Innocent Ruwende Senior Reporter—
Harare City Council is concerned with the low uptake of houses at the Budiriro CABS Housing Scheme and is now considering leasing the houses after only 800 out of 2 879 were occupied even after scrapping the deposit requirement. The project was commissioned in 2014 with high hopes that it would help ease accommodation problems in the capital.
Deliberating at a full council meeting on Tuesday, councillors raised concern on the quality of work on the houses, some of which they said were cracking.
The councillors said the houses’ price was too high for the targeted population of low income earners.
Rugare councillor Peter Moyo said the houses, which cost between $21 000 and $27 000, were too expensive.
“CABS should revise the prices downwards,” he said. “We gave them land for almost nothing — 50 cents per square metre. We have a target to deliver 105 935 houses by 2018 under Zim-Asset and it is not helping that more than 2 000 houses are lying idle.”
Deputy mayor Councillor Enock Mupamawonde said the project had missed its target population.
“The houses were targeting low income earners, but the group cannot afford paying up to $400 monthly,” he said. “The people were also not pleased with the quality of work carried out at the project.
Some of the houses have developed cracks.”
Cllr Stewart Mtizwa said council and CABS should consider leasing the houses.
“We say no to compensation of CABS because it would be to the city’s disadvantage; we gave land to these people at a very low price they should consider leasing,” he said.
Cllr Girisoti Mandere also opposed the idea of giving more land to CABS. The Education, Health, Housing and Community Services and Licensing Committee noted that in spite of the efforts by council and CABS to motivate homeseekers to take up the houses, demand was very low.
Homeseekers cited high costs of units or they simply did not qualify in terms of mortgage criteria by CABS, which preferred bankable clients, formally employed or at least with consistent monthly incomes.
CABS gives a 10-year mortgage to qualifying beneficiaries, who will pay at least $200 per month depending on the number of rooms.
The smallest of the units consist of a bedroom, kitchen, sitting room, bath and toilet, while others have two or three bedrooms.