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Tuesday 27 May 2014

Vic Falls council haunted by debts

VICTORIA FALLS Town Council is failing to repay a $15 million loan it got from the government to rehabilitate infrastructure ahead of the hosting of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) general assembly held in the resort town in August 2013.
The government last year released $15 million to the Zimbabwe National Water Authority and Victoria Falls municipality for water supply.
The money was to be used for the upgrading of the water sewer plant, construction of a 1 000-cubic metre reservoir for Mkhosana high-density suburb and the rehabilitation and expansion of sewer ponds.
A further $822 000 was released for the rehabilitation of council roads.
However, reports indicate that the cash strapped municipality, which is owed about $5,8 million by ratepayers, is struggling to service the government loan.
Victoria Falls mayor Sifiso Mpofu said he was not aware of the debt his council owed the government.
“I am not aware of that. Instead it’s UNWTO which funded the projects. I am not aware of the government debt,” he said.
Efforts to get a comment from Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo to clarify the matter were fruitless as his mobile phone went unanswered.
However, sources close to council said the loan repayment was haunting the town fathers as council coffers were dry.
“They are failing to repay the loan. In addition to the government debt, the council is also heavily indebted to Zesa Holdings and Zinwa with a combined total of over a $1 million, amid a dwindling resource base due to Chombo’s directive last year to slash residents’ debts,” said a source.
Victoria Falls municipality has been singing the blues due to cash flow problems with its debt ballooning to $5,8 million as companies and residents continue to default on paying rates, threatening service delivery in the country’s prime resort town.
Municipalities across the country have experienced serious cash problems following a government edict last year to scrap municipal debts owed by households. The economic slowdown has also impacted on firms and households’ capacity to pay council charges.

Monday 26 May 2014

ZRA, ERM agree on Batoka hydro power project roadmap

The Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) project steering committee has held a meeting with the winning Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) bidding company, the Environmental Resources Management (ERM), to agree on a roadmap for the implementation of the ESIA programme.
ERM is a South Africa-based company represented by three project team members, two from South Africa and one from their Zimbabwe office.
The full complement on the project will include Zimbabwe, Zambia, UK and South African team members.
In a statement, ZRA chief executive officer, Engineer Munyaradzi Munodawafa, outlined the expectations of the governments of Zambia and Zimbabwe who are the project shareholders of the Batoka Project.
The kick-off meeting discussed logistics of the project implementation with consideration that this is a bi-lateral project.
The success of the project will be centred on collaboration between the engineering feasibility study being done by Studio Pietrangeli Consulting Engineers of Italy and the ESIA team from ERM.
The proposed hydroelectric scheme is located on the Zambezi River, across the boundary between Zambia and Zimbabwe. It involves the construction of a dam and a hydropower plant on the Zambezi River.
If completed, the project will increase generation capacity and reduce reliance on electricity imports.
Initial studies have shown that the Batoka hydro scheme will turn Zimbabwe into a regional net exporter of power.
The project will also improve the generation mix which is currently skewed in favour of coal-fired plants. The Batoka hydro concept was conceived in 1972 out of a study instituted by the predecessor of the Zambezi River Authority, the Central African Power Corporation.
Some of the logistical issues discussed include inputs of previous ESIA studies, harmonisation of the engineering feasibility and the ESIA, data sharing and inputs into the designs. ERM is also expected to submit a health and safety policy taking into account the legislative requirements and expectations of the two Contracting States, Zambia and Zimbabwe and also the ZRA’s health and safety requirements.
The next stage following this meeting is an inception workshop which will include the project steering committee (PSC) comprising officials from the Energy and Finance ministries, Zesco in Zambia, Zesa in Zimbabwe and ZRA.
ZRA, ERM agree on Batoka hydro power project roadmap - The Chronicle (28/05/14)

Saturday 24 May 2014

Human-animal conflict cause for concern

Msilisi Dube recently in Victoria Falls

THE area surrounding Victoria Falls town supports many species of animals, large and small. They regularly find their way into the town, notably along Zambezi Drive, Big Tree area, and between the Victoria Falls Hotel and the Victoria Falls bridge. In this magnificent resort town, visitors unfamiliar with these areas need to be cautious when moving around due to dangers posed by buffaloes, elephants and snakes, among other animals.

