Sunday, 20 March 2016
The drama happened when the police officer only identified as Constable Mabiwa was allegedly approached by one of his bosses at a roadblock in the Masuwe area.
“Chief Superintendent Commanding Fairbridge, Masiya who was in the resort town to carry out routine anti-corruption work arrived at the roadblock unexpectedly and asked to see Constable Mabiwa’s declaration book together with money paid by motorists as fines,” said Nonceba Dube who witnessed the incident.
“As Masiya was going through the book and counting the money, he noticed that the money for fines was over by $5. He questioned Mabiwa about the anomaly but the Constable insisted that his boss had failed to count the money properly. As Masiya was talking to other two police officers who were at the roadblock, Mabiwa snatched the money from his boss and ran into the bush.”
Dube said other police officers tried to give chase but failed to catch up prompting them to fire warning shots. “As he was running, he tried to swallow the money but unfortunately, it choked him and he collapsed,” Dube said. “Officers had to punch him hard on the chest until he spit the money and regained consciousness," she said. Mabiwa was handcuffed and taken to Victoria Falls police station.
A video of the embarrassed police officer taking a few punches from his colleagues in a bid to induce vomiting of the exhibit also went viral on social media.
Zimbabwe Republic Police deputy officer commanding Victoria Falls Chief Superintendent Dominic Sibanda confirmed the incident, but said investigations were still to be done. “I cannot give much information as of now because details are still sketchy and it seems there is lot of corruption that has been taking place and it was not him only who was involved,” he said. “We will give you full details maybe on Monday.”
Meanwhile, another Victoria Falls police officer was arrested on Wednesday as he tried to smuggle second hand clothes from Zambia. Police said the police officer only identified as Constable Chinyuku was on arrested on the Zambian side of the border in the afternoon.
“He had crossed to Zambia (Livingstone) the same afternoon and at around 2PM he came back in the company of Beauty Lungu, Violet Matau and Cleopatra Ncube who are also in custody charged with smuggling,” Sibanda said.
“Chinyuku dropped the three ladies, all from Hwange before driving towards the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority security check point and they found him in possession of two containers of second hand clothes, two packets of onions and potatoes, four boxes of biscuits and jiggies.”
Source: Cornered Cop Collapses While Trying To Swallow Bribe Money (18/03/16)
Saturday, 19 March 2016
The competition on the streets has forced the vendors to be aggressive in their marketing but Victoria Falls town clerk Christopher Dube said some of the vendors were now over doing it. “We are having a big problem with curio vendors along the Ephant’s Walk and around the town centre,” Dube told RadioVOP. “Tourists come to report almost every day saying they are being harassed by these people. “The vendors follow the tourists in large numbers and they make a visitor’s stay end up not worth it.”
Dube said tourism police, a group of residents meant to protect tourists in the resort town, had failed to deal with the vendors’ menace. He said it was likely that the marauding vendors were also involved in criminal activities targeting the police. “Tourism police are not doing anything and it ends up our duty to protect these tourists and that gives us more job yet they are paid for free,” Dube complained. “We suspect they (police) are also the ones who steal from our tourists because, they are dotted all over the town. They are also found at the rainforest but you find different tourists per day coming to report stolen goods or complaining about harassment.”
Anne Valley, an American tourist said she had a nightmarish experience at the hands of the curio vendors. “This is so wrong,” Valley said. “There is no point of visiting if this is how people of Zimbabwe live. I came alone because I wanted to have a peaceful holiday but I am being harassed on the streets. “The traders are so irritating and abusive, I doubt it can make me want to visit again.”
Hotel Association of Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls chapter chairman John Gwese blamed the police for the lawlessness. “The initiative (tourism police) was introduced to safeguard and add comfort to our tourists but at the end, many reports come to us saying visitors are harassed on the streets,” he said. “As hotels, we contribute some money to pay the hired police but due to unending complaints, we ended up surrendering them to the local police and they are the ones who give them their salaries on our behalf together with allocation of shifts among other duties.” Zimbabwe Republic Police’s officer commanding Victoria Falls Superintendent Jairos Chiwona said they were aware of complaints against the traders and tourism police.
