Save Victoria Falls from over-development - click to visit site -

Sunday 30 June 2019

Zambia, Botswana to construct railway across Zambezi

 Zambia and Botswana have signed a US $259m agreement to construct a 430km long railway to link the two countries across the Kazungula Bridge.

Zambia Railways Ltd and Botswana Railways’ boards resolved during a meeting held in Kasane to facilitate the construction of the lengthy line and a show of cooperation. According to Zambia Railways board chairperson Lubinda Linyama, construction of the project scheduled to begin soon after the 900-metre-long Kazungula bridge is completed and commissioned by June next year.

The railway project  dubbed, “Mosetse-Kazungula-Livingstone”, is aimed to reduce transit time and transportation costs for both the people and boost trade trade in the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The actual cost of the project will be established after undertaking a feasibility study.

“The project was proven feasible and as a quicker means of  transporting  goods and passengers in addition to roads to ease transportation problems and once completed will benefit all other countries in the 16-country-member region and bolster trade in real time,” said Mr. Lubinda.

“Zambia is up to date with its financial obligations for the construction of the Kazungula bridge which we are co- financing with Botswana to accelerate its completion,” he added.

Linyama also allayed fears that the bridge would not be complete in due course following rescheduling of the completion timetable but assured that the two countries were determined to ensure the project was completed as planned despite challenges faced in recent months.

“We are determined to undertake this (railway line) project despite the challenges that may arise.” said the board chairperson.

Source: Zambia, Botswana to construct railway across Zambezi (30/06/19)

January Protests Haunt African Sun

Hospitality group African Sun Limited says occupancy levels decreased by 10 percentage points from 53% recorded last year to 43% in the five months ended May 2019, due to violent protests that occurred in mid-January.
In a trading update at the company's annual general meeting, CEO Edwin Shangwa said the January protests were a major setback to local, international and regional arrivals.
"The violent protests in mid-January were a major setback to our local arrivals resulting in cancellations and postponements of conferences," he said.
"The January protests also had a negative impact on our international and regional arrivals which have a longer lead time and are very sensitive to safety issues -- travel warnings."
The domestic market also impacted on occupancy levels as it was down 11% year-to-date due to the depressed economic environment, characterised by a slowdown in economic activity, spiking inflation, erosion of real income, shortages of foreign currency and fuel.
Revenues for the five months amounted to ZWL$48,3 million split as 56% and 44% between domestic and foreign, respectively.
This was a 131% growth in nominal terms compared to the same period last year.
The overheads to turnover ratio (the overhead costs of the business expressed as a percentage of the revenue) during the period under review was 51% compared to 57% comparative last year.
However, Shangwa said the company's borrowings were down by 31% to ZWL$181 000 and a total of ZWL$4,4 million borrowings were fully settled at the end of May.
The earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation margin were 37% compared to 18% recorded last year, indicating improved profitability, whilst gross profit stood at 77% from 69% recorded last year.
African Sun is planning to lure Indian visitors to increase its foreign clientele and has placed its Victoria Falls properties at the centre in growing its foreign business as the company enters the peak season.
Shangwa said the recent refurbishments of the company's facilities and increase in capacity had opened doors for new packaged self-drive business with the group's operators and this would take to effect from the third quarter of 2019.
He said the drought season had presented an opportunity mainly for city hotels as various organisations, including non-governmental organisations working on food distribution and other related aid, would be visiting the hotels.
Going forward, the company expects power, fuel and foreign currency shortages to impact service delivery, but have put in place mechanisms to mitigate these guest pain factors.
The company operates a number of hotels, resorts, casinos and timeshares in Zimbabwe and South Africa.
Source: January Protests Haunt African Sun (30/06/19)

