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Tuesday 13 October 2020

Traditionalists cleanse Vic Falls

 Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter

The elders from Victoria Falls and surrounding areas finally conducted a cleansing ceremony on Saturday.

The community under Chief Mvutu covering Monde, Chisuma, Chidobe, Sizinda, Kachechete, Jengwe and Victoria Falls town is convinced that some of the calamities happening in their communities are a result of the anger of the “gods” hence conducting of rituals was now necessary.

Only a few selected elders from the Muzamba family representing the Tokaleya clan went to the shrine for the rituals.

The rest of the villagers patiently waited at one of the Muzamba’s homesteads for two things – good news that the cleansing ceremony had gone well and the start of merry making characterised by drinking traditional beer and eating meat.

The traditionalists believe cleansing the area and reviving such events will atone for the sins of the community and prevent famines, diseases, increased frequency of natural disasters including drowning in Zambezi River and attack by wild animals which they say are a result of defilement of sacred places.

A group of elders from the Muzamba family who are descendants of the Tokaleya clan, the original inhabitants of the area, conducted the ceremony at the Makonga shrine that had been abandoned for decades in a bush near Phakama Village between Chidobe and Chisuma.

The family’s spirit medium Gogo Margaret Muzamba and Mr Jafuta Muzamba led the rituals that involved singing, dancing and incantations directed at the clan’s ancestors to forgive the community.

They poured traditional beer on the ground and into a hole under a tree believed to be a haven for a snake that used to emerge during rituals.

Mr Muzamba said they used to conduct rituals such as rain making ceremonies at the shrine.

He said sacred places such as the Big Tree near the Victoria Falls Rainforest, Gorges Lodge and Katombora in Zambezi National Park where some human bones are said to be scattered on the ground, will also be visited.

Some of the places have been occupied by open air churches or fenced off by tour operating companies.

“This is where our ancestors used to conduct rainmaking ceremonies every September and perform other rituals to prevent dangers. There was a snake at this shrine and some drums that could be heard from inside the tree trunk during the ceremonies. We are trying to revive all these practices that had long been abandoned because of interference from other cultures,” said Mr Muzamba.

He said the ceremony will be made an annual event as part of the revival of cultural practices,

Mr Muzamba said a fence will be erected around the shrine to protect the place.

Some churches had reportedly started conducting services at the tree while villagers also go there to pick baobab fruits.

“The chief once approached us after some churches started conducting services here. This is part of what defiled all the sacred places as people disrespect custom,” said Mr Muzamba.

The Tokaleya clan is a group of Tonga people also found across the Zambezi River in Zambia under Chief Mukuni and in Zimbabwe are linked to Chief Dingani-Nelukoba of Mabale.

Gogo Muzamba, who took over from Gogo Chibumbuluke who was the family’s spirit medium, said while the shrine had been cleansed, it will take time for the calamites to end.

“All these calamities are a result of abandonment and disrespect of culture. When we were growing up, no one was allowed to play in the Zambezi River or cross without performing a ritual like throwing something valuable in water. All this stopped because we had abandoned our culture and the situation wwas worsned by the disrespect of some churches and strangers,” said Gogo Muzamba.

“Even if you go to church, it is important to respect your own culture and that of other people. It will take time for these calamities to end because the damage had already been done but we are happy to be able to appease the spirits to save our culture and society at large. We wish the young generation can be taught about this.”

The traditionalists implored authorities to consult traditional leaders before initiating any infrastructural projects to avoid tampering with sacred places.-@ncubeleon

Source: Traditionalists cleanse Vic Falls (13/10/20)

Friday 9 October 2020

Daewoo E&C Completes Construction of Kazungula Bridge in Botswana

 Daewoo Engineering & Construction (E&C) has completed Kazungula Bridge over the Zambezi River in Botswana, Africa.

Daewoo E&C said on Oct. 8 that it received a taking-over certificate from the Botswanan and Zambian governments on Sept. 5, along with a certificate of 10 million accident-free hours.

The bridge is the first extradosed bridge construction project that Daewoo E&C won overseas in 2014.