“This has become a big problem in town,” he said. “We have arrested quite a lot of people on allegations of victimising and stealing from our tourists. These vendors have become a nuisance in town and they never stop harassing our visitors. They do all sorts of embarrassing things just to get money from them.” He said tourism police were not doing their job to protect tourists properly.
“Tourism police are not doing their jobs as well because many tourism have stopped contributing to the salary and as a result they no longer perform their job so well or report for duty daily,” Chiwona said. The tourism police are drawn from the local community to protect visitors from criminals but the initiative has been crumbling because the over 20 members of the voluntary force say they are not being remunerated properly. Council wants curio dealers to operate from designated areas that are safer and licensed but a number of vendors refuse to comply arguing that is no business at such places and prefer to approach tourists directly.
Source: Aggressive Curio Vending Riles Vic' Falls Council (11/03/16)
Tuesday, 15 March 2016
THE Victoria Falls receives over one million visitors each year, but the large quantity of waste left behind is beginning to kill the wildlife they come to see.
Eight elephants have died so far this year from eating too much plastic waste at the Victoria Falls dumpsite, according to Environment Africa, a local environment charity organisation.
Worried that the open dump could lead to more deaths, Environment Africa are now leading a campaign to raise $50 000 to help build a solar-powered fence around the site.
“The fence will surround the dumpsite and will not be harmful to the animals,” said Charlene Hewit, chief executive Environment Africa, by email.
“The electric fence will give them a shock.” It is not known how much distance the fence will cover.
But an electric fence of this nature will likely run on a potential energy of 5 000 volts, using heavy aluminium wire, says Trevor Shumbamhini, an electronics engineer.
It can work on two fronts, he says, — a solar-powered fence energiser with in-built battery, or one with a separate external battery, depending on circumstances. Both can supply power for extended periods when the sun is not shining. The energiser is an electric device that controls the amount of electrical shock sent through the fence from the power source, in this case, the battery.
With that much energy, the electric fence is built not so much as to harm the animal but to send a little warning shock.
Shocked once, the animal begins to recognise the danger around a specific area to avoid a second dance.
By using solar, Environment Africa have circumvented Zimbabwe’s existing sharp power shortages. But there is still one more problem of which to be wary.
“One of the issues with the fence that has to be taken care of is that people do not come and steel the wire and use that for snares for poaching,” warned Mrs Hewit.
“We have linked up with the Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching Unit (VAPU), who are going to assist with the anti-poaching around the area and protection of the fence.”
Like much of urban Zimbabwe, the Victoria Falls has experienced rapid development and population growth.
Its population has risen three-fold in the past two decades to 33 000 in 2012, according to Government data.
And again like everyone else, the town has struggled to manage the 3 300 tonnes of solid waste generated each year by its residents, businesses and the millions of tourists that flock to see the world famous waterfall, Victoria Falls, and to see the abundant wildlife. Across Zimbabwe, towns and cities produce over 614 000 tonnes of solid waste annually, a quarter of it plastic, says the Environmental Management Agency.
Only 52 percent of the waste is ever collected and properly disposed by municipalities. The rest is either burnt, buried underground or dumped anywhere. In Victoria Falls, the dumping congregates at an open vast space on the edge of town. And with its diversity of waste — food left overs, metal cans, plastic packaging etc — the dump has become an animal’s paradise, conservationists say.
Food comes easy at this garbage rendezvous, like manna from heaven. Several animal species — from baboons to elephants — forage there.
“There are resident elephants who have been patrolling around Victoria Falls for some time now,” said Mrs Hewit.
“They find it easier to come and eat at the dumpsite. They come during the evenings mostly.”
The Victoria Falls municipality has dismissed the claims as false.
“We are not aware of elephants that have died in the Victoria Falls from eating plastic from the town’s dumpsite,” charged Lot Syatimbula, the town’s director for housing and community services, by telephone.
