By Ndafadza Madanha

IN line with the ZANU PF 2018 manifesto that undertook to clear the huge national housing backlog estimated at 1.7 million houses, the Government will soon undertake a massive housing construction in Rural and Urban areas to be overseen by the Ministry of National Housing and Social Amenities.

To ensure the promises made in the Party manifesto with respect to National Housing, President E.D Mnangagwa created a standalone Ministry last year to oversee delivery of houses ahead of the 2023 harmonised election.

The mass housing project is expected to commence in the second half of the year following successful talks between Government and the Financial Services Sector.

According to National Housing and Social Amenities Minister Cde Daniel Garwe, his Ministry has managed to secure concrete interest from pension funds and building societies to construct high rise apartments and houses across the length and breadth of the country.

Under the partnership the Government will provide land with the financial sector bringing capital for construction.

“The most expensive component in construction today is land; we will not achieve our objectives if land is sold at exorbitant prices as is right now. Government will provide land at affordable prices through what we call social housing so that the end product is affordable to our people," Cde Garwe said.

"Government has land but no finances so we have taken a paradigm shift that entails creating relations with the private sector to say what we can do in terms of housing. We have had discussions with pension funds and the Government has unencumbered land, we provide it at intrinsic value or cost so the end product is affordable."

Cde Garwe said in order to consummate the agreement his Ministry and Pension Funds are in the process of creating a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV).

To ensure that the provision of housing and social amenities is all encompassing and in line with the devolution thrust espoused by the constitution the housing scheme is expected to start in Rural District Councils with civil servants being the primary targets.

The Ministry of National Housing Master plan recognises that land is finite and needs emphasis on high rise buildings to cater for the growing population.

“We cannot ignore rural areas. We do not want a Zimbabwe that has modern houses in the urban centres but rural areas are left behind. However, it is the mandate of the ministry to ensure rural areas are not left behind and we have a deliberate strategy to start construction of high rise apartments in rural areas and we shall be targeting civil servants under a rent to buy scheme which is not new to the country," Cde Garwe said.

“Due to the ever changing weather dynamics, the pole and dug houses have become more susceptible and we need to come up with stronger homes that can withstand hailstorms and heavy rains, so we shall come up with a pilot settlement for our rural areas."

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