About 30 retired civil servants are clinging on to houses meant for serving government employees in Kamwaza Township, Raffingora, years after leaving the civil service amid allegations some of them have fraudulently changed ownership of the houses.
Twenty houses meant for teachers and 10 meant for health workers are being inhabited by the former employees, according to sources in the area, some 35 kilometres North-East of Chinhoyi in Mashonaland West Province.
The sources claimed the retirees were linked to the ruling ZANU PF party and were using the party name to illegally stay in the houses while serving civil servants were struggling to find accommodation, with some reportedly staying in make-shift houses after.
A scheduled meeting between the Mashonaland West Housing Directorate and civil servants meant for May 30 to discuss the issue was reportedly postponed indefinitely for unknown reasons.
Sources in the area, however, told Review & Mail that local political leaders, including local councillor, Magaya had influenced the postponement in a bid to protect their members.
The issue was discussed widely in one of the party’s Zvimba North WhatsApp groups, where members described the questioning of the housing arrangement as provocation and labelled the civil servants members of the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC).
The party members were discussing an open letter written by one of the affected civil servants to the Mashonaland West Housing Director and copied to local Member of Parliament Marian Chombo.
“Ward 16 ma CCC atojairira vanhu kaa….chii chiri kuitika Raffingora kudherera musangano kudai (CCC members are undermining us. What’s happening in Raffingora, why are they undermining the party) ,” read a chat by Councillor Magaya in one of the conversations on the group.
The civil servant who wrote the letter (name withheld) claimed one of the affected teachers was now staying in the school staffroom while another was staying in a disused tuckshop close to the school.
“Back then we knew that each government department or parastatal had its own houses be it education; both primary and secondary schools or health sector which also had its own houses be it the clinic or hospital.
“Cde Director these houses are still there today but people occupying them are refusing to vacate despite going out of employment with the said government department. It’s sad to say that some of the houses where changed ownership dubiously by ZANU PF comrades vachishandisa Zita remusangano,”
“We ask your esteemed office to fix this problem, because of this we have lost and are losing very good personnel over the years all due to people refusing to vacate government houses using the ZANU PF name,” he said.
Thousands of retired civil servants across the country have been clinging on to government houses after government promised to sell the houses to sitting tenants.
The policy, introduced in the 1980’s, was however, reversed by cabinet in September 2020 as government moved to address the rising accommodation crisis for its workers.
The policy was meant to empower former government workers and had resulted in the disposal of at least 75 percent of State-owned housing, with only the uniformed services and the Health Ministry hanging on to most of their housing.
It was, however, halted after government failed to build enough houses to cater for its serving workers, resulting in serious accommodation shortages for serving civil servants.
Cabinet made the decision to halt the sale of its houses to sitting tenants after the Minister of National Housing and Social Amenities Minister Daniel Garwe, presented a proposal to revive the National Housing Fund to address the general housing demand in the country.
The country had a demand of two million housing units, while local authorities’ waiting lists had a demand of 1,5 million housing units, inclusive of civil servants’ requirements.
“With a view to alleviating the accommodation challenges, Cabinet approved as follows: to recapitalise the National Housing Fund and the Housing Guarantee Fund portfolios, and to institute forthwith a moratorium on the disposal of Government pool properties,” Information Minister, Monica Mutsvangwa told a post cabinet briefing on September 30, 2020 .
She said government would provide suitable land across the country for the construction of Government pool houses in line with a comprehensive national housing provision programme, whose chief aim was to empower citizens and civil servants, including those in rural areas.