From George Maponga in Masvingo
Barely half a decade ago, the runaway housing backlog in Masvingo stood at a staggering 16 000, with indications on the ground pointing to a further spike in the figure on the back of increased rural to urban migration in the country’s oldest city
Today, the ancient city stands tall amongst an elite few urban centres in Zimbabwe, where the backlog for housing has been on a steep decline owing to multi-million dollar investments in housing development by both council and private players.
Today, the name Victoria Ranch Housing Consortium, is synonymous with the unprecedented boom in Masvingo City’s housing sector as an estimated 4 000 housing units are under construction in the new sprawling suburb of Victoria Ranch, which is being developed by the consortium.
The consortium, started changing the face of housing in Masvingo after purchasing 25 hectares of land from Government in 2014.
Victoria Ranch used to be one of the few peri-urban farms in Masvingo and was snapped up to quench the city’s housing appetite as demand soared on the back of population growth caused by rural to urban migration.
Victoria Ranch Housing consortium embarked on a painstaking journey to provide housing targeting mainly low-income earners and civil servants and help fulfil Government target to make housing accessible to all Zimbabweans in line with the ZimAsset economic blue-print.
The consortium’s chair Mr Wellington Mahwende, says they were inspired by the need to complement Masvingo City council by providing affordable housing to residents.
He said 2 500 new houses have so far been constructed at Victoria Ranch after his consortium started servicing housing stands.
“We have developed a total of 4 000 housing stands at Victoria Ranch as a group of private land developers under the Victoria Ranch Housing consortium and our main goal is to make sure low income earners such as vendors also have access to housing,’’ he said.
“We also have civil servants and members of the uniformed forces who have benefited from housing stands at Victoria Ranch and our target is not only to make profit but to complement Government in infrastructure development and see the growth of Masvingo into a modern 21st century world class city.’’
The Victoria Ranch Housing Consortium chair said housing stands beneficiaries also enjoyed relaxed payment conditions.
He said Victoria Ranch had reduced the housing backlog in Masvingo city by an estimated 60 percent. About 250 members of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces have also benefited from the Victoria Housing Consortium housing project
“Our payment terms are very flexible and are tailored to cater for all income classes such that once beneficiaries have managed to pay the required lump sum for initial deposit the monthly instalments will be very affordable with some paying as little as $50,’’ said Mr Mahwende.
“We are doing parallel housing development helping council to stem the backlog for housing and for us the sky is the limit. We are very happy with the ground that we have covered.’’
Mr Mahwende said they have succeeded in steering the development of a multi-million housing project at Victoria Ranch, his consortium was now focusing on infrastructure development.
“Our focus now is to complete the installation of sewer reticulation after we connected water at Victoria Ranch. We are also working flat out to make sure we the new suburb is connected to power as we continue to develop infrastructure in the new suburb,’’ he said.
The Victoria Ranch Housing Consortium chair expressed optimism that the consortium will have tarred roads within the next three years, enabling the area to be fully serviced by the city’s transport system.
He paid tribute to the Zanu PF Government and the new administration led by President Mnangagwa for adopting the “Zimbabwe is Open for business’’ mantra which he said will engender opportunities for private land developers for them to grow their ventures while making positive contributions to the socio-economic development of the country.
Mr Mahwende said Victoria Ranch Housing Consortium would continue to spearhead housing stands development in the country’s town until the backlog for housing reaches negligible levels.