The Sunday News
Nkosilathi Sibanda, Sunday News Correspondent
OLD suburbs in major cities countrywide have been identified for a renewal project as the Government moves in to expedite its urban regeneration exercise under the National Housing Guarantee Fund.
Urban settlements that date back to the colonial period have houses and basic social amenities infrastructure that have to be spruced up to meet contemporary trends in built environments and also attract business investment. The National Housing Guarantee Fund was created under the Housing and Buildings Act Chapter 22:07. A commitment by the Government to put in a strategy that will not only provide new shelter but spruce up the old locations, is highlighted by the Fund.
Of great concern to the Government were suburbs such as Makokoba, Mabutweni and Iminyela in Bulawayo. Other locations include Harare’s oldest township Mbare, Mucheke in Masvingo, Mbizo (Kwekwe), Rimuka (Kadoma) and Sakubva in Mutare. The urban renewal for these settlements has already been tabled in the 2021 Budget Strategy Paper compiled by Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube. Prof Ncube said for the Government to reach its Vision 2030 goal, the Housing Fund has to be revisited and be funded to meet the demands of urban regeneration.
“The housing strategy and programmes will integrate the refurbishment and rehabilitation of old residential suburbs such as Mbare, Makokoba, Mucheke, Mbizo, Rimuka, Sakubva, among others,” he said.
Recapitalisation of the Fund is important said Prof Ncube, adding that even rural centres will get attention. “Government prioritises housing infrastructure development in both rural and urban areas, supported by basic infrastructure and sustainable services.”
Prof Ncube said in the coming year, the national budget will be mindful of the need to meet the 1,3 million housing backlog.
“In order to improve the housing stock from a backlog of over 1,3 million countrywide, Government will recapitalise the Housing Fund and the National Housing. Guarantee Fund to ensure affordable housing and decent living for all,” he said in his Budget Strategy Paper presented on Friday last week. The Minister’s view is that the Government could only accomplish this through mutual partnerships with the private sector.
“To achieve this, the Government will partner with the private sector to provide mortgages and other affordable financing schemes.”
In launching the urban infrastructure renewal proposal, the Minister said this was the right move to empower citizens.
“It is a vital form of wealth creation as we move towards the middle class as espoused in our Vision 2030,” said Prof Ncube.
Recently Housing and Social Amenities Minister Daniel Garwe revealed that the Government was working on an urban renewal housing model for Victoria Falls and Hwange towns. A new satellite town has been planned on the outskirts of Victoria Falls.
Minister Garwe is on record saying that social housing and social amenities must align to world class trends. The Finance and Economic Development Ministry’s commitment to the urban renewal project in the upcoming budget, has previously been supported by urban councils.
The City of Bulawayo has the Makokoba Redevelopment Project which was seen as one of the most future ready urban regeneration schemes.
The general view with the council was that it is cheaper to work with existing infrastructure than to start construction from the ground to provide accommodation for people and renew all buildings.
The urban renewal project in central business districts in all cities was also needed as most property agents and managers say. While concentration was on housing, the renovation and change of use of buildings in the CBD was vital.
In Bulawayo businesses and residential tenants are fast moving out of the CBD. The major reason, according to Mr Oswald Nyakunika, a managing partner at Knight Frank, is the decay in building structures and disorder brought by informal traders who have crowded the CBD and that has made cities less attractive.
“Most buildings are now in need of refurbishment,” he said.
However, a resident of Makokoba who spoke to the Sunday News said if the settlement was to be improved, the Government, council and constructors have to first agree with all residents.
“Renewing the place is a noble idea. We have waited for long as we are always told stories that never come to life. But I must emphasise and encourage the Government to talk to the people and make them understand the importance of this urban infrastructure renewal,” said Mr Lameck Maphosa, a 68-year-old resident who has lived in Bulawayo’s oldest settlement all his life.