By Judith Sibanda
Victoria Falls, January 23, 2016 – Residents in the resort town are up in arms with the Zanu PF led town council which recently advertised housing stands worth over $50 000 with prospective buyers required to be earning at least $5 000.
The residents claim the move was a ploy to sell the 200 low density housing stands to outsiders and the rich because few locals could afford the prices.
According to a statement by council, the stands from Aerodrome Extension (BB7) are at least 2 000 square metres and their prices range from $32 000 to $50 000.
The payment terms would see beneficiaries paying a minimum of $10 500 or one third of the cost of the land and the balance would be paid over 12 months.
Council said priority would be given to those who have been on the local authority’s housing list for a longer period and were once given offer letters.
Preference would also be given to those who had applied for land but had not yet been allocated stands.
Those who have ready cash would also be considered and applicants should provide proof of income before they are considered for the scheme.
However, the Victoria Falls Residents’ Association chairman Morgan Gaza Dube said residents were not happy about the exorbitant prices for the stands and payment terms.
Dube said they feared council wanted to promote corruption and push locals out of low residential areas in the resort town.
“To begin with, accommodation must not be for the elite but it must be for everyone,” he said.
“We do agree that prices for stands in low and high density suburbs are not the same but that does not mean locals cannot be accommodated.”
Dube said few people earned $5 000 a month in Victoria Falls.
“This shows that all these stands are given out without local people at heart,” he added.
“We urge the local authority to revisit their conditions for people to be eligible to buy stands because no one will ever be able to raise such an amount (deposit) within a week.”
Dube said his association feared some individuals would take advantage of the stringent council conditions to acquire multiple housing stands at the detriment of others.
He said the majority Zanu PF councillors failed to stand up for residents when council decided on the pricing of the stands.
“The councillors were voted by people and it is their duty to protect our interests but they did not challenge the prices,” Dube said, adding they were ready to challenge council on the matter.
But town clerk Christopher Dube said the stringent conditions were only meant to ensure that beneficiaries had the capacity to develop the stands.
“Low density suburbs are only meant for people with capacity,” he said.
“We have a lot of stands especially in medium density areas that were left lying idle for more than 20 years, hence the decision to allocate land to people according to their income.
“If you don’t qualify, we will immediately tell you to leave. If your income is less than $5 000 we will never allocate you land there.”
He said council had adopted the model from other local authorities where there had been no problems regarding implementation.
“We deliberately put those figures so that we wad off those who cannot afford to develop the land,” Dube added.
Council said there were 200 stands available at the Aerodrome scheme and an equal number of people had been interviewed so far.
Dube said some of the people they had interviewed were from as far as Harare.
“People are just complaining but the stands are not expensive considering that this is a resort town,” he said.
“The deposit of one third of the value is not much because the balance can be paid up in a space of 12 months.
“This project is not for those that want land for speculative reasons but it is for people who have the capacity so that we also develop as a local authority.
“A lot of people have made noise for nothing and I’m not moved about that because I am doing what we agreed as the council.”
Victoria Falls, like many local authorities in Zimbabwe, has a very long housing waiting list because of limited investment in the construction sector.