THE government has set up a Civil Service Housing Fund to help public servants acquire accommodation. But there are fears the scheme could be plundered by greedy officials
, as happened in the past.
In 1995 the government set up a “Pay for Your House Scheme” for the same purpose but funds were diverted to build luxurious houses for senior officials. First Lady Grace Mugabe benefited from the fund and built a large property in Borrowdale dubbed Gracelands.
The programme was suspended in 1999 after it ran out of funds – leaving flats and housing units incomplete. A memorandum to MPs, tabled in parliament last week, set out the constitution of the new fund “as established on 30 October 2003”.
The constitution says the secretary for Finance, together with his counterparts in other ministries, will administer the fund. Each ministry will have its own account.
The fund will be used to buy land, construct housing units, purchase houses and pay mortgages.
The Public Service Association (PSA), which represents the majority of government workers, on Wednesday professed ignorance of the existence of the fund. PSA executive secretary Charles Chiviru said any fund created to benefit civil servants must be administered in a transparent manner.
“It should be done in a transparent manner,” said Chiviru. “We as the Public Service Association were not consulted. We do not know anything about this.”
The constitution of the housing fund said its major source of income shall be “monies which may be appropriated by legislature for the purpose of the fund”.
Government sources this week said there were plans to directly collect monies from civil servants on a monthly basis or to introduce a housing tax that would to be paid by all workers.