Pamela Shumba, Senior Reporter
The Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Cde Saviour Kasukuwere has ordered local authorities to expedite the issuing of title deeds to residents and give special consideration to home owners who have been occupying houses for more than 25 years.
He said it was unfair for local authorities to delay issuing title deeds to their residents so that they could continue receiving rentals.
“The Government has written to most of the local authorities, imploring them that where it is possible, those who have occupied homes for more than 25 years, we believe by then they would have paid sufficiently for them to own those properties.
“It appears councils are taking their time because they are surviving out of the rentals that come to them from these residents. They must actually be more proactive and go into further development of new homes across their areas so that they do not survive on rentals alone,” said Minister Kasukuwere while responding to questions in Parliament on Wednesday.
He said through the initiative, the ministry was trying to promote growth in the country’s towns and cities.
“We have been working with most of the city authorities and we encourage people who have stayed in homes for a long time to own them. Local authorities are therefore encouraged to implement this Government policy.
Speaking about those who have lived in Government houses for a long time, Minister Kasukuwere said it was impossible for them to own the houses as they belonged to the State.
“There is what we call institutional houses that belong to the State. They are meant to serve Government officers who come and stay in those areas.
“We can’t just sell all those houses because some people have stayed there for a long time,” said Minister Kasukuwere.
He added that Government had started a housing scheme for civil servants to overcome the challenge of accommodation in most urban areas.
“We have also taken a compassionate view in terms of how we can assist our Government workers. We’re handling those matters in the best way possible.
We do not want to compromise them but at the same time, we can’t give away Government houses which we will require in the future,” said Minister Kasukuwere.
The Bulawayo United Residents Association (Bura) recently condemned the Bulawayo City Council for not issuing title deeds to residents amid reports that over 70 percent of home owners in Bulawayo’s western suburbs do not hold the legal document.
The association implored the Bulawayo City Council to relax the conditions of acquiring title deeds and make efforts to raise awareness on the procedure to acquire title deeds.
Some residents in Emabuthweni, Iminyela, Emganwini, Magwegwe, Makokoba and other areas have been paying rentals to the city council for more than 40 years.
The council has argued that in Emabuthweni and Iminyela, it could not issue title deeds before it provides proper ablution facilities.
Residents in the two suburbs use communal toilets.