‘Unshared vision’ : decentralisation in Zimbabwe, a special reference to the Harare City Council.
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Decentralisation in most African countries is fraught with problems and failures. A few countries in Africa experienced some successes in their pursuit of decentralisation. Several studies on democratic decentralisation have been conducted in the context of one political party controlling both the central state and the decentralised institution, where it is assumed that there is a concordance of vision between the central state and the local decentralised institution. However, a new context of decentralisation is emerging in the African context with opposition political parties capturing the decentralised institutions; thereby creating a disjuncture in vision between the central state and the decentralised institutions. This thesis examined the impact of shared or unshared vision between the local and central government in the event that there are different political parties controlling the two spheres of government. It also examined how service delivery and public participation plays out in the context of ‘unshared vision’. The location of the study was primarily the City of Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, where an opposition political party is in power. The main theoretical framework in this study is critical realism. Primary and secondary data was collected from various sources. Primary data was collected through structured and unstructured interviews with various stakeholders in the City of Harare. The key findings of this thesis are that there is ‘unshared vision’ between the decentralised institutions and the central state. This disjuncture in vision is manifested in various contestations between these two spheres of the state; resulting in political battles being prioritised at the expense of services delivery for the residents of the City of Harare. Consequently, the voices of the citizens have been lost. The disjuncture has also resulted in the prime reason for decentralisation, namely; bringing government closer to the people, not being realised. This study contributes to the broad academic debate on decentralisation in situations where there is unshared vision between the local and central state.