14 December 2012

Zambia: Filed Underfeatures

THE policy of segregated settlements led to the development of differentiated housing.

Initially based on race, this is now based on socio-economic status after transformations brought by independence.

Settlement patterns in all urban areas were segregation on racial lines and strictly enforced.

African workers were segregated against, and were not allowed to build in areas classified urban without permission.

They were instead accommodated in separate townships in little houses of burnt bricks covered mostly with metal roofs, or they were let to build on their own outside the jurisdiction of urban areas.

Services to these townships were not as lavish as those supplied to European housing areas.

At this time, settlements, which were springing up in locations out of local government jurisdiction on the fringes of urban settlements, were legally ignored as non-existent, so they quickly expanded and proliferated into squatter settlements.

Permission to build in these areas could easily be sought from traditional rulers who controlled them under traditional tenure.

Any attempt to build illegally within the jurisdiction of local government land, would lead to demolition and at times to prosecution.

The same fate befell settlement, which sprang up in undesignated areas. If for some reason or the other, a settlement survived, city boundaries would be adjusted to leave it out of the city's jurisdiction, and consequently turn a blind eye, instead of developing it.

Kalingalinga developed like this before being upgraded and incorporated in the city boundary. Some white farmers also defied the ban on squatting and allowed squatters to rent their land because it was profitable.

This form of squatting offered security for the landlords, since squatters also looked after the land and paid some rent.

On the local situation, Mutale in his book, The Management of Urban Development in Zambia, 2004, notes that provisions of the Urban African Housing Ordinance, requiring local authorities to provide land or housing for the exclusive use of Africans was on its own some kind of 'positive or possessory segregation.'

Because by keeping their wages low, the land acquisition process expensive, and minimum building clauses high, Africans were effectively kept out from certain areas where these regulations were selectively applied resulting in exclusive white areas.

The pass system, 'ichitupa'

All those fellow countrymen and women born in colonial times reading this part will remember how they loathed 'ifitupa' the passes.

This pass system policy was meant to reinforce racial segregation, by restricting movement and mixing between the different races.

In pursuit of the ideologies of crown control and utopia, racial movement between different urban and housing areas was strictly controlled, and was only allowed in one direction. Europeans could go into any areas without let or hindrance, but Africans could only move in European designated areas, if they were on an errand or going for domestic work (the boy, giving rise to the current jargon, kaboyi, a domestic helper).

In whichever case, they needed to carry 'ichitupa', an identity pass, and they only walked in designated paths leaving pavements to Europeans.

The passes specified the exact purpose of movement, what time one had to be in a European only area, and what time he had to move out.

Freedom of movement, was restricted on racial lines and firmly controlled.

The fact that one could not enter any housing areas without permission also meant that it was almost impossible to construct in any area without special permission, and in this way unauthorised housing and settlements were automatically kept in check.

This situation was pertaining elsewhere in the Southern African sub-region.

In South Africa, the citadel of segregation, the carrying of passes was used to verify the employment status of Africans and failure to produce it, resulted in arrest and deportation to the homeland.

The pass system was a cause of great anger to the urban African populace due to the indignity it caused. In Namibia, the situation was the same, there was no freedom of movement, let alone choice of residential neighbourhood within the country, unless one was white.

Even in African townships like Katutura, ethnic groups were assigned to specific parts of the township and on a national level they were confined to certain parts of the country.

Most parts of the towns were fenced out to keep undesirable elements out.

The country was divided into two by a fence running from east to west to control the spread of reinderpest, and later to control kaffir's movement.

After independence in Zambia, the removal of the pass system and its replacement with amayendele was actually a big relief celebrated with a hit song, Amayendele Muno Zambia.

To equip planning authorities with the right legal instruments to use in administering housing and urban development, a series of regulatory frameworks were put in place.

From 1929 to 1965, housing and urban development in Zambia was governed by two ordinances, the Municipal Corporations Ordinance and the Mine Township Ordinance.

Although run by different organs, the boards, which governed them had the same structures and performed the same functions.

The only difference was the formulation and regulating authorities behind them.

One was run by government, making it partisan to government machinations, while the other was run by a company, and was non-partisan. Because of this, the contradictions between the capitalist and the utopian ideologies were clearly demonstrated in the way these ordinances were applied and implemented.

Under the Municipal Corporations Ordinance, a Town Planning Board with the power to prepare plans for any town referred to it by the governor, was appointed it also had power to enforce planning standards imbedded in the ordinance.

Unfortunately, these standards were sometimes ignorantly or in most cases deliberately ignored, as happened with the plans drawn for Lusaka (see a later article entitled Lusaka; what went wrong?).

The 1932 Mine Township Ordinance was the first regulation to be enacted for the governance of mine townships.

It established the Mine Township Board of Management (MTBM), which had powers to make, amend and revoke by-laws affecting mine townships, subject to the governor's approval.

The MTBM had similar powers and responsibilities to those of councils for public township boards, although, it did not collect rates or personal levies.

Lusaka and those towns, which developed as administrative centres were guided by the utopian ideology, they were strictly zoned; mixed land use and housing (flats or tenements) developments were not allowed in the Commercial Business Districts (CBDs).

They mostly ended up sprawled and expensive to maintain.

On the other hand, all Copperbelt towns developed as company towns, the capitalist ideology, aimed at minimising costs, therefore guided their development.

These towns became compact, and mixed developments were generally allowed in their CBDs. As a result, housing areas could be built above office blocks, as flats and tenement units.

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