Harare council workers to get CABS houses

Harare council workers to get CABS houses
Josephine Ncube

Josephine Ncube

THE Harare City Council (HCC) has resolved to allocate houses built in partnership with Central African Building Society (CABS) in Budiriro high density suburb to its employees, in exchange for land to the country’s largest mortgage lender, council minutes have revealed.
CABS and HCC entered into a partnership for the construction of about 3 000 low-cost housing units in the suburb in 2010. As of April 3, 2017, only 800 out of the 2 879 housing units had been occupied.
Acting Harare town clerk, Josephine Ncube, told HCC’s Education, Health, Housing and Community Services Committee that council was already in the process of identifying land to compensate CABS for the properties in the event that these were allocated to staff.
It was not immediately clear if the employees would be occupying the houses on a rent-to-buy basis or just as tenants.
In arriving at the decision, council noted that despite spirited efforts by both parties to motivate home seekers to take up the houses, which included slashing deposit requirements by more than half, interest had remained very low.
CABS invested $15 million into the scheme.
A report by the HCC’s Education, Health, Housing and Community Services Committee, which was adopted at last week’s full council meeting, indicates that council has resigned from attempting to attract home seekers to take up the housing units.
“Home seekers cited high cost of units or simply did not qualify in terms of the mortgage criteria by CABS, which preferred clients who were bankable, formally employed or at least with consistent monthly incomes,” the committee noted.
“Further to that, the proliferation of housing co-operatives, pay schemes and even illegal settlements seem to have provided cheaper accommodation options to home seekers. Many employers were in salary arrears with their staff and that was a threat to mortgage repayments which could cause defaults and subsequent repossession of the properties by the bank,” the report said.
The housing committee admits that there has not been any form of agreement between council and CABS, a member of the diversified financial services group, Old Mutual.
CABS had failed to attend two meetings meant to discuss the deal, according to the committee.
“The director of housing and social development (Edmore Nhekairo) has on two occasions sent emails to CABS to set up appointments for meetings to chart the way forward on the take up of the houses, but unfortunately, those meetings did not materialise because CABS officials did not show up,” the committee report further reads.

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