HARARE – Government is mooting the re-establishment of building brigades as accommodation pressure mounts in urban areas.
Ignatius Chombo, the Local Government minister, said his ministry believed the brigades would significantly help Zanu PF to fulfil its campaign promises and provide decent shelter to at least 2 million Zimbabweans on the country’s waiting list.
“It may please you to note that the issue of resuscitating building brigade finds ready expression and relevance given the prominence the same is accorded in our manifesto as a party,” said Chombo at the World Habitat Day in Southlea Park yesterday.
“Indeed, the mantra ‘Indigenise, empower, develop and create employment’, resonates well with the aspirations of our people.”
Chombo said the brigade would create employment for the youth in a country where about 80 percent are jobless; impart expertise and reduce construction costs.
He conversely acknowledged that the success of such an initiative largely depends on transparency and accountability.
“However, for this mode of construction to be successful, there is compelling need on our part to guard against poor management and ensure that sure sufficient funding is available at all times to keep them employed,” said the minister.
Fulfilling the financial requirements of such a scheme remains the ministry’s daunting task as most local authorities are operating on a shoe string budget while the Treasury is also cash strapped.
Chombo, reinforcing government commitment on dealing with illegal settlements, said the development can only be nipped in the bud if his ministry and the ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) work together.
“My ministry avails land to registered and bona fide housing cooperatives, offers technical assistance in consultancy on tendering issues and construction matters. However the SMEs ministry administers, hence the need for efficient coordination between the two for effective functioning of cooperatives,” said Chombo.
Zimbabwe used to have multi skilled youth brigades, trained in vocational institutions, until around the late 90’s when the country began experiencing economic challenges.