,579 715,256 1,192,116 3,490,170 4,056,695 Source: CSO, 1995:50, CSO 2001:4
Per cent of Total Population
1963 79.5 20.5 100.0 1969 70.6 29.4 100.0 1980 60.1 39.9 100.0 1990 60.6 39.4 100.0 2000* 60.7 39.3 100.0
* 2000 figures are extrapolated from the 2000 population of 10,285,631 and assumes that the 39.3 per cent increase in population between 1990 and 2000 equally applied to urban and rural areas.
Figure 1: Zambia’s urban population growth trends In 1933, planning authority powers were given to the mine townships through the Mine Townships Ordinance which created Mine Township Boards with powers similar to municipal and township councils for provision of houses and services to their employees. Up to now, town and country planning legislation does not apply to the mine townships. The Mines have been privitised, (the debate is whether the responsibilities for town planning should not be returned to the local authorities). In 1961, a revised Town and Country Planning Act, Chapter 475, was enacted which came into force in 1962. The legislation based on the 1947 British town planning legislation, provided for the preparation of town development plans which would contain a general land use scheme to be implemented by means primarily of a development control system with safeguards for the private owner. The act also established the Planning Tribunal. In 1995, the act was revised to include preparations of Structure Plans and not Development Plans. The Town and Country Planning Act, now Chapter 283, therefore provides ‘for the appointment of planning authorities, establishment of the Town and Country Planning Tribunal, preparation, approval and revocation of development plans for the control of development and subdivision of land, for the preparation, approval and revocation or modification of regional plans …’ (Town and Country Planning Act, Chapter 283, page 5). In terms of content, the revised Act has been criticized as it is based on the 1971 British town planning legislation and has little relevance to Zambia. For the Zambian case, the 1995 revisions should have made provisions for: Establishment of Planning Authorities not the indiscriminate establishment of planning authorities without looking at the administrative and personnel capacity and competency of a council. Revision of procedures for grant of planning permission as the current are ineffective and are subject to manipulation. Provision of new application forms such as for change of use. Guidelines in the establishment of private and public bus stops. Establishment and management of markets (Mwimba, 2001: 11).
The other criticism is that the revisions have not been accompanied by changes in planning agencies or planning framework. Before independence, legislative changes in town planning or management of towns were accompanied by institutional reforms. Planning agencies and framework for establishing and management of Towns In order to achieve the colonial urban policies, there were a number of administrative and institutional structures developed for the establishment as well as management of towns. To understand how these have evolved and resulted in the existing town planning agencies and framework, one does not only need to look at the town planning legislation. Town planning agencies and the framework in Zambia today have been a result of various policies and legislation in housing, public health, local government and, as already discussed above, mining (Figure 2). These can be traced from the start of the twentieth century when Zambian towns were being established mainly as small Afrikaner farming communities along the line of rail. Until 1924 Northern Rhodesia was established as a British protectorate, the management of these farming communities was done by the British South Africa Company through the Village Management Boards. Initially, these European farming communities – with 87 per cent living in three urban centers of Livingstone, Broken Hill (Kabwe) and Lusaka – were administered from Kalomo until 1907 when Livingstone became the capital. In 1935, the capital was moved from Livingstone to Lusaka, the present capital (Collin, 1969:4-5).4
Year 1891 1907 1924 1927 1929 1930 1933 1948 1949 1962 1963 1964 1965 1980 1992 1995 Legislation BSA company gained territorial administration of which came to be Northern Rhodesia, Zambia Village Management Boards Ordinance Northern Rhodesia became British Protectorate Municipal Corporations Ordinance Town Planning Ordinance Public Health Ordinance Mine Townships Ordinance Urban African Housing Ordinance Local Government Act Town and Country Planning Act Local Government Administration Ordinance Zambia became independent Local Government Act Local Government Act Local Government Act Town and Country Planning Act (revised)
Source: Compiled from Rakodi (1986), Collins (1969), Tipple (1981),
Figure 2: Salient town planning and local government legislation In 1927, the Municipal Corporations Ordinance established Livingstone and Ndola as municipalities. These were the only municipal corporations until 1953/4 when Broken Hill (Kabwe), Luanshya, Mufulira, Kitwe and Lusaka were also declared municipal councils. Two years later, in 1929, the Townships Ordinance established administrative systems for small urban settlements which had elected councils although the franchise only extended to owners of property (Rakodi, 1986: 198). Township councils have been abolished, they were merged with Rural council to be called district councils. This has resulted in three types of councils in Zambia: City, Municipal and district. City and municipal councils are Planning Authorities whilst district councils are not. Their functions are performed by the Department of Physical
S. D. Adshead, Professor of Town Planning at London University, was commissioned in 1930 to prepare a plan for a new ‘Capital City and Government Centre’ with a European population of approximately 5,000 (Collins, 1969: 4-5).
