1.0 In 1996 the United Nations on Human Settlements convened its Second
Conference (Habitat II) to review the global human settlements situation
since its first Conference which was held in Vancouver, Canada, in 1976. The
Second Conference adopted a global strategy on improving human
settlements which is known as the Habitat Agenda. The Habitat Agenda
places emphasis on the need to involve local authorities, the private sector
and civil society in human settlements development. National Governments
are urged to adopt policies and strategies that are aimed at creating an
environment conducive to effective participation by all stakeholders.
In order to come up with appropriate and functional policies that address
the concern of all stakeholders, governments are encouraged to engage in
consultative processes which include participants from all stakeholders. As
part of that consultative process, the then Ministry of Local Government, in
conjunction with other stakeholders, convened a National Housing
Convention in Victoria Falls in November 1997. The Convention was
attended by over 200 delegates from organizations involved in human
settlements development who included government ministries, local
authorities, building societies, pension funds, insurance companies, estate
agents, developers, contractors etc. The main objective of the Convention was
to promote genuine partnership between the public and the private sectors
and civil society and to consult on the way forward in housing development.
The Convention noted that the then current housing policy did not address
the concerns of the private sectors and other stakeholders and recommended
for the establishment of a National Housing Taskforce on Housing to
spearhead the formulation of a National Housing Policy. The taskforce was
established in 1998 and subsequently came up with the current housing
policy in 1999.
According to the Central Statistical Office (CSO) 2002 Census Report
published in 2004, the country’s total population was 11.631.657. The
proportion of male and female population was 48 and 52 percent
respectively, which resulted in the sex ratio of almost 94. The country’s
population was mostly rural with 35 percent of the total found in urban
areas. Harare alone constituted about 20 percent of the country’s population
while the other 9 provinces contributed between 4 and 14 percent each. The
population was relatively young with 40.6 percent age below 15 years and
about 4 percent age 65 years and above. Around 31 percent of the population
was currently married, while about 6 percent were either
divorced/separated or widowed. Proportionately more females than men
were widowed and/ or divorced/ separated.
The average rate of natural increase for the whole country was 1.3 percent for
the period September 2001 to August 2002.
The pre-independence housing policy included the following;
a) Rental housing schemes for black Africans in urban areas;
b) Segregated housing areas with black Africans staying in high density
townships and whites and other races living in low density areas;
c) Housing finance institutions catered for whites only and;
d) No specific policy on rural housing
The abolition of the segregatory Land Tenure System at independence in
1980 resulted in;
a) A high rate of rural to urban migration which resulted in
unprecedented increase in the demand for housing in urban areas;
b) an overwhelming demand for homeownership housing schemes
which would enhance security of tenure;
The post independence government came up with a housing policy that
sought to redress the inequalities in the provision of housing to satisfy
the aspirations of the people in both urban and rural areas and adopted the
following policies:
a) Home ownership was to be the major form of tenure with a small
percentage being developed for rental purposes. This saw the disposition
of most rental houses, in the old high density suburbs, to sitting tenants.
They were leases with an option to purchase, and were to pay over a
period of 25 years.
b) Establish the National Housing Fund (NHF), which is a revolving fund
lended to local authorities for on-site and off-site infrastructure
development; the Housing Guarantee Fund (HGF), which was used to
provide guarantee long term loans from building societies where non-civil
servants were guaranteed for 90% while civil servants were guaranteed
100% and the Central Rates Fund (CRF), which was used for the
development of growth points.
c) Cost effective and labour intensive modes of housing construction such as
aided- self help, building brigades and housing cooperatives were to be
used in housing schemes funded by the public sector, i.e. the private
contractors were not employed in schemes financed by public funds;
d) Involve the private sector in low cost housing;
e) Introduced minimum building standards to ensure the provision of
decent and durable housing;
f) Introduce Rent Control Regulations which gave the impetus to create the
Rent Board
g) Maintaining of Housing Waiting Lists by local authorities
Housing is regarded as an essential building block of the country. This
means that every household must have access to permanent
residential structures with secure tenure, ensuring privacy and
providing adequate sanitary facilities including waste disposal and
domestic electricity supply. Housing is central to the environment in
which it is situated. Hence the Government strives for the
establishment of viable, socially and economically integrated
communities, situated in areas which allow convenient access to
economic, health, educational and other social amenities.