Kazungula Bridge is a 923-meter-long, 18.5-meter-wide extradosed bridge with a 687-meter-long access road and a 2,170-meter-long single-track railway. The bridge is expected to improve the transportation and logistics infrastructure around the region.

As Kazungula Bridge is a bridge with a railway and a road, the safety of the bridge itself significantly matters. Therefore, an extradosed bridge model was applied to it as it can widen distances between piers and has an advantage in vibration control.

An extradosed bridge is a bridge where a girder-reinforcing cable is attached to the main tower like the cable of a cable-stayed bridge. The exterior of an extradosed bridge looks like a cable-stayed bridge. But the height of its tower is lower than that of a cable-stayed bridge so the cable plays a relatively small role in buttressing the upper layer of the bridge. Therefore, the upper layer should be designed to be stronger.

An extradosed bridge is structurally more advantageous than a cable-stayed bridge as a railway bridge.

Kazungula Bridge has six main towers standing in a row, which provides a fine view. It is expected to become a landmark in the region.

Source: Daewoo E&C Completes Construction of Kazungula Bridge in Botswana (08/10/20)

Tuesday 6 October 2020

Victoria Falls re-activates helicopter flights

 Operators of helicopter flights popularly known as "Flight of Angels" above the Victoria Falls have activated their systems in anticipation of return of tourists following the reopening of the sector.

Helicopter flights were automatically suspended when countries imposed travel bans as there were no travellers to take up the popular activity.

The Flight of Angels is the only opportunity for tourists to view the upper and lower Zambezi River including the gorges, magnificent Victoria Falls and bridge, both on the Zambian and Zimbabwean side.

Chikopokopo Helicopters, Zambezi Helicopters and Bonisairare are the three operators based in the resort town. The recent resumption of domestic flights and the anticipated start of regional travel has reignited hope for helicopter operators.

Chikopokopo workers are already on site and Covid-19 guidelines such as hand washing and sanitising provisions have been put in place.

The company's proprietor, Mr Lloyd Muchaka, said they have come up with packages for domestic tourists as they are ready to resume flights.

"We are very much prepared and we have been communicating with the regulatory authority (Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe) and it seems like everything is in order," he said.

"We are excited by the coming of flights like Fastjet and we have been getting inquiries mainly from domestic tourists. We are hoping very soon we will be getting some from the region," said Mr Muchaka.

Fastjet resumed scheduled flights last Thursday while Ethiopian Airlines is expected to start tomorrow. Mr Muchaka said operators were looking forward to opening of borders, particularly the South Africa and Botswana borders.

"People are waiting for things to happen but we are getting inquiries and hopefully we will be able to sustain numbers. We are excited to welcome tourists back in the new normal. For now, we will be flying smaller families and making sure they are sanitised, masked as we have put in place necessary health guidelines. As clients come in, they will be sanitised and temperature checked," he said.

"I don't think it will be an easy road but somebody has to sacrifice. We have reduced our prices by about 25 percent as we put in place packages to lure domestic clients."

The tourism industry is generally sceptical about resuming most activities owing to low numbers of clients so far.

Sunday 4 October 2020

Tourism sector calls for wildlife protection

 Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter

STAKEHOLDERS in the tourism and safari industry have implored Government to closely monitor human activities such as mining in wildlife areas to preserve the environment and promote tourism.

The stakeholders who included environmentalists, wildlife conservationists, safari and tour operators, hoteliers, heads of Government departments and traditional leaders held a virtual meeting on Zoom yesterday to deliberate on issues affecting the environment and tourism. The meeting was organised by the Association for Tourism in Hwange and coordinated by Ms Elisabeth Pasalk-Valerio of Gwango Lodge in Dete.

It was inspired by recent claims that some foreign firms were exploring for coal in Sinamatela and Robins Camp areas on the edge of Hwange National Park. The issue was first raised by Bhejane Trust whose rhino monitoring team reportedly encountered some workmen exploring for coal without an environmental impact assessment, as no consultation had been done. Speaking at the meeting, stakeholders said any mining activities within game parks will lead to environmental damage as well as cause devastating effects on tourism, economy and also increase human-wildlife conflict.