Planning and Housing in the Ministry of Local Government and Housing. Therefore, local authorities in Zambia are agencies for town planning and so is the MLGH which has the portfolio for town planning at the national level with responsibilities for policy development and guidelines not only for town planning but also housing. The third town planning agency is the Ministry of Lands which has responsibilities for surveying, registration and offer of title. Figure 3 lists the agencies in town planning and their responsibilities.
District Councils (54) Municipal Councils (14) City Councils (4) Ministry of Local Government and Housing Policy development and guidelines Approval of development plans Planning authorities Preparation of development plans Development control Layout preparation Approval / recommendation for offer of plots Final approval and issuance of certificate of title Surveying Ministry of Lands Commissioner of Lands Surveyor General
Figure 3: Public town planning agencies and responsibilities The legacy of colonial town planning practices Urban form and Land uses The spatial structure of towns in Zambia has been shaped by colonial ideologies which were based on the founding of the town planning profession, that of ensuring orderly development of towns using tools such as zoning, development control and preparation of development plans. Application of such tools has left a rather ugly influence on Zambian urban form and land uses for a number of reasons. Firstly, there was the transitory or migration policy for African labourers who were considered as rural dwellers who had to leave their families in the villages, work in the towns and – in certain cases forced to – return to the villages. Therefore, the quality of housing and the services provided to such areas were minimal. Especially on the Copperbelt, some townships have well designed, spacious streets meeting acceptable planning standards whilst others are not and one can barely drive into the townships. In Kitwe for example, driving in the colonial township of Wusakili is hampered not only by the small roads but also the open trenches for drainages. Secondly, as argued by Rakodi (1986: 213), town planning notions such as the ‘garden city’ which were contemporary town planning concepts in Europe during the planning of some towns like Lusaka, where debased in the process of their transposition to the different economic and social situations which existed in colonies like Zambia. One such reason was the ‘view of ‘the African’ as essentially a tribesman and village dweller, which rationalized racially segregated residential areas, cordon sanitaires, and radically different standards of construction and environment, reflected in different building regulations’ Rakodi (1986: 213). In Lusaka, for example, Misisi Compound has been established barely a kilometer from the city center on a piece of land which, according to the garden city concept applied in the design of the city, should ideally have been a green belt or an agricultural land. Misisi is not the only example for there are several informal settlements within the radius of neighbourhoods such as Garden Compound when in other towns, squatter settlements are on the outskirts of towns.
Thirdly, preparation of town development plans had certain assumptions which have not materialized. The design of Lusaka was based on the assumption that the city centre would move eastwards where the ‘government centre’ is. This has not materialized, instead the central business district (CBD) is linear, west of the railway line. As most developments are on the east and are connected by only three roads – Independence, Church Road and Great East – there is congestion to and from the Central Business District (CBD) during peak hours. The other implication on the design of Lusaka with the garden city concept was that there would be efficient and available public transport connecting the neighbourhoods as this has not materialized, the residents of Lusaka have to travel long distances and must pass through the city center, increasing transportation costs and traffic congestion. Fourthly, land use distinctions exist in CBDs in Lusaka and all Copperbelt towns which were divided for Europeans (referred to as first class) and those for non Europeans (second class). Only industrial land uses are still adequate (perhaps because Zambia is not an industrialized country). All the other land uses are inadequate, perhaps due to the planners’ failure to make land available for other uses such as commercial and residential. CBDs have not been expanded or relocated even where the need has clearly been felt like in Kitwe. For residential compatible land uses, the solution found has been that of using open spaces as infill (Figure 4). There were proposals to build shopping complexes on Mukuni Park and Freedom Park in Livingstone and Kitwe respectively. For commercial uses, there have been changes in land use where residences are turned into offices in Lusaka.
