$1,35bn for 220 000 houses Professor Ncube

Zvamaida Murwira

Senior Reporter

About $1,35 billion was allocated in the 2021 National Budget towards the National Housing Fund as Government seeks to build 220 000 houses and flats by 2025 in line with the National Development Strategy (NDS1) and Vision 2030.

Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube told the National Assembly recently that Government was keen to address challenges to housing and would provide financial resources for the realisation of that objective.

He was responding to concerns raised by Parliament’s portfolio committee on Local Government and Public Works.

“Let me turn to the Committee on Local Government and National Housing. Mr Speaker, Government has prioritised housing development in order to address the challenges facing the sector as well as fast-track delivery of housing units in line with the NDS target of 220 000 housing units by 2025,” said Prof Ncube.

“The 2021 Budget allocations of $1,35 billion under the National Housing Fund for housing development schemes is obviously not sufficient to address all the challenges and Government will work closely with the private sector and beneficiaries to mobilise the requisite resources including off-site and on-site infrastructure.

“It is quite clear that the housing sector is one such a sector that lends itself to private sector support because the financing mechanisms are well-known: they are mortgage schemes or some close variation of a mortgage arrangement.

“So we are confident that private sector resources can be raised in order to compliment the $1,35 billion under the National Housing Fund.”

Under the NDS1, Government said it was committed to providing adequate housing that is secure and dignified, which was a fundamental right for every citizen.

“Access to safe and secure shelter remains a major challenge for a number of households. Government is, therefore, targeting a cumulative 220 000 housing units to be delivered as a function of effective demand during the strategy period,” reads the NDS1 document.

“Given the huge housing backlog and inadequacies of attendant infrastructure, Government will, through NDS1, prioritise citizens’ access to affordable and quality settlements in urban and rural areas. In this regard, during NDS1, Government will take a holistic approach in planning for housing settlements, which will include planning for provision of key basic infrastructure such as ICTs for the development of smart settlements for both urban and rural areas.”

Further, NDS1 says the delivery of shelter was dependent upon the implementation of a number of key strategies that secure availability of funding from private and public sectors.

To this end, Government through an inter-sectoral committee will encourage public-private partnerships, as well as restructure and promote mortgage financing schemes.

“Rental accommodation, which caters for young professionals, has not been growing in Zimbabwe. During the NDS1 period, measures to increase rental accommodation such as flats will be prioritised. In this regard, the rental policy will be reviewed in order to attract pension funds to invest in rental accommodation,” reads NDS1.

Presently, Zimbabwe has a housing backlog of about 1,25 million.

Some citizens that tried to become home owners were duped by land barons who sold them State land without clearance, resulting in demolitions. The few lucky ones had their illegal settlements regularised because although services were not in place, there were approved layout plans and the land involved was zoned for housing, not recreation, education or preservation of wetlands.

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