The proposed increase in housing waiting list fees has exposed the Harare City Council (HCC) to further scrutiny over its perennial failure to adequately allocate stands for the past two decades since adoption of its housing policy.
The proposed fees hike is from ZWL$60 to ZWL$500 as stated in the HCC supplementary budget.
There are growing concerns that the demand for housing continue to grow outstripping availability of the land yet council keeps on increasing fees and registering home seekers without mapping contingent plans.
“The council is not being honest, they keeping on registering people on the waiting list year in year out without addressing the issue of mushrooming of illegal structures masquerading as housing cooperatives led by known land barons.
“Council must engage with its parent ministry and police to get rid of land invaders before registering people on waiting list without hope of allocating them with land,” said an urban planning expert who refused to be named.
He added that after getting rid of illegal cooperatives and land barons, council must them enter synergies with banks and other stakeholders to develop stands mostly in high density areas.
According to last year’s statistics, at least half a million home seekers registered with the Harare City Council’s waiting list, in a city that has seen continued land invasions sometimes at the instigation of politicians in the past few years.
There is also an issue of kickbacks being given to city officials, it is alleged.
Harare Residents Trust director Precious Shumba told Zim Morning Post on Monday that there is lack of transparency and accountability from ratepayers’ money.
“The City Council has become a black market of criminals and residents do not even know where their monies are going.
“It has become a commercial entity instead of it playing a public service role hence exploitation of the poor.
“So if you can’t afford their proposed amount for waiting list allowance then its pure exploitation
Town Clerk Engineer Hosiah Chisango has confirmed there is housing backlog and the city was aiming to clear it by 2030.
“Our current housing list is 151 000,but we need to look at the list as there are many people who benefited from our various housing schemes that were on offer, including from cooperatives,” he told a local publication..
HCC communications manager Michael Chideme told this reporter that he was seeking consultations from relevant departments to give us correct statistics.
He had not responded to questions sent to his mobile phone as he had requested on Monday at the time of writing.