Govt Promises To Build 200 000 Houses In The Next Five Years, An Undertaking They Have Never Achieved
1 December 2020
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Daniel Garwe

GOVERNMENT yesterday said plans were underway to construct 200 000 houses throughout the country in the next five years, most of them skyscrapers in a bid to reduce Zimbabwe’s housing backlog.

This was revealed by National Housing and Social Amenities minister Daniel Garwe who told NewsDay in an interview that the project would largely be funded by pension funds, banks and other domestic and international organisations.

He said Finance minister Mthuli Ncube had already announced a $2,8 billion allocation for the project through his 2021 budget announced last Thursday in Parliament, which further stated that the amount would cover housing for civil servants as well as rural housing.

Garwe said the 200 000 target was one of the projects highlighted in the National Development Strategy One (NDS1) policy document.

“The National Housing and Social Amenities ministry is private sector-driven. Basically, the housing schemes we are working on are predominantly financed by pension funds, insurance companies, banks and other domestic and international organisations. The target figure of 200 000 is planned to cover a period of 5 years from 2021 to 2025,” Garwe said.

“National housing delivery programme is planned, co-ordinated and aligned to NDS1. The human settlements policy stipulates that 40% of all land for human habitation will be set aside for the construction of high-rise buildings and apartments. We are obliged to preserve agricultural land as much as we can. The budget allocation we received suffices to cover for housing for civil servants including rural housing.”

The National Housing minister said skyscrapers and apartments would dominate the infrastructure as that was in conformity with the human settlements policy and international standards.

Last week, Garwe said government was proposing cutting the sizes of stands in low-density areas to create room for more human settlements as a lot of space was underutilised.

However, the move to cut the size of low-density areas was not yet a policy position. Garwe said it was a proposal to landlords to fully utilise their land and derive value from it.

He said the issue was a suggestion to make landowners see that they were sitting on gold and that there was no land appropriation.

The minister’s sentiments came at a time authorities were saddled with huge housing waiting lists. For instance, the Harare City Council alone has over one million people on its housing waiting list.

Harare ran out of land after space barons illegally parcelled out State land to unsuspecting home-seekers, who established illegal settlements, some of which have been demolished.

Garwe’s announcement that government has an ambitious plan to construct skyscrapers came exactly two years after Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga promised residents of Harare’s oldest suburb, Mbare, modern apartments with swimming pools during the 2018 electoral campaign period.

However, Chiwenga’s promise was still to come to fruition as Mbare’s hostels were still an eyesore with dysfunctional ablution facilities.

In 2018, Chiwenga had promised construction of blocks of flats, swimming pools and kindergartens in Mbare, adding that those from Harare’s oldest suburb that had relocated to plush areas like Borrowdale and Mount Pleasant would return to Mbare.