Leonard Ncube Victoria Falls Reporter
VICTORIA Falls residents have rejected a $12 million housing project commissioned by the local authority in partnership with CBZ Holdings last week. Council and CBZ entered into a partnership where the financial institution would fully service 1 174 low cost housing units for first-time home seekers. The project is set to ease the town’s housing backlog that stands at 15 000.

On Tuesday last week, the Victoria Falls Combined Residents Association convened an urgent meeting and invited outgoing Town Clerk Mr Christopher Dube and Housing and Community Services Director Mr Lot Mumpande to engage residents on the matter.

Home seekers, some of them with offer letters dating back to 2008, said council’s decision to engage the bank places their hopes of owning houses in jeopardy. This was after the Housing and Community Services Director told the meeting that home seekers would not automatically benefit from the project.

“We’re still reconciling data with CBZ and as for the cost of the stands we don’t have figures yet. People will, however, pay the difference from what the bank will charge and what they’ve already paid,” said Mr Mumpande.

He said the bank and council would vet home seekers on the basis of financial capacity. “No-one has been allocated in the Buffer Zone and entry isn’t automatic. Property will be directly transferred to the beneficiaries on the waiting list provided they can pay,” said Mr Mumpande.

He said the stands could cost $9 000 compared to $6 200 paid by beneficiaries elsewhere like in Gweru where the same bank did a similar project.

“The bank hasn’t given us the price but for planning purposes they could be more than $6 200 that beneficiaries in Gweru paid and this is because build-up costs like type of soil, construction of roads and others will determine the price of stands,” Mr Mumpande said.

Residents vehemently dismissed the Housing Director’s explanation, with some accusing council of corruption. They called for an independent office comprising residents to vet home seekers to avoid corruption.

“Why did you engage the bank without consulting residents? Had you failed to service the stands on your own? Right now you’re saying there isn’t automatic entry even if we’ve offer letters which we’ve been holding on to since 1998. What’s your explanation on this?” asked a resident.

Another resident said: “Accommodation is a right but this is way too expensive for us, we won’t afford. We were promised the Buffer Zone in 2008 and today you tell us that the Buffer Zone hasn’t been allocated. That’s not true because people paid their money.” Residents accused council of corruption saying they feared they would be side-lined.

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