Since the Victoria Falls National Park was fenced off in 1951, many of the larger mammals were excluded from the reserved area although elephants still trespass.

Many residents of Victoria Falls are afraid of hanging outdoors after sunset for fear of animals.
James Munkuli of Mkhosana suburb said travelling at night is risky. He said animals, particularly elephants, are a threat saying many people have been trampled to death by the jumbos.

“Last week I boarded a bus from Bulawayo. I arrived in Victoria Falls around 7PM. When I approached Mkhosana suburb I met a herd of elephants roaming the suburb.

“I had to divert from the main route and use footpaths. It is now dangerous to walk at night because one might get attacked by these animals as they scavenge for food,” said Munkuli.

He however, said that animals were not to blame for roaming in the town because long back the populated area was their grazing land hence it is impossible for them to abandon their territory.

“Long back this place was the feeding place for wild animals, but since this town was built they were forced to relocate to the dense forests. It will be difficult for them not to be seen because it is their feeding area,” he said.

Be that as it may, Munkuli said the government should work out measures to minimise the human-animal conflict in the resort area as animals continue to kill many people and destroy homes and other property.

“Sometimes during the day you come across an elephant especially in Mfelandawonye suburb, hence the government and the National Parks should try something,” he said.
In February, a man was killed by an elephant in the resort area, the latest in a pattern of deaths caused by animals in the town.

Steven Mathe, 22, of BH18 in Monde, had his body mashed by a raging bull elephant as he walked home shortly after 7PM.

Areas such as Jambezi, Woodlands and Chidobo, which are out of the town are at worst risk as even predators like lions and hyenas are constantly on the prowl.

Villagers staying in these areas said that their food security is always threatened by wild animals which devour their crops and livestock.

Tetrex Tshuma said he regrets the day he set his homestead in the animal-infested area.
“I have lost cattle due to these wild animals; even now they have destroyed my crops. We are the ones to blame because we settled in their feeding areas,” said Tshuma.

He said lions were responsible for the dwindling number of cattle in the area resulting in low agricultural production since villagers lack draught power as a result. Cattle killings are affecting their livelihoods in other aspects as well since villagers in the arid zone live off the animals.
Chief Shana whose area of jurisdiction covers Jambezi said his subjects have been reduced to perennial beggars as elephants continue to wreak havoc on their agricultural produce.

“We are in trouble because these animals invade our areas and the worst affected being Milonga and Jambezi. There is little we get from the fields every year as a result of these animals. There is no food here and people are hungry though government tries to supplement through food aid or food for work,” said Chief Shana.

He blamed the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority for failing to protect people and their property.

“We have countless times sought the help of Parks to help us by chasing away the elephants. However little has been done. When they react it will be too late as the elephants would have done unimaginable damage to our livelihoods,” he said.

Source: Human-animal conflict cause for concern (23/05/13)

Friday 23 May 2014

Wild Horizons Elephant Camp To Expand

 Wild Horizons and The Elephant Camp and members of the Tourvest group of companies, are pleased to announce plans for four new tented suites to be constructed to the West of the current 12 room facility.

Demand for rooms at The Elephant Camp continues to exceed availability, particularly from small groups and families who want an exclusive lodge experience.

The new suites will serve as an extension of the current camp as well as a stand-alone facility offering an exclusive experience for up to 12 people. The extension will have its own central lounge, bar and dining area with a main deck and pool, as well as its own curio shop and kitchen. The new suites will also have their own duty manager and team of guides and staff, under the general management of The Elephant Camp, and it will share some of the main camp’s back-of-house services.

The new facility will offer cuisine of the same high standard as that offered by The Elephant Camp, with catering staff being managed and overseen by the executive chef at The Elephant Camp.

The four new tented suites will be the same size, style and design as the current rooms – each with its own bedroom area (the beds are interchangeable between double and twin), lounge, bathroom with indoor and outside shower, as well as a private deck and plunge pool overlooking a waterhole and the Victoria Falls National Park, with views of the spray of the Falls in the distance. Each suite will also be equipped with a foldout sleeper-couch to cater for small families.

