GOVERNMENT will do away with housing cooperatives soon after they have completed their current projects amid admission by Local Government Minister, Ignatius Chombo, that the model has failed to resolve Zimbabwe’s housing nightmares. The housing co-operatives emerged at the turn of the millennium to alleviate the shortage of houses in the wake of failure by local authorities to provide decent accommodation. More than 2,600 housing cooperates are registered with government of which 1,200 were allocated land.
It had been hoped that the cooperatives would help reduce the ballooning national housing backlog, currently at 1,25 million, but they have caused more confusion. Soon after being allocated land, most of the cooperatives have proceeded to encourage their members to build and settle without having serviced the land. Scores of desperate home seekers have also lost their hard-earned savings because of malpractices in the manner some of the cooperatives are being run.
Chombo said government was moving towards public, private partnership “which we think is a better model other than continue with a system that has failed to produce desired results for a long time.” He said government will not abruptly eliminate the cooperatives but will allow them to complete their current projects. Harare and Chitungwiza might become the first local authorities to do away with housing cooperatives.
“I do not think that we should continue with this model in our endeavour to address the housing problem and clear the housing backlog while at the same time building the world class city we yearn for,” said Harare mayor, Bernard Manyenyeni.
“If we continue on this path, then we might as well forget about Harare being a world class city at any time because these housing cooperatives are establishing poor structures everywhere. When getting into Harare, you are greeted by shacks and haphazard suburbs put up under this model. We are having glorified squatter camps,” he added.
His sentiments were echoed by Chitungwiza town clerk, George Makunde, who said they have lost confidence in the housing cooperatives.The recently launched National Housing Delivery Programme outlines stringent requirements to be met by housing cooperatives for them to remain operating.
Among other rigorous requirements, housing cooperatives are now supposed to supply regularly audited accounts, to fully refund members that pull out, contract a registered developer after being allocated land before any building starts and after going through all the strenuous processes, the document states, the cooperatives are not guaranteed allocation of land.