Source: Uproar over USD payments | The Herald 11 FEB, 2019
Ray Bande Manicaland Bureau
LAND developers in Mutare are now demanding outstanding payments in US dollars or RTGS at prevailing parallel market rates, leaving aspiring house owners at risk of losing out on both the land and subscriptions they have been paying for years, The Herald has learnt.
Members of several housing cooperatives in Mutare such as Hillview near Dangamvura are crying foul over the land developers’ move to convert to black market rates.
Hillview Housing Cooperative has about 700 high-density residential stands beneficiaries.
Members of the project who spoke to our Manicaland Bureau said they feelt cheated by the land developers.
One of the members, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution, said he was paying his contributions on time and the balance of $1 000 was now being converted into US dollars at parallel market rates.
“I think this is unfair,” he said. “I have been paying my contributions in recent years in RTGS or bond notes and the remaining $1 000 is now being converted into US dollars.
“What that means is that I am being asked to pay US$1 000 and in essence I am now starting all over again. I think we desperately need the intervention of authorities in this predicament.
“They cannot suddenly ask us to pay in US dollars while we were paying in local currency all along.”
A member of a different housing cooperative, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said land developers seemed to be taking advantage of the situation to demand outstanding payments in US dollar terms.
“I think these land developers want to make the most out of the prevailing situation,” she said. “How can we be asked to pay outstanding subscriptions in US dollars when we were paying in RTGS? After all, we do not earn US dollars at our workplaces.
“The result is that we will soon have our stands being resold and we stand to lose out on subscriptions that we have been paying over the years. This is just not fair.”
Zimbabwe Housing Company land developers, who rolled out the Hillview project, confirmed repackaging the outstanding subscriptions in current US dollar parallel market rates in order to meet the costs of completing servicing the residential area.
The company’s co-director, Mr Charles Dengura, said they had no choice but to repackage the outstanding payments in US dollars so that they could deliver on servicing the residential area.
“We have not asked the members to pay strictly in hard currency only,” he said. “What we have done is to repackage the outstanding payments in US dollar terms. You are aware of what is happening in the economy.
“We still have outstanding works and the prices to do that have skyrocketed. We could have easily terminated agreement of sales and simply resold the stands, especially for those who have gone beyond the periods that they were supposed to have finished payment.
“We thought that would not be good and we decided to say if one comes to pay $350, that would be receipted at $100. That is the only way we can finish off the outstanding works. If we do not do that we will all lose out, including the members themselves.”
Manicaland provincial administrator Mr Edgars Seenza urged the land developers to discuss the challenges with their members so that they can come up with an amicable soluion