BY KUDAKWASHE TAGWIREYI
ANALYSTS have ridiculed government claims that it would construct 34 000 housing units for civil servants as mere politicking to attract votes as the country heads for the March 26 by-elections and the 2023 harmonised elections.
Last week, government increased salaries of civil servants by $6 000 and also promised other incentives, which included construction of 34 000 housing units for its workers over a five-year period.
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) secretary-general Japhet Moyo told NewsDay that the move was a political gimmick, adding that it was not practical that the 34 000 houses would be delivered given the state of the economy, and that in previous elections, Zanu PF failed to deliver on its electoral promises.
“It is not wrong that government has prospects of building houses for civil servants. However, this is not practical, and we have to be frank with each other. If we recall, there were many promises before made by the government to build houses for civil servants, but it failed and the same can be repeated,” he said.
Moyo described the promises to civil servants as just a reaction to pressure exerted by civil servants who are demanding better remuneration.
Former Finance minister during the government of national unity, Tendai Biti, said: “This is politicking. They tend to do this when we are approaching elections. If they want to give houses, they should give houses to everyone, and civil servants will be covered. They don’t even have enough land at the local authorities and this requires planning and is worth millions of dollars.”
Economist Kipson Gundai said despite the possibility that Zanu PF would fail to fulfil its promises, it was possible that it could actually achieve them.
“If structured on a sustainable basis, it is very possible, and those public funds used to build houses can be recouped over time,” he said.
Apart from the promise to construct 34 000 housing units for civil servants, government on Wednesday said it would issue title deeds to an estimated 80 000 desperate home-seekers in the capital whose informal settlements and structures face demolition.
Harare Residents Trust director Precious Shumba said while this was an enticing opportunity, government should not encourage lawlessness.
“Despite the issuance of title deeds being an attractive package, the government should not encourage lawlessness by processing title deeds without requiring the intended beneficiaries to meet the intended minimum requirements for qualification to obtain the title deeds,” he said.
Shumba said along with the move, government should also reduce fees charged as estate duty to change ownership of houses from 4% as it affected widows the most.
Last Friday, National Housing minister Daniel Garwe signed a host country agreement with Nairobi-based Shelter Afrique to roll out an ambitious project to construct 220 000 housing units.