Thursday 27 June 2019

War over Vic Falls Zambezi bridge

THE tourism industry in Victoria Falls wants commercial vehicles such as haulage trucks to be banned from using the Zambezi bridge saying such traffic negatively impacts on the tourism business.
Tourism executives accuse haulage trucks of blocking the road stretching from Victoria Falls town across the border to the bridge and Livingstone border on the Zambia side as they wait to be cleared.
There are also concerns about massive pollution as most trucks will be carrying smelly toxic substances such as sulphuric acid.
Sometimes tour guides are forced to walk across the border to the bridge with clients as the road will be blocked.
Various activities such as the tour of the Rainforest, tour of the bridge, bungee jumping, and gorge swing among others take place at the bridge.
The issue was raised by an environment expert, Professor Brain Chaltz, on Tuesday at the just ended Africa Union-United Nations Wildlife Economy Summit. He proposed that the bridge be moved about 40KM downstream.
If adopted, this will leave the Zambezi Bridge in Victoria Falls solely for tourism purposes while all commercial vehicles will be relocated downstream.
“The Victoria Falls Bridge was built for tourism more than a century ago but it is now being used for all economic activities. Why not built another bridge about 40km downstream because that way it will be cheaper and quicker as well as shorter for trucks coming from the direction of Bulawayo to cross into Zambia,” said Prof Chaltz.
In response, participants said the future of tourism was at stake. Some suggested that engagements be made with implementers of the Batoka Hydro Electric Project with a possibility of constructing an alternative commercial bridge at the site.
Some also implored representatives of the sector to engage the customs department to possibly introduce scheduled timetables for trucks and tourism.
“We can have all trucks cleared from the truck stop and only go to the border when they are ready to cross. The powers that be should also consider opening the border 24 hours and have trucks cleared and crossing at night so they don’t disturb tourism activities during the day,” said one participant.
Mrs Barbara Murasiranwa, who represented the Tourism Business Council of Zimbabwe (TBCZ) said the industry once raised the issue but nothing was done.
“We once wrote to authorities and we were still hoping that something will be done because there is a challenge with trucks as they block the road and the bridge. Sometimes clients have to walk to the bridge for activities because the trucks would have blocked the road,” she said.
Another tourism executive, Mr Robin Brown, concurred saying the net effect and value of tourism was compromised as a result.
“Even the National Parks are victims because the entrance into the Rainforest is blocked for a greater part of the day and we don’t need that in Victoria Falls. There is also high level of pollution as the border is filled with smell of toxic substances such as sulphuric acid carried by the trucks,” he said.
Safari Operators’ Association of Zimbabwe president, Mr Emmanuel Fundira, who chaired the meeting, said the proposal of moving the bridge was long overdue.
“This is the way to go. You have heard what people are saying, in the interim, there are proposals for various methods of trying to stagger activities between commercial and tourism to minimise the immediate conflict,” he said.

Wednesday 26 June 2019

GE and Power China to build Batoka Gorge Dam

The American company General Electric (GE) and the Chinese company Power China have been selected to implement the Batoka Gorge hydroelectric project. It will provide 2,400 MW to Zimbabwe and Zambia.

The Batoka Gorge hydroelectric project is taking a new step forward. On the sidelines of a trip to Maputo, Mozambique, Zimbabwean President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa announced that he had reached an agreement with Zambia to award the hydroelectric project to the American company General Electric (GE) and the Chinese company Power China. On the other hand, the Italian company Salini Impregilo, which was part of the same consortium, was not mentioned.
Initially, Zambezi River Authority (ZRA), an organisation owned by Zambia and Zimbabwe for the development of the Zambezi River and responsible for the implementation of the Batoka Gorge hydroelectric project, preselected two consortia and one company. The consortium that was reselected was composed of Three Gorges Corporation and China International and Water Electric Corporation. China Gezhouba Group Company (CGGC), which was competing solo, also failed to win.

A $4.5 billion project

The Batoka Gorge hydroelectric project is expected to inject 2,400 MW into the power grids of Zimbabwe and Zambia. The project is implemented according to the Build-Operate-Transfer financial model (BOT). A kind of public-private partnership (PPP).
GE and Power China are responsible for building a dam with a 181 m high wall that will hold 1,680 million m3 of water over an area of approximately 26 km2. The reservoir will be long and narrow, extending approximately 1 km along the Victoria Falls basin. The water from the reservoir will run the turbines of two hydroelectric power plants located on both sides of the Zambezi River. They will thus have a combined capacity of 2,400 MW.
The ZRA estimates that the entire project will require an investment of $4.5 million. The financing will therefore be provided by GE and China Power. The World Bank and the African Development Bank (AfDB) have expressed their readiness to support the Batoka Gorge hydroelectric project.
The latter also provokes protests from local populations, who live mainly from tourism, especially Westerners who come to visit Victoria Falls. This site, classified as a UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) World Heritage Site, could be affected by the construction of the dam, in particular by reducing the flow of the river, but also because the river could approach the 650 m falls.
In any case, on site, the project is progressing with technical feasibility studies that will be completed by September 2019. It will take ten to thirteen years to complete the construction of the Batoka Gorge hydroelectric dam.