Bush clearing will be kept to a bare minimum during the development of the new suites in accordance with Wild Horizons’ environmental policy.  The suites have been sited to maximise privacy through the use of existing trees and vegetation. Other green initiatives being implemented include using ‘grey water’ systems and solar water heaters wherever possible. Along with the construction of the four suites and main facility, there will be a small admin office/curio shop/public washroom tent as well as extra staff accommodation and staff canteen incorporated into the blueprints.

The opening date for the extension of the Elephant Camp is scheduled for 1 February 2015.


Wednesday 21 May 2014

Stray lion still to be captured

THE stray lion that has reportedly been roaming some parts of Bulawayo for the past two weeks was still to be caught by yesterday and authorities are yet to establish its origins.

Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) have been tracking the lion amid claims by some residents that they spotted it in the leafy Burnside area last week.

The lion has not killed any livestock or attacked people fuelling speculation it could have escaped from captivity as it is suspected to be tame.

Lion-spotted-in-burnsideIts spoor was first seen about 30km from Bulawayo near Chipangali Wildlife Orphanage and later in a number of eastern suburbs which included Waterford, Burnside and the farming area of Hope Fountain.

Zimparks southern regional manager Arthur Musakwa yesterday said the lion had not been accounted for, adding that his team was still on the ground searching for it.

"We have not found it as yet. At the moment we have not heard of any sighting or any major incidences such as loss of life to livestock (or people)," he said.

"However, our team is on the ground searching for it. If we hear of any sighting we will let you know."

Zimparks public relations officer Caroline Washaya Moyo dismissed speculation the lion could have escaped from captivity within the city.

"Those people saying that can tell us which property so that we could go and investigate.

Source: Stray lion still to be captured (Bulawayo News24, 18/05/14)

Zambia's Biodiversity plan set for review

ZAMBIA’s National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) formulated in 1999 will be reviewed this year to align it to the country’s development agenda and make it more responsive to emerging challenges such as climate change.

Lands, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Minister Mwansa Kapeya said the country was also in the process, albeit belatedly, of preparing its Fifth National Report to the Conservation of Biological Diversity (CBD) secretariat to share its implementation efforts and highlight challenges the country was facing.

He said this in Livingstone at Protea Hotel in a speech read for him by Lands, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Permanent Secretary Inutu Suba.

This was during the official opening of the regional workshop for capacity building for conservation and restoration of ecosystems for Eastern and Southern Africa.

Delegates attending the meeting are from Botswana, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Rwanda, Seychelles, Swaziland, South Africa, Uganda, Tanzania, Namibia, Malawi, Korea, Zimbabwe and Zambia among other countries. Mr Kapeya said Zambia was grateful and proud to host the workshop as it resonated well with national goals on environmental management in general and biodiversity in particular.

He said the country boasted of many game ranches, bird sanctuaries, botanical reserves, fisheries, as well as heritage sites.

“In open areas beyond our protected area network, the Zambian Government has consistently been promoting sustainable use of our natural resources in order to avoid depletion and undermining our
natural resource base,” he said.

Mr Kapeya said Zambia was party to a number of multilateral environmental agreements including the CBD.

Zambia signed the CBD on June 11, 1992 just after being opened for signature on June 6, 1992 in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil and ratified it on May 28 the following year in 1993.

“The country has since taken a number of steps in the implementation of objectives of the convention. These include the promotion of conservation of both fauna and flora with 20 national parks and 36 game management areas set aside for wildlife conservation,” he said.

In forestry, Zambia has dedicated more than four million hectares of land to forest reserves of which, 485 are national forests, while 305 are local forests.

Mr Kapeya said Southern Province had a total of 31 forest reserves consisting of seven national forests and 24 local forests.

Speaking at the same function, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) representative Doug Maguire said the workshop was not only about conservation but also on matters of food security and poverty

Mr Doug Maguire said there was need to enhance food security and poverty alleviation on the continent.

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) representative Kamar Yousuf called for concerted efforts to promote the conservation of nature.

CBD Secretariat representative Sakhile Koketso and African Union (AU) representative Bather Kone also spoke during official opening.

Source: Biodiversity plan set for review (Times of Zambia 13-05-14)

Bulawayo restuarant chain ordered to close over indigenisation law

Scores of Golden Grill Fast Foods outlets workers in Bulawayo on Friday arrived at work to find their workplace under lock and key after National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Board (NIEEB) officials closed the shop for flouting a section of the indigenisation law.

