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Friday 29 May 2015

Vic Falls man in court for robbing Swiss couple

A VICTORIA Falls man who allegedly broke into a lodge at night and robbed, under duress, a Swiss couple that was on holiday in the resort town has been dragged to court.

Josphat Ncube, 28, is alleged to have pounced on the sleeping couple-Sofia Surla and Dabrila Nesic-Surla, who were booked at Imvelo Gorges Lodge on April 2 this year.

Prosecutor Listen Nare said Ncube was in the company of two Zambians identified as Njamba Toloto and Takanyala who are on the run.

They allegedly stole cameras, a suitcase with clothes and cash amounting to $500 and 30 Swiss Francs.

Part of the property was recovered on the Zambian side near Livingstone where Ncube was arrested at a roadblock during the same night as he and his alleged accomplices illegally crossed into the neighbouring country but ended in the hands of the police.
The alleged Zambian accomplices evaded arrest as they fled leaving Ncube, the court was told.
Ncube appeared before Victoria Falls magistrate Sharon Rosemani on Friday to answer to unlawful entry, robbery and violating the Immigration Act.

Zambian authorities handed Ncube to ZRP on his release from prison on Monday after he had served 30 days for the offense of illegally crossing into that country following his arrest on April 2.

On Friday, the magistrate denied him bail after the prosecutor opposed it on the grounds that he was a flight risk.

Ncube denied the charges, saying the two Zambians had hired him to help them carry the loot to the neighbouring country. He was remanded in custody to June 3.

Nare said Ncube and his alleged accomplices used a craw bar to force open the door into a room where their victims were sleeping.

Ncube and colleagues allegedly ransacked the room and stole cameras, a suitcase with clothes and the cash.

It is alleged that Ncube, and his alleged accomplices crossed the border into Zambia at about midnight but ran out of luck when they were intercepted at a roadblock and searched leading to the recovery of stolen property.

Ncube was allegedly found in possession of Sofia’s Master Card, a university ID card under the name Erasmus, and some insurance cards.

Saturday 16 May 2015

Livingstone to get conference facility

The Zambian Government intends to construct an conference facility in Livingstone to cater for growing international events being hosted in the tourist capital, says Minister of Foreign Affairs Harry Kalaba. Mr Kalaba said Government is working hard to put up ultra-modern conference facilities in Livingstone, Lusaka and other provincial centres. He said the country will be hosting the Africa Union summit in 2022 and one of the issues being looked at is the construction of a conference facility to host 53 heads of state. Mr Kalaba, who described the just ended Summit of the African Union Committee of Ten as a success, said Livingstone will again be the centre of attention as it hosts the Least Developed Countries (LDC) meeting next month. “President Lungu will open the LDC meeting which Zambia is the chair. This event will attract ministers from LDC countries,” he said. And Southern Province Minister Nathaniel Mubukwanu says President Lungu is committed to boost Livingstone’s economic activities. “The President wants us to make the city attractive to visitors as this has the potential of growing the tourism industry. “There is need to grow the industry so that we can create jobs, income and generate benefits that go along with the tourism industry,” he said. Mr Mubukwanu said Government is keen to have all statutory departments relating to tourism activities moved to Livingstone. Source: Livingstone to get conference facility (15/05/15)

Zimbabwe to sell wild animals to Angola

Zimbabwe plans to export more wild animals to Angola despite widespread criticism for similar deals with China and the United Arab Emirates.
According to media reports on Tuesday, the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority has struck a deal with the Angolan National Conservation Park for the export of elephants, buffaloes, antelopes and lions.
"The deal is being worked on between the Ministry of Environment and the Angolan National Conservation Park for the latter to buy the excess wild animals in Zimbabwe," one of the reports said. "The deal is expected to be signed in July in Angola."
Zimbabwe early this year came under sustained local and international condemnation from conservationists for exporting close to 62 baby elephants to the United Arab Emirates, France and China.
However, the government has argued that is suffering from a funding crisis and funds raised from the sale of the elephants would be used to help with conservation efforts.
The elephants were sold for up to $60,000 each. Zimbabwe needs to reduce its 80,000-strong elephant population, which is beyond the carrying capacity of its parks.
Under the Convent ion on International Trade in Endangered Species agreement to protect wild fauna and flora, trade in elephants is permissible, as long as it is properly regulated.
The treaty stipulates that all species should be categorised according to the size and robustness of the population, and trade limited accordingly.
Cash-strapped Zimbabwean government is seized with mobilising the international community for financial aid, direct budgetary support and debt relief from various sources.
Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa recently said he is not expecting any revenue from the country's diamonds as they have run out and the companies mining the precious minerals have no capacity to go deeper.
Source: Zimbabwe to sell wild animals to Angola (12/05/15)

ZimParks in $12.5 million debt

Minister of environment, water and climate Saviour kasukuwere has revealed that the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management is saddled in a $12.5 million debt.

The debt is crippling functions of the organisation.

Kasukuwere told Parliament that Parks and Wildlife authority which has the mandate to manage all wildlife in the country is still struggling to raise adequate working capital to meet its operational and capital requirements and this has resulted in the accumulation of obligations which are now standing at $12.5 Million.

"The Authority has statutory obligations to carry our functions such as problem animal control, fire management, law enforcement, environmental education and awareness campaigns, as its contribution to safeguarding our natural heritage, public safety and security, food security, etc.

"These statutory obligations are not revenue streams but cost centres in which all costs are borne by the Authority without any fiscal assistance."

He said out of a total of 66 protected areas, only 12 or 18% are generating sufficient revenue to cover their operational expenses.

"Conservation is expensive and requires Government support especially in the face of many wildlife trade restrictions.