Photo taken by the author, June 2002
Figure 4: Solution to land scarcity: approved developments as infill on Kaunda Road, Maramba Township, Livingstone
1 Linear CBD along the line of rail 2 Three main roads connecting the CBD 3 Misisi Compound near CBD 4 Second Class trading area 5 First class trading center 6 ‘Government Centre’ 7 Garden Compound Source of map: ZIMCO Diary 1993 Comments: by author
Figure 5: Urban Form and Land uses in Lusaka as a legacy of colonial town planning practices Housing The colonial urban and town planning policies have an evident legacy on housing, perhaps, more than what they have on any other aspects of town planning in Zambia today. The transitory policy, that an African was a rural dweller who would not stay in the urban areas permanently, resulted in construction of substandard houses for African labourers especially before the 1940s. The Eccles Commission in 1944 found dwellings constructed for the Africans to fall short of the minimum requirements of decency and hygiene for married couples even for the South African standards (Tipple, 1981:71). The houses, meant for single male
African labourers, were two-roomed, without electricity but with communal toilets and taps. Such houses, which can still be found in Wusakili and Chilenje Townships in Kitwe and Lusaka respectively are now occupied by families, in certain cases with extensions. The change in policy to stabilizing the African population and as recommended by Eccles Commission resulted in construction of houses that could accommodate married Africans. At independence in 1964, Zambia therefore faced a number of challenges in housing arising from the colonial housing policy. There was need not only to change the design of houses for the Africans but increase the housing stock with services such as electricity, water and roads. There was also need to integrate housing for segregation existed between European or white townships and non-European or African locations. Thus in the First National Development Plan (1966-1972), government committed £4.2 million to construct 4, 750 houses annually. This investment was not enough to meet the demand for housing which already had a backlog of 24,000 housing units (GRZ, 1966:47). In order to increase the number of houses to be built, standards were lowered and new schemes such as Basic Site and Service were introduced in 1975 when houses were constructed such as Kitwe’s Bulangililo Township (Tipple, 1981:75). Although there were above attempts at providing low cost housing for the majority of Zambians, squatter settlements also kept on increasing due to rural-urban migration and the fact that housing rentals in the newly constructed townships or local authority houses were too high for the incomes of the majority (Martin: 1976:78)5. Kitwe, in 1975, had 46 squatter settlements (Tipple, 1975: 168) whilst in Lusaka 34,000 families were living in unauthorized houses in 1976 (Martin: 1976:74). The policy in the Second National Development Plan shifted from housing provision to upgrading, facilitated by the 1974 Housing (Statutory and Improvement Areas) Act. In Lusaka, four major squatter settlements of Chawama, George, Chaisa and Chipata were upgraded with the World Bank assistance. Although the national development plans made provisions for housing, no national housing programmes have been implemented. Since the 1980s, provision of housing has been left a sole responsibility of local authorities who did not have any guidance or support from government until 1996 when the Housing Policy6 was prepared by the Ministry of Local Government and Housing. What one can observe is a de facto policy of allowing squatter settlements to mushroom and upgrade them using donor programmes which have been implemented, for example in Ipusukilo/ Kapoto Compound in Kitwe and Bauleni Compound in Lusaka. At the national level, housing provision has been mandated to the National Housing Authority which provided housing only in Lusaka and mainly for the high income earners. The urban poor have thus been left out in government housing provision. In May 1996, a presidential order was issued directing all councils to sell all their houses to sitting tenants. The sale has extended to houses owned by the mines on the Copperbelt and some parastatal companies such as Zambia Railways. The Presidential Housing Initiative (PHI), initiated as a housing scheme to provide affordable housing has not achieved much. Like the National Housing Authority, PHI was only concentrated in Lusaka (and Ndola to some extent) and the scheme was discontinued in January 2002. The Draft Transitional National Development Plan (2002 – 2005) has offered little hope in terms of low cost housing. The commitment to housing, squatter upgrading and financing of a housing fund (African Housing Fund) over the four years totals K35, 360,000,0007 which is 0.5 per cent of the total estimated expenditure of K7,131,349,321,215 for the plan (TNDP: 2002:7). Zambia is still grappling with problems of housing. Although colonial housing practices have consequences for today’s problems, one can argue that there is little being done to address
Martin (1976: 78) argues that squatter settlements were inevitable. In order not to have any squatter or informal settlements, 29 per cent of the national budget should have been spent on housing instead of the just under 5 per cent. 6 Apparently, the formulation of the housing policy is an end in itself. There have been no follow up in development of legislation or implementation of any housing programmes. 7 The breakdown is: K3,960,000,000 to African Housing Fund, K16,000,000,000 to squatter upgrading and K15,400,000,000 to low cost housing (p.211-213).
