Zimbabwe Housing Ministry Exhausts funds

Zimbabwe: Housing Ministry Exhausts Allocated funds

Harare — The Ministry of Housing and Social Amenities has exhausted the US$10 million it was allocated by treasury as seed money for housing development.
Housing and Social Amenities Minister Giles Mutsekwa told Herald Business the funding had been committed and his ministry would go back to Treasury to ask for additional funds to finish ongoing housing projects.
"Most of that money has been exhausted and we will go back to treasury to ask for more resources. "We are aware of the critical shortage of housing in the country, that is why we asked for the seed money," he said. He expressed hope that considering the huge housing backlog his ministry would get more financial resources from Treasury to try and whittle it down.
Minister Mutsekwa reiterated Finance Minister Tendai Biti's call during his presentation of the Mid Term Fiscal Policy Review that Government was unable to clear the housing backlog without private sector support. "For housing, the (National) Budget disbursed an amount of US$10 million as seed money for housing development, including off site infrastructure.
"This will require complementary support by the local authorities through the provision of land for housing, with the private sector also playing its part in addressing the (national) housing problem," said Minister Biti.
Against this background the Ministry of Housing and Social Amenities would develop land and in some instances do the actual construction of housing units not only in major urban areas, but also in rural areas nationwide. Minister Mutsekwa said his ministry was working with land developers and financial institutions to roll out a number of housing development projects.
"We shall be commissioning a number of the projects next month. "August would definitely be a busy month for us. In some instances we are going to build houses for the people and in others we will develop the land," he said.
Asked how his ministry would address the issue of reported land shortages for housing development Minister Mutsekwa said he had held discussions with local authorities and was given guarantees land was available. He said the reports related to instances where land was not available in some areas because of the type of housing some people requested from local authorities.
Minister Mutsekwa pointed out that his ministry would also look into the possibility of building high rise housing units as part of efforts to save land, which is required in huge tracts if housing units are spread out.
However, there was an instance in which Central Africa Building Society could not immediately roll out its US$15 million low cost housing scheme after failing to get land from local authorities, including Harare. CABS intended to build many low cost housing units that would have seen thousands of people in the low-income bracket accessing houses on credit.
Millions of Zimbabweans could not raise funds to buy or develop houses and or stands due to the serious macro-economic problems of the last decade. The economic instability also meant the Government and local authorities did not have sufficient financial resources to cope with the high demand for housing due to the increased rate of urban to rural migration.
It therefore means there is need for housing development of extensive proportions to cut on the housing backlog and ease serious shortage of accommodation that has tremendous potential to drive rentals to very high levels.
This scenario is already evident in the industrial and commercial property sectors where property owners have taken advantage of the situation to charge punitive rates, especially in the Central Business District.
Limited construction activity due to economic difficulties of the last decade also mean than very few properties would be built in the near future, which would sustain high rentals and demand for strategically located properties.

Keywords - Zimbabwe, housing, ministry, funds, CABS, Central Africa Building Society, demand, housing backlog, Giles Mutsekwa, housing development, low cost housing, moladi, solution

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