All three outlets of the fast foods store, one of the most popular and fast growing in Bulawayo, owned by one Paul Evans, had a notice from the Reserved Sector Compliance Status Notice indicating the company had been closed for "non-compliance" of the county's indigenisation laws.

Restuarants, grocery shops and hair saloons are among other sectors that have been reserved for locals under the country's Indegenisation law and all foreign businesspeople in that sector were given up to January 1 2014 to comply.

"We found this place locked in the morning, they must have done it last night because there was no one when we arrived," said a vendor who sells airtime recharge cards outside one of the outlets at the corner of Fort Street and 11th Avenue. The interior of the shop showed signs of people having left in a hurry with some items just lying on the counters.

Similar notices from NIEEB were placed on the entrances of the other branches at Jason Moyo Street and 10th Avenue, as well as one at the corner of 9th Avenue and Hebert Chitepo Street.

The notice, signed by NIEEB officer, Linda Dube recommended that Evans, who runs the outlets, complies with the board's requirements which are to partner with a local businessperson of his choice.

Source: Golden Grill outlets ordered to close over indigenisation law (Bulawayo News24 - 18/05/14)

Zimbabwe agrees Uni-Visa with Zambia

Zimbabwe and Zambia have agreed to implement a uni-visa regime starting next month to boost tourist arrivals between the two countries.

The neighbouring countries now expect to precede a common visa for Southern Africa, tourism minister Walter Mzembi said on Monday.

Mzembi said the concept has been approved by both governments after the two countries ran a pilot project when they co-hosted the United Nations World Tourism Organisation 20th general assembly in August last year.

Source: Zimbabwe agrees Uni-Visa with Zambia (Bulawayo News24 - 20/05/14)

Friday 16 May 2014

China ready to finance Batoka power project

CHINESE Ambassador to Zambia, Zhou Yuxiao says China is eager to participate in the financing of the Batoka Power Project. The Batoka project, which may cost about US$6 billion, includes the construction of a dam and a hydro-power plant on the Zambezi River and has the potential of generating 1,600 Mega Watts.
Ambassador Zhou said the project was important to both Zambia and Zimbabwe as it would boost electricity generation capacity for the two countries.
"Power is very important for any country and at this moment, you have a shortage, so we are certainly willing to join you in handling that project and as far as the Chinese government is concerned, we are willing to help you financially," ambassador Zhou said in an interview. "There are also Chinese companies that are willing to invest in this power industry."
Zambia and Zimbabwe have over the last years been struggling to meet local energy needs because of aging facilities. Ambassador Zhou explained that it was very difficult for any country to advance its economic and social development if it was failing to meet its energy needs.
"I am glad that Zambia holds 40 per cent of the water resources in Southern Africa, so this is a big advantage to start developing hydro power in a big way and you can count on China for financial availability," ambassador Zhou said. Progress has been made in the public tender process for the construction of the Batoka hydro-power project.
Energy minister, Christopher Yaluma, is hoping for construction work to start on the project by the end of the year. Yaluma said since Zambia and Zimbabwe revived the Batoka project, it had attracted an "unprecedented number of unsolicited expressions of interest."
The results of the feasibility studies are expected to be submitted by the end of this year.
Source: China ready to finance Batoka power project (The Post, Zambia - 15-05-14)

Thursday 15 May 2014

'Mysterious lion is a spirit, leave it,' says a sangoma

THE International Traditional Healers' Association (ITA) representative in Zimbabwe David Muhabhinyane Ngwenya yesterday warned authorities and members of the public to leave the mysterious lion which has reportedly been spotted in some parts of Bulawayo, as long as it has not harmed anyone.

Ngwenya said the lion might be a spirit visiting King Mzilikazi and Lobengula's territory and hunting it down would end up causing problems for people.

Ngwenya, a traditional healer residing in Gwabalanda, Bulawayo, said it was worrying to think that a real lion which had been seen by people had still not been captured or spotted by the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Authority (Zimparks) more than three weeks later.

The lion has been on the loose since the end of April and it is still not clear where it came from. The Chipangali Wildlife orphanage has dismissed suspicions that the cat could have escaped from them saying they have all their lions.