housing problems, not by building or delivery of urban land for residential development and for access to the urban poor. Land delivery procedures During the colonial administration, adequate powers for town planning, urban management and land delivery were decentralized and given to the relevant authorities such as the Village Management Boards, Mine Townships Boards or Township Authorities (Rakodi, 1986:197, 199). After independence, a lot of changes were effected resulting in numerous legislation being enacted concerning the land policy, access to land and issuance of title deeds8. This has resulted in many agencies getting involved in delivery of land and property development process concerning land application, allocation and registration. The agencies include the local authorities, Commissioner of Lands and Survey Department (Figure 3). The method of acquiring land, obtaining certificate of title and getting permission to development is governed by several factors such as the classification of land, location of the land, nature of the proposed development and whether the land has been surveyed or not. The increase in the number of agencies – which are not coordinated – involved in land acquisition, registration and the laborious, complex and slow process has resulted in failure to meet the needs of the urban population (Mulwanda and Mutale, 1994:305) with several implications. The process of acquiring land is slow and is apparently hijacked by those with access to those in power (Mulwanda and Mutale, 1994:305) i.e. the politicians and in particular the councillors who are sometimes involved in illegal allocation of plots or selling9. For the residents that run out of patience or suffer too much to bear decide to occupy any available land belonging to the state10. With the existing land delivery system, shanty compounds will continue to grow for land is not being made available to the urban poor for ‘if the [local] authorities want to thwart the mushrooming of illegal settlements, then they should make land available to the poor’ (Mulwanda and Mutale, 1994:309). For the town planners, planning of towns and cities will always remain a nightmare if land on which to plan continues to be an intricacy. The case for Zambia’s urban land, unlike the colonial past, is that of created artificial shortage due to inefficient and blotted delivery systems that are characterized by involvement of several agencies and the absence of professional ideals in the implementing officers who have never fought to reduce the unwarranted complex procedures and reform of the town planning and land delivery agencies. Control of development The powers to control development are enshrined in the Town and Country Planning Act, Chapter 283, which, as already presented, has been based on the British town planning system. Although the Act fails in some respects of town planning for Zambia today, it adequately provides for development control supported by the Public Health Act. The case for Zambia is non implementation of the regulations by the planning authorities. The Zambian problems for development control are compounded by the absence of the basis for development control, the Structure Plans. There is no planning authority with an up to date Structure Plan, not even Lusaka. In the past five years, only 10 of the 72 local authorities have had Structure Plans prepared (TNDP, 2002: 206)11. One therefore wanders what the basis is for development control in 86 per cent of the other local authorities without any or up to date structure plans. Apparently, there is no commitment or support from government (Ministry of
Examples include the Lands Act; Land (Conversion of Titles) Act; Lands and Deeds and Registry Act; Public Lands Acquisition Act; and Land Survey Act. 9 Daily Mail, May 9, 2002 p.1 and Daily Mail May 10, 2002 p.1. 10 Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) Television news reported on 18 July 2002 that there were residents who had occupied land belonging to the Natural Resources Development College because Lusaka City Council when approached for land was telling them to wait. The Deputy Minister for Lusaka Province acknowledged this saying ‘They [LCC] take time to release land to the people.’ Asked why they were being irresponsible as to occupy land illegally exposing themselves to arrest, the spokesperson for the ‘squatters’ replied, “what we want is land. A responsible person is a suffering man… even arresting, government should arrest all of us”. 11 These are Mazabuka, Kafue, Livingstone, Luanshya, Ndola and Mufulira, Lusaka, Kitwe, Chingola and Chililabombwe.
