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Tuesday 19 February 2019

Body of Drowned Fisherman Recovered from Zambezi - Three Still Missing

Victoria Falls — Another body was Saturday retrieved from the Zambezi River as four Zambians were feared dead after being swept away while fishing illegally on the river.
Zambian police activated their Zimbabwe counterparts after six fishermen from Livingstone drowned when a speedboat overloaded with 13 people capsized near Kazungula, about 80km away from Victoria Falls.

According to a report made to the police, seven of the fishermen managed to swim to safety while six drowned.
Two bodies were retrieved a few days ago following a search along the river by relatives and police in Zambia and have since been buried.
One was swept 80km downstream and retrieved near Victoria Falls Hotel on the Zimbabwean side of the river on Saturday.
The body was retrieved by rafting guides from Shearwater and Wild Horizons together with members of the Zimbabwe and Zambian police.
The unidentified victim was found at the same gorge where an Israeli tourist who drowned while swimming was found a fortnight ago.

The fishermen's body, which was in an advanced state of decomposition, was taken to Victoria Falls Hospital mortuary to allow processing of documents for its repatriation to Livingstone.
A relative of one of the missing fishermen who preferred to remain anonymous said the deceased drowned while attempting to rescue their colleagues who had been attacked by a hippo.
"Two of them were attacked by a hippo while in the water and the others all got into a boat to rescue them," he said.
"The boat was overwhelmed as it was over-loaded and capsized. Seven managed to swim to the edge of the river while six drowned.
"All families of the six have been searching for the bodies all the way from Kazungula until we found this one here in Victoria Falls.
"We don't know yet whose body it is but we will continue searching hoping all will be found."

Source: Body of Drowned Fisherman Found Near Victoria Falls Hotel - Three Still Missing After Boat Capsized (18/02/19)

Human activities worry Vic Falls environmentalists

Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter
SOME environmentalists in Victoria Falls have called for the adoption of an integrated development plan in the country’s prime resort town to protect the environment from human activities.
Speaking during a meeting with the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Environment and Tourism held in Victoria Falls on Friday, environmentalists concurred that the absence of a master plan has a negative impact on the natural habitat which will eventually affect tourism.
They called for a halt in development of landfill sites in the resort town as this pollutes the environment. Chairperson of the Victoria Falls Enviro-Watch Mr Tony Peel warned that the natural habitat faces serious negative effects if human activities are not handled properly.
“The meeting was a massive success. We were not sure if the committee would listen to us but they were receptive and I think going forwards there will be mutual benefits. As organisations we are pro-development of Victoria Falls which is key to Zimbabwe’s future. Up to now the environment has not suffered significantly but if not handled correctly going forwards it can be negatively affected,” he said.
Victoria Falls is a world heritage site situated within the game park and is one of natural wonders monitored by the United Nations through Unesco.
Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee Mrs Concilia Chinanzvavana said an integrated master plan is inevitable.
“We were invited by stakeholders to interface and share ideas to see what impacts the area as a heritage site. A lot needs to be done and some policies need improvement. Key among this is the need for an integrated development plan because the absence of a master plan is a threat to the environment as we may be encroaching onto what we are supposed to be protecting,” said Mrs Chinanzvavana.
She said while industrial growth is key, people need to be mindful of its impact.
She called for dialogue among all stakeholders.
Contributing during the meeting earlier, stakeholders called for recycling projects, the need to plant indigenous plants and dealing with invasive species such as lantana which has populated the Rainforest and gorges along the Zambezi River.
They also raised the need to control the movement of haulage trucks which they said are a threat to tourism as they damage the environment.
The environmentalists expressed concern at the rate at which wild animals are reportedly being killed by vehicles along the main roads especially the Victoria Falls-Kazungula highway and called for widening of the road and introduction of speed traps to control speeding.
They called for speedy completion of a one-stop bridge across the Zambezi River in Kazungula saying this will reduce the impact of haulage trucks in Victoria Falls.
The stakeholders said there are numerous success stories in Victoria Falls as a result of joint efforts by different stakeholders.
The tourism Special Economic Zone (SEZ) town of Victoria Falls last year said it has a five-year development plan which, however, requires about $75 million to implement.
Victoria Falls Municipality and Hwange Rural District Council (HRDC last year agreed to integrate developmental programmes to promote tourism in their five-year strategic plans.
The two had not been working in concert despite being in the same tourism district where the mighty Victoria Falls, Hwange, Chamabondo and Zambezi National are located.

