We’re targeting 1 million housing units by 2025

Source: We’re targeting 1 million housing units by 2025 | The Sunday Mail

We’re targeting 1 million housing units by 2025
The FBC Fontaine Ridge Housing Project, commissioned recently, is an example of the many housing development initiatives by the private sector

Minister Zhemu Soda

THE United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11 advocates access to improved housing with adequate basic services for all by the year 2030.

The goal is to make cities and other human settlements vibrant, inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable, and as the Government, we subscribe to this global convention.

Congruent with the SDGs deadline and aspirations, the Second Republic introduced Vision 2030 to buttress the global sustainable development plan.

Vision 2030’s agenda aims to achieve a prosperous and empowered upper-middle-income society by 2030 through a sequential and systematic methodology that leaves no one and no place behind in terms of, among other national development priorities, housing delivery in the country.

The housing deficit stands at 1,5 million units and it is the responsibility of the housing sector in its broader sense to reduce the same.

However, we need to be cognisant of the fact that the housing backlog is a moving target, and we are all aware that our demography shows a broader base on our population pyramid, which indicates that youths constitute the majority.

The initial National Development Strategy 1 target was set at 220 000 units by 2025.

This was achieved by the time the mid-term review was conducted in April 2023.

Consequently, the target was reviewed upwards to one million units by 2025.

Thus, our vision is to attain the national target, thereby reduce the housing deficit.

The ministry will also ride on private initiatives, as well as public-private partnerships, to address the country’s housing shortage.

Sustainable settlements development is a function of a multi-sectoral approach, hence the need for input from various players.

To guide and successfully implement provisions of the Zimbabwe National Human Settlements Policy, the ministry is also proposing a review of the regulatory environment to enable private investment in housing.

Flagship programmes

The Government launched the Presidential Title Deeds Programme in April 2023 in an effort to secure property rights for homeowners in informal settlements and other conventional settlements established way back, but hitherto did not have title deeds.

The programme aims to empower our people by conferring their property rights and the right to dignity.

The Government intends to issue an estimated 1,5 million title deeds countrywide, including informal and dysfunctional settlements.

Epworth was just a launchpad for a national programme, hence it has been expanded to include the digitalisation of an estimated 3,2 million existing title deeds, granting all informal settlements title, converting urban Government- and municipal-owned housing to freehold and granting all rural business centres title deeds.

There was a growing trend of fraudulent title deeds production, hence the digitisation and securitisation of title deeds will plug that loophole.

At least six million stands of land in urban, peri-urban and rural areas will receive title in both paper and digital form, including the old title deeds to be converted into digital and securitised documents.

We are already on a strong pedestal by having the Zimbabwe National Human Settlements Policy, which was developed after wider consultations.

It is from the policy that densification of settlements is pronounced, coupled with regularisation and sanitisation of informal and dysfunctional settlements, respectively.

Hence, regularisation itself is another flagship project due to the sheer numbers to be realised after the completion of the programme.

It brings dignity and inclusion to the residents once the infrastructure is in place and their houses included in the housing stock.

It is imperative to highlight from the onset that housing delivery is private sector-driven, where the Government plays a facilitatory role through creation of a robust and conducive legislative and policy framework, as well as providing land and other requisite bulk infrastructure.

Inasmuch as the Government may introduce intervention projects meant to cushion the lower tier of the economic strata through social housing, the bulk of the development comes from private sector initiatives.

That also explains why the one million National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) target is not for the Government alone, but it is a sector target, and the sector is predominantly private sector-led.

To embrace and cement that inclusivity and multiplicity of players, and to accelerate delivery, the Government is on a drive to re-energise the sector through open conversations that are building up to the National Housing Convention, where we seek to come up with a national commitment or pledge by all stakeholders on our delivery model, targeted flagship projects’ database and strategies to achieve the same.

However, this is not to say our hands are folded until the convention.

