Zimbabwe’s housing backlog stands at a staggering 1,2 million applicants, a figure government says could soar if a proper survey is conducted.
National Housing and Social Amenities minister Giles Mutsekwa made the revelation in response to questions from MPs in the House of Assembly who wanted to know what government is doing to alleviate housing problems in the country.
“The official housing waiting list throughout the country is 1 200 000, but even that is not the exact figure because most local authorities cannot capture the data that we want,” said Mutsekwa.
“Throughout the whole world, governments alone will not be able to satisfy the housing needs of their own populations and Zimbabwe is not an exception.”
Mutsekwa said reducing the housing backlog was a top priority requiring urgent attention.
“In future, when I present the Land Developers Bill, I will strongly recommend that housing becomes the third urgent matter after health and education, because it is a major impediment for the social needs of our people,” he said.
Mutsekwa said it was time the National Social Security Authority and conglomerates like Old Mutual played a part in addressing the housing crisis, adding servicing land, in particular, was too expensive for individuals and small companies.
Zvishavane MP Obert Matshalaga also asked Mutsekwa what would be done to help MPs secure housing as most of them did not have accommodation to their name.
“The housing problem also cuts across ministers. The policy is that, for every project, we reserve 20% for civil servants and these also include MPs. For persons not in government service, we will demand $10 000 deposit and for government employees we will demand $3 600 deposit while the rest will be paid over five years,” Mutsekwa said.
He, however, warned those settling in undesignated areas that they would be removed.
“We will displace you, but my ministry has a policy that we will not displace a person and fail to find a replacement for them,” Mutsekwa said.
In response to Uzumba MP Simbaneuta Mudarikwa’s question on whether government would consider constructing housing units using timber since it was in abundance in the country, Mutsekwa said research was still ongoing.