Nation embraces Zim dollar. . . Country has returned to normalcy, President says

Leonard Ncube in Victoria Falls 
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa yesterday said the removal of the multi-currency regime marks the country’s return to normalcy while assuring Zimbabweans that the Bond note will not be decommissioned.
Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube on Monday removed the multi-currency basket of currencies and restricted domestic transactions to the local currency, now renamed Zimbabwe dollar, to enhance affordability of goods.
This came in the wake of an outcry by ordinary Zimbabweans as the market was choosing to price goods and services in United States dollars when the majority of citizens earn local currency.
Briefing local and foreign journalists on the sidelines of the African Union-United Nations Wildlife Economy Summit here yesterday, President Mnangagwa said the country had properly planned for the decision it took.
“The recent events were indicative of what was coming and what has come is that Zimbabwe has gone back to normalcy which is having our own currency.
“We were living in an abnormal situation and we said we will only move when fundamentals are correct, and we have moved because fundamentals to support the local currency are in place,” he said.
Asked about the rate at which the local currency will start against other currencies, President Mnangagwa said: “People will ask questions because there is confusion but there is no change. All that has changed is that we have removed the basket of currencies.”
He would not be drawn into commenting on how much reserves the country has mobilised to support the new currency. President Mnangagwa said those who want foreign currency would have to buy it from the formal market.
“Our currency denominations are in coins, Bond notes and RTGS and all that is domestic but we have not banned possession of any other currency except that you can’t buy with it. We have removed the basket of currencies and if you want to transact in any shop, if you want to buy your tea in US dollar, then you must go and change at the bureau de change. That’s what is done and that is normal,” he said.
Posting on his Twitter account yesterday, President Mnangagwa conceded economic growth remained a mirage, hence the need to introduce a local currency.
“It has always been clear that for our economy to truly take off, we need our own currency. While the multi-currency regime helped to stabilise the economy, it did not give us control of monetary policy and left us at the mercy of US dollar pricing which has been a root cause of inflation.
“When the majority earn in the local unit, but goods are priced in US dollars, the outcome will only ever be a two-tiered economy: stable and affordable prices for those with access to (US) dollars, while the majority face an unrealistically high cost of living. This is unfair and unsustainable,” said President Mnangagwa.
He explained that before the introduction of a local currency, it was important that “key fundamentals” were first put in place. 
“Central to this was regaining control of our budget through decreased spending, increased revenues and, for the first time in recent memory, budget surpluses.
“Under the careful guidance of (Finance Minister) Professor (Mthuli) Ncube, this has been achieved. As a result, yesterday (Monday) we passed a Statutory Instrument to abolish the use of multiple currencies, and make the Zimbabwe dollar the sole legal tender with immediate effect. 
“This is a key component of our Transitional Stabilisation Programme, and an important step in restoring normalcy to our economy. Government and the RBZ are taking the necessary steps to ensure this move is a success, through increasing the flow of forex into the interbank market while also making forex available to individuals and small businesses through bureau de changes,” said President Mnangagwa.
The country’s prime resort town of Victoria Falls had almost dollarised itself as shops, property owners, transport operators and some dealers were now refusing to accept payment in local currency.
Yesterday shops had stopped accepting payment in US dollars.
Meanwhile, Zimbabweans have embraced the return of the Zimbabwe dollar and by yesterday a majority of businesses in Bulawayo, including those who were previously trading in forex, had indexed their prices in local currency.
The country officially ditched the multi-currency regime on Monday after Government gazetted Statutory Instrument 142 of 2019, which restricts all domestic transactions to local currency terms.
A snap survey conducted yesterday revealed that several retail shops in Bulawayo had already complied with the new policy and were selling their products in local currency. Although others had adjusted prices upwards, they were no longer accepting foreign currency payments from their customers.
The Chronicle visited established shops like Pick n Pay, Greens, OK and Innscor outlets who had complied. Several basic consumer goods outlets, pharmaceutical and clothing shops had also complied. Business was low especially at clothing retail shops due to exorbitant pricing. However, some selected traders were defiant especially flea market traders, stock feed and veterinary product dealers, hair products and cosmetics.
Some service stations like Flo stuck to forex while Busuman service station in the CBD was closed. In most of the shops visited, customers had to ask for prices on the tills as they were not displayed and would be shocked to be told of ridiculously high prices. 
Meanwhile, several illegal forex dealers, Osiphatheleni, had temporarily stopped their operations citing uncertainty over rates. In some instances rates were said to have tumbled to as low as ZW$5.5 per US$1 and ZW$25 for R100. 
Members of the public also expressed relief saying the multi-currency regime had become a haven for currency distortions and profiteering by unscrupulous businesses and cartels. 
“I think this is good considering that people were economically abusing us in the name of the United States dollar and rand. Everything is rated in forex and I think the new intervention will correct the market,” said Mr Effort Tarwirei, a taxi driver.
Recently some landlords had started demanding foreign currency payments despite the fact that most Zimbabweans were earning their salaries in local currency. 
Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers president, Mr Denford Mutashu, said his organisation fully embraces the local currency and supports measures to stabilise the interbank foreign currency market. He said pricing distortions arising from the inflated parallel market had left most Zimbabweans reeling and on the brink of total poverty. 
Mr Mutashu said the country was right to move on and embrace its own currency for the economy to fully take off. He urged manufacturers, millers, bakers, and all suppliers to comply forthwith. Mr Mutashu warned the business sector against removing goods from shelves, saying such malpractice was retrogressive.
Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) president Mr Richard Gundane said the new policy should leave workers earning enough money to take care of their families.
“We’re yet to learn and understand the full implications of this policy change. For the teachers the urgent need is a living wage at the bottom line and salaries that are commensurate with one’s rank and qualifications. Any changes that are progressive should achieve this benchmark,” he said. 
However, Great Zimbabwe University (GZU) lecturer, Professor Munashe Shoko said Government should have consulted widely before introducing the Zim-dollar.
“The market may stabilise but there is danger that it can react negatively, again, if there are no checks and balances on corruption as well as money laundering,” said Prof Shoko.

