MUTARE- City Council has notified residents of its intention to sell home ownership houses in Sakubva, amid fears that beneficiaries of an original rent to buy scheme will lose out in the proposed deal.
In a notice of Proposed Disposal of Council Land/Properties in the weekly publication Manica Post issue of (19-25) February 2021, acting Town Clerk Dr Anthony Mutara said council will sell this land to current tenants.
However civic society critics say without council fully publishing the list of beneficiaries, the scheme can be manipulated to benefit different people as the bulk of homeowners are now elderly and some have relocated to rural homes.
“Notice is hereby given in terms of Section 152 of the Urban Councils Act Chapter 29:15 that Council intends to convert homeownership houses in Mudembe, Maonde and Muchena (Sakubva). The properties will be sold to current sitting tenants
“Any person wishing to make objections can lodge with the same with the undersigned within a period of 21 days from the day of this advert,” said Dr Mutara.
Council was commended for this progressive development but was also asked to publish the authentic list of homeowners in the areas affected to ensure that there is no prejudice in the process.
Taurai Makanidzana a resident, suggested that council should, instead of selling the houses to tenant, simply transfer ownership to sitting tenants who have been paying installments for home ownership.
He is a beneficiary from his grandparents who started residing at their Maonde house in the late 1960s, and he stated his concerns calling for council to put in place safeguards to ensure rightful people benefit.
“Our parents have been religiously paying rentals for these houses since time immemorial.
“Safe guards must be put in place to ensure that the intended beneficiaries are not dispossessed of these houses. That’s where we grew up with our grandparents,” he said.
Conscious Development and Empowerment Trust (CODET) a local pressure group which has been calling for transparency and accountability in council affairs say this move while overdue should consider that tenants are informal traders.
CODET director Vimbai Betera said council should make sure that it traces rightful beneficiaries.
“There are fears that this opportunity given that 80% of these beneficiaries are old or deceased whichever the way maybe council consider the social impacts this has on the current sitting tenants, most informal traders
There are suggestions from other quarters that council could set prices for the new developments and then charge rentals which are payable as installments for the new houses.
“Perhaps a price is set and the rental becomes the installments,” said former Mayor Brian James.
Others also suggested that council should grant title deeds to the families instead of offering to sell land to them when they had already been paying for homeownership.
Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ) research officer Samuel Matikiti said while the process was long overdue, council should follow all due proceeding to ensure residents have an opportunity to make objections.
He said the twenty one days set by council may not be adequate for tenants to respond and proffer their objections.
“This was long overdue, however the process should be more transparency. If not done properly I’m seeing disaster- massive corruption. The rightful beneficiaries are likely to be excluded especially knowing that some of those elderly are living in rural areas,” he said.
Selected comments on social media over this development show that there is an active core of citizens ready to express suggestions, solutions or proposals on how city council can address this matter.
It has been noted that period given for submission of objectives is limited given as some home owners may not be exempted to get into town for the purpose of submitting their concerns with council urged to use its councillors to gather views to mitigate limitations of COVID19.
The Notice, which appeared in Manica Post, does not specify the date of its issuance, but relies on the dates of the medium of publication, and goes on to set 21 days as the time to place said objections to the office of TC on the matter.