RESIDENTS at Gillingham Estate in Harare’s Dzivarasekwa are up in arms against the National Building Society (NBS) over alleged punitive interest rates despite being allegedly sold substandard housing units.
In a letter dated January 31, 2023 addressed to the NBS mortgage centre, the residents complained that the housing facility risked turning out to be a glorified squatter camp with substandard housing characterised by leaking roofs, lack of running water and electricity as well as poor drainage.
The residents demanded justification on the interest rates, which they said were not tallying with what was on the agreement of sale.
William Rwizi, the chairperson of the residents committee said despite the bank availing incomplete units, it increased interest rates for the housing units substantially.
“As beneficiaries of the scheme, we feel the bank has short-changed us by not meeting their end of the agreement of providing affordable and decent housing and not respecting the law of contract,” Rwizi said.
“The bank availed units that are incomplete and went on to increase interest rates that are punitive to beneficiaries.”
A source at the estate said the bank is charging an interest rate of 12% per annum and the bank had maintained the mortgage loan in United States dollars.
“The mortgage is in US dollars and payable in Zimbabwe dollars at the bank rate.
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“Most beneficiaries are civil servants who cannot afford an average repayment of around US$250 per month,” the source said.
“The bank retained the loan in US dollars despite the statutory instrument, which converted all US dollar loans into Zimbabwe dollars on one as to one.”
Rwizi also accused the bank of availing houses that have no water facilities saying water was a human right.
“We are aware that you are working to have the community connected to the City of Harare, but in the meantime we request that NBS should provide us with water until such a time the neighbourhood is connected to city council,” he said in the letter addressed to the bank.
Rwizi pointed out that there was a need to address refuse collection by clearing the dumpsites and engaging private garbage collectors until the city council takes over.
“In conclusion we hope NBS can meet the beneficiaries at the earliest date convenient to all parties so that we map a way forward for the betterment of our community or we risk the neighbourhood turning out to be a glorified squatter camp with substandard housing characterised by leaking roofs, burst sewer, no water, no electricity, poor drainage and high interest rates,” he said.
“As residents of Gillingham Estate, while standing guided by due processes, we put it to you NBS, that there is need to expedite all processes that relate to the Harare City Council on residency so that issues to do with water and sanitation, refuse collection, buying of water metres by individual households are dealt with.”
NBS head of marketing Mildred Kujinga did not respond to questions sent to her saying she was “busy.”