Local Government and Housing) in the preparation of structure plans as most of the prepared development plans have been financed by collaborating partners such as the World Bank for Lusaka and Ndola. The Ministry seems not to care whether a Structure Plan is approved or not as is the case for Mazabuka Planning Authority where the plan prepared in 1998 has not yet been approved. Unlike the structure plan for Lusaka where there are disputes over extension of the planning boundary with the neighbouring districts of Chibombo and Chongwe, one cannot understand why the Mazabuka Structure Plan has not been approved for nearly four years since its preparation 1998. The need to assess and review development control processes as well as procedures are long over-due. Post independence requirements and procedures for grant of planning permission –through a committee system - is still practiced today. Thus a simple application to erect a boundary wall goes through the same process as an application to build a supermarket and will take the same length of time to get approved or refused which is a minimum of three months. Planning standards that are applied for plot coverage, building setbacks and parking requirements have not been revised or guidelines clearly provided. These have been left to individual planning authorities. The chances of misapplying the requirements are high for the implementers of these standards in most local authorities are not town planners and never have any training in town planning. The other need is to revise application forms for planning permission and add new ones such as those for change of use. The biggest failure of development control in Zambia is the lack of enforcement by the planning authorities. One rarely reads nor hears about issuance of enforcement notices nor demolition of illegal structures and yet there is a lot of illegal development going on in towns and cities. The appeal system just like the tribunal is never used. These have proved neither useful nor needed for the Zambian town planning practices. Local government system The local government system is perhaps the most important agency of town planning which cannot be left out in the discussion. This is because nearly all town planning procedures and processes involve local authorities, be it in land alienation, grant of planning permission as planning authorities or enforcement of planning legislation through development control. Besides, the local authorities are the employers of the town planners; the functioning of the local authority affects the work morale and attitude of the planners. The state of local government therefore undoubtedly affects town planning. The present local government system in Zambia is dysfunctional. The workers themselves describe it as being dead12 whilst some scholars believe there would be no local government to revive without immediate government intervention in retrenchment of workers (Crook and Manor, 2001:19). This is so because there are repeated strikes by local government workers some of whom have gone for months without pay (Choma for example had 17 months and Lusaka City Council 4 months at the start of June, 2002), and councils fail in the basic function such as garbage collection (see Figure 6). It is not the concern of this paper to argue the causes of the current dysfunctional local authority systems which have already been documented elsewhere13. Rather, it is concerned with the effects the colonial local government system has on the present local government and the implications for practice of town planning today.
Coffin carried by Lusaka City Council workers symbolizing the death of the local government system, ZNBC Television news18 July 2002. 13 See Crook and Manor (2001), Crehan and Oppen (1994) pages 21-42.