“Does an elephant eat plastic at all? Where exactly did these deaths occur, when? Victoria Falls is a small town we would know even when one elephant dies. Some of these non-governmental organisation tend to be sensational.”
Death within days
It is not easy to put down a 6-tonne adult elephant, but plastic does that within days if consumed to excess, according to veterinary experts.
From fruit to tree leaves to tree bark, the elephant diet is diverse — and so is the strength of its digestive system — but plastic isn’t just an option, they say.
“I have yet to actually do a post-mortem on any of the elephants . . . but if the plastic consumed is very huge, death could occur within a few days, possibly a week,” explained Dr Chris Foggin, a veterinary surgeon with the Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust.
“If it is accumulation of large numbers of small pieces of plastic that somehow got together to make a big piece of obstruction in the intestines, it (death) could take months.”
Caroline Washaya Moyo, spokesperson for the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Authority, did not respond to questions emailed to her.
There are more than 80 000 elephants in Zimbabwe — one of the world’s biggest herd— with over 50 percent of the endangered animal concentrated in the Hwange-Victoria Falls area, authorities say.
As Environment Africa presses on with its electric fence plan, with a website to mobilise funding already running, the Victoria Falls municipality has also begun to look at better ways of managing its waste.
According to Mr Syatimbula, the town is finalising tenders for the construction of an 8-cell landfill.
The mandatory Environmental Impact Assessments — evaluations of a project’s potential ecological impact — have been completed, he said.
Dumpsites are open areas where waste is disposed randomly, but the landfill is designed and monitored with care. With the landfill, the ground is usually opened up on a huge area and filled up with trash.
But until this happens, the Victoria Falls, one of the world’s seven natural wonders, will likely run the risk of killing its own.
Source: Electric fence for Vic Falls dumpsite. . . 8 elephants dead from consuming plastics (14/03/16)
Monday, 14 March 2016
Friday, 11 March 2016
Taking off from the Victoria Falls Station in Zimbabwe, the Bushtracks Express has brought back the elegant and exciting trip to the Victoria Falls Bridge by Steam Train. The trips were launched on March 1st of this year and are run on a regular schedule every Tuesday and Friday.
The train's journey starts off at the station in the late afternoon, and makes its way into the Victoria Falls Park, where one might spot some game (depending on the season). From there, guests are taken to the Victoria Falls Bridge where they can disembark for some sight-seeing, or stay in the air-conditioned train and enjoy the drinks and the view. The variety of canapés and beverages are provided by the Victoria Falls Hotel, along with premium beverages which are not included on the ticket, but can be purchased on the train.
After sunset, the train slowly makes its way back through the park to the Victoria Falls Station.
"The train offers discerning guests the ultimate pre-dinner experience going back in time to the age of Steam train travel" - Bushtracks Africa
Bushtracks Africa also offer dinner runs from the Zambian side of the border, in the Royal Livingstone Express.
Tuesday, 8 March 2016
ZIMBABWE has become the first country in Africa to embrace the green tourism concept under which players are expected to harness environmentally friendly approaches. The idea was mooted in 2014 at the Hlanganani/Sanganai Expo in Harare after which the government implored the tourism sector to start implementing the project.
This followed recommendations from the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), to which Zimbabwe is a member, for tourism players to start programmes that sustain green tourism.
The pilot project was launched in Victoria Falls on Wednesday last week where 13 hotels and lodges received certificates for going green by embracing environment friendly practices.
Participating hotels and lodges-Bayethe Lodge, Cresta Sprayview, Ilala Lodge, Pioneers Camp, Stanley and Livingstone, Elephant Camp, Victoria Falls Hotel, Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, Vintage Camp, Zambezi Sands, Ivory and Khulu Lodge and Somalisa Camps are in Hwange and Victoria Falls.
Officially launching the project, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Florence Nhekairo, said at the moment the programme was voluntary but operators would in the next five years be compelled to comply with green tourism before they could be registered to operate in the country.
