Government to inject $264 million into housing

Kudakwashe Mhundwa, Harare Bureau
Government will next year invest $264 million in housing construction in a bid to reduce the national housing backlog estimated at more than 1,3 million.

The demand for housing has over the years outstripped supply, driven by rural-to-urban and inter-city migration in major cities such as Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru and Mutare, where people believe there are better prospects for employment.

The 2019 Infrastructure Investment Plan, which was drafted by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, shows that Government will make policy interventions to allow development of multi-sectorial partnerships in the provision of shelter.

“The housing backlog stands at more than 1,3 million countrywide, with Harare accounting for the bulk of this requirement. As a result prevalence of informal settlements that lack basic infrastructure and sustainable service has increased significantly across most towns and cities,” reads Infrastructure Investment Plan document.

It noted that Government alone could not meet the rapidly growing demand for decent shelter, especially in urban areas.

“An amount of $264 million will be invested into the housing sector during 2019, comprising of $192 million in fiscal resources and $71,9 million from the market and public entity contributions. The task of improving inclusive settlement will require investments beyond the capacity of the Budget,” reads the document.

“In this regard, Government will institute policy interventions that will allow for the development of synergies and participation of all stakeholders, including private sector, employers, citizens and development partners in the provision of shelter,” it says.

Official figures show that Zimbabwe requires about 15 to 20 years to clear its national housing backlog that has ballooned over the years.

Government has stated that it will come up with various financing strategies to provide low cost serviced land for housing development in partnership with the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe and the Urban Development Corporation.

This also comes as Cabinet recently approved a deal between Government and various building societies and financial institutions that include the Reserve Bank of

Zimbabwe (RBZ), the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) and the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe (IDBZ), for the construction of the houses.

Local authorities have started processes to identify land.

In Harare, suburbs such as Mbare and Mabvuku are earmarked to benefit from the project, with the local authority set to give priority to high rise structures.

Bulawayo has also identified 15 sites where houses will be constructed while Mutare indicated it would conclude site identification this week.

In Kwekwe, construction sites for the low income houses have already been identified.

Kadoma has set aside at least two farms for the programme.

Government has also begun regularising illegal settlements in selected urban areas, with a Commission of Inquiry set up to look into the sale of state land in and around urban areas since 2005 already hard at work.

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