Weighing the legal basis for housing rights in Zimbabwe

December 13, 2016
Julie Stewart, Rosalie Katsande, and Olga Chisango

Zimbabwean independence ended racial segregation and colonial rule. Yet the hopes and expectations that it would radically improve living conditions for the country’s black majority remain unmet. The bulk of housing for the poor is marginal, overcrowded, and unsafe. Women are especially vulnerable, with limited mobility and tenure rights. 

This paper, by researchers with the Southern and Eastern African Research Centre on Women’s Law, explores how the 2013 Zimbabwe Constitution may provide a basis for protecting the housing rights of women and other vulnerable urban residents.  Drawing on research conducted in both colonial and newer suburbs on the outskirts of Bulawayo, Harare, and Kadoma, the paper documents the effects of state neglect, summary evictions and demolitions, and persistent gender discrimination on urban safety and living standards.  It concludes that the Constitution provides a framework and the impetus for citizens to demand action on implementing existing laws and policies that target more affordable and accessible housing stock.  

Read the working paper “Shelter, a Home, a House or Housing?" (PDF, 309 KB) 

Explore the project Unearthing exclusions: Towards more inclusive Zimbabwean cities.

Learn more about IDRC’s research support to make cities safer through the Safe and Inclusive Cities partnership with the UK’s Department for International Development.