Nhekairo said the launch of green tourism marked a great development in the history of tourism in Zimbabwe. “The country finally implements green tourism from the seeds sown at Hlanganani/Sanganai Expo in 2014.
“The UNWTO in 1993 noted that tourism should improve the quality of life of host community and also promote high quality expectation of the visitor,” she said. The Permanent Secretary said the concept was meant to reduce business operational costs.
“For now it’s voluntary but in the next five years for a business to be registered there would be need for compliance with green technology. “Let’s all play our part in reducing effects of climate change by using green technology that involves use of alternative energy and recyclable sources.
“About 71 percent of global travellers place importance on property hence the need for us to keep eco-friendly properties,” said Nhekairo. Victoria Falls Mayor Councillor Sifiso Mpofu said the project was a welcome development.
“As a municipality we’re committed to green environment and we believe this green tourism project will go a long way in ensuring that as a nation we conserve our surroundings. “We congratulate all hotels and lodges that participated and we would want to see inclusion of green social and cultural issues in the project,” said Clr Mpofu.
Green tourism is being spearheaded by development partners-Environment Africa and Green Tourism UK on behalf of the government. The team is working with other partners such as Parks and Wildlife Management Authority of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority and Zimbabwe Council of Tourism.
Their counterparts from Zambia attended the launch as the neighbouring country seeks to learn from Zimbabwe’s pioneer project. Programmes manager Andrea Nicholas said the project was an opportunity for Africa to show the world that it was environment friendly in the wake of climate change.
She said they started with hotels and lodges because they are easy to manage and the programme will spread to other sectors.
Source: Zimbabwe pioneers green tourism in Africa (07/03/16)
Monday, 7 March 2016
Saturday, 5 March 2016
Addressing journalists in Harare on Thursday, Immigration principal director Clemence Masango said with immediate effect China, along with 36 other countries, had been moved from Category C to B. The other countries include Equatorial Guinea, Iran, Algeria, Turkey and Cuba. All SADC countries have now been migrated to Category A.
"This new position completes the circle and process for us in respect of all SADC countries in line with the fulfilment of the spirit and objectives of the SADC protocol on the Facilitation of Movement of Persons," Masango said.
Only Angola and Madagascar had remained outside category A.
Masango however said while China is now in Category B, there are still some conditions attached to the eligibility criteria for its nationals.
"Only Chinese tourists travelling as a group cleared by tour operators and travel agencies in China qualify. Secondly, Chinese business persons and other citizens of China as approved by their Government will continue to apply for visas online, a process which takes about five days to complete."
A total 83 countries still remain in Category C and their nationals need to apply for and obtain visas prior to travelling to Zimbabwe.
"This new position is in response to the voice of players and interest groups in the tourism and hospitality industry who want to see more facilitation of movement of persons than control," he said.
Masango said the Visa regime revision is part of an ongoing process and consultations will continue with a view to further relax visa controls in order to make travel easier and Zimbabwe a more favourable and accessible destination.
Masango also said consultations are ongoing to re-institute the KAZA-UNIVISA project which stopped in December last year with a view of resuming the system in this month.
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) chief executive officer Karikoga Kaseke said the process is a positive step in the right direction but more needs to be done as well.
Official figures show that Zimbabwe has been receiving between 3 800 and 5 500 Chinese tourists per annum, against total arrivals of between 80 000 and 100 000 in neighbouring countries despite Harare and Beijing having signed the Approved Destination Status agreement in 2003 aimed at encouraging nationals from the Asian giant to prioritize Zimbabwe.
Source: Zimbabwe Revamps Visa Regime (03/03/16)
Tourists staring in wonder at the full force of the Zambezi River cascading over Victoria Falls struggle to believe the region is suffering one of its worst droughts, but local guide Patrick Sakala knows all is not well.
Flows have dropped to 30-year lows at the waterfall straddling Zambia and Zimbabwe’s shared border as poor rains and soaring temperatures take their toll across southern Africa.
“At this time of year, you usually wouldn’t be able to hear me over the thunderous roar,” said Sakala, pointing at rocks piercing through a vast sheet of water dropping 100m, twice the height of Niagara Falls in Canada.