To increase housing in the country
The State and the local authority will play a key role in acquiring land
for housing development. The acquired land shall be allocated as
Private developers and cooperatives
Local authorities
State use
Local authorities will lease and sell the land to home seekers, at market
income alue in the high income areas and decreasing to intrinsic value
in low areas. The revenue raised from land management will accrue to
the Housing Account maintained by local authorities, which shall be
used for servicing the land and for future land purchasing. Only first
time buyers should benefit from land allocation. The local authority
should be permitted to sell high and medium income land to Land and
Housing Developers who would provide servicing and/ or housing
units for those able to pay for such developments. Government
preserve the prerogative to repossess and reallocate land where the
local authority has no capacity and is not forthcoming.
The allocation of land shall be the prerogative of the central
Government and the responsible local authority. Land shall be
allocated to private developers, employers, co-operatives and
individual applicants. All local authorities will maintain waiting lists
in the format prescribed in the Manual for the Management of Urban
Land. A civil service waiting list will be maintained at provincial level
by the Ministry of Local Government. The waiting list will be
compiled from line Ministries based on date of entry into the service
and shall specify the preferred housing cost category.
In line with Government policy on gender equality and sensitivity, all
residential stands allocated to persons who are married should be
allocated jointly in the name of both spouses. This prevents the sale of
a matrimonial home without the consent of both spouses.
The allocation will be made using the system of leases with option to
purchase. This provides the beneficiary with sufficient security of
tenure to develop whilst at the same time preventing land hoarding
for speculation. The provision for early title will facilitate beneficiaries
to acquire mortgage finance for the development of the stand. On
completion of development of the housing unit, title deeds will be
The provision of appropriate building materials and design is
essential for housing delivery. The Department of Public Works and
National Housing will work closely with Scientific and Industrial
Research Development Centre (SIRDC) and other technology
departments to introduce and commercialize the production of new
building materials and affordable designs onto the market. In
addition, the Building Material Production Units will provide
competition in the delivery of affordable materials. Regulations made
in the Housing Standards Control Act will be periodically reviewed to
facilitate the use of appropriate building materials and technologies.
Any developer or organization who has new proposals on materials
that are not already in use, will be given the opportunity to present
the technology for approval by the Department of Public Works and
National Housing in Consultation with the relevant local authority
local authority and the Department of Physical Planning.
Local authorities are the planning authorities within their areas of
jurisdiction and as such, they will be responsible for the planning of
all urban land. As most local authorities lack capacity to undertake
this activity, the Department of Physical Planning will play a key role,
particularly in the production of local plans, layout plans and master
plans. These documents, together with the set down development
conditions, will ensure the maintenance of appropriate standards and
orderly development.
Finance is the most critical factor in the housing delivery process. The
Government budgetary allocations are inadequate, so there is need to
revolutionize the system so that it leverages private sector resources
and at the same time creates a new resource base that will champion
Government policies and objectives.
The Housing Development Bank of Zimbabwe (HDBZ)
In order to ensure the effective implementation of housing
delivery strategies, there is need to establish a housing bank
to be known as “The Housing Development Bank of
Zimbabwe” The core function of this bank shall be to
provide housing finance, by;
Providing soft loans to local authorities for
infrastructure and housing development
Providing bridging capital to land developers
including housing co-operatives
Financing capital projects for the production of
building materials and equipment
Providing mortgage finance to individual home
The bank would have a Management Board from among
housing players and it will raise revenue from the following
A housing levy
Loans from pension and insurance companies
Interest on loans
Asset management
This proposal for a housing bank culminated in the creation
of the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe
Foreign investment in housing
There is need to attract foreign investment into the housing
sector, particularly in the lucrative high income , high
density market. Government should consider offering
concessions and creating an enabling environment for the
attraction of such investors. The provision of land is one
incentive that could be offered. The Ministry is in the process
of providing Rent Control Exemptions to housing
developers as the current Rent Control Regulations have
been cited as a hindering factor.
Local authorities are responsible for the provision of off site services,
while the entire population of the centre meets the cost of providing
the services. However, most urban centers in Zimbabwe are currently
facing maximum capacity usage of their off site services and the
availability of new land for housing will lead to new pressure on
services. The concept of “Build, Operate and Transfer” projects with
the private sector will be pursued, particularly for services for highincome areas. In outlying areas that are far from existing
infrastructure, temporary solutions such as boreholes and pressure
tanks should be used to reticulate water and at the same time
sewerage ponds and communal and individual septic tanks should be
employed for sewerage disposal.
