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Planning scholarship and the fetish about planning in Southern Africa: the case of Zimbabwe’s operation Murambatsvina


Year published: 2019
Categories: Journal Article

Author / Authors:

  • Beacon Mbiba


Contributing to the resurgent debate on urban informality in the global south, Kamete (2013) charged that urban planners in Southern Africa have a fetish about informality that is fuelled by an obsession with modernity. In these and other writings, Zimbabwe’s 2005 Operation Murambatsvina (OM) is used as a prototype planning malfeasance. Using the concept of fetish and fetishism, this paper argues that a fixation on and fetish about planning and planners has led some planning scholars to churn out misplaced or misleading understandings of OM regarding the role of planning (in) the operation. Inevitably, recommendations for planning reform from such scholarship are largely inefficacious. It is time planning scholars looked seriously beyond planning for both analytical tools and space for political activism.

International Planning Studies, 24:2, 97-109, DOI: 10.1080/13563475.2018.1515619


  • Journal Article