Past, Present and Future Population Growth and Urban Management in Zimbabwe: Putting Institutions into Perspective

Past, Present and Future Population Growth and Urban Management in Zimbabwe: Putting Institutions into Perspective

Innocent Chirisa (University of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe), Aaron Maphosa (University of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe), Lazarus Zanamwe (University of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe), Elmond Bandauko (University of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe) and Liaison Mukarwi (University of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5646-6.ch056
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The central focus of this chapter is to analyse the urban population growth–urban management nexus in Zimbabwean cities. These cities are registering rapid population growth rates, due mainly to massive rural to urban migration and natural increase. Ideally, rapid urban population growth rates should be proportionate to urban infrastructure, facilities and services. This is not in the case in Zimbabwean cities, where the development of informal settlements, rising urban poverty, dilapidated urban infrastructure and other urban developmental challenges are rampant. Drawing from Malthusian theory, the current conditions in Zimbabwean cities represents that stage where the positive and negative checks are expected. In putting together this chapter, we used archival sources such as newspapers, government reports and other secondary sources. We conclude that planning initiatives and population control measures need to be used in Zimbabwean cities to address inefficiency and urban management challenges, which may be compromising urban sustainability. This study provides evidence-based information that urban local authorities may use to formulate policies to manage urban problems.
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Theoretical And Analytical Framework

This study is based on Malthusian theory, the Optimal City Size hypothesis propounded by Cannan (1924) and advanced by Robbins, Dalton and Carr-Saunders (Getz 1979, 204), and the Carrying Capacity Concept in planning by Bishop and others (1974).The central thesis of the Malthusian theory is that when population growth exceeds the rate of food production, this gives rise to negative and positive checks. Similarly, when urban population growth exceeds the rate of urban infrastructure provision, urban problems start to manifest. This theory highlights the need to link urban population control institutions and urban management. In contrast to these theories, the Marxist and the neo- Marxist theories point out some of the loopholes of Malthus’s arguments, including its neglect of the labour aspect in population increase. Marx upholds the view that population increases mean an increase in work force, and consequently an increase in productivity (Gimenez, 1973). This means that population increase in urban areas is not necessarily a negative development but rather a likely contribution to urban productivity. Moreover, Malthusian theories fail to foresee the effects of improvements in technology and transport. Notwithstanding these criticisms, the Malthusian theory, the Optimal City Size theory and the carrying capacity concept remain essential in urban management, specifically in developing countries like Zimbabwe, as they all reflect the relevance of balancing population growth and available services (Mukheli et al, 2002; Kamete, 2006; Rakodi, 1990).

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