THE estimated 1 300 beneficiaries of the CBZ housing scheme in Victoria Falls might lose their residential stands after the local authority recently threatened to repossess the stands over non-payment.
BY NOKUTHABA DLAMINI
The project was commissioned in 2016 and according to council records, only 15 residents have paid for their stands.
This was revealed on Tuesday at the full council meeting where town clerk Ronnie Dube revealed that the bank had given them an ultimatum to pay the initial $2,3 million by not later than May 31.
Victoria Falls Municipality entered into a $12 million deal with the bank in 2016 to sell residential stands in the resort town. However, only a few homeseekers qualified after vetting by the bank, leading to over 400 home seekers on waiting list invading and pegging the land.
The land invaders were later apprehended by the police.
Residents have been at the loggerheads with council, the residents’ association and councilors, arguing that they had been paying for the land for decades through co-operatives, only to be cheated.
The councillors, who signed the deal together with the former town clerk Christopher Dube advised council to take estate money and pay the bank instead of repossessing the residents’ stands.
“We know that its political campaign time and you want to plead for residents, but we cannot use the estate money to pay for those individuals at BC847. As council, we stand guided by the Urban Councils Act and it prohibits us to pay for that housing scheme and even so, those people will never pay back the money.
“Look, they are failing to pay now and using other ratepayers’ money to pay for Mr X won’t do justice to other residents. They signed that they were going to pay the bank through council, at least 30 % by December 31 last year, and up to now, only 15 out of 400 beneficiaries have paid and started building their houses,” town clerk Ronnie Dube argued.
The 200 square-metre stands are pegged at $7 000.
“Since I joined this council, this is the problem that I have been battling with but we are left with no choice, but to repossess those houses and give the bank its money. They gave us an ultimatum and remember that the bank is in business, they did not do this for charity.”
Councillors, including, Somvelo Dhlamini (ward 9), Marguerite Varley (ward 1) and Patricia Mwale (ward 4) pleaded with council to extend the payment period for homeseekers.
Deputy mayor Norris Nyathi said: “We need to empower residents and accommodation is one of those mandates, but on the CBZ deal, we must agree that we erred. Let this be a learning curve for those councillors who will be coming back. We adopted and incubated an egg, not knowing that it will hatch a python and l repeat, let this not happen again. Let us not again be like King Lobengula who signed a treaty not knowing the implications. That document cost the poor and ways need to be found on how we can amend this.”
Council agreed to go back to CBZ to negotiate for an extension.
The bank finished servicing the land and installed solar street lights.