National housing programme accelerates
Blessings Chidakwa and Victor Maphosa
New building technologies will allow a programme being launched in October to deliver 100 blocks of flats a month, National Housing and Social Amenities Minister Daniel Garwe said in an interview.
As part of the major flat-building programme, five blocks will be built in every rural district council from the end of this month, to ensure that Government leaves no one and no place behind in its development agenda.
In an interview, Minister Garwe said as the Government wants to deliver 470 000 houses or flats by 2030 and has set own targets with the first target being to deliver 220 000 houses or flats by 2025.
The Government is putting a major effort into flat building both to ensure urban land is fully used and stop the huge spread of urban areas into farmland, and for reasons of cost.
A multi-storey block of flats can ensure each home is of a decent size yet the total land used is small, and consequently the costs of the water, sewer, road and electricity connections per flat are very low.
The ministry is building these in phases, the first being of constructing 232 blocks of flats with each block having 20 units.
Minister Garwe said the flats are dotted around the country and funded by Treasury.
“The second phase has the use of new technology which the Government has adopted which is starting in October with a delivery of a minimum of 100 blocks of flats per month. With each flat having 20 units this gives us 2 000 units of flats per month. We are starting in October this year.
“The third phase which is starting this year again is the construction of blocks of flats in our rural district councils throughout the country which has already started which we want to launch by end of this month,” he said.
“We will do a groundbreaking in Uzumba Maramba Pfungwe. We are building a minimum of five blocks of flats per every rural district council. The land has been secured. We are starting the programme of servicing that land as we are speaking.”
He said the Government’s primary role is to facilitate the delivery of housing which the Government is doing in two ways.
“The first phase is to provide affordable land to developers, local authorities and to everyone involved in the housing delivery agenda at affordable rates. We are setting the tone by ensuring that the houses that are being built conform to the human settlement policy which we are supervising ourselves.
“We are assisting our financial institutions to access affordable funding from financial institutions in Africa. Shelter Afrique is a case in point which has released to the tune of US$63 million for the delivery of houses by our banks. Mortgage systems are being extended to Zimbabweans,” he said.
Minister Garwe said last month during a visit to Bulawayo he saw the Hopley housing development programme where 4 000 houses are being built and with funding coming from Shelter Afrique, Banc ABC, CBZ and FBC.
“We have actually surpassed our targets. As you are aware we had Shelter Afrique, their annual general meeting and conference in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe is among the first country to benefit from a sovereign loan of US$25 million per tranche to build houses and all these are social houses,” he said.
“We intend to build 3 000 houses from this loan which we are getting this year. It falls very much into the new technology agenda. In Harare alone, both on single storey building and blocks of flats in Dzivaresekwa alone I think we have got about three phases, the first has five blocks, second has 48 blocks of 20 units.”
Minister Garwe said in terms of housing delivery Government is not doing it alone. It’s a collective responsibility which involves the ministry, parastatals, local authorities even the private sector is involved in this agenda.
“We also have other Government agencies that are involved in the delivery programme like the NBS, NSSA. They are building houses throughout the country which falls all under our purview.
“The housing target given is a very conservative figure and we are going to surpass it,” he said.
Minister Garwe also took a swipe at a report in the private media for being mischievous for saying the Government only has the capacity to build a target of 232 houses.
“As a ministry, I disown that statement. I never had a discussion with that reporter. I don’t know whom he spoke with from our junior officers wherever they met. The position of the Ministry of National Housing is that we are on target in terms of housing delivery,” he said.
Progress in the housing programme can now be seen in many areas. Progress on the four new blocks of flats for allocation to civil servants working in Marondera has been commended by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, with the flat complex on schedule for completion in November.
Local company, Leengate Construction Company, was contracted to build the four blocks, as the Second Republic works towards improving the welfare of its workers, and started work in January.
The committee toured the flat complex last Friday to have an appreciation of construction progress and to hear of any challenges the contractor might be facing.
Speaking soon after the tour, committee chairperson Ms Mirriam Chikukwa commended Government for engaging local contractors in building and developing the nation.
She applauded Leengate Construction for the progress already made and its good relationship with Government.
“I am surprised with the kind of work which is being done here,” said Ms Chikukwa.
“You know some people think local people cannot do a good job and we should get someone from outside. Today, I am seeing one of the Zimbabwean companies, Leengate, which has proved that they can do an excellent job. They started this project in January and they told me that by November they would have finished constructing these flats.
“They also told me that they were disturbed by rains, but now they are progressing well. I have also realised that their relationship with Government is good. They have their own challenges which they shared with us.
“We urge Government to timeously avail funds to our contractors so that our projects can be done faster. What I have seen here is that the vision of our President, Dr Mnangagwa, that in 2025 we should have thousands of these houses, and at the rate I am seeing here, this will be achieved.”
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Housing and Social Amenities Engineer Joy Makumbe said as Government they contracted local companies so that they also take part in rebuilding Zimbabwe.
“We have seen the progress that is happening here, the construction of four blocks of flats awarded to Leengate Construction Company in January and there has been massive progress,” she said.
“So it is not just in the urban areas where we are constructing high rise buildings, we are also going out to the rural district councils,” said Eng Makumbe.
Mashonaland East Secretary for Provincial Affairs and Devolution Mr Tavabarira Kutamahufa commended the hard work being exhibited by the contractor.
“This is quite impressive and is resonating well with the President’s mantra ‘Nyika inovakwa nevene vayo’. Thumbs up to the ministry and the contractor. We also thank the committee led by Honourable Chikukwa for visiting the site,” he said.
Leengate’s Engineer Eddie Charangwa, thanked Government for engaging the company and added that as an organisation they were ready to partner with Government in developing the nation.
“We want to thank the committee for visiting us to see what we are doing on the ground,” he said. “The resources that have been provided by the Government are not being put to waste. We are complementing them with our own resources in trying to ensure that there are houses for all.
“We stand with the Government and President Mnangagwa in achieving his dream. We are on target and we should be completing these units by November 2022.”