Innocent Ruwende and Nyemudzai Kakore
Government has struck deals with financial institutions, housing co-operatives and other development partners to build over 300 000 houses in the next three years in line with the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation.
Zim-Asset requires the Social Services and Poverty Eradication cluster to collectively deliver 250 000 housing units/serviced stands in the next four years against an estimated backlog of 1,25 million people on the housing waiting list.
Officially launching the National Housing Delivery Strategy in Harare yesterday, Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Dr Ignatius Chombo said each province had been given a target to deliver a certain number of houses within the three-year period.
Banks are being roped in to mobilise resources for mortgage financing for potential beneficiaries.
“It is estimated that this programme will result in annual mortgage repayments of more than $360 million,” said Dr Chombo.
“This will go a long way in strengthening the depth of the financial markets in Zimbabwe and to generate liquidity in the market.
“Land developers who shall be allocated land as part of the housing delivery system shall work with a bank, which bank shall relate with the beneficiaries.
“All payments to contractors for works undertaken will be scrutinised by a management committee of the housing cooperatives/pay schemes under close supervision by an Inter- Ministerial Technical Committee to be established for that purpose.”
Dr Chombo said the programme would go a long way in reviving the mortgage market in Zimbabwe that had been depressed by the absence of new housing developments.
He said the huge housing backlog was a result of low investments into housing delivery by all stakeholders, but the strategy had come at a time when the economy was showing signs of steady recovery.
“In Harare, 105 935 units will be built, while Midlands will built 56 582 housing units, Matabeleland North will built 28 772 units, with Masvingo accommodating 20 269 housing units,” said Dr Chombo.
“Mashonaland West 23 819, Manicaland 21 830, Mashonaland Central 16 700, Bulawayo urban 15 100, Matabeleland South 12 500 and Mashonaland East 11 776 housing units.”
Dr Chombo said councils issue title deeds and directed the local authorities to sell urban houses to sitting tenants.
He said an implementation guide had been developed outlining the scope and conditions and roles of various players, with local authorities required to have one stop shop to expedite the implementation of the programme.
Dr Chombo said there would be no direct link between land developers and beneficiaries in terms of both stand allocation and payments.
The beneficiaries would instead deal with banks who provide the mortgage.
Speaking at the same event, Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Deputy Minister Joel Biggie Matiza said building by-laws needed to be revised to suit modern markets.
“There is a huge gap between supply and demand, but certain statutes of the Constitution should be met for our targets to be realised,” he said.
“Demolitions need to happen. We cannot allow people to build in school yards, that is unacceptable.”
Economist Mr Brains Muchemwa, who was representing the financial sector, said Government should incentivise banks to offer mortgage to more people.
“Currently, mortgage is only taking 11 percent of the total assets under management by the banks, which means that the other 89 percent has been allocated to other competing interests,” he said.
“How do we incentivise banks to ensure that they do much more and be able to provide more mortgages to address the needs of the society?
“The structure of mortgage for low cost houses is attractive because beneficiaries can pay within a short period of time. Government should put the right structures in place.”
Businessman Mr Philip Chiyangwa, who was representing land developers, urged private land developers and cooperatives to co-exist.
Zimbabwe Property Rights Organisation founder and former Cabinet minister Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana said Zimbabweans with properties should be issued with title deeds.
“Most of the properties in Zimbabwe have no value because the owners do not have title deeds,” he said. “We only have two deeds offices, but they should be more because most houses are built without any legal documentation.”
Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa, Lands and Rural Settlement Minister Douglas Mombeshora, Harare Metropolitan Minister of State Miriam Chikukwa, Deputy Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Tongai Muzenda, senior Government officials, town clerks, mayors and Zanu-PF officials attended the launch.