Inaugural Africa Wildlife Economy Summit opens in Victoria Falls

The President of the Republic of Zimbabwe Emmerson Mnangagwa has officially opened the inaugural Africa Wildlife Economy Summit in Zimbabwe’s Tourism capital of Victoria Falls.

Speaking as the keynote speaker at the auditorium of the Elephant Hills resort, the President said, Zimbabwe was happy to host the maiden summit.

‘’We are delighted to host this inaugural Wildlife Economy Summit; the first of its kind on the African Continent which is being held under the theme ‘Communities for Conservation, Harnessing Conservation Tourism and Supporting Governments’. This resonates with our renewed effort to ensure that our citizens benefit from the sustainable management of natural resources and wildlife.’’ he said.

The President was optimistic that the deliberations will go a long way towards the realisation of the conservation agenda of our great Continent.

‘’Thriving wildlife resources have a tremendous potential to be instrumental in sustainable socio-economic development through associated wildlife oriented businesses such as eco-tourism, hunting and photographic safaris among other benefits. We must therefore, continue to utilise platforms such as this one, to explore innovative ways to leverage wildlife resources to grow our economies; eradicate poverty; achieve broad based empowerment, create decent jobs, especially for women and youth. It is equally important to guarantee biodiversity within our ecosystems.’’ He added.

The Minister of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Senator Priscah Mupfumira in her opening remarks said the summit will offer a unique platform for exchange of ideas in the management of wildlife.

‘’The Summit affords the continent a unique opportunity for cross fertilisation of ideas in wildlife management. We also hope it can unite all stakeholders and diverse players in the wildlife sector. These range from political leadership, communities and the private sector who all need to join hands to come up with ideas and solutions designed to bring about sustainable socio-economic benefits to our people’’ she added.

The Minister rounded up her message with a clarion call for collective desire that the deliberations at the summit will produce tangible outcomes, which shall transform the wildlife economies of Africa.

