Nssa property plan forges ahead

HARARE – Deep pocketed pensions administrator, the National Social Security Authority (Nssa), says it will next month demolish the infamous Ximex Shopping Mall in the Harare CBD and construct an 11-storey building.

James Matiza, Nssa’s general manager, told businessdaily that the authority’s board has approved a proposed plan or structure of the new property with quantity surveyors finalising the list of materials required to kick start the project.

He said the new multi-purpose building will comprise of offices and a plaza.

While he could not disclose how much Nssa was investing in the ambitious project, the venture is reportedly within a $10 million to $15 million budget.

“Because of prevailing financial constraints we will initially embark on phased construction of up to two storeys with further expansion to take place on the back of funds permitting,” Matiza said, adding that the demolition will be done once the eviction process has been completed at the end of the month.

This development comes after a protracted battle between Nssa and tenants, which began three years ago.

The premises was designed along American lines to house shops that sell internationally-recognised designer labels from clothing to footwear as well as high-technology electrical gadgets.

Nssa acquired Ximex in the late 1990s from the late businessman Sam Levy for $1,5 million and the once up-market shopping mall has since deteriorated with informal and illegal traders infesting the premise.

A High Court order issued by Justice Francis Bere last month indicated that all tenants are required to clear their arrears by July 31.

On completion of the first phase of construction, the order said, Nssa would give each tenant the right of first refusal of lease on the basis on which the property will be offered to the public.

It also stated that all tenants who defaulted on rentals should be evicted immediately.

According to Nssa, the project is part of a comprehensive 10-year investment plan targeted at securing quality investment properties.

The plan is consistent with prevailing developments in the economy since 2009 and would be continously reviewed to align with the authority’s long-term goals.

Recently, Nssa completed the construction of a 140-room hotel in Beitbridge at an estimated $25 million and has awarded a management contract to hospitality concern Rainbow Tourism Group.

Nssa has emerged as the country’s leading property investor since 2009, following adoption of a multi-currency system — dominated by the United States dollar.

Its property portfolio yield averages 8,25 percent, slightly below industry averages of nine percent.

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