Govt orders BCC to engage NBS in housing projects

The City of Bulawayo has been instructed by the Ministry of National Housing and Social Amenities to engage the National Building Society (NBS), who wants to work with the council in developing housing projects.

This comes after Bulawayo City Council (BCC) allegedly ignored six letters of expression of interest written by the local bank to invest in the initiative.

In a meeting chaired by Minister of National Housing and Social Amenities, Daniel Garwe,  in Bulawayo Wednesday, BCC was encouraged to partner NBS and reduce the city’s housing backlog, which is around 115 000.

“We need land for development in Bulawayo and I am speaking to the Provincial minister (Judith Ncube) as well as city fathers. We are inviting investors to come here for housing initiatives, please attend to them and to their needs,” said the minister.

Garwe noted that one such investor is NBS who had approached the city council.

“NBS is already here with six expressions of interest to participate in the housing delivery programme and social amenities in Bulawayo. Please pay attention to them, they are investors. Don’t look at them as NBS because it’s a local bank. Look at them as an investor so that what we are talking about here makes sense and they might be able to bring others behind them,” he said.

According to Garwe, NBS requested him to talk to BCC after their six letters of expression were ignored.

“Right now, we have ZB Bank, it’s working with us in Ruwa and will do so in Zvishavane. NBS is working on a programme with us here in Bulawayo where it financed the regularisation of an informal settlement. NBS sent me to say ‘please speak to the city fathers, we have sent about six expressions of interest wanting to develop in Bulawayo’s housing initiative,” said the minister.

He claimed that no response at all was provided by BCC.

“NBS haven’t received a response from the city fathers, the reason why it hasn’t happened is not for this meeting but we can interrogate and we want to participate. Let’s invite the local investor to come and invest in Bulawayo. Let’s allow our people who are keen to develop this country to develop it.

“They (NBS) are so keen to come in and invest in this country. We have them in Mashonaland East, they are going to be funding the construction of walk-up flats in Goromonzi North, Murewa and Melfort. They are going to be embarking on a massive housing programme in Marondera.

“The land has been provided by the town council, it’s already there to develop about 2 000 stands with the requisite amenities – shopping malls, clinics, primary and secondary schools. They are working with us again in Mashonaland West, Chinhoyi to do 700 houses including walk-up flats. NBS has other projects that are still in the incubation stage and I cannot disclose these here,” Garwe said.

Through its command housing initiative, the government is planning to build 200 000 by 2023, down from its initial target of 470 000 houses, which is why it has sought financial assistance from the private sector.

“We reached out to the corporate world and have discussed intensively and agreed on special vehicle purposes. Pension funds particularly have a responsibility to invest 20 percent of their profits into social housing or affordable housing, as their mandate and we discussed knowing fully well what they are expected to do. Government and its local authorities have land, which is a key resource and we will provide that,” the minister noted.

Garwe said the government had engaged POSB, who was ‘happy’ to go invest in a rural community of their choice.

“We are also talking to CABS, they realised they cannot be left behind in this massive programme. This programme is beyond and above political persuasions, it’s a Zimbabwean programme championed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa. We are talking to FBC, Delta Corporation, Nestle Zimbabwe, Schweppes, Dairyboard and all the mining houses.

“We said they have employees, the majority who don’t have roofs above their heads. We can join hands and provide land at affordable cost or intrinsic value. They provide the necessary financing to build accommodation for employees then we come up with programmes either on a rent only or rent to buy basis. They have accepted,”  he said.

He noted that the housing ministry’s Permanent Secretary (Engineer Theodius Chinyanga) and Acting Chief Director (Nelson Kuwanda) were currently seized with the developments of those concepts.

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