THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has granted an operating licence to the National Social Security Authority (NSSA)’s building society, the Financial Gazette’s Companies & Markets (C&M) has learnt.
The Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Service, Prisca Mupfumira, indicated that the building society, to be called National Building Society, would commence operations in March.
“The bank received the operating licence and is now ready to spearhead governmental plans to develop residential accommodation in support of its economic turnaround blueprint, the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim-Asset),” said Mupfumira, adding: “We expect it to be operational by March this year.”
Under ZimAsset, government has set a target to build more than 300 000 houses by 2018 to ease the housing backlog which currently stands at about 1,25 million.
NSSA applied for a licence for the building society to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) in 2014.
When government appointed a board for the proposed building society in June last year, official reports had suggested that the project would start running in August last year.
But the plan to open the bank has now been pushed to March this year.
NSSA had an 84 percent shareholding in Capital Bank, formerly Renaissance Merchant Bank which it acquired through a debt to equity swap.
The pension scheme surrendered Capital Bank’s operating licence after it indicated that it was no longer in a position to financially support the troubled institution.
There have been reports that an injection of about US$10 million in seed capital would be committed to the building society, but it is not clear if this would be availed by NSSA or government.
Government is battling to meet its monthly salary commitment and may not have the capacity to fund the project.
It would appear NSSA is under pressure from government, through the line ministry, to start the building society and fund it.
The new building society is expected to strengthen the authority’s portfolio by offering affordable housing loans for civil servants and low income earners who often struggle to access affordable loans, according to government.
The statutory body established in terms of the NSSA Act of 1989 to provide social security, financed housing projects through building societies’ paid-up-permanent-shares between 1994 and 2000.
It developed houses in Chegutu, Shamva, Norton, Kuwadzana in Harare and Cowdray Park in Bulawayo, as well as low-density Woodlands town houses in Bulawayo.
NSSA was mandated to provide housing under the government’s current economic blueprint, Zim-Asset.
This would be attained through the provision of housing stands, strengthening of public, private sector partnerships and recapitalisation of the National Housing and National Guarantee Fund, among others.
Apart from having a shareholding in FBC Holdings, which owns FBC Building Society, NSSA has a 37,79 percent stake in ZB Financial Holdings that wholly owns ZB Bank and ZB Building Society, and has a 10 percent in CBZ Holdings, which is also involved in mortgage lending after amalgamating its banking business with that of Beverley Building Society.
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