Vic Falls, homeseekers in row over CBZ housing partnership

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Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter
VICTORIA Falls Municipality is at loggerheads with over 400 home-seekers who want the local authority to rescind its housing partnership with CBZ bank.

The home-seekers are part of a consortium of 17 co-operatives that were allocated land in 2008 and started paying for the servicing.

The local authority entered into a $12 million partnership with CBZ bank to service housing stands targeting low income earners on the same land that had been promised to housing co-operatives.

Last month council told the co-operatives that beneficiaries will be vetted despite having developed the stands.

About 120 residents who are part of the 408 beneficiaries held an emotionally charged meeting on Sunday where they expressed disgruntlement with what they termed double dealing by council.

They said they would not want to deal with the bank because stands serviced by the financial institution are expensive at about $9 000 per 200 square metres compared to $3 400 they would have paid servicing the land on their own on a cost recovery basis.

The home seekers had already contributed towards water connection on the stands while CBZ bank has connected sewer and done roads works.

Beneficiaries now want council to reverse its deal with the financial institution and evaluate the work done by the bank as they are willing to pay back as a consortium.

“We want to continue to deal with the council and not the bank. The council should pay back the bank whatever it used to service sewer and roads and we are ready to pay for ourselves. Our fear is that if we agree to the CBZ deal we will lose out because we will be treated as new home seekers yet we have been funding ourselves since 2008 and the stands already have water,” said the consortium’s chairperson Mr Melusi Matshelela.

The homes seekers said while council engaged the bank eight months ago, they were only told on May 30 that their stands were now part of the CBZ bank partnership.

“We had identified a developer to service the land with sewer pipes and council disapproved of it. We asked for a loan for sewer development and not to buy land and we were shocked recently when we were told about the status of our stands. When we met on May 30 we thought they wanted to tell us how much we should pay for the remaining developments but we were shocked about the latest development,” said one participant at the meeting.

The consortium will be meeting council management at the end of this month and they said they will be either taking the legal route or asking government to intervene if no consensus is reached.

They said they had contributed close to $600 000 towards servicing the land and accused council of making decisions without consulting any home seeker.

Town Clerk Mr Ronnie Dube was not immediately available for comment. Last week he said some beneficiaries will be refunded by way of being allocated alternative stands on land that the council had already identified.

@ncubeleon