The Sunday Mail
Senior Business Reporter
Government has set in motion a comprehensive plan to create thousands of jobs in the construction sector, deliver over 500 000 housing units in 10 years, destroy old flats in Mbare (Harare) and Makokoba (Bulawayo), and provide capital to mothballed companies with potential for quick recovery.
The plans are in line with Vision 2030, a radical economic transformation programme aimed at turning the country into an Upper Middle Income economy.
The housing units are set to be constructed under the National Command Housing Delivery Programme, with the aim of reducing the housing backlog that is currently at 1,25 million units.
Land has already been identified in provinces to kick-start the massive project.
Government is emphasising on densification, whereby stakeholders are encouraged to build vertically since land is a finite resource.
Critically, Government says by 2030, “there is no space for settlements like Mbare, Makokoba, McGregor, Sakubva, to mention but a just a few”.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Mr George Magosvongwe, last week said Government has teamed up with local authorities and some experts to refurbish old houses and flats.
“The ministry has thus partnered with local authorities in regenerating old and/ or dilapidated houses or flats,” said Mr Magosvongwe in a speech read on his behalf during a joint conference organised by the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (PRAZ) and the Construction Industry Federation of Zimbabwe (Cifoz).
“I implore the sector to come up with innovative urban renewal strategies that most importantly leave sitting tenants of these settlements better off.
“This will in turn create construction opportunities and I, therefore, urge the construction industries to be geared for this.”
Mr Magosvongwe said it was critical for construction sector players to be “active participants” in the provision of human settlements to the public.
“. . . as you may be aware, the Ministry is spearheading the National Command Housing Delivery Programme, which is a massive housing programme expected to witness the delivery of over half a million housing units in the next 10 years albeit, aligned within the general context of Transitional Stabilisation Programme,” said Mr Magosvongwe.
Under Command Housing, Government and other stakeholders seek to provide settlements with attendant off-site and on-site services, throughout the country. The country is coming from a dark era where some contractors took contributions from struggling citizens and later abandoned projects without completing, leaving Government to hand-hold some to ensure they would finish the projects.
Government says the 1,25 million housing backlog was “a threat to economic growth and sustainable development”.
Emphasis of the housing programme is on inclusive settlements that meet the needs and aspirations of residents while also utilising locally available resources.
Revival of industry uppermost
Mr Magosvongwe added that the Command Housing Programme is also focusing on the revival of “moribund local industry in order to jump-start productivity”.
“It is generally agreed the world over that sustainable human settlement development leads to socio-economic growth of any nation and Zimbabwe is no exception.
“Provinces will thus be asked to identify industries or contractors that can be quickly resuscitated and these will be given seed capital to revive their operations,” said Mr Magosvongwe.
He said housing provision was an engine for economic growth due to its multiplier effects, which include job creation in the construction sector, thereby increasing citizens’ disposable incomes.
In addition, companies involved in the supply of building materials such as timber, bricks, tiles and cement, would be strengthened as their products would be demanded in huge quantities.
Financial institutions would also recruit more employees as the mortgage system would have been strengthened while downstream industries producing building materials would also be given fresh impetus.
Said Mr Magosvongwe: “Given the above, the construction industry should be ready to participate in this massive programme. We cannot continue to utilise foreign products or materials yet our construction industry has the potential to produce the same.
“Local construction industry has the potential to produce the same. Local construction industries should focus on quantity and quality of their products in order to promote durability.”
The Harare – Beitbridge – Chirundu Highway, which is set to get allocations of US$500 million from Treasury for three years, is also primed to create thousands of jobs as a conscious decision is understood to have been taken to let the project be undertaken by local contractors.
Foreigners might only be roped in to work on the Harare-Chivhu section which The Sunday Mail Business understands would be dualised to cater for the huge volumes of traffic.
Govt to use infrastructure bonds
Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube told The Sunday Mail Business a fortnight ago that infrastructure bonds would be used for infrastructure development going forward.
“. . . the best way is to issue infrastructure bonds. Why? Because they are tradable, they are liquid, you can put a value on the bond,” said Prof Ncube.
“That is where we should go (infrastructure bonds), and we should really push that.
“We want the private sector to do more here because at the end of the day, it is the private sector that should issue these bonds for commercial reasons and we as Government want to stand behind these bonds and support them because we want to see infrastructure being developed.”