The Bulawayo City Council has allocated 147 stands in Parklands to the Homelink Housing Development Programme. But it insists that the stands should only be sold to people who are on the council’s housing waiting list, though they may be in the diaspora.
The council will service the stands but Homelink will pay the costs. The council will then hand over the stands to Homelink which will sell them to people in the disapora but they must be on the council’s housing waiting list.
Though the council has approved the sale of stands to Homelink, the matter had to be referred to council-in-committee after councillor Rodger Sibanda queried how the council would ensure that Homelink only sold the stands to people on the council’s waiting list since it would be selling these stands to people outside the country.
Executive mayor Japhet Ntabeni-Ncube said that this was clearly stated in the council’s resolution but he agreed that technical details should be discussed in committee with the council’s management to ensure full compliance.
Though Homelink had assured the council that its operations would be “completely guided and determined by the interest of the people of Bulawayo and its city fathers,” Clr Sibanda’s concern emanated from the fact that the housing developer had initially indicated that it was “not conformable with the condition being set by the council that allocation of stands should be to persons registered with the city council and that they must be residents of the city of Bulawayo”.
Homelink, which said it had more than 200 applications from people in the diaspora who originated from Bulawayo, had argued that it was running a national programme which catered for all Zimbabweans irrespective of their origins.
“The purpose of the scheme is to assist Zimbabweans acquire property from areas of their own choice and at the same time generating foreign currency for the country,” Homelink had argued. “Therefore Homelink requests that you waive the above condition as it is not consistent with the national programme being embarked upon.”
Homelink only changed its stance after councillors argued that since it was the planning authority, the council should set the parameters. It was council policy to allocate stands to people on its waiting list. It was therefore not fair for Homelink to hide behind national programmes to deprive the people of Bulawayo services, the councillors said.
The mayor said there was need to critically look at the Homelink programme to make sure only those on the council’s housing waiting list benefitted because another programme, Operation Hlalani Kuhle/Garikai, had already gone haywire.
“Originally we expected people on the waiting list to benefit from this programme but houses are being allocated to anyone including people who already have houses here in Bulawayo,” the mayor said.
The mayor was warned by President Robert Mugabe last month not to frustrate Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle.
The Homelink project will see Parklands grow into one of Bulawayo’s biggest low density suburbs. The council has already serviced and sold 119 stands in the area. The development was funded through a loan from the central bank which council has already repaid.