Off site services are costly and it is therefore not possible for local
authorities to bear the costs alone. Most local authorities are not credit
worthy and thus can not borrow on the open market for this purpose.
In addition, the high interest rates on the market-borrowed capital
would make most of the services provided unaffordable. It is therefore
essential that Government intervenes and allocates sufficient funds to
ensure that local authorities are facilitated to deliver these essential
services. The Department of Public Works will assist local authorities
in the provision of off site services either directly by implementing
projects on behalf of the Council, or indirectly by providing technical
advice to support local authorities.
The provision of these services rests with the respective local authority
and/ or the developer (be it an individual or a company) but
ultimately services should be provided with the beneficiaries paying
the full cost of delivery. An element of cross subsidization could be
introduced using profits from high-income properties to lower the
price of low-income properties. Servicing may be done on an
incremental basis, with only basic services provided at the outset and
improvements being made simultaneously with home construction
and occupation. Local authorities should adopt the “Plan, Services,
Occupy and Build” concept and allow beneficiaries to occupy their
stands as soon as water and sanitation are in place. This mode of
house construction was previously known as “Site and Service”
Those local authorities who require financial assistance shall apply for
soft loans from the proposed Housing and Development Bank of
Zimbabwe. 20% of all the stands developed by local authorities should
be reserved for allocation to civil servants. The Department of Public
Works will assist local authorities in the provision of on-site services
just like on off-site services.
The rationalization of existing institutional capacity within a coherent
long term strategic framework can significantly improve efficiencies
and ensure enhanced and sustainable housing delivery at the levels
required to deal with backlogs and new household formation.
5.10.1 The role of the Ministry of Local Government and
National Housing
The Ministry of Local Government and National Housing is
mandated to perform certain functions including housing,
regional planning and development as well as urban and
The Ministry of Local Government and National Housing was the ministry responsible for housing
delivery. Now housing falls under a new ministry, Ministry of National Housing and Social Amenities.
rural development. The intend of the Ministry is to ensure
that its powers be devolved, to the maximum extent to local
government levels. The role of the Ministry will therefore
not be a service provider but more of a formulator and
reviewer of housing and spatial planning policies and
standards. Government should be a facilitator, creating an
environment conducive to the delivery of housing. The
Government should also assist, particularly the poor, to
enable them to be adequately housed while local
governments can act as deliverers
In addition to facilitating other players, the Ministry shall be
responsible for the following;
a) Housing and Guarantee Fund (HGF)
The Ministry of Local Government shall continue to
operate the HGF Scheme. The Housing Guarantee
ceilings shall be reviewed so that the levels correspond
with the housing market levels. The Fund shall be
deconcentrated to Provinces to make it more accessible.
b) Civil Service Housing
Government shall continue to allocate funds for the
construction of Government tied housing. It is, however,
proposed that the “Pool Concept” be abandoned in
favour of reserved houses, which shall be allocated and
managed by the respective Ministries. Each line Ministry
shall be required to bid for funds from Treasury to meet
its reserved housing needs. The construction,
maintenance and ownership of the houses shall remain
the responsibility of the Department of Public Works and
National Housing.
Civil servants wishing to acquire their own homes would
apply to the Housing Development Bank an Treasury
would provide funding towards this. Local authorities
shall be required to reserve 20% of all serviced stands for
allocation to civil servants.
c) Capital Development Funds
The Ministry will continue to operate the Central Rates
Fund (CRF). The CRF will be used to provide grants to
Rural District Councils for growth point development.
Allocations will be provided for basic infrastructure to
stimulate urban growth. The CRF will operate in
conjunction with Spatial Development Initiative which
will be used to enhance economic growth.
d) Direct construction
The Ministry shall continue with construction of housing
units for the public where the need arises, particularly in
the construction of flats. The Pay for Your House Scheme
will be revisited to ensure that future work undertaken
is done in a manner that adheres to the principles of this
programme, particularly in relation to the beneficiary
being responsible for the payment of his/her home. The
Ministry will also undertake civil works to facilitate the
delivery of serviced stands.
e) Social housing
The Ministry will continue to oversee the provision of
ultra low cost housing for those who are unable to
benefit from housing delivery programmes. The
programme of upgrading slums will also continue.