“You wouldn’t see those rocks. You might not see anything because of the smoke all around you,” he added, referring to the clouds of mist thrown up from the swells in the chasm beneath the falls, known locally as “The Smoke That Thunders”.
Downstream, Kariba Lake – the world’s largest man-made reservoir – is only 12 percent full, compared to 53 percent at the same time last year, according to the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA).
Kariba is the water source for a hydroplant which provides Zimbabwe and Zambia with much of their electricity, and power cuts have become a daily occurrence this year.
The plant could stop producing power completely in six months if water levels continue to fall, deepening economic pain and increasing poverty, an official said last month.
“It’s been terrible,” said Gloria Masheka, who runs a guest house in nearby Livingstone.
“The price of everything has gone up, we don’t have electricity for sometimes eight hours a day.
“All people talk about is how they don’t have power and can’t afford food.”
The drought has been blamed on a severe El Niño weather pattern unsettling climates across the world.
On the continent, it is expected to hit 49 million people from Malawi to Namibia, South Africa and Botswana, leaving about 14 million going hungry, the UN World Food Programme says.
African governments are requesting billions of dollars in aid as the unusually dry period ruins farmland, kills cattle and cuts off water supplies.
South Africa is suffering its worst drought in a century, likely to push 50 000 people below the poverty line, according to estimates from the World Bank.
The dams’ levels have dropped 16 percent since October and are expected to take three years to recover.
The dry, hot conditions risk hurting the region’s vital tourism industry as lush safari parks are scorched brown, mighty rivers such as the Zambezi are diminished, and even Victoria Falls loses some of its marvel.
“It’s still spectacular,” said Rory, a US tourist peering off the “knife-edge” bridge which sways high above a winding river gorge under the waterfall.
“It’s sad what the drought has done here. I hope people still come to see this beautiful country.”
Drought taking its toll on Victoria Falls (03/03/16)
Friday, 4 March 2016
AFRICAN Sun hotel group’s new management in Zimbabwe, Legacy Group, has hiked rates for its facilities casting doubts on affordability of hotel services by locals.
A snap survey at the group’s Victoria Falls hotels – Elephant Hills Resort, Kingdom Hotel and Victoria Falls Hotel – has shown that rates for single, double, executive, deluxe and executive rooms have been increased although management said the change was minor.
The increases have also been effected on conferencing rates and recently organisers of an unnamed seminar had to reschedule their meeting from Elephant Hills to Inyanga because of high rates.
In an e-mail response, the group’s chief executive officer, Edwin Shangwa, confirmed the increase in rates on all accommodation facilities, which he said was triggered by high cost of supplies.
“There have been minor rate increases throughout the group in line with the current increase of essential supplies by suppliers,” he said.
Shangwa said the new developments were a result of a massive marketing drive regionally after the coming in of Legacy Group.
“The hotels continue to be fully functional with mixed use facilities covering all guest requirements be it conference, business or leisure.
“As a result of the introduction of the Legacy Group, an internationally recognised brand, there has been greater sales and marketing through the legacy worldwide networks, which may have created the perception the business model is shifting – it’s not. The hotels remain a property with the capabilities to welcome and accommodate every guest’s specific needs,” he said.
Domestic and regional rates at Elephant Hills and Kingdom Hotel are now $198, up from $180 for single rooms and $242 up from $212 for double rooms.
Executive rooms are now $396, deluxe $572 up from about $500 while the presidential suite, which used to be around $700, now costs about $2,500.
The rates are for bed and breakfast only.
At Victoria Falls Hotel, a single room now goes for $346 up from $329 for both regional and domestic clients. Rates for Hwange Safari Lodge could not be established.
The group also runs Holiday Inn, Troutbeck Resort and Monomotapa Hotels. Conference rates are negotiated.
Indications are that the group wants to make its hotels resort destinations and move away from being ordinary facilities.
