Hands Off Housing Co-ops: Nyoni To Councils

Friday, 10 March 2017  Radio VOP

HARARE – Small to Medium Enterprises Minister Sithembiso Nyoni has castigated some local authorities in the country for pushing a ban on housing cooperatives which she said were the best alternative low income earners could own homes.

Harare city fathers agreed in 2015 to do way with housing cooperatives after desperate home seekers were fleeced of their hard earned money.

The development was reinforced by Harare Mayor Bernard Manyenyeni while giving oral evidence before parliament’s Local Government committee last week.

But minister Nyoni later told the same committee housing cooperatives were an indispensable world trend.

“I think those people saying that, I am sorry to say this, are outdated themselves because cooperatives are the economic model of the world," she said.

Nyoni said cooperative economic models in countries like Canada remained afloat when countries that ran capitalist economies collapsed in 2008.

"The people who said housing cooperatives are an old model should re-examine their development model,” she said.

In Zimbabwe, housing cooperatives sprouted few years ago after local authorities had failed to meet an ever escalating demand for urban housing.

According to Nyoni housing cooperatives have managed to provide 100 000 housing units countrywide since 2009, an obligation the local authorities have failed to fulfil.

Despite fears of massive theft by land barons, Nyoni was adamant the schemes were still the only alternative around.

“When you remove the housing cooperatives, what are you replacing it with?” she said.

"When you have a capitalist model to housing, it is only going to address those that are capitalised and not those that are capitalising themselves.”

Nyoni said vendors, who are among the country’s low income earners, have benefited from the housing cooperatives.

Concerning the fleecing of home seekers Nyoni said, cooperatives' hands were clean but laid all the blame on land developers.

"The ministry of SMEs has witnessed a lot of imposition of developers in the recent years and it is these developers that fleece people of their money and not cooperative necessarily.

"It is the developers who ask co-operators to contribute money for a service that is not delivered," she added.

In a bid to minimise administrative problems the ministry of SMEs now registers cooperatives after they have gone through training.

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