Photos taken by the author, June 2002
Figure 6: Collapsed local government system in Zambia: Uncollected garbage on Kaunda Road, Maramba Township, Livingstone According to Rakodi (1986: 213), the problems in Zambian local government are common to other ex-British colonies and are rooted in the imposed colonial local government system. The urban local government system was modeled on the British system of representative local government with parallel administrative structures in rural areas based on the notion of indirect rule for the Africans. The urban local government had been set up with a structure, powers and responsibilities in the fields of planning, development control, housing, utilities, public health and social provisions. The cause of problems is the ‘ideology of impartial officials guided by notions of technical rationality, advising elected councillors who viewed the exercise of power as a moral, non political activity. However, such an ideology thinly cloaked an authoritarian mode of rule, with colonial officials whose activity was in practice highly political and European councillors whose paternalistic concern for African welfare served their own interest. Problems related to the use of political office to fulfill traditional social obligations, further personal interests and increase popular support and power bases, as well as the contradictions between the need for centralized control of resource allocation and the desire to maintain the inherited relative autonomy of urban local government, have given rise to problems in local government since independence in Zambia …’ (Rakodi,1986: 213). The ideology of advising councillors has failed because the powers given to them are too much and the skills, knowledge and perception of issues required of them goes beyond their caliber as they are mostly of humble, average education. The councillors are therefore subject to manipulation, can impede the land delivery process and have been involved in illegal
allocation of plots.14 Crook and Manor (2001: 30) have suggested the qualifications and duties of councillors should be specified. Although the inherited colonial local government system has caused many problems, the present collapsing of the local government systems has been caused by policies in the postindependent Zambia. Although there are few town planners in Zambia, the insolvency of the local authority system has exacerbated the shortage of town planners as no one would like to be employed by a council. Those that are employed face frustrations in working as they have to struggle for resources to practise. The need for evolution in Town planning practice From the discussions so far, it can be seen that town planning has not achieved much in Zambia. Inasmuch as this is attributed to the colonial legacy in terms of policy, legislation and urban management framework, little has been done after independence to redefine the policies, revise the legislation and reform the agencies for town planning. The legacy of colonial town planning practices has therefore continued in urban form and land uses, housing, land alienation, development control and the local government systems. There have been attempts to change the inherited colonial systems, with varying results. These changes have been inadequate or inappropriate as is the case with housing and legislation (the Town and Country Planning Act) or compounded the problems as is the case with land alienation and the local government. Whereas one can identify the town planning philosophy and urban policy in the colonial times, these are distinct in the post independent Zambia. The urban policy and philosophy of town planning should be developed and interpreted in the Zambian context and not the British or international perspective so that such policies, legislation and reform of the planning agencies can address town planning problems specific to Zambia such as access to land and upgrading of squatter settlements. To do this, town planning has to be evolved. The paper is therefore concluded by suggesting the evolution required in the practice of town planning in order to bridge the past and the future. Redefinition of the town planning philosophy, urban policy and legislation Problems that led to the founding of town planning such as congestion and urban decay are no longer relevant to the African towns and cities of today. The legislation developed and the institutions set up were transferred to the colonies or have been copied (See Home, 1987: pages 170-191). Thus they are provisions which are irrelevant or cannot be implemented. In Zambia, for example, the Town and Country Planning Act, Chapter 283 (sections 6-14) has established the Town and Country Planning Tribunal [where a member has to be a chartered planner from Britain when there is the Zambia Institute of Planners!] for appeals against decisions of the Planning Authority or the Minister (section 29). The provisions in the same legislation to prepare Structure Plans, as presented earlier, has no impact on the practice of town planning in Zambia whilst development control is not implemented by the local authorities. This has compounded problems or resulted in inefficient town planning practices. A new town planning philosophy and urban development policy need to be developed that would address specific urban problems experienced in the African cities such as urban poverty, access to land, accommodating the poor, HIV/AIDS, informal trading and greening the cities. Reform of planning agencies The death of Zambian local authority systems and its repercussions for town planning poses a challenge for planners. The implemented reforms have incapacitated local government as an agency for town planning, entangling the profession. The challenge for the planners now is how to avoid or stop implementation of policies that negatively affect the profession and the people at large. For the Zambian case, the system has already collapsed and the question is
Op cit Daily Mail
