Martin Kadzere and Golden Sibanda
The Zimbabwe government is courting pension funds and insurance companies to finance the development of a new city in Mt Hampden, about 20 kilometres west of Harare as part of a grand plan to decongest the capital, originally designed for a smaller population.
Harare, the capital city, has already reached its original design carrying capacity of about of two million people, according to the last official count in 2012, and the authorities are working on creating a new city to accommodate a growing population.
In a circular to its members, the Zimbabwe Association of Pension Funds said a symposium had been organised where the Government will present funding requirements for the projects.
Presentations will also be made for other related projects.
“The Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing kindly invites you to a presentation on the proposed New City in Mt. Hampden on Friday 22 June,” said ZAPF.
“The presentation is a follow-up to the minister’s keynote address at the ZAPF annual congress where he urged the industry to participate in the funding of national infrastructure projects.
“The minister highlighted various national projects including the proposed new city that requires funding.
“The presentation will therefore provide detailed insights on the envisaged projects as well as their funding requirements.”
ZAPF said the symposium was “a must” for pension funds, fund administrators and asset managers, as the industry gears itself to venture into alternative investments.
Prominent pensions industry expert and First Mutual Holdings chief executive Mr Douglas Hoto, is on record saying that Zimbabwe’s pension funds should invest in long term infrastructure projects especially given the long term nature of their liabilities.
Zimbabwe is sitting on pension assets worth $10 billion, which can be unlocked to finance various economic development projects, according to the Insurance and Pension Commission.
World over, pension funds are increasingly playing an important role in the national economies particularly infrastructure. As such, economic analysts said there was need to harness domestic resources for sustainable economic recovery and growth.
Designed in the mold of South Africa’s Sandton in Johannesburg, the city will accommodate Government ministries, Parliament, residential areas, shopping malls, hotels and industries.
Sandton Central, without doubt, has become the most important business and financial node in neighbouring South Africa, and possibly the rest of sub-Saharan Africa.
It is home to many of South Africa’s largest corporates, the world’s top multinational companies, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) and the iconic Sandton City mall.
A plan for the $140 million Parliament complex has already been drawn up for the Mt Hamden City.
It will be formed by Harare City Council, Zvimba and Mazowe rural district councils.
The project has already received Cabinet approval and is expected to get underway soon.
Government has already engaged international experts to thrash out the technical details regarding the environmental impact and land use patterns for the city.
It is believed that Chinese contractors majoring in shopping malls, hotels, Government offices, civil works and industrial parks would be tasked with building the new city.
Director of physical planning in the Local Government Ministry Mrs Ethel Mlalazi in 2015, said once appropriate partners were secured, the project would begin to take shape.
The site has already been identified and partners have reportedly been vetted to assist with multi-faceted task which requires a lot of expertise, financial resources and manpower.
A preliminary map shows the city will cross Nyabira, Mt Hampden and parts of Mazowe in Mashonaland Central province, bordering with Westgate on the outskirts of Harare.
The city will include a university, technology centre, schools, churches, hospitals, industrial sites, parliament as well as a State House and official residence for the Speaker of Parliament and Senate President. Planners have suggested five residential suburbs.