'’ Since the purpose of this Summit is to bring communities, private investors and governments together to define the future of the wildlife economy in Africa, I am confident we all acknowledge that communities must be equal partners in the conservation of wildlife. When communities living closest to wildlife have a clear role and stake in managing nature, they have a stronger incentive to conserve it.’’

The President of Botswana, Mokgweetsi Masisi, President of Zambia- Edgar Lungu and Namibian President Hage Geingob were among the visiting heads of states attending the 3-day summit.

The summit is held under the patronage of the African Union (AU) and the United Nations Environment program with the support of the Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality. The 3-day program is expected to gather experts, government leaders, the private sector players and conservationists to discuss ways of managing wildlife in Africa to the benefits of its people.

Tuesday 25 June 2019

Zimbabwe Ready to Sell Elephants to ‘Anyone Who Wants Wildlife’

Zimbabwe plans to sell elephants to Angola and is prepared to ship wild animals to any other interested countries as the southern African nation seeks to reduce its elephant population due to growing conflict between people and wildlife.
“We have no predetermined market for elephant sales, we are open to everyone who wants our wildlife,” Tourism Minister Prisca Mupfumira said in an interview on the sidelines of a wildlife summit in Victoria Falls. “The main problem is landmines in Angola, so we are trying to assist them by having a fund to deal with those before we send the animals.” Millions of landmines were used in Angola’s 27-year civil war that ended in 2002 and many have yet to be cleared.
Leaders of the four southern African nations that are home to more than half of the world’s African elephants gathered in Zimbabwe on Tuesday to discuss a common management policy and reiterate calls on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species to relax some of its rules, including a moratorium on ivory sales.
The four countries - Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia and Botswana - joined forces earlier this year to lobby CITES ahead of a global conference scheduled for August. They say they should be free to decide how to deal with their wildlife, and income from sales of ivory stockpiles can be used for conservation. Botswana says it has too many elephants, while Mupfumira said Zimbabwe had an “excess” of 30,000 of the animals.
Namibian President Hage Geingob and Zambia’s Edgar Lungu told delegates at the summit that the rights of communities living among elephants are being overlooked and there should be a “new deal” with CITES that allows them to benefit from wildlife. President Mokgweetsi Masisi of Botswana, who oversaw the lifting of a hunting ban in May to enable villagers to shoot some elephants if they destroy crops, made similar comments.
Zimbabwe has already sold African elephants to China in recent years. The West African nation of Gambia, which doesn’t have any pachyderms, has also expressed interest, Mupfumira said.
“They said come and teach us and send us technical know-how,” she said. “We must allow free movement, and we must also decide - its our own resource.”

Monday 24 June 2019

Luxury meets sustainability at AAT

The Victoria Falls Safari Estate Lodge under the Africa Albida Tourism (AAT) group has introduced an environmentally friendly natural water system that purifies water on site through a three stage water filtration system placed into glass bottles for various use.
The re-usable glass water bottles have replaced plastic bottles as part of the group’s measures to protect the environment. The move is also a major step towards the hospitality group’s goal of going single use plastic free by 2021.
In a statement, the group’s chief executive officer, Mr Ross Kennedy said their aim was to reduce plastic pollution to zero by year 2030.
“We shall now aim to reduce and then remove as much other plastic as possible from our operations, to a point in 2021 where there is hopefully zero, for example, plastic laundry bags, plastic shopping bags and other plastic bottles, such as juice bottles.
“It is important as a responsible business to keep pace with world trends in all conservation issues, where possible as what are already doing with the Victoria Falls Recycling project. We have researched and talked to colleagues before making informed decisions,” he said.
Mr Kennedy said the initiative to go plastic free carries with it many benefits like employment creation and reduce harm to wildlife.
“The impact of this initiative has many benefits. There will be over 80,000 less plastic bottles going out into the environment, and with less plastic in circulation that can find its way into the wild and therefore potentially harm wildlife, especially elephants.”
Abandoning plastic use, Mr Kennedy said has a major impact on waste management as it will reduce plastic waste most due to a lot of mineral water bottles.
“There is also benefit of reduced cost of water to our guests by providing water dispensers so guests may fill up their own water bottles to take away when going on activities, and by selling aluminium bottles in its souvenir shop,” he said.
The development comes at a time the Africa Albida launched the Victoria Falls Recycling project which recycles plastics, paper, glass and beverage cans which has helped lodges like the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge Estate to stop using plastic straws and adopting eco-friendlier paper straws.
Victoria Falls Recycling was launched last year in March by the AAT in partnership with Greenline Africa, Victoria Falls Municipality and PetrecoZiM. It has so faR baled and collected more than 24 tonnes of waste for recycling in its first year of operation.
AAT operates a portfolio of properties in Victoria Falls namely Victoria falls Safari Club, Victoria Falls Safari Suits, Lokuthula Lodges and The Boma- Dinner and Drum show as well as Ngoma Safari Lodge in Chobe, Botswana.
Over the years, AAT has undertaken a number of projects aimed at improving, promoting and safeguarding local tourism, particularly in Victoria Falls and surrounding areas like Hwange.

