HomeBusiness DigestLeave members alone, AAG told

Leave members alone, AAG told

Ngoni Chanakira

REAL Estate Industry of Zimbabwe (REIZ) president Abraham Sadomba says the Bulawayo-based Affirmative Action Group (AAG) should concentrate more on politicising Members of Parliament and gove

rnment officials than terrorising his members.

In an interview with businessdigest this week Sadomba said the AAG was going around Zimbabwe pretending to be lawmakers.

Last week the Bulawayo-based AAG told tenants to stop paying rent to estate agents saying they were “excessive and increasing monthly”.

“Who are these people and where do they get their power from?” asked Sadomba. “They should concentrate on putting pressure on the government and Members of Parliament instead of disrupting commerce and industry which is being run professionally.”

Sadomba said the AAG had tried to intimidate his members without sufficient knowledge of how the rent increases were arrived at.

“Commerce and industry are very sophisticated and these AAG guys are just political,” he said. “Actually they have no right stopping tenants from paying their rent to a legal organisation that is sanctioned by an Act of Parliament. They are breaking the law.”

Sadomba said the AAG should not bring politics into business.

“Where are they getting their mandate from to deal with our members the way they are doing?” he asked. “Next time they will go around the country asking for identification papers.”

Sadomba said the REIZ represents members countrywide and before any increases are done tenants signed and agreed to the percentages.

He said these were now done on a quarterly basis because of the country’s hyperinflationary environment.

Sadomba said in cases where there were disagreements, individuals could seek arbitration.

Bulawayo-based residents have been up in arms over what they allege are unplanned rent increases by unscrupulous estate agents.

They engaged the AAG which took up the matter and summoned the REIZ president.

The AAG encouraged members to disregard the increased rentals and report any landlords insisting on payments “to them”.

Sadomba said the Bulawayo misunderstanding was still unresolved because the AAG did not understand his association’s operations.

He said there was no need for the AAG to turn the matter political because it was strictly a business issue.

“We are a business grouping and our increases make business sense,” Sadomba said. “We wonder whose mandate the AAG had when it stopped our members from paying rentals.”

An AAG official yesterday said the issue was “very sensitive at the moment”.

Meanwhile properties for letting, especially garden flats, are becoming extremely hard to find because there is an acute accommodation shortage in Harare, a leading estate agent said this week.

A spokesman for Southgate & Bancroft Company (Pvt) Ltd said the rentals business was currently “very brisk”.

“Business is very brisk right now,” he said. “Whatever property we get for rent just goes. Actually right now we don’t have anything for rent and I think this is mainly because there is a shortage of accommodation in Harare.”

He said even office space was hard to find in the capital city.

“There is no stock at the moment,” he said. “Garden flats are also being snapped up quickly because individuals sometimes turn these into offices such that they live and work from one place.”

He however said on the sales side business was rather slow and individuals were finding it difficult to secure land whose prices had recently shot through the roof.

There is speculation on the property market resulting from foreign currency transactions being conducted on the parallel market where the British pound is nearing the $10 000 mark against the Zimbabwe dollar among dealers.

Landlords are however holding on to their properties anticipating that prices will skyrocket when the financial services sector returns to normalcy after having been given a whipping by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe in their new monetary policy statement.

Zimbabweans, especially those living in the United Kingdom and United States have caused the jump in property prices as they keep sending pounds and dollars to snap up land and equipment in the country.

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