"The organisation is struggling to meet minimum standards for conservation since it is self financing conservation.

"Furthermore, there is a challenge of resource for field operations, administration and investments."

Source: ZimParks in $12.5 million debt ()

Friday 15 May 2015

Vic Falls Council sticks to its guns

VICTORIA Falls Municipality has vowed not to reverse the rate increases proposed in the 2015 budget following complaints by tourism operators that the charges were too high.
By Ruth Ngwenya
There has been an outcry by tourism operators after the rates were increased by more than 500%, which saw some operators forced to pay $11 000 from $3 000 monthly.
Stakeholders in the tourist resort town discussed the matter last week during meetings presided over by Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) chief executive officer Karikoga Kaseke and Zimbabwe Tourism Council chief executive officer Paul Matamisa where efforts to reach a compromise failed.
Speaking during a full council meeting on Tuesday, town clerk Christopher Dube said it was too late for tourism operators to present their complaints because the budget was already operational.
“It has been made clear to them (tourism operators) that the budget under discussion is the 2015 one which was crafted following all legal processes,” Dube said.
He said the municipality received only two objections after the council advertised the proposed rates last year.
The town clerk said the local authority could have reviewed the proposals if at least 21 objections had been lodged.
“Council rejected the objections as not sufficient in terms of law and approved the 2015 budget which was forwarded and approved by the (Local Government) minister (Ignatius Chombo),” he said.
However, Kaseke insisted that the rates should be reviewed as they were too high.
“We were trying to reach some understanding and I see that this is now threatening the tourism capital of Zimbabwe,” he said.
“Yes, the council needs to survive and they must have means to maintain and deliver excellent services, but it should not be achieved through an out-of-way increase.”
He said the tourism sector, which employs over 10 000 people in Victoria Falls alone, contributed 11% to gross domestic product last year.
But mayor Sifiso Mpofu dismissed Kaseke saying he could not dictate what should happen in the resort town.
“Things have to start working in Victoria Falls and we should stop listening to people from Harare,” he said.
“Who is Kaseke to come and challenge something that the minister approved?”
Source: Vic Falls sticks to its guns (14/05/15)

Thursday 7 May 2015

Zimbabwe vows to export elephants despite criticism, seeks cash for conservation

ZIMBABWE vowed on Wednesday to shrug off international pressure and forge ahead with the export of live elephants to raise funds for conservation and curb the animals’ population.

The government’s stance came in the wake of condemnation by animal rights groups over plans to export at least 62 baby elephants.
“Despite the misplaced concerns about animal rights and welfare issues, Zimbabwe will continue capturing and translocating live animals to approved appropriate and acceptable destinations,” Enviroment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere told lawmakers.
He said the exports were legal and followed Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) procedures.
The government says Zimbabwe is home to 80,000 elephants but can cope with only 42,000.
“Zimbabwe has currently opted for non-lethal methods such as capture and relocation including live sales and exports,” Kasukuwere said.
He added that zoos in the United States, Germany and Australia all had endangered species such as elephants exported from Zimbabwe.
Last month US-Canadian actress Pamela Anderson appealed to Zimbabwe to stop the export of dozens of baby elephants to China and the United Arab Emirates.
At least 300 elephants died last year in Zimbabwe’s Hwange national park after poachers poisoned their watering holes with cyanide.
Park authorities said lack of funds had limited patrols by game rangers leave animals at the mercy of poachers.

Tuesday 5 May 2015

Zimbabwe’s tourist arrivals increase 2.6%

ZIMBABWE’S tourist arrivals went up 2,6% in 2014 to 1 880 028 compared to the previous year, buoyed by arrivals from Africa, Europe and America, latest figures show.
Tarisai Mandizha
According to the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) 2014 tourism overview report, there were 1 600 496 tourist arrivals form African countries, 137 465 arrivals from Europe and 66 826 arrivals from America in the year under review.
The country also recorded 42 798 and 26 031 tourist arrivals from Asia and Oceania respectively.
“This growth is 0, 7 percentage points below the sub-Saharan growth of 3,3%. There was growth in arrivals from all of the country’s major source regions except the Asia. Zimbabwe still receives 85% of tourist arrivals from low value markets,” reads the ZTA report.
In the period under review tourism receipts recorded a marginal 3% decline from US$856 million to US$827 million.
According to the reports, Harare, Bulawayo and Victoria Falls constitute 64% of all the room and bed capacity in the country making them the major regions in accommodation.
The average room occupancy levels for Harare rose to 59% from 52% in 2013. In Bulawayo room occupancy fell to 44% from 52% while in Victoria Falls it also fell to 49% from 53%.
Bed occupancy levels in Harare also rose to 43% from 35%. Bulawayo declined in average bed occupancy levels to 32% from 34% while Victoria Falls declined to 40% in 2014 from 48%.
Overall, the national average hotel room occupancy levels remained inert at 48% while bed occupancy level fell by a percentage point from 37% to 36% in 2014.
Except in Victoria Falls, which had a foreign clientele of 73%, the domestic clientele drove the accommodation sector with 78% of hotel clientele being local. This was however, inhibited by slow economic growth.
ZTA said international tourist arrivals reached 1,138 billion in 2014, a 4,7% increase over the previous year.
“Overall demand was healthy with 51 million more tourists travelling the world. For 2015, United Nations World Tourism Organisations (UNWTO) forecasts international tourism to grow by 3% to 4%, further contributing to the global economic recovery. UNWTO estimates 75% — about 853 million of all global arrivals — to be intraregional travel.
“The strongest growth in 2014 was registered in The Americas. Asia and Pacific had the second fastest growth in international arrivals. Sub-Sahara Africa grew at a faster rate of 3,3% compared to North Africa’s 0,5%,” reads the report.