Gaborone Central MP, Dumelang Saleshando, on Friday proposed that the Botswana Housing Corporation (BHC) be divided into two with one department to cater for the disadvantaged poor so as to alleviate the acute shortage of accommodation currently tormenting the underprivileged in the country.
Moving a motion that requests government to review the mandate of the BHC and empower the corporation to better deliver affordable houses for the lower and middle income groups, Saleshando proposed that the BHC be divided into commercial and social housing wings that cater for the rich and the poor, respectively, with special attention directed at the later.
“There is an acute shortage of accommodation for the lower and middle income groups because the BHC aims at making a profit. The corporation demands exorbitant prices that are unaffordable to these groups and affordable only to rich individuals.
“In view of high and low income inequalities between the poor and rich coupled with unequal distribution of wealth in the country, I propose that the BHC be divided into commercial and social housing,” Saleshando proposed.
Since the BHC was interested in making a profit, Saleshando argued that the corporation be mandated to charge rental market prices to the rich individuals who fall under the commercial bracket wing with the aim to make substantial profits.
To the disadvantaged poor, the Gaborone Central MP proposed that the BHC subsidises the prices to cater for the group since they are the real individuals in need of accommodation.
Profits accrued from the commercial bracket wing, he reasoned, should be injected into building more affordable houses for the disadvantaged poor.
Saleshando argued that such a move would frustrate squatting that the government is currently fighting.
“Squatting is a pure sign of a desperate nation in need of accommodation. Housing is a fundamental basic human right that is recognized by international laws.
Even our vision 2016 alludes to accommodation as the corner stone of human welfare”, Saleshando said.
He noted that the BHC was charging high prices that were unaffordable to ordinary Batswana because the corporation was engaged in some functions that were not within the corporations mandate.
He cited electrical and water connections as typical examples of work that does not fall within the BHC terms of reference, adding that such functions were the mandates of the BPC and Water Utilities. This, he said, was the cause of the corporation charging such high rentals.
Saleshando pleaded with the BHC to leave the functions to respectable corporations and continue with their mandate of erecting houses, saying that such a move would reduce the prices to a level the poor can afford.
Citing as an example the controversial cost sharing introduced recently over school fees, Saleshando argued the same could be extended to desperate Batswana across the country.
He pleaded with the BHC to extend their wings to the rural areas to avoid overcrowding in urban areas, adding “nobody would want to migrate to rural areas because of inadequate housing.”
Saleshando took a swipe at the BHC for being business-oriented and forgetting the plight of the poor.
He criticized the corporation for its policies saying while the company is encouraging home ownership he sees no point in subsidizing the lavish rental accommodation for the rich individuals since it discourages home-ownership.
He emphasized that the corporation charges the market prices that would eventually torment the rich and urge them to home-ownership.
Letlhakeng West MP, Filbert Nagafela, said he shared the same sentiments with Saleshando and said that it was useful to care for the ‘pennies and leave the dollars alone’.
“The ordinary poor persons are the ones that voted us into power. They voted with the hope we would answer their plight. We should ensure they receive adequate accommodation. If BHC is like Choppies that places profit above the welfare of Batswana then something is wrong,” Nagafela said.