Ngwenya said a lion that has not been seen or killed anything for food cannot be a real lion.

"It has something to do with traditional culture. It is a mirage (lilinda leli). It is a lion for the kings showing that the ancestral spirits are visiting the land and they must not trouble it or bother looking for it, otherwise it will cause us some problems," said Ngwenya.

He said if it was a real lion, it would have caused a lot of damage by now.

"Look at the time it has taken for them to find it. It shows that it cannot be a real animal. They have taken about three weeks looking for it; they must forget about it," Ngwenya said.

Zimparks southern regional manager Arthur Musakwa said they were maintaining a presence on the ground through the leads they got, but had not yielded anything.

"A lone lion generally would not stay in a place for a long time. Lions stray, but do not travel alone. They seek companionship. We have also not received any reports where animals have been killed by the lion," Musakwa said.

The hunting team went to Burnside, Waterford, Douglasdale and Hope Fountain asking members of the community if they had spotted the lion. Source: 'Mysterious lion is a spirit, leave it,' says a sangoma (Bulawayo News24 - 15-05-14)

Chief Mukuni rides long

SENIOR chief Mukuni has bought himself a Lincoln Royale Town Car limousine from the US at a cost of US$200,000 (K1.2 million).

He has further ordered a boat also worth US$200,000.

In an interview yesterday at Lumpasa Palace in Mukuni village in Livingstone, chief Mukuni said the limousine was a 2012 make and he bought it three months ago.

He explained that he also wanted to leave a legacy by purchasing a private jet in the next 12 months. Chief Mukuni said the limousine had an inbuilt intercom, a fridge, television, a transparent retractable roof, as well as a state-of-the-art music system. He said the vehicle was not a guzzler and, in fact, consumes less fuel than his BMW.

"My intention is that once I leave (chieftainship), I will donate that (limousine) to the Mukuni Royal Establishment for the next chief to use. It's not for my members of the family. Once I leave, it will remain for the next chief to use," he said.

Chief Mukuni said the left-hand drive, which is driven by his son, Siasiloka, has a 60-litre fuel capacity. Chief Mukuni also owns a Toyota Land Cruiser. He said the limousine was ordered through his close associates in the US. Chief Mukuni said the limousines were in the range of US$200,000 to US$400,000.

He said his subjects were happy with the limousine initiative as it gave them pride.

Chief Mukuni said he was now planning to purchase a jet and another limousine, white in colour.

He said the limousine entered Zambia sometime in January through the port of Walvis Bay in Namibia. On tourism investments, chief Mukuni said Zambia needed to take a new approach to tourism development if it was to earn a lot of foreign exchange from the sector.

"There are countries like Seychelles and Kenya; they have no mines, but they are doing better than us because of tourism, nothing else!" he said.

Chief Mukuni also said he intended to expand his tourism business in Livingstone by venturing into boat cruises on the Zambezi River, using a boat and three amphibious buses, which would be driven onto the Zambezi River after game viewing. In addition, he plans to invest in Ghana, using his Mukuni Big Five tourism sanctuary, which offers lion walks, cheetah interactions and elephant rides.

Chief Mukuni said a Ghanaian tourism team, which was in the country recently, had invited Mukuni Big Five to open up branches in that country.

"They (Ghanaians) invited me, and I will be going there in July. I don't want to just invest in Zambia. I want to invest in what I know best - handling lions and elephants. So, I want to spread over and I have also ordered a boat which should be landing anytime from now to be called the 'Lion King of the Victoria Falls'. But the Ghanaians are saying 'Why not bring it to Accra?' " he said.

Chief Mukuni said the 100-seat capacity US$200,000 boat will not only be for sunset cruises, but will also do weddings, luncheons and conferences on the river.

"We are looking more at local tourism. We want to have an African touch to it as most of the boats here have a European touch other than the names," he said.

Chief Mukuni, however, said he was having problems acquiring docking space on the shores of the Zambezi River from ZAWA. "The application that we had done as Mukuni Big Five is that we wanted Mukuni Development Trust to own the docking space. We will build it for them and they will rent from ZAWA, and we would rent from them Mukuni Development Trust... the money will then trickle down to the local people. That is the arrangement, but I'm being told that the application letters are lost. I did others and sent by DHL and they also got lost," he said. <[>Chief Mukuni said he had approached ZAWA to train elephants which could be rented out to tour operators countrywide for elephant rides but that the paperwork for his suggestion went missing too.

