AUDITOR-GENERAL (AG) Mildred Chiri has exposed the Local Government ministry’s failure to manage government’s housing units, resulting in the tenants accumulating more than $100 million in rental arrears.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
The issue came out when Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi tabled the AG’s audit report in the National Assembly on construction of housing units and maintenance of government houses between 2013 and 2018.
The report said the Local Government ministry was delaying the construction of some planned housing units despite being funded by Treasury.
Some of the planned government housing projects are Mbire civil servants’ housing scheme, Tafara/Mabvuku and Marrivale Flats and the Lupane civil servants housing scheme.
“Delays in completion of housing projects and non-construction of housing units by the ministry resulted in failure to meet the government’s objective of reducing the housing backlog by 89 000 housing units by December 31, 2016, as stated in the strategic goals of the ministry,” the report read.
“The ministry records reflected total rental arrears of $47 992 360, National Housing Fund $46 119 315 and Housing and Guarantee Fund $1 873 045 for the period 2013 to 2016.”
The AG said the accumulation of rental arrears was caused by failure by the Local Government ministry to enforce provisions of the Estates Management Policy Guidelines and Procedures Manual (clause 7) so that tenants pay rentals on a monthly basis for clearing the accumulated rentals.
“For the period 2013 to 2016 the Housing and Guarantee Fund (HGF) and National Housing Fund (NHF) transferred a total of $1 332 076 to the parent ministry to finance its operations. The transferred amounts could have been used to start new housing projects or complete existing ones. This is against the provisions of the constitutions of the fund accounts which state that monies can only be transferred between the NHF and the HGF for the purpose of financing construction of housing units,” the AG said.
The report said there were 435 NHF houses which were not revalued since 2009 for purposes of determining rentals or instalments to be paid for the houses sold on a rent to buy basis before the multi-currency period.
“The ministry was owed rentals amounting to $7 323 508 from government property houses,” the report said.
Chiri said seven Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle projects were constructed in areas without roads and sewer reticulation.