Despite convincing heuristic and pragmatic promotion for the use of Public- Private Partnerships (PPPs) to inject dynamism in the public sector infrastructure development, little is known about their progression in Zimbabwe’s State universities. This study traces the evolution and validation of the use of PPPs as an alternative funding option for the development of educational infrastructure in Zimbabwe State universities and further compares it with other traditional funding options. This descriptive qualitative research methodology is underpinned by constructivism research philosophy and augmented by a multiple case study research design. The 19 key informant participants were selected through criterion and critical purposive sampling techniques while the secondary data was sourced from relevant literature. Data was collected through in-depth key informant interviews from the relevant public and private involved educational infrastructure development in Zimbabwe state universities. This study established that there has been low uptake and implementation inertia of educational infrastructure PPPs in Zimbabwe State universities ever since their adoption and standardization in 2010. Though the concept was mooted way back in 1998 and had its first PPP frameworks developed in 2004, it was in 2010 that serious emphasis for its adoption in Zimbabwe State universities was made. Various validations identified for the adoption of PPPs in this sector include the prevailing fiscal challenges, the need to tape efficiency, affordability, and availability, value for money, the introduction of new technology, sharing of risks, costs overrun management, to run higher education like social enterprises, to curtail government sovereign debt, shortage of educational infrastructure and to increase infrastructure funding options. PPPs in Zimbabwe came as a contending paradigm to other traditional funding options such as the national budget, development partners, institutional funds, and debt financing/ loan financing. Compared to the existing sources, PPPs were considered as a sustainable way that would assist State universities to cover their infrastructure gaps. The study recommends State universities adopt some business orientation functioning approach and operate as social enterprises if they are to attract a significant pool of quality private investors to partner in PPP arrangements.
Keywords: Public-Private Partnerships, Zimbabwe, Higher Education