Saturday 22 June 2019

Victoria Falls reintroduces parking fees

Leonard Ncube in Victoria Falls 
THE Victoria Falls Municipality has reintroduced parking fees and motorists will henceforth pay US$1 per hour to be allowed to park their vehicles in the Central Business District.
The local authority introduced the facility this week after suspending the policy a few years ago owing to operational challenges. Town Clerk, Mr Ronnie Dube, said the resort town is enforcing its by-laws to decongest the CBD and mobilise revenue for the municipality.
He said the local authority was engaging suppliers of automated devices for partnership in the project.
“Automated machines will detect time the car has been parked and clamp it once the time lapses. This will also help reduce human manipulation and corruption. We will get into partnerships and what happened to other towns will actually be a learning curve for us and we will deal with that at contract stage,” Mr Dube said.
Those who want to pre-pay for bays are allowed and council will help them barricade the area from other motorists. At present there are no special packages although tour operators and some motorists have cried foul saying their vehicles have to park in town in front of their offices.
Asked why the local authority was demanding payment in United States dollars, Mr Dube said the currency was legal tender and those willing to pay in local RTGS can do so at the prevailing interbank rate. For someone working in town, one will part with at least USD$8 or RTGS$42 at a rate of 1:6 to park a car for a day.
Some motorists have expressed concern saying the USD$1 per hour was too exorbitant. — @ncubeleon

Thursday 20 June 2019

Elephants-tourists conflicts regrettable

 WE THANK God the Russian tourist who was severely injured by an elephant in Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park in Livingstone is recuperating well.

The Russian tourist met his fate while he was taking pictures of elephants and attempted to scare them away.

The 27-year-old Dimitri Siminov is out of danger because none of his bones were broken during the attack.

This was a very unfortunate incident because the country needs all the tourists to generate the much needed foreign exchange to create jobs as well as service the social sector.

Such incidents, which happen once in a while in Livingstone, the country’s tourist capital, have a danger of discouraging other tourists – both local and foreign – from visiting our country.

Some tourists may think that the country is failing to manage the elephants or that there are no tour guides to help the tourists as they go about their visiting.

Yet, the misfortune that befell the Russian tourist, just like others before him, has more to do with curiosity.

WWF Zambia – Silowana landscape project coordinator Conrad Muyaule says tourists are always warned but due to excitement and wanting to get the best shot, they get too close with flashing cameras, which annoys the elephants. “It’s difficult to manage adults who want to take a risk. It’s purely the problem of tourists,” Mr Muyaule says.

He says in other areas it is easy to restrict tourists’ movements by ensuring they move with a guide all the time.

“But Livingstone is a town you can’t have guides move with tourists all the time. It’s in those moments such as going to town unguided when they see elephants and get too close. Sadly, you can’t be showing videos of elephants killing a human,” Mr Muyaule says.

Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) director Paul Zyambo says elephants in Livingstone are migratory. They migrate between Zambia and Zimbabwe and sometimes Botswana.
There are about 200 elephants.

According to the data from non-profit Elephants Without Borders (EWB), satellite tracking tags deployed on elephants in Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and along the border of Angola and Zimbabwe have revealed that the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA), formally established in 2011, represents the world’s largest transboundary wildlife corridors.

