Civic crowdfunding for community infrastructure rehabilitation: the case of the City of Harare
Resource challenges in local governance necessitate the embracement of emerging strategies that improve revenue mobilisation and citizen participation in cities and towns. Emerging strategies such as civic crowdfunding can provide additional financial resources and increase resident participation in local authorities such as the City of Harare and others in developing countries. These are strategies that are critical to cities such as the City of Harare that have been facing significant challenges but are envisioning the attainment of world class city status in the near future. In addition to that, initiatives such as crowdfunding are central in urban renewal and resilience particularly where issues such as community infrastructure rehabilitation are topical. This research was motivated by the desire to see African cities such as the City of Harare adopting innovative strategies of financing. In other words, the absence of a framework that allows citizens to contribute their resources to the development of their city triggered the need to develop an integrated civic crowdfunding for application by the City of Harare. The findings of the study were based on an in-depth literature survey which unearthed key theoretical underpinnings of crowdfunding as a governance phenomenon. The study reviewed cardinal elements of crowdfunding and local government financing. It further reflected on Zimbabwe’s local government institutional and legal frameworks. Over and above, the study finally interrogated international best practices; and triangulated them with the views and opinions from interviews of purposively sampled key informants. All these data sources were compared and contrasted to come up with the findings of the study. The findings of the study coincided with the problem that necessitated the study, that, the City of Harare is not systematically tapping in to the potential provided for by civic crowdfunding. An analysis of the City of Harare municipal documents together with the views and opinions of the key informants revealed that even if there are a variety of citizen-led initiatives that can match crowdfunding, most of them are rudimentary and not systematic and that the absence of an integrated civic crowdfunding model limits the adequate harnessing of the huge potential provided for by the involvement of citizen contributions and involvement in community development. As a result, the primary aim of this study was to develop an integrated civic crowdfunding model for use by the City of Harare and other local authorities elsewhere. The proposed integrated model calls for a bottom-up process that is led by communities involving a variety of stakeholders that include those at government, non-governmental and community levels. The model utilises the benefits of the internet and social media by the establishment of online platforms. Moreover, the proposed integrated model advocates for a shift from government to collective power. In other words, the proposed model seeks to complement and comply with existing financing mechanisms; improve the performance of local governments; accommodate and embrace emerging phenomena; and build urban resilience. It allows the City of Harare to build on experiences such as cholera response in Harare and Cyclone Idai and learn from other cities around the world as it aims to achieve world class city status. Cognisant of the fact that civic crowdfunding impacts both directly and indirectly at the governance architecture of local governments, the proposed integrated model supports the shift from the old public administration to network forms of governance espoused by the New Public Governance paradigm. Consequently, exposing local authorities in Africa at the forefront of transitions in the study and practice of Public Administration by proposing an integrated model that captures emerging trends or vehicles of transitions constitute an advancement of knowledge.
- Humanities