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Journal of Sustainable Development in Africa (Volume 13, No.4, 2011) ISSN: 1520-5509 Clarion University of Pennsylvania, Clarion, Pennsylvania

A THEORETICAL OVERVIEW OF THE GROWTH CENTRE STRATEGY: PERSPECTIVES FOR REENGINEERING THE CONCEPT IN ZIMBABWE

I.O. Manyanhaire1, R.Rwafa1 and J. Mutangadura2 1. Geography and Environmental Studies, Zimbabwe Open University. 2. English and Communication, University of Zimbabwe ABSTRACT Growth points (GPs), growth poles (GPs), small towns (STs) or growth centres (GCs) as they are variously named in literature are defined as centres with strong resource base that can initiate a cumulative causation process that culminate in continuous and sustainable development. This paper reviews the definition of the concept and provides a critique of the constraints to the development of growth centres. It is the premise of this theoretical paper that it is possible to reengineer the strategy with a view to achieve sustainable development at these growth poles. Despite its widespread application most of the growth poles have never been successful because of natural-soico-economic complex of factors that have not been adequately conceptualized by the responsible governments.

INTRODUCTION AND THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK The analytical framework for this papers centres on four major aspects. Firstly, the introduction and the meaning of the growth centre as perceived from a simple linguistic perspective and as derived by regional planners and theorists of the quantitative approaches. The paper also to gives a more simplified and operational definition relevant to Zimbabwe. In the second and third sections the paper addresses the limitations of the growth centre strategy and the strategies adopted to propel growth respectively. The last component focuses on the possibility for reengineering the concept in the Zimbabwean context. The concept of reengineering in this paper implies modification of planning and implementation of the model based on synthesis of the positives of the traditional theoretical thinking on the development of growth points. It is the premise of this paper that established planning protocols are correct but have to be modified in an incrementalist fashion to capture the current dimensions in social planning. Thus, the use of the term reengineering assumes the existence of an array of practical and theoretical planning philosophy from which improvements can be made in the context of sustainable development.

The term growth point (GP) means increasing in size both in number of facilities, building and services provided at an identified centre. Thus, once a centre has been established there should be an observable change in spatial structure and pattern. One would assume that the spatio-temporal expansion is development. It quickly reminds one of the links between growth and development. Whilst the word growth implies expansion development implies quantitative growth and the quality of growth introduced to the selected centres. Thus, these terms are commonly used interchangeably in rural planning.

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A theoretical tracking of the concept of growth centres links it to a Frenchman, François Perroux who proposed the Growth Centre Theory in 1958. His ideas were a synthesis of the fusion of the various central place and core periphery theories that took centre stage about the same time. The core is the centre of development. It is characterized by an increase in economic activities and development of the spatial structure, a process known as morphogenesis. The initial triggers include; water supply raw materials, energy and a threshold population size capable of consuming services and goods. Some of the centres developed due to a ‘Historical accident’ which triggered the cumulative causation process. Cumulative in this sense means accumulation of wealth in a geographic space with a multiplier effect. The multiplier effect in this sense implies the expansion of economic activities...
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