Attack on Vic Falls Disneyland plan unfortunate

THE recent announcement by the tourism minister Walter Mzembi that Zimbabwe is planning to develop a theme park in Victoria Fall is a step in the right direction. In an era where global tourism development is not reliant on one aspect, the move to develop a theme park was long overdue.
Tourism experts would agree that there is always a primary and secondary attraction that attracts tourists to a place. The primary attraction and the secondary attraction complement each other.
Contrary to what is being said by some sections of society the addition of a theme park will go a long way in fostering tourism development in the country albeit policy reforms that are urgently needed so as to address price distortions with our regional competitors Such as South Africa and Botswana in SADC , Kenya and Egypt afar off.
The introduction of a theme park in Victoria Falls will benefit the country in the long run and the cost benefit is huge. The use of environmental debate is both shallow and tired. One would expect that a proper Environmental Impact Assessment would be conducted so as to address the environmental aspects of the project. A good Environmental Management Plan is surely mandatory as Victoria Falls is a World Heritage Site.
That aside the introduction of a theme park and casino in Victoria Falls will positively impact on tourism development as it will ensure that tourists spend more money at the resort. The benefactors will not only be the theme park owners or shareholders. An increase in the number of activities in Victoria Falls will ensure that tourists stay longer at the resort town to experience all the activities in the area. This will result in longer stays and consequently increasing the average hotel occupancy rate in the area.
Local people stand to benefit due to the increased spend in Victoria Falls as this means more tax revenue and increased GDP. The locals won’t be left behind as these new activities will surely translate into employment opportunities and entrepreneurship opportunities. One does not understand how this is a negative development.
The shopping malls are a step in the right direction as most tourist want to have shopping on their itineraries. South Africa’s major attractions are located near shopping malls as most tourist pack light. One of the major reasons for travelling to South Africa by many Africans for example is purely for the shopping experience, add night life to it and then you have your recipe for a satisfied tourist experience.Advertisement
However there is need for the incoming tourism minister to address the price distortions at Victoria Falls as they hamper tourist arrivals to the country. Zimbabwe is currently the most expensive destination in the region due to the fact that all its tourism packages are pegged in hard currency, making costs four times higher than our regional competitors. This reduces its competitiveness with other regional partners. Naturally people will go where they get more for a dollar like in South Africa.
One doesn’t really understand why this is the scenario. Most products or services cost three or four times what they cost in South Africa for example. With the Rand on a slippery path, more tourists will be flocking to South Africa as it becomes cheaper to do so. This needs urgent attention to increase the number of visitors to Zimbabwe which declined in the previous years.
The country also urgently needs to address the issue of infrastructure which is in a bad state. Improve border movement and efficiency to allow regional access to regional tourists. The current status quo in Victoria Falls where tourists fly in and out of Vitoria Falls in one day translates to enclave tourism and it’s unsustainable.