"The Ghanaians want me to take lions and cheetahs since they don't have them, and that since they have elephants, they will give me 100, even more, to train and that they would give me 20 for free. So the way to go now is that I want to invest in foreign countries so that I can bring back some foreign exchange," he said.

Senior chief Mukuni said recently, he invited former tourism and arts minister, Sylvia Masebo, so that he could learn more on tourism from her vast experience. <[>He also revealed that the road to Mukuni village had been tarred as payment for the gravel which was being collected from the village by Inyatsi Construction Company.

Source: Chief Mukuni rides long (The Post, Zambia, 12-05-14)

ZANU PF gloats over ‘dubious’ tourism award

A European tourism award that has been described as ‘dubious’ and lacking in credibility, is now being used by ZANU PF as an endorsement by Europe of its leadership.

The Bucharest based European Council on Tourism and Trade (ECTT) announced this week that it was presenting Zimbabwe with the award of ‘Best Tourism Destination for 2014’, in a press release that strongly praised ZANU PF and Robert Mugabe.

The Council, which claims on its website to be made up of 27 European Union (EU) tourism organisations, said it would be presenting the award to Robert Mugabe in Harare, describing him as “the most outstanding personality of today Africa.”

ZANU PF’s Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi has since said that the award justifies its efforts in pushing for the removal of the EU targeted sanctions, which now only remain against Mugabe and his wife Grace.

“When you are endorsed from Europe, you are being endorsed by those who placed us on sanctions and this shows that we have successfully succeeded in the negotiations,” Mzembi said.

But questions about the credible nature of the award and the Council itself have been raised, with some observers stating that the Council is not affiliated to the EU leadership bloc.

Former Zimbabwean diplomat Clifford Mashiri told SW Radio Africa that the award is “highly dubious.”

“The credibility of this is questionable, especially since the host of the awarding body has strong links with the regime in Harare,” Mashiri said.

Mashiri also questioned the role ZANU PF might have played in Zimbabwe being chosen for the award, with the party trying to prove its legitimacy.

“There is every reason for ZANU PF trying to gain legitimacy by the back door, considering they are not a legitimate government,” he said.

Source: ZANU PF gloats over ‘dubious’ tourism award (08-05-14)

Bulawayo lion mystery deepens

THE Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Authority (Zimparks) has increased manpower to hunt a mystery lion that has for the past weeks been roaming different parts of Bulawayo's eastern suburbs and surrounding areas.

The increase in manpower hunting the lion follows the spotting of the big cat's spoor at Criterion Farm in Douglasdale on Sunday.

Zimparks spokesperson Caroline Washaya-Moyo yesterday told Southern Eye that nine rangers, including a professional hunter, were now on the ground pursuing the adult lion.

"What we have now is that spoor was spotted at Criterion Farm? From the spoor, it was determined that the lion is an adult," Washaya-Moyo said.

"We have called for extra manpower from the Hwange National Park.

"As it is, we have a team of nine on the ground that includes a professional hunter."

There has been growing speculation among Bulawayo residents that there are possibly two lions on the loose, but Washaya-Moyo said evidence on the ground so far suggested there was only one.

"The spoor that was spotted was for one lion. However, we are not turning away any information from members of the public," she said.

Bulawayo residents are now living in fear of possible attack from the lion.

Habakkuk Trust chief executive officer Dumisani Nkomo posted on his Facebook wall: "Maybe I am paranoid, but surely there should be an official response or information about the lion or we are waiting for it to maul somebody.

"In the absence of information, rumours abound or do they think it will cause alarm and despondency? The problem is that there is already fear, alarm and despondency because there are now all sorts of stories with some saying there is more than one lion, others saying some people could have been attacked and others saying it's now in Hillside, Matsheumhlophe and Leeside."

However, some residents of Burnside who spoke to Southern Eye yesterday gave conflicting details about the lion.

"We heard that it was seen along Bulawayo Road, but it's all just stories," James Jubane said.

"Some are saying one resident saw it and chased it away with a catapult yet some say they saw lion droppings just next to Bulawayo Road.

