Rutendo Rori Herald Reporter
Harare City Council has warned residents of 58 flats in Mbare to resist unscrupulous people who are making them pay $100 each per month as rent, as the money is not sent to the council.
The city’s acting corporate communications manager Mr Michael Chideme on Friday said that the residents should pay rent directly to the council.
“It has come to the attention of council that there are flat barons in the 58 Mbare hostels who are charging the residents $100 each month on the understanding that these barons would pay the monthly rentals and service charges to council, he said.
“The barons are pocketing the money. We are also urging members of the public who are being forced by these land barons to pay them to report the matter to the police.”
Mr Chideme warned the residents to stop showing their receipts to the barons after paying their rent at council.
Meanwhile, Harare City Council is set to roll out a massive low income housing project, which will see 10 000 housing units being built in Mbare.
Mr Chideme said only those with paid up rent for their existing flats would be able to access the new apartments and urged residents to pay their rent directly to council. The programme will be implemented through a partnership between the city and a Chinese company, China-Huash.
The project financing would be through the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe (IDBZ), which would also provide mortgage finance for the beneficiaries.
Under the China-Huash project, the low income houses will be constructed where Mbare hostels are located, since the project will be involving new flats as well as the refurbishment of the existing structures.
According to the recent minutes of the Education, Health, Housing and Community Services and Licensing Committee, the feasibility study would begin with baseline surveys to ascertain the number of residents in the hostels and the logistics.
“The new flats would be developed on vacant spaces between existing hostels, as residents would be moved into new flats, then the old ones may either be demolished or refurbished depending with the engineering and architectural reports, reads the minutes.
“The proposed housing units would be in four different categories, which are 4 500 two-bedroomed units, 4 500 one-bedroomed units, 500 three-bedroomed units, as well as 500 bedsitters.”
The committee said the project should be implemented expeditiously beginning next year, and urged the Mbare community to welcome the development for their benefit.
The partnership between the city and China-Huash comes as First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe recently bemoaned the squalid conditions in which most people in this historic suburb live on the backdrop of the dilapidated hostels that were built for bachelors during the colonial era.