housing cooperatives.jpgHousing development is a major indicator of the country’s economic performance.

However for Zimbabwe, years of economic decline due to sanctions resulted in the ballooning of the national housing list which is estimated at over 1,4 million people.

Of this number, Harare has over 600 000 people on the waiting list.

Serious macro-economic problems experienced in the last decade since Britain and its allies imposed illegal sanctions on the country have meant that Zimbabweans could not raise funds to buy or develop houses.

This also meant that the government and local authorities could not secure sufficient financial resources to cope with the high demand for housing due to the increased rate of urban to rural migration.

Due to the failure by the government to embark on any major construction projects, housing cooperatives then became the most effective mechanisms in housing provision.

However, challenges of serviced land have remained unresolved.

Representatives of housing cooperatives, Mr Misheck Mangwende and Mr Nelson Mandizvidza and private developer, Mr Jonathan Gapare agree that support from building societies is critical.

City of Harare Town Clerk, Dr Tendai Mahachi admitted that local authorities have been failing to perform their mandate of providing serviced land.

He however said the new thrust is now vertical development rather than the traditional lateral concept so as to accommodate many people as land is a finite resource.

With the country’s economy now on a recovery path, significant progress has been made in efforts to provide low cost accommodation for the ordinary Zimbabwean.

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Housing and Social Amenities, Mr David Munyoro says through support from the fiscus and partnerships with a local building society in the form of US$25 million, the government is making progress in making accommodation more accessible.

Some building societies and banks are offering short term loans of up to 5 years, but the loans are not accessible to everyone as salaries as high as US$1 000 are preconditions for the loans.

The market is still not offering long term mortgages for housing development.

Despite all this, the economic stability currently prevailing in the country has provided the opportunity for the country to urgently address housing shortages that have the potential to drive rentals to very high levels.

If Zimbabwe is to achieve the Millennium Development Goals related to the reduction of poverty, there is need for concerted efforts as building societies should also come up with comprehensive packages for the development of this sector.