5.10.2 The role of local authorities
The local authorities, both rural and urban, shall perform the
following functions
 Setting urban and rural housing delivery goals;
 Identification and designation of land for housing
 The regulation of safety and health standards in housing
 The creation and maintenance of a public environment
conducive to viable development and health
 Facilitate support to housing delivery agencies;
 Planning, funding and provision of bulk engineering
 Provision of community and recreational facilities (social
amenities) in residential areas
 Social housing
 Preparation of Master and Local Plans under their
 Regulation of land use and development
5.10.3 The role of the parastatal sector
All housing funding functions fulfilled by all parastatal
organizations will be rationalized and restructured into
clearly mandated, accountable and streamlined or
restructured parastatal bodies, focused on specific mandates
in the housing process. Where such housing functions are
being fulfilled by organizations under the control of other
government departments, the co-operation and agreement of
such departments in such rationalization and restructuring
will be sought.
5.10.4 The role of the private sector
State resources and capacity to deal with the massive
housing backlogs in the housing sector are severely limited.
It is recognized that the Zimbabwean Government cannot
address this massive challenge without the mobilization of
the collective resources, capacity, knowledge and skills in
the private sector. The private sector was categorized as
follows: National Housing Trust.
There was need to establish a new national statutory
advisory and policy execution body (created using
the company ‘s Act), the National Housing Trust, to
the Ministry of Local Government and National
Housing. This body would be made up of consumers,
suppliers of building materials, private developers,
financiers and Government. The body would fulfill
the following functions:
Advise the Minister on housing policy, strategy and
related matters;
Recommend to the Minister housing budget
allocations to national, provincial and local housing
Monitor and evaluate the performance of the housing
sector, review policies and strategies accordingly and
advise the Minister on an ongoing basis;
Oversee the execution of the national housing policy,
Carry out research in association with other research
The role of the suppliers of materials and
services to the housing sector
The suppliers of material and services supply
sector to the housing industry should impose
effective measures of self regulation and control in
order to contain inflationary pressures on the
prices of goods and services. Vigorous and open
competition by a wide range of suppliers is
believed to the most effective mechanism to secure
the maximum possible stability and restraint in
undesirable in this regard, will be undertaken if
this sector is unable to impose the necessary self
regulation, timeously and effectively
The role of the construction sector
This sector is a key link in the chain of housing
delivery. The dichotomy between the larger
construction sector and the smaller predominantly
black small construction sector, is detrimental to
the effective mobilization of all private sector
resources in the delivery efforts required.
Government housing subsidy policy, tender
procedures and procurement policies will
increasingly be directed towards facilitating and
encouraging a bridging of the gap.
Financial Sector
The effective withdrawal of the private sector
finance from low-income communities resulted in
the deterioration of these areas which in turn leads
to conditions resulting in even further withdrawal
of investment. Bureaucratic red-tape causes untold
delays in the delivery of infrastructure and
housing. The savings industry in Zimbabwe
controls vast savings of the nation of which very
little currently finds its way into housing. It is
essential that ways to and means be found to
channel a significant proportion of these resources
in the provision of housing finance at the lower
end of the market.
The housing circumstances of employees have a
material influence on their productivity in the
work place. It is incumbent on employers to know
the housing circumstances of their employees and
to, within their means, provide assistance in order
to improve housing circumstances of their
Civil Society and Local Communities
Zimbabwe’s inherited housing stock can largely
be attributed to top down and development
approach, an approach which may have been
appropriate for the time. Today, however, making
housing development a people centered is an
approach which is more likely to achieve higher
success rate. There must be meaningful and
structured participation by communities in the
processes of needs identification, prioritization,
planning and implementation of housing
development projects.
Although home ownership will remain the cornerstone of housing
policy in Zimbabwe, Government housing policies and subsidy
programmes must reflect a constant awareness of and provision for
special needs. Accordingly, the rental housing component in the
public housing schemes will be increased to 20%. That is to say, local
authorities will be required to reserve 20% of stands in public housing
schemes for the construction of rental homes. The rental houses will
cater for the vulnerable groups who include ultra low income
households, the elderly, young people leaving college and the
disabled who cannot afford to own houses.
The State should promote both the right of the individual choose in
the process of satisfying his/her own housing needs. It is also
essential that new policies, strategies and legislation should ensure
removal of all discrimination as they relate to gender, race, religion
and creed.
Human settlements have a central role to play in the interactions
between the built environment and natural environment. In the c
context of sustainable development, human settlements management
seeks not only the achievement of good working environments but
also the attainment of social, economic and political goals by making
optimum use of global natural resource base and life support systems.
There is need to establish a National Housing Finance Bank, tasked
with unlocking wholesale housing finance on a sustainable basis.

introduction - local government