There are projects that are happening countrywide through our genuine private land developers, banks and building societies, insurance and provident funds, mining houses and other corporates that have employer-assisted housing schemes.

This is in addition to individuals building their own houses and cluster houses development on individual stands.

Private sector partnerships

Let me hasten to highlight that we are positively collaborating with all our stakeholders in the national effort to provide housing to the people.

The private sector has come up with massive housing projects, such as Fontaine Ridge (Harare), Hopeville and Hopelyn in Bulawayo/Umguza, King City in Umguza, Dabuka in Goromonzi, The Hills Golf Estate and Millennium Heights in Harare.

As I alluded to earlier on, the housing delivery target of one million houses by 2025 is a sector target, hence all players in the built environment will contribute towards that target.

Therefore, we have the active participation of genuine private land developers, banks and building societies, insurance and provident funds, mining houses and other corporates, as well as individuals with free capital and some community-based organisations and non-governmental organisations.

Due to the prevailing economic sanctions, we do not have many international partners that are willing to work with Zimbabwe in terms of housing development.

However, it is pertinent to note that over the years, the country has managed to leverage on in excess of US$65 million worth of credit lines, courtesy of our shareholding with the Pan-African housing finance institution, Shelter Afrique Development Bank, which is an all-weather ally of the country.

These resources, accessed by the same stakeholders mentioned above, have been channelled through our domestic housing finance institutions for deployment into housing development and onward mortgage lending to qualifying beneficiaries.

We already have confirmed applications made to Shelter Afrique by local institutions that are worth around US$20 million and are at various stages of approval.

Locally, the ministry is embracing public-private partnerships with various developers, financiers and other stakeholders for sustainable housing delivery.

Civil servants housing

The Government of Zimbabwe, through NDS1, is prioritising access to affordable and quality housing by civil servants in urban and rural settlements.

Two-hundred houses for civil servants were recently built in Beitbridge under the Redevelopment Programme.

In addition, there is an elaborate and robust plan to construct eight-by-three storey walk-up flats throughout the eight rural provinces of the country; and to date, the ministry is piloting at the Mutawatawa Growth Point, under Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe, Zvataida Rural District Council, Mashonaland East province.

To date, construction of four of the eight blocks commenced in February 2023 and the project is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2025.

The Civil Service Pension Fund is also chipping in with projects meant to benefit civil servants. In Lupane, the ministry is finalising the construction of 19 F14 houses meant to accommodate civil servants.

In the same vein, blocks of flats are also being built in Beitbridge, as well as in Marondera.

In all other projects that we implement as Government for the general public, we also reserve a 10 percent quota for allocation to civil servants on a homeownership basis.

In addition, there are institutional houses built in cantonment areas meant to provide shelter to civil servants as well.

It is imperative to also highlight that in all informal settlements dotted across the country meant to be regularised, the majority of the beneficiaries are civil servants.

Regularisation of such settlements will benefit a huge population of civil servants as well. Therefore, there is a broad spectrum of housing projects meant to benefit civil servants.

Presidential Title Deeds Programme

We are targeting 21 000 deeds for Government-enabled houses nationwide under the Ministry of National Housing and Social Amenities.

The programme kicked off in Epworth in April 2023 and to date, most of the work accomplished has been the preparatory work needed to kick-start the process of issuance of title deeds.

Similar processes of surveying, infrastructure designs and bond management company registrations are taking place.

The initial target for Epworth is 18 000 title deeds.

The programme will cascade to other areas such as Southlea Park with 9 000 title deeds; Chitungwiza with 55 000 title deeds; Gimboki South and Cowdray Park with 15 000 title deeds.

Once deed issuance commences, there is capacity to issue at least 1 000 a day from the command centre based at the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.

Data collection is ongoing for all other local authorities for a consolidated figure.

Zhemu Soda is the Minister of National Housing and Social Amenities. He was speaking to The Sunday Mail’s Nokuthula Dube.