Harare needs better housing model – Mayor

By Farai Dauramanzi

The Mayor of Harare has taken a swipe at cooperatives that are building random structures and said that there is need for the City to come up with a better housing model to address the issue of housing.

Mayor Manyenyeni said this while contributing to a debate on the issue of cooperatives during the 1839th full council meeting that was held on 10 November 2014 at Town House. The Mayor said that he was not sure if the City was using the right model to address the housing backlog considering that Harare has been given a target to build 105 935 houses by 2018.

“I think we need better models for our housing solutions, these cooperatives are not maximising space, they never start all (building houses) at the same time, there is no uniform structure and the finish is not likely to be world class,” said the Mayor.

The Mayor said that he would prefer a model with compact structures that have a uniform design and built at the same time. Mayor Manyenyeni said that currently there is no uniformity in the developments of many housing co-operatives as people are using different plans and another challenge is that of people who take longer than others to develop their land.

“Although we may be presenting a solution to home-seekers, the quality we are ending up with do not take this City any far forward…What we are having are glorified squatter camps,” added Mayor Manyenyeni.

Councillor Tungamirai Madzokere (Ward 32) corresponded with the mayor saying that there was need for a new housing model and a review in the City’s housing policy to try and address the massive increase in demand for housing.

“We should also consider the issue of building societies. I would propose that building societies should be given small pieces of land so that they build flats instead of what we did with the CABS project,” said Madzokere.

However, Councillor Hebert Gomba (Ward 27) said that the problem was not with council’s housing model but, with the corruption that engulfs the City’s department of housing which he accused of favouritism in allocating land to co-operatives.

“Council is partly to blame because we have criminalised the need to get housing by not addressing the question of how long it takes for one to acquire a stand. Some people are waiting for three or four years to have their housing plans approved. Before we criticise others, we should look at ourselves whether we are doing the correct thing of facilitating housing provision,” narrated Gomba.

Councillor Panganai Charumbira (Ward 43) concurred with Gomba saying that there was widespread corruption in council’s department of works and urged the Mayor and Town Clerk to institute investigations into the corruption allegations.

The country has for the past years been faced with massive housing shortages and Harare’s housing backlog is estimated at 500 000. The City is now working towards attaining the ZIMASSET set target of building 105 935 houses by 2018.

At the end of the discussion, council then tasked the education, health, housing and community services and licensing committee to look into the matter of council’s housing model for presentation to full council.

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