Monday 18 February 2019

Vic Falls welcomes new $8,5m investment

The country’s tourism capital, Victoria Falls continues to attract significant investments with a total of 18 new properties having been commissioned over the past 12 months, the latest being the $8,5 million Mpala Jena Camp which was officially opened on the 14th of February 2019.
The Minister of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Cde Priscah Mupfumira paid tribute the Great Plains Conservation for the investment and highlighted the government’s resolve to ride on the current goodwill and positive image to spur growth of the tourism sector.
The new investment policy and the national mantra, ‘Zimbabwe is Open for Business,’ provide the tourism sector an opportunity to attract more foreign direct investments (FDIs).
Great Plains Conservation directors reaffirmed their commitment to expand their footprint in the country and to complement the government in ongoing conservation work.
“We are so excited to be given the opportunity to contribute to the growth of the local tourism industry and we are keen to support ongoing conservation work,” said Mr Blessing Munyenyiwa.
The $8.5 million property whose construction commenced in January 2018 is among the few tourism properties that fully operate on solar power.
The exquisite tented camp is located in a private concession within the Zambezi National Park.
The official opening ceremony was graced by the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Authority (Zimparks) Director General, Mr Fulton Mangwanya, newly appointed Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) Acting Chief Executive Officer, Mrs Lita Likukuma, Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) Managing Director, Mr David Chawota, among other tourism stakeholders.

Thursday 14 February 2019

Vic Falls tourism operators and council partner to build clinic

Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter
TOURISM operators in Victoria Falls have partnered their local municipality to build a low cost clinic targeting disadvantaged members of the community in the resort town.
Speaking at an event organised by the Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) members for elderly people at Chinotimba Old People’s Home on Friday, Ms Yvonne Jandles said donors for the ambitious project had been identified.
“In 2019 we will be refurbishing a derelict building at the Old People’s Home, which we are going to convert into a small clinic. We are working with the council and we’ve met some of the donors.
“The clinic will cater for those housed at the old people’s home and even the community. We have noticed that these people suffer while seeking medication elsewhere and we want them to be attended here within their premises,” said Ms Jandles on behalf of HAZ.
One of the affected is Gogo Swelakele Maphosa aged 107 who fractured her limb last year in August and is yet to undergo surgery because of lack of funds.
She fell while at the Old People’s Home and tourism players mobilised resources to take her to Livingstone in Zambia as local health institutions could not assist her.
A doctor in Bulawayo has offered to operate on her limb free of charge.
Ms Jandles said the tourism sector would not be deterred from doing corporate social responsibility projects by the prevailing economic situation.
HAZ Victoria Falls chairman, Mr Farai Chimba, who is also Victoria Falls Hotel deputy general manager, said HAZ would also refurbish and furnish the Old People’s Home’s living room.
Besides the buffet meal prepared by Victoria Falls Hotel, the elderly were each handed grocery vouchers and clothes.
Ms Jandles said the Old People’s Home has been a corporate social responsibility project for tourism players for a number of years.
She singled out donations by TM Supermarket which donated a gas stove while international rugby player Tendai Mtawarira donated fans for the living room.
Hotels take turns to refill gas and have put all the 12 elderly people on Nyaradzo Funeral cover.
The Old People’s Home depends on the community’s benevolence.
A year ago the operators under the banner of Hospitality Industry Association (HAZ) Victoria Falls Chapter constructed a shed at Kazungula Border Post after realisation that tourists were spending much time under the direct sun at the facility waiting to be attended to.
The facility eased pressure for self drive tourists as it is being used for immigration procedures.

Friday 8 February 2019

Zimbabwe and Zambia to set up one-stop border post in Victoria Falls

 Zimbabwe and Zambia are working on plans to make the existing Victoria Falls Border Post – which links the two countries – as a one-stop border post, to expedite the movement of travellers and cargo.

Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) Commissioner General, Faith Mazani, says the concept will also be spread to other border posts after the roll-out of the Vic Falls post.

Mazani says a one-stop border post already exists at Chirundu, and was one of the first such initiatives in the region. An agreement between the Zimbabwean and Zambian presidents initiated the development of the Vic Falls Border Post.

The advantages of a one-stop border post are that traffic going into Zambia will be cleared on the Zambian side, while traffic entering Zimbabwe is cleared on the Zimbabwean side, thereby cutting down time spent at the border.

“We are also looking at the same initiative with South Africa. The Beitbridge Border Post (24-hour South Africa-Zimbabwe border post) is the biggest inland border in the region, and facilitates trade from South Africa – more specifically, Durban – connecting the world to Africa, even to countries such as the DRC and Tanzania.”