The data from these tags have identified elephant corridors, migration paths and vacant habitats that could reduce negative impacts resulting from an increasing elephant population coming into contact with an increasing human population.

Mr Zyambo says usually, tourists want to be close to the animals to get pictures.

“Tourists are guided but usually tourists do this on their own without a tour guide or an escort officer. One of the solutions is for all lodge owners and tour guides to sensitise all tourists they host immediately they arrive,” Mr Zyambo says.

EWB says there is now a critical urgency to conserve and safeguard these important identified ecological linkages that wildlife species are using to emigrate between countries.

If the corridors are compromised where elephants and other wildlife do not have safe passage across political boundaries, then one of the natural solutions to manage and maintain the largest population on the continent will be seriously threatened.

Last month, an Elephant heads of State summit was convened by Botswana’s president Mokgweetsi Masisi and attended by Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu and Emerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe.
The summit was aimed at providing a platform to deliberate on issues and options including proposing recommendations for management of the region’s elephant population.

The summit gave the delegates an update on elephants, human-elephant conflict and legal and illegal killing for trade in ivory.

The summit developed a framework for international engagement on matters related to elephant conservation and management.

Botswana convened the summit in response to the escalating challenges confronting elephant conservation and management in the region.

“For us, the Kasane meeting was very important in that it provided harmony in conservation of elephants and wildlife at large. We need to maintain the connectivity of the national parks. For example, in Sioma National Park (Zambia) we don’t hunt elephants but when the same elephants we protect here cross into Botswana, they can be hunted,” Mr Muyaule said.

Probably, lodge owners ought to convene an urgent meeting to discuss the safety of foreign tourists to mitigate the human – animal conflict.

Foreign tourists should be sensitised about elephants’ sensitivity to camera flashes.

The safety of tourists should be of paramount importance.

Wednesday 19 June 2019

Vic Falls charges US$1 per hour for parking

The Victoria Falls municipality has reintroduced parking fees as part of measures to broaden the revenue base and to finance the refurbishment of roads around the resort town, with many motorists describing the US$1 per hour charges as exorbitant compared to what other councils are charging.

After suspending the parking fees a few years ago due to limited manpower, Victoria Falls has started enforcing the council by-laws which will see motorists paying US$1 or RTGS$6 per hour for parking at designated places.

Motorists and residents expressed mixed reactions to the development, with some welcoming it as a move towards improving the resort town’s road network, while others have described the fee as exorbitant compared to what other local authorities are charging.

“While we acknowledge the need to improve the resort town’s infrastructure, we feel that one US$1 per hour is exorbitant. There should carry a comparative study and see what other towns are charging,” said one motorist.

Victoria Falls Town Clerk, Ronnie Dube said the move is meant to improve the revenue base, adding that the parking fees will be channeled towards sprucing up the tourism town’s road infrastructure.

“The move is supported by council by-laws and we feel there was need to broaden the revenue stream in order to support road maintenance as we seek to be an attractive tourism destination,” he said.

Meanwhile, the local authority, which had tabled a RTGS$14.4 million capital budget, said after factoring in the prevailing market prices, the capital budget for the 2019 financial year has risen to RTGS$56.4 million.

Source: Vic Falls charges US$1 per hour for parking (18/06/19)

Tuesday 18 June 2019

Africa Sun records growth

LISTED hospitality group, African Sun (Pvt) Limited, says its business has been growing since last year in response to positive business sentiment under new dispensation.
The group was established in 1968 and operates a number of hotels, resorts, casinos and timeshare operations in Zimbabwe and South Africa. Managing director Mr Edwin Shangwa, told our Bulawayo Bureau that the company’s business has benefited from new tourist arrivals recorded last year on the back of renewed confidence in the wider tourism industry.
“Last year’s business occupancy was at 59 percent. One of the highest occupancy we have achieved in a very long time and we are quite happy as a company we leap-froged the 50 percent mark. Our Victoria Falls branch registered the highest occupancy,” he said.
“The company was not only helped with the new tourist arrivals registered last year but also we were helped by the coming in of the new dispensation. It brought about confidence and value in our market.”
On Tuesday last week the group donated kitchen equipment to Chinhoyi University of Technology and the Bulawayo School of Hospitality at a function that was held at the Holiday Inn Hotel in Ascot. Mr Shangwa said their company was in the process of refurbishing its hotels to meet international standards. He said the group was also rolling out a new product in Kariba and Victoria Falls mainly targeting foreigners and people with a low budget.
“What is unique about our resorts in Kariba and Victoria Falls is that we are rolling out a new product there. We are building what is called campsites, targeting people with a low budget, back packers who love to travel and foreigners who enjoy the outdoors,” he said.
Meanwhile, the company has said it was on a sound position to generate enough revenue this year to sustain its operations. In the group’s financial results for the period ended December 2018, the company said the scope for growth was high through leveraging on the recent fiscal and monetary policy announcements by Government.
Source: Africa Sun records growth (17/06/19)