on how to increase efficiency in the town planning agencies and restore public confidence. As local government has collapsed, should it be resuscitated – how far can planners influence its resuscitation having failed to stop it from collapsing – or should new agencies be established? There have been suggestions to establish an autonomous body that should have responsibilities for land alienation, development control and have powers to source funds for planning (Mwimba, 2001: 14). Use of technology The benefits of computer technology applications in planning include reduction in internal costs, speeding up of problem solving and rapid analysis of alternative solutions, improvement in the quality and consistence of decisions, faster processing of applications, stimulation of innovation and efficient storage, retrieval and updating of data (Mwimba, 1997: 9-10). Therefore technological innovations in computing have a lot of promise for planning in increasing efficiency, providing timely information and reducing chances of erring when making planning decisions. The use of computers to help solve town planning problems in Zambia cannot be doubted. Unfortunately computing technology in town planning is only used by foreign firms when preparing Structure Plans or implementing projects in urban water supply and digital maps are prepared for land use and township layout as a matter of necessity. Only Lusaka City Council is establishing a database for upgraded settlements with the support of Swed Survey and has attempted at establishing an Environmental Management Information Systems. The town planners are quite literate in computers especially in word processing used in preparing reports15. Non application of computer technology might be due to insolvency of the agencies for planning both the local authorities and central government or mainly the lack or prioritization due to ignorance in the benefits of computerization which are presented above. The other reason might be that planners, having seen the myriad benefits of advanced applications such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS) want to apply such technologies16. Where no basic form of planning practice has been computerized, such applications might not be sustainable and efficient. What town planners need is to start with basic computerization of planning tasks, for example by establishing databases of applications for plots or applications for planning permission. Such simple computerization, as already experienced, can result in avoiding double allocation of plots, identifying plot ownership and fast response to queries in applications for planning permission. Apart from making town planning efficient and responsive, the public image and confidence in the planning agencies would be increased. Rethinking of town planners The failure of town planning in Zambia to contribute to the spatial and socio-economic development of the nation is not solely attributable to the colonial town planning practices but also to the post independent, Zambian town planners. Although there are other factors for which they had little influence or control such as government policies that have resulted in collapsing of the local authority system, reasons can be found in the pioneer planners and the current planners. The pioneer planners, some of whom are currently in government and are holding top positions, have not supported the planning profession. They failed to sustain the Zambia Institute of Planners from 1991 until 2000 when the upcoming young planners revived the institute. The pioneer planners need to rethink and support the town planning profession by
A survey in 1988 of two city councils and Ministry of Local Government and Housing Headquarters in Lusaka showed that 60 per cent of the urban planners were computer literate in the following packages: word processing (37%), Geographic Information Systems (18%), Electronic databases (18%) Database Management Systems (9%), Computer Aided Design (9%) and Internet (9%) (Mwimba, Chalo 2002, Urban Planning in Zambia: The Profession and the Practitioners. Research Report page 29) 16 Lusaka City Council, for example under the Sustainable Cities Programme started establishing an Environmental Management Information Systems in 2000.
actively participating in the activities of the Zambia Institute of Planners, facilitating the prompt employment of the young graduates and ensuring that the capacities of the young planners are built (for example, by participating in the preparation of structure plans). The young Zambian planners need to seriously fight for the sustenance of the town planning profession for little has been achieved by the profession and is faced by a lot of challenges. They have to define their identity, the critical issues and get involved in the definition of the planning philosophy. The young planners therefore should be involved in redeeming the lost image and develop a new identity by evaluating the past, reviewing the planning ideology and the planning system, and the environment within which planning is practised in the country (Taylor 2001: 13-14). To save the image, the planners should strive to serve the client – the public – with efficiency and prompt. They should fight for revision of planning process and procedures which are bureaucratic and strive to change the planning institutions which have a reputation for inertia, inefficiency and bureaucracy. To achieve this, the planners need to be political and not regard planning as a technical profession only (Taylor, 2001: 2). Politicians should be advised about the costs of political decisions to the planning profession and the residents for most decisions are made in the interest of politics without looking at the implications or costs (such as sale of council houses which has contributed to the death of the local authorities). In Zambia, the town planning issues are apparently not being addressed. Instead, and unfortunately, there is a shift from planning towns to planning people, i.e. neglecting town planning and concentration on socio-economic planning, leaving the town planning problems unresolved. This can be evidenced by the number of socio-economic planning activities being supported such as the preparation of the Transitional National Development Plan and the number of donor-supported projects for development planning with none for town planning. The planners therefore need to redefine and interpret town planning in the Zambian context and be dedicated to the ideals of the profession. Where conditions are not existing to facilitate efficiency as in Zambia, planners need to come together to fight for their cause through professional bodies such as the Zambia Institute of Planners for there is an opportunity to make planning responsive, the colonial legacy is no longer an excuse, thirty eight years after independence.
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ACKNOWLEDGEMENT This paper has been made possible by the support of Dr Eberhard Krain, Team Leader of District Development Programme. Although town planning is not in the mandate of the programme, Dr Krain has allowed the author to write this paper in parallel support of another one on socio-economic planning ‘Integrated District Development Planning in Southern Province, Zambia’ where the programme has a focus.
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