By Tinashe Mungazi
Residents have called on Hwange Local Board (HLB) to revise its housing policy arguing that it will assist in plugging loopholes which have given rise to land barons and disadvantaged genuine home seekers.
Council has been at loggerheads with residents who were given unserviced stands with the local authority still struggling to provide service delivery such as water, road and sewer infrastructure amongst others.
According to the HLB Housing policy of 2017, the mandate of the council is to focus on innovation and ensuring value for money in the design, construction and financing of houses to enable all HLB residents to have a place to call home.
However, in a position paper handed to Council last week by Greater Whange Residents Trust argued that a lack of clear policy on housing allocation was leading to the ‘creation of a system of privilege’.
“The first bone of contention that GWRT has identified as a stumbling block for residents in the pursuit for accessible Housing is the fact that the policy is outdated and is in dire need for an upgrade that will not only breathe a fresh breath of air into the Housing, Health and Community Services department but an upgrade that will also redefine the structure of the entire department.
As it is residents are constantly bemoaning the failure by the Hwange Local Board to provide supporting social amenities such as Vocational Trainings centers and cultural centers as some counterparts like Bulawayo City Council does.
GWRT strongly recommends that the Housing Policy of the Hwange Local Board be revised and the proposed amendment process must be spearheaded by an all stakeholder interface featuring key players such as Civil society organisations and media to push for crosscutting coverage.
Even though it has been established in the last paragraph that the entire body of the policy must be reviewed with the goal to redraft a more comprehensive policy whose driving proponent is the enhanced provision of fully serviced Housing stands to low income earners. GWRT believes that the HLB must endevour to create safety nets for the less privileged,” read the paper in part.
Residents also urged council to conduct an internal land audit arguing that this would go a long way in mending public trust in the local authority which has been accused of clandestine dealings which promoted land barons.
“GWRT also took keen note into how there has been no internal land audit by the Housing, Health and Community Services department of the Hwange Local Board, the land audit would go a long way in terms of building rapport between service provider and the targeted market. From its conception there has been no attempt by the HLB to thoroughly inspect its documentation, analyze, store and publicize the information. This would go a long way even in terms of assuaging the public from constantly accusing council management and staff of clandestine dealings.”
Residents are further calling for the repossession of stands of former, sitting councilors who fail to pay fully pay for their 40 percent discount stands while enforcing ministerial directives.
Councilors are entitled to two stands during their terms in office, one residential and the other commercial on a 40 percent discount.
Efforts to get a comment from HLB were fruitless as both the public relations officer, Dumisani Nsingo and chief executive officer, Ndumiso Mdlalose had not responded to requests.