Monday 17 June 2019

Air Zim to review landing rights

Air Zimbabwe has proposed to review its landing rights, particularly for Victoria Falls International Airport, a development which, if successful, will see all international flights into the country being rerouted to Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport from Victoria Falls and Bulawayo.
The airline, which was placed under reconstruction last October, is looking to set up the RGM as a regional hub.
“We are mulling to review our landing rights for all international flights. Our thinking is, as we develop Harare (the RGM International Airport) into a hub, currently we have other airlines flying direct into Victoria Falls, into Bulawayo.
“We are thinking these should fly into Harare and allow us to distribute all those passengers around Zimbabwe. By so doing we are effectively creating our own hub,” he said.
Victoria Falls Airport is currently directly accessible from that city through the fifth freedom rights arrangement to all the major airline networks,” said assistant administrator Tonderayi Mukubvu.
The fifth freedom allows an airline to carry revenue traffic between foreign countries as a part of services connecting the airline’s own country. It is the right to carry passengers from one’s own country to a second country, and from that country onward to a third country and so on.
However, Air Zimbabwe administrator Reggie Saruchera of Grant Thornton says the direct accessibility of Victoria Falls Airport works against the airline’s long-term goal of setting the RGM International Airport as a regional hub.
“Yes, we had not capacitated our airline, and it was good wisdom for the Government at that time to let them just go straight and land at Victoria Falls, there was no choice.
“But now, once we have capacitated our airline we can then begin to run all our Harare to Bulawayo, Harare to Victoria Falls, Victoria Falls to Harare, and then the international airlines can come and connect from RGM. We then create the kind of hub that South Africa is creating,” he said.
Since the completion of Victoria Falls Airport’s refurbishment in 2016 in tandem with the granting of the fifth freedom, international and regional airlines have added over 80 000 seats to Victoria Falls. And there are downstream benefits for hotels and lodges in the resort town in terms of improvement in their room occupancy and bookings for the various activities.
Mr Saruchera believes the benefits can be even wider if RGM International Airport becomes the hub.
“South Africa’s OR Tambo International Airport, for example, currently handles around 55 200 people a day. You can imagine a person spending a dollar or two a day if they are 55 200 of them, the impact that it will have on the economy even when the airline makes huge losses. But it will only work when the airline has appropriate aircraft,” he said.
But then Zimbabwe is signatory to the Yamoussoukro Decision.
The Yamoussoukro Decision was a treaty that allowed for open skies among most African countries. The decision was endorsed by 44 members of the African Union in 1999, and became binding in 2002.
The treaty grants fifth freedom transit rights between all of its signatories. It also sought to eliminate restrictions on ownership of airlines and frequency limits on international routes between signatory states. The practical implementation and application of its policies, however, faced a number of setbacks and was not completed by all African Union members. And in 2018, the Single African Air Transport Market was launched with the intent of fully implementing the Yamoussoukro Decision.
Air Zimbabwe executive manager for airline systems and administration Captain Harry Madangure, says some airlines in the region are not in strict adherence to the open skies policy and that a modicum of protection is required for the national airline.
“We are signatories to this Yamoussoukro Decision, which allows fifth freedom rights to carriers within Africa, so we can go and say we want to fly between Johannesburg and Durban, we actually have our airline flying those routes,” he said.
“But in reality even though South Africa is a signatory if we try and do that you will find that there are a lot of stumbling blocks. It will take even five years before we are granted those rights, but with Zimbabwe we just opened up, there was no protection of the national carrier and that needs to be revised.”