"The stories are just too many now and it's confusing."

A Southern Eye news crew drove along Bulawayo Road and saw residents walking freely without any sign of fear.

"What we heard is that it was seen in Waterford. We have not heard that it has come to this side.

"I doubt if it is in this area," said a worker in one of the plots in Douglasdale.

Source: Bulawayo lion mystery deepens (Bulawayo News24 - 15-05-14)

Saturday 10 May 2014

Mosi-Oa-Tunya Rhino snare removed

ZAWA has reported that it successfully removed and treated a pregnant rhino that was recently caught up in a snare in Livingstone’s Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park.

The Rhino, known as Inonge was caught in a snare set by unknown poachers last week. Since Inonge is eight moths pregnant ZAWA Head of vet Dr David Squarre had to only partially anaesthetise her to avoid any complications that the use of drugs could cause to the pregnancy.

ZAWA is warning members of the public to desist from setting up snares - if caught they will be arrested and prosecuted by law.

Source: Mosi-Oa-Tunya Rhino Rescued (Zambia Tourism, 09-05-14)

Zimbabwe settles $30 million debt owed to Zambia

Zimbabwe has settled the outstanding $30 million owed to Zambia as principal debt accrued through the acquisition of power generation equipment under the defunct Central African Power Corporation (CAPCO) which the two countries co-owned.

Zimbabwe owed Zambia $70 million after acquiring power generation assets when CAPCO was dissolved to form the Zambezi River Authority(ZRA).

The two countries agreed that the debt be settled in installments by not later than April 30, 2014.

Mines, Energy and Water Development Minister Christopher Yaluma said the debt had been settled in full as agreed upon by the two Governments.

Yaluma however, said interest of $114 million accrued on the debt but both Governments have reached a mutual agreement that this should be settled through a devised settlement plan.

"The Government of Zimbabwe has settled the remaining $30 million, completing the $70 million owed to Zambia after the dissolution of CAPCO which was reconstituted as the Zambezi River Authority," Yaluma said.

Source: Zimbabwe settles $30 million debt owed to Zambia (Bulawayo News24, 09-05-14)

Batoka hydro-electricity project on course

PARIS - Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) board chairperson Partson Mbiriri says there is progress in the public tender process for the construction of the Batoka hydro-electricity project.
Mr Mbiriri says the results of the feasibility studies are expected to be submitted by the end of this year. “Those are important documents going forward in terms of engaging potential contractors,” he said.
Mr Mbiriri was speaking in an interview with journalists from Zambia and Zimbabwe in the French capital Paris yesterday. He added that ZRA has already called for expressions of interest and 25 companies applied for the tender process out of which nine were shortlisted.
Mr Mbiriri also said that the construction of access roads in the Batoka project site has started. “All the processes towards developing Batoka hydro-electricity scheme are underway,” he said.
The construction of the Batoka hydro-electricity scheme has been triggered by high demand for power in the region. The Batoka hydro-electricity scheme is a three-phased project which includes the construction of the dam, construction of a power station and construction of transmission lines.
Apart from operating and maintaining the Kariba dam, ZRA also has a mandate of developing new hydro-electricity schemes on the Zambezi River, on behalf of the governments of Zambia and Zimbabwe.
And according to its 2010-2014 strategic objectives, ZRA will undertake dam maintenance and develop the Batoka hydro-electricity scheme.
Meanwhile, Zambia’s Mines, Energy and Water Development permanent secretary Charity Mwansa has said that the Kariba dam is a strategic asset for the two governments.
Ms Mwansa is also co-chairperson of the ZRA board. The Kariba dam supplies about 40 percent of electricity to the region. The ZRA delegation has left France for Venice in Italy.
While in France, the delegation attended presentations on the Bimont dam and the Malpasset ruins dam. The delegation also visited the Verdon gorges in south-eastern France.
Batoka hydro-electricity project on course (The Daily Mail, Zambia,

Friday 9 May 2014

Panic as stray lion inches closer to Bulawayo city centre

Source: Panic as stray lion inches closer to Bulawayo city centre (Bulawayo News24, 09-05-14)

Panic waves continue to spread through Bulawayo as the elusive stray lion has been sighted at Riverside, inching closer to the city centre.

