Zimbabwe's housing co-operatives to be phased out


Minister Local government, public works and National Housing Minister Saviour Kasukuwere

COUNCIL will soon be rolling out a new housing development system that seeks to eliminate land barons while introducing orderliness in the way new settlements are developed.
Dubbed the land value addition scheme, the new system adopted at a full council meeting held at Town House on Thursday last week, would gradually phase out housing co-operatives, which had become the breeding nest for unscrupulous land barons.
It proposes the formation of a land value addition team chaired by a town planner.
The team will be responsible for overseeing key aspects of land development such as town planning, design and base mapping, land surveying, engineering designs and approvals, bill of quantities (costing), land valuation and producing project documentation on a project by project basis.
Councils around the country resorted to using housing co-operatives at the turn of the millennium after failing to meet housing demands as economic challenges took a toll on Zimbabwe.
But instead of alleviating the housing crisis in urban areas, co-operatives have largely been responsible for irregular and illegal settlements, mostly fuelled by land barons who haphazardly parcelled out land to desperate and unsuspecting home-seekers, fleecing them of huge sums of money, in the process.
While housing co-operatives have largely been a flop, the city’s own conventional housing provision has been a total disaster as it has failed to develop any land on its own in recent years.
As the city increasingly failed to manage its growing housing waiting list, many desperate home seekers were lured into the cunning hands of land barons.
Through the new system, council hopes to speed up housing delivery by streamlining the land delivery chain.
The City of Harare could become the first local authority to do away with housing co-operatives, should the new scheme succeed.
Information obtained by the Financial Gazette shows that council’s housing and community services committee deliberated on the issue on August 27 and approved the idea.
Minutes of the meeting indicate that chamber secretary, Josephine Ncube, who is also acting town clerk, encouraged councillors to adopt the new housing system on the basis that council itself had failed to service land due to financial problems while housing co-operatives have not produced desired results.
“She (Ncube) reported that for more than 20 years, council had failed on its mandate to service land due to economic challenges and had abrogated that mandate to housing co-operatives. But most of the projects under housing co-operatives have remained either undeveloped or partially serviced with beneficiaries staying in unplanned temporal structures,” partly read the minutes.
“The major challenges identified had been attributed to lack of resources for land processes to the extent that land seekers had to finance the process. This caused a meltdown of the procedures across council, which brought the unscrupulous land barons and land invasions,” Ncube advised, as shown in the minutes.
The Financial Gazette is also in possession of a draft proposal of how the scheme would work.
The city intends to work with development partners such as banks and property developers to service land, which would then be sold to individuals through an agreed payment plan.
The land value addition team would facilitate the flow of funds from beneficiaries into an estates fund.
The money will then be ring-fenced into an account with an identified bank, which has the capacity to lend to the local authority for further land infrastructural projects.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has also been identified as an additional option for availing funds for land value addition projects through its Homelink (Private) Limited facility.
The ring-fenced estate account would then form a revolving fund that would be useful in further developments.
Once stands are serviced, it would be the prerogative of the housing department to select beneficiaries who qualify for particular housing schemes from the city’s housing waiting list.