Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

US$500k loan facility for Ministers to buy houses as economy tumbles

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration is reportedly planning to create loan facilities for cabinet Ministers and their deputies to buy luxury homes regardless of the country facing a dire economic and financial crisis.

The housing programme, according to the Zimbabwe Independent sources, will see deputy and Cabinet ministers drawing loans of US$350 000 and US$500 000, respectively, to buy plush homes.

The money can buy a house in affluent suburbs of the capital, such as Mt Pleasant, Alexander Park, Borrowdale and Chisipite.

The housing scheme for the ministers was Mnangagwa’s brainchild.

Mnangagwa’s administration has about 45 Cabinet, provincial and deputy ministers.

The source stated that the housing loan scheme is run by an inter-ministerial committee composed of the Treasury, ministries of Local Government and Public Works, and National Housing and Social Amenities.

“The President came up with a housing scheme for government ministers after realising that most of them end up destitute when they get out of government,” a source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the Independent.

“So, recently he offered to buy houses for all ministers at a cost of US$500 000 and deputy ministers at a cost of US$350 000 each.”

Ministers, as part of the terms of service, also receive benefits which include two vehicles (a Mercedes Benz sedan and an off-roader), a secretary, security at the principal residence, and protocol aides.

After serving in government, those staying in houses owned or leased by the state vacate the properties.

Cabinet ministers, their deputies, ministers of state and provincial ministers also benefit from the loans advanced to parliamentarians.

The housing scheme comes amidst a sea of poverty as Zimbabwe is burdened with a 1,5 million housing backlog. The population is estimated at about 15 million – the actual figure is going to be revealed soon following a population census conducted this year.

At least 1,2 million people are on the government’s housing waiting list, according to the Ministry of National Housing and Social Amenities.

The housing scheme for ministers, however, is birthed in the middle of an imploding economy characterised by stratospheric yearly inflation of 191,7%, and steep accommodation rentals denominated in United States dollars yet most workers earn the ever-depreciating Zimbabwean dollar (Zimdollar).

The latest figures from the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (Zimstat) show that the cost of living for a family of six in June soared to ZW$110 550 (US$297) from ZW$14 041 (US$38) for monthly expenses as the local unit continues to tumble in value against the greenback.

This comes at a time when the country is in a deep economic crisis. Civil servants, in particular nurses, doctors and teachers have been striking demanding better wages.

Daniel Garwe
Daniel Garwe

National Housing and Social Amenities minister Daniel Garwe did not respond to questions posed by the Independent for reasons that he was out of the country on government business.

“Good morning. I am out of the country on government business,” Garwe replied via WhatsApp.