For many years the modernist provider model was favoured for addressing the housing problem in rapidly urbanising countries. This is characterised by delivery of standardised, ready-made housing units through centralised production, based on well organised institutions, advanced professional skills and a consolidated construction industry. This approach – which was successful in a limited number of industrialised countries – was transferred to developing countries, where it has failed because of an absence of those factors that were preconditions for success. In opposition to the provider model the so called enabling strategy has been advocated, first by pioneers such as John Turner, and later by the UN Habitat, the World Bank and other international organisations. The enabling strategy is based on community-based initiatives, self-help housing, promotion of small-scale business, while authorities are to support local efforts. Although this model is advocated officially by many governments, there is often a resistance to apply it in practice. The paper explores the nature of the resistance of planners and other professionals to adopt the enabling strategy. Factors such as the following are discussed: the fact that enablement means abandonment of well established doctrines; that illegal occupation of land has to be accepted; that it reduces the power of authorities and the role of planners. Upgrading of informal settlements and self-help housing means that the status is raised of the poor – those who do not pay taxes, who invade land, who bring sanitary problem to cities. Empirical findings from Botswana – where the Development Code in 1995 was revised to fit with the idea of the enabling strategy – show that planners claim not to know the law or they do not find it appropriate to implement it. They do not want house owners to reduce setbacks, to build close to the neighbouring plot, or to provide for Home-Based Enterprises on the plot. Despite this resistance low-income earners such as female-headed households often build according to the relaxed capacity – without asking for building permits. The paper is based on literature review, on interviews with planners, technical staff, and female house owners in selected low-income housing areas in Gaberone and Francistown.