Economic policies blamed for delay in delivering housing stands

The Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has blamed its delay in providing fully serviced residential stands on the government’s economic policies.

Council officials told journalists during a media briefing, Tuesday, that the introduction of the RTGs dollar which merged bond notes and all electronic money into a new currency with a fixed exchange rate of 1:1 to the US dollar affected the local authority’s coffers and its ability to service the stands.

Home seekers who bought stands from the local authority have bemoaned delays by the council to deliver with some of them staging demonstrations to register their anger.

A fortnight ago, some home seekers besieged the Nketa Housing Office demanding answers to why Council has not availed stands they purchased in Emhlangeni in 2016.  

Director of Engineering Services Engineer Simela Dube said the Municipality has resumed servicing the stands at Emhlangeni. 

“In terms of servicing we have started at Emhlangeni and I think there are few issues as to why those programs failed, I mentioned the stabilization and transition program that was implemented by Government where whatever we had in the banks became bond money while contractors pursued their pricing in the comparative USD rates and it meant those schemes failed,” said Engineer Dube. 

In addition, The Town Clerk, Christopher Dube said the other housing schemes were halted after the contractual disputes with the private contractors were taken to the courts.

“We are now starting on other sites that were affected by the change in monetary policy but there are some schemes which we cannot start now because they are under arbitration,” said Dube. 

“The arbitration process is a court process, so there is really nothing we can do with those schemes which include Tshabalala, Emganwini, Magwegwe and I know there is been some demonstrations and people have been coming but we are explaining to them to say we can’t do anything for those schemes that are under arbitration,” he said. 

Meanwhile, Spekiwa Mugiya, the council’s legal officer said the local authority might get an arbitration award for the Emganwini housing scheme around mid-September. 

“I really can’t go further than that because the matters are already before the arbitrator so I am not at liberty to discuss them or to discuss the merits of the case other than to say that the two contracts for servicing of the residential stands that is Emganwini and Magwegwe are before an arbitrator already,” she said. 

“The arbitration process has already started and the projection so far for the Emganwini contract is that we will probably get an arbitral award by mid-September this year. But the Magwegwe one we are yet to sit down and come up with a schedule that is as far as we have gone, but as regards with Emganwini contract we have been in constant touch with the residents.”

Mugiya also highlighted that some people who bought the stands are privy to the court cases. 

“The first people who bought stands, we were actually surprised that they then staged a demo because they actually engaged a lawyer and their lawyer was in constant touch with the lawyers for the contractor and lawyers for council, so they are privy to what is happening on the ground. They knew that the arbitration process has started and we, therefore, cannot do anything further than anything we are doing currently,” she said. 

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