Acting Bulawayo police spokesperson Assistant Inspector Abedinico Ncube yesterday confirmed the latest sighting and urged members of the public to immediately report encounters with the big cat.

First seen 14 days ago about 30 km from Bulawayo near Chipangali Wildlife Orphanage, terrified Waterford residents also sighted it last Sunday.

The king of the jungle has been evading a crack team of Zimbabwe National Parks game rangers.

"We want to reiterate that there is a stray lion out there which was last seen at Riverside South Plot 18. Members of the public must report immediately if they sight the animal. Police are available 24 hours a day so members of the public must be free to come to us or call us," said Asst Insp Ncube.

The police call comes after the tracking team revealed that they had received numerous panic calls from members of the public that had turned out to be false alarms.

A member of the tracking team who could not be named as he is not cleared to speak to the press said the operation to capture the lion was continuing.

"We continue with the search and tonight (last night) we will concentrate in the Waterford area," he said.

He said they mainly do their tracking at night and would be searching areas south of Waterford adding that they suspect that it was a young lioness that probably was caged and still learning how to hunt.

Waterford residents where the lion has been sighted are in a state of panic and urged authorities to capture the lion as soon as possible.

Waterford resident Bongelani Sibanda said he heard the lion roar on Wednesday night.

"We live in fear and do not move at night. Just imagine hearing the lion roar and not knowing if the animal is moving towards you or not," said Sibanda.

Source: Panic as stray lion inches closer to Bulawayo city centre (Bulawayo News24, 09-05-14)

EU Council Awards Zimbabwe Best World Tourism Destination Title

Souce: EU Council Awards Zimbabwe Best World Tourism Destination Title (VOA Zimbabwe, 05-05-14)

The European Union Council on Tourism and Trade has unanimously decided to award Zimbabwe the World Best Tourist Destination for 2014 title for promoting ecotourism and successfully convening an international conference last year.

The General Assembly of the council says Zimbabwe cohosted the World Tourism Organization General Assembly in 2013 despite tremendous logistic and economic challenges.

The Assembly says there is no doubt that the country has the capacity to organize top world events, is a safe destination.

According to the Council, Zimbabwe has unequivocally demonstrated that it is a safe, open and perfectly managed power house.

Apart from that, it further says the country has done a lot in promoting eco-tourism leading to a lot of community support in the preservation of natural resources.

“Among other reasons is the promotion and support offered to a new concept of community natural protection supporting tourism friendly to nature, with low ecological impact and preservation of natural biodiversity and protection of endangered species and areas,” said the EU Council.

It said community-based ecotourism protection carved by former Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi is “a perfect way to share revenues and income and to support rural communities in prospering.”

The EU Council said this has ensured that ecotourism is the base for local economic development.

Reacting to this development, Zanu PF activist, Morris Ngwenya, said Zimbabwe deserved the award. “At last the country has been recognized for the good job it is doing in tourism, cultural issues and others.”

But independent economist Walter Mbongolwane disagreed, saying there are countries like South Africa which offer better tourism activities than Zimbabwe. “At least South Africa deserves an award and not Zimbabwe. How can the country win an award in the midst of an economic crisis … This is absurd.”

Tourism visits went up in Zimbabwe soon after the establishment of a unity government which was in power up to the 2013 general election. The situation has degenerated following Zanu PF’s election victory last year as the local economy has been hit by deflation, lack of foreign direct investment and general liquidity constraints.

Souce: EU Council Awards Zimbabwe Best World Tourism Destination Title (VOA Zimbabwe, 05-05-14)

Monday 5 May 2014

Woman throws herself into the Victoria Falls gorge

A 23-YEAR-OLD Zambian woman committed suicide by throwing herself into the Victoria Falls gorge after her parents expressed disappointment with her college results.

The body of Carol Kanyemr was found along the Zambezi River on the Zimbabwean side of Victoria Falls on Tuesday. Zambian Southern province police commissioner Mary Chikwanda yesterday confirmed the suicide tragedy.

"She threw herself into the Victoria Falls after she said she had been a disappointment to her family after her parents paid fees for her at universities in Namibia and Botswana respectively, but she failed."

Source: Woman throws herself into the Victoria Falls gorge (Bulawayo News24 - 04-05-14)