Mazani says staff will not be retrenched in the switch to a one-stop border post, however systems for a virtual border post are being developed. “We are also in discussions with our governments to have a one-stop border post at Plumtree (Botswana-Zimbabwe), and we will be expanding the network of one-stop border posts; but this of course depends on the infrastructure capital we need to build these facilities.”

Source: Zimbabwe and Zambia to set up one-stop border post in Victoria Falls (07/02/19)

Thursday 7 February 2019

Body of Drowned Tourist Recovered from Zambezi River

An Israeli tourist who drowned in the Zambezi River near the Victoria Falls hotel has been identified.
The deceased has been identified as Ofer Cohen, 34. He had entered Zimbabwe through the Victoria Falls Airport last week.
It is suspected that he went alone to the Zambezi River on Sunday to swim under the Victoria Falls bridge near Rapid Number 1. He was apparently not wearing a life jacket.
Swimming is prohibited in the Zambezi River because of the volatile currents, crocodiles and hippos, while activities on the river are done under the close watch of skilled guides. Even guided rafting activities are suspended at this time of the year on that part of the river as water levels rise daily.
Cohen was in possession of a Polish passport and was on holiday alone, police said.
He allegedly set off on a sunset stroll on Sunday, where he is believed to have jumped into the river to swim. He was only wearing a pair of shorts.
With water levels rising significantly due to seasonal rainfall upstream, Cohen was allegedly overwhelmed by the current and swept downstream from Rapid Number 1 to Rapid Number 4, where his body was found floating on Tuesday morning.
Local police were reluctant to descend the steep gorges to retrieve the body on Tuesday, instead waiting for their specialised sub-aqua unit. Two police divers from Bulawayo arrived at Victoria Falls and teamed up with rafting guides to retrieve the body on Wednesday morning.
It took more than two hours for the rescuers to recover the body. They used a swing line to bring the body to the top of the gorge on a stretcher.
Cohen’s friend Ralf Newbey, in whose house he was staying, said they reported him missing on Tuesday morning after spotting a body in the gorge.
“He drove from home on Sunday to have a sunset view of the rainforest and later went down the river for a photoshoot. That’s when he decided to swim without a life jacket. We looked for him on Monday and saw the car parked near the rainforest, and on Tuesday saw his clothes on the edge of the river, near the water,” said Newbey.
Police said they are investigating the circumstances around Cohen’s drowning.

Wednesday 6 February 2019

Victoria Falls council wins water fight with ZINWA

THE Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) has finally given in to pressure and handed over water management rights to the Victoria Falls Municipality, putting to rest a battle that had dragged for years.
ZINWA was responsible for pumping raw water from Zambezi River into a reservoir from where the council distributes to residents.
Faced with anger from residents, the local authority sought to be given rights to pump, treat and distribute water on its own, accusing the water authority of lacking capacity.
Council has been failing to provide enough water in the resort town, resulting in residents enduring long periods with dry taps.
The local authority petitioned Local Government Minister July Moyo who responded last year by sending a commission to assess its preparedness to manage the responsibility.
Municipal management had argued that Zinwa had besides material resources, limited human resource in the Gwayi Catchment area which also covers Hwange and Victoria Falls.
Town Clerk Ronnie Dube confirmed last Thursday during a full council meeting that government had finally allowed the council to run its own water affairs.
“We have a letter from the Ministry which talks about devolution of water supply and waste water management function from ZINWA to Victoria Falls Municipality,” said Dube while reading the letter.
He said a taskforce from ZINWA and the ministries of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing and that of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Settlement will be sending a team to conduct a handover on Tuesday.
According to the letter, ceding of water rights by ZINWA is in line with the Mnangagwa’s administration’s devolution approach.
The current crop of Victoria Falls councillors could have made history for themselves for presiding over a term of office when the local authority finally won the battle against ZINWA.
Mayor Somvelo Dlamini said: “We have managed to rescue our water rights from ZINWA. This is a huge success which needs to be commended on councillors and management.”
The municipality looks forward to implementing a $12 million WASH programme which seeks to expand the water system infrastructure and supply.