Conrad Mupesa — The Government will acquire 10 000 hectares of land for urban housing development between now and 2025 to address the housing backlog, Minister of State for Presidential Affairs and Monitoring Implementation of Government Programmes, Dr Joram Gumbo has said.
He said this yesterday after touring Karoi Town Council socio-economic development projects aimed at addressing the housing and social services infrastructure challenges facing the farming town.
"Government is targeting the provision of 220 000 housing units under the auspices of the National Development Strategy 1," he said.
"In order to ensure a successful housing delivery programme, Government will acquire 10 000 hectares of land in the urban areas for housing development during the National Development Strategy 1 period.
"It is instructive to note that the Justice (Tendai) Uchena Commission of Inquiry into the Sale of Urban State Land revealed that land earmarked for housing development was corruptly and illegally sold mostly to land barons resulting in huge housing backlogs."
Minister Gumbo, who applauded Karoi Town Council's response to providing housing land to residents, encouraged local councils to complement Government's efforts in providing people with serviced housing stands.
"Local authorities should play their role in reducing the housing backlog and correct the anomalies created by illegal land barons and cooperatives.
"Innovative and robust measures should be put in place to attract investment in the provision of sound and durable housing and social services infrastructure," he said.
Karoi has partnered with private players to provide housing stands to over 6 500 house-seekers, through its Kubatana medium density, Claudia high density scheme and Chiedza 2 high density scheme.
Minister Gumbo also praised the council for creating the Tobacco Industrial Park, which can potentially see all the 21 tobacco buying firms setting up infrastructure in the town, a move that will create more employment.
In her welcome remarks, Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Mary Mliswa-Chikoka, said creation of the industrial park will transform Karoi from being a town into a municipality, which authorities have been lobbying for.
"Karoi town is a financial hub for Hurungwe district that contributes greatly to the national GDP through the hard work of our farmers. As the country moves towards value addition and beneficiation, we want to see value addition beginning right here in Karoi.
"Let us see cigarette making plants opening in Karoi, let us see milling companies opening again here in Karoi so that we can transform this town's status in this devolution era," she said. Karoi mayor Abel Matsika said devolution funds have helped them to transform the town.
Previously, council was struggling to provide services from the paltry revenue collections.
Ministers Gumbo and Mliswa-Chikoka also visited the small to medium enterprises (SMEs) vendors' market stalls that are under construction through devolution funds.