GOVERNMENT will soon splurge millions of United States (US) dollars to buy luxury homes for Cabinet ministers and their deputies at a time President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration is battling an unprecedented economic meltdown, which has pushed prices of basic commodities out of the reach of many, the Zimbabwe Independent can reveal.
Ministers are a part of the few people in Zimbabwe who enjoy opulence through luxury perks sponsored by the taxpayer.
The housing programme, according to sources close to the initiative, will see deputy and Cabinet ministers drawing loans of US$350 000 and US$500 000, respectively, to buy plush homes.
The money can buy a house in affluent suburbs of the capital, such as Mt Pleasant, Alexander Park, Borrowdale and Chisipite.During this week’s press conference by Finance and Economic Development minister Mthuli Ncube, the government sought to appease civil servants by introducing a housing loan scheme as part of efforts to contain pressure from workers.
The security sector is also set to benefit from the housing loans.Confidential sources, in separate briefings this week, told the Independent that the housing scheme for the ministers was Mnangagwa’s brainchild.
Mnangagwa’s administration has about 45 Cabinet, provincial and deputy ministers.The provincial ministers, just like ministers of state and deputy ministers, who do not sit in Cabinet, are also expected to benefit from the loan facility.
The housing loan scheme is run by an inter-ministerial committee comprising of Treasury, ministries of Local Government and Public Works, and National Housing and Social Amenities.
“The President came up with a housing scheme for government ministers after realising that most of them end up destitute when they get out of government,” a source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the Independent.
“So, recently he offered to buy houses for all ministers at a cost of US$500 000 and deputy ministers at a cost of US$350 000 each.”
Cabinet ministers, their deputies, ministers of state and provincial ministers are appointed by the President.As part of their (ministers) terms of service, they also receive benefits which include two vehicles (a Mercedes Benz sedan and an off-roader), a secretary, security at the principal residence, and protocol aides.
After serving in government, those staying in houses owned or leased by the state vacate the properties.In addition to that, ministers also receive travel allowances.Cabinet ministers, their deputies, ministers of state and provincial ministers also benefit from the loans advanced to parliamentarians.
The housing scheme comes amidst a sea of poverty as Zimbabwe is burdened with a 1,5 million housing backlog. The population is estimated at about 15 million – the actual figure is going to be revealed soon following a population census conducted this year.