This comes at a time when average hotel occupancies have been hovering between 40 percent and 51 percent last year with only 100 percent being realised during the festive season.
The drop is blamed on liquidity in the region where the rand is also on a free fall.
The group a few months ago closed its Beitbridge branch following the board’s recommendation as “the hotel was unlikely to return to profitably in the foreseeable future and keeping it open would only have eroded value for the broader group.”
The new management last month terminated contracts for dozens of its workers as part of measures to streamline its operations to add to scores that lost their jobs after last year’s Supreme Court ruling that gave employers the green light to terminate contracts on three months’ notice.
The tourism industry has been facing viability challenges for sometime in the wake of suppressed arrivals. The situation has also been blamed on high charges for services with players seeking the scrapping of the 15 percent tourism levy, which was introduced last year.
Source: African Sun hikes prices (03/03/16)
Thursday, 3 March 2016
ZAMBIA'S Tourism minister Patrick Ngoma has bemoaned the increasing number of his countrymen caught illegally hunting for animals in Zimbabwe’s nature reserves. Ngoma said he was sorry that Zambians were now to blame for most of Zimbabwe’s poaching crimes.
Conservationists and police, especially in Matabeleland North say the majority of poachers roaming national parks in the province are from neighbouring Zambia. Last Friday, a suspected Zambian poacher was gunned down by Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority rangers near Matetsi in Hwange. The Zambian was killed after the rangers laid an ambush on a group of suspected poachers leading to a heavy exchange of gun fire.
Earlier in the week, Victoria Falls police had retrieved two bodies of suspected Zambian poachers that were found floating on the Zambezi River after escaping another ambush on February 6. Police said their bodies were still kept at the mortuary.
"We still stuck with their bodies. Their families, eight of them together with police came yesterday but they couldn't identify them because of the body state. They refused to take them and suggested to call more relatives. Everywhere in Zambian newspapers we are insulted for killing their people and throwing them into the river but that is not true." said officer commanding Victoria Falls police Jairos Chiwona.
Meanwhile, one of the suspected members of the syndicate Christopher Malasa Mandaya (35) appeared at the Victoria Falls Magistrates' Court facing charges of illegal possession of firearms and dagga.
He was not asked to plead on the charges before Lindiwe Maphosa and was further remanded in custody to March 1. He was arrested in Jambesi and was found in possession of 25 rounds of ammunition, a gun, two axes and butcher knives and two kilograms of dagga.
Ngoma told Radio VOP that some of the poachers were being used by Chinese nationals to hunt elephants in Zimbabwe for their ivory. He said the increasing number of poachers of Zambian origin being caught on Zimbabwe was becoming a humiliation for the neighbouring country.
“In Zambia we are putting measures to make sure that poaching by our people is controlled but the fact that they are now failing to penetrate (our parks) has forced them to cross over to other countries like Zimbabwe, Angola, Botswana and Namibia to commit the offences,” he said.
“We had gone further with investigations, where we noticed that they are working in collaboration with Chinese nationals who give them a bit of money to poach in neighbouring countries and then they sacrifice their lives because most of them when they cross those borders they are killed.”
Ngoma said to solve poaching cases, drones would be deployed in the SADC region to track the culprits.
“What we intend to do as neighboring countries, is that we must create a security force for KAZA (Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area) and this force must be done hand in hand, I’m talking about security officers in all sides,” he said.
“We must create system, which will make them communicate easily without the poachers themselves or the foreigners who are sending our people to go and poach and that way we will be able to achieve our goals.
“It is very humiliating because everywhere it is now known that Zambians are poaching and they shoot back.
“In Zambia we have introduced drones so that they can be able to spy on our behalf when they spot something they will be able to report and our plan is to have drone dotted all over the region, hence the reason of escaping to Zimbabwe mainly.”
Last year, Zimbabwe lost nearly 100 elephants to poachers, mainly at the Hwange National Park.
Environment minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri said 11 poachers were shot dead by security agents in 2015 alone.
Source: Chinese Sending Zambians To Poach In Zim - Zambian Minister (24.0/16)