‘Prioritise housing during budget consultations’

Bulawayo residents must prioritise housing provision during budget consultations in order for the city council to channel more resources to that area.

This came out of a Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ) workshop on land governance in Bulawayo this week.

There is a huge demand for housing in the city, with the housing waiting list currently at 150 000.

Ward 22 Councilor, Rodney Jele, said although providing decent housing was a priority for the city, residents also had to prioritise it in budget consultations.

He noted that city fathers plan Bulawayo’s budget in line with what is central to residents’ expectations.

“When the city council conducts its budget consultations, residents do not prioritise housing as it comes after areas, which in their own right must be prioritised. They should also make housing a priority as council plans to its budget in line with what residents would have said,” Jele explained.

The 2019 budget for Bulawayo will fund the following key priority areas: water, health, sewerage, housing, roads, education, public lighting, social services and fire ambulance in that order.

Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA), acting coordinator, Emmanuel Ndlovu, concurred that the city is undoubtedly faced with a housing crisis.

“This has led to formation of informal settlements in Killarney, Ngozi Mine, Squatter camps, which in turn have become hiding zones for criminals,” said Ndlovu.

“Slums have also developed while deteriorating conditions have been witnessed in Iminyela and Makokoba. Other residents have no title deeds therefore can’t develop those houses. Some residents have occupied homes for years only for the city council to bring the owner resulting in evictions”.

Ndlovu added: “Residents have detailed such experiences in relation to housing where they are unable to access stands for accommodation. This has ripple effects as quality of life is affected because those without proper accommodation are exposed to other problems such as water and electricity shortages, while the standard of life becomes terrible.”

A 2015 survey titled ‘Cities in Distress’ conducted in Bulawayo, Gweru, Mutare, Masvingo and Harare, stated 63 percent of residents do not have houses, nor stands and are not on the waiting list.

“This figure shows the demand and scarcity of housing in cities. Bulawayo has between 160 000 to 170 000 houses while the number people in the waiting list is around 160 000. You can see that the demand of houses is almost equal to the available houses. Such statistics indicate that the dream of owning a house for the urban poor remains an illusion looking at the reality on the ground,”  said Ndlovu.

An independent researcher, Butholezwe Nyathi noted that housing cooperatives are not big in Bulawayo unlike in Harare, where a number are active.

“There are 2 600 housing cooperatives registered in Zimbabwe. 23 are registered in Bulawayo while only 12 of those are active. Take note that of all the cooperatives in Zimbabwe, 83 percent are in housing, which shows that they serve largely the poor,” he said.

However, the city council only deals with individuals who are on the waiting list even if residents are part of housing cooperatives.

“Those part of housing cooperatives also have to register as individuals to access stands. We have to ask ourselves whether the recognition of housing cooperatives is suitable or that is the desired framework in the city”.

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