They called for consultation with local communities and operators for sustainable conservation. “For exploration work to start, there should be an environmental impact assessment where stakeholders should be consulted. In terms of the Wildlife Act no one is allowed to carry mining activities within the national park unless with consent and permit from Environment and Mining line ministries while special grant covers an area already designated for concessions. Current mining activities happening in the park are illegal and there should be an investigation because you can only explore with an EIA,” said Mr Renius Magumula from Hwange.

Mr Daniel Kuvawoga of Painted Dogs Conservancy urged investors to consult people on the ground before starting projects to protect wildlife. Ms Julia Pierini implored authorities to monitor human activities.

“Hwange is a key conservation area and there seem to be an increase in mining activities in key biodiversity areas including Chimanimani, Zambezi and this is concerning,” she said.

Chief Nekatambe of Dete said encroaching into the game parks was fuelling human-wildlife conflict.

“We are worried as traditional leaders because people have come complaining. Let’s engage with our listening President I am sure he can cancel these special grants,” he said.

Centre for Natural Resources Governance executive director Mr Farai Maguwu concurred saying: “Encroachment into wildlife habitats is causing human wildlife conflict. Animals are distressed and that affects their behaviour and makes them agitated. Preserving these animals makes business sense.”

Source: Tourism sector calls for wildlife protection (04/10/20)

Thursday 1 October 2020

Chieftainship Wrangle Rages, Six Years On


THE wrangle within the Mlotshwa family in Monde outside Victoria Falls is far from over after the family failed to agree on who should succeed Chief Mvutu who died six years ago.

Chief Mvutu, born Nyangayezizwe Mlotshwa died in March 2014 aged 61. He left behind three daughters, which fuelled the wrangle as the family vowed not to allow the late chief’s eldest daughter Ms Silibaziso Mlotshwa, now aged 24 and married, to take over.

The family nominated the late chief's brother Mr Sanders Mlotshwa as the successor in December 2014 but Silibaziso challenged that in court arguing that she is the one who should take over from her father.

 The family is divided with one faction in support of Mr Mlotshwa saying it is against Ndebele culture for a woman to succeed her father as chief while others back Ms Mlotshwa saying she is being victimised just because she is a woman.

The family convened a meeting on Monday following a High Court order three months ago which nullified nomination of Mr Mlotshwa as a potential successor and ordered the Hwange District Development Coordinator's office to restart the selection process with respect to human rights.

The meeting was chaired by Chief Sikhobokhobo of Nkayi who was leading a three-member delegation that included Chief Nekatambe of Hwange and Chief Tategulu of Tsholotsho on behalf of the Matabeleland North Provincial Chief's Assembly.

Hwange DDC Mr Simon Muleya, representatives from the Gender Commission and the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works, Silibaziso's lawyer Mr Thulani Ndlovu of Sansole and Senda Legal Practitioners, Victoria Falls Mayor Councillor Somveli Dlamini and other stakeholders attended the meeting.

The emotive meeting which started at 10am, was on two occasions adjourned to allow the family to deliberate on its own but to no avail.

After seven hours of deliberation the family failed to agree on who should succeed the late chief between Ms Mlotshwa and her uncle.

Chief Sikhobokhobo and his delegation and all other stakeholders left around 5pm leaving the family to caucus and update the Provincial Chief's Assembly Tuesday morning through the DDC office.

In an interview after the meeting, Chief Sikhobokhobo said the meeting resolved to allow the family to deliberate and submit a name. 

"This is an issue that should be handled by traditional leaders and we were here to give that freedom to the family to select their own person. They failed to agree and they will follow us tomorrow to the DCC office with the name of the person they would have agreed on," he said.

Earlier during the meeting, Chief Sikhobokhobo said the Provincial Chief's Assembly's role was to facilitate the process with the family making its own decision.

"We are not here to help you choose but to listen to what you tell us as a family hence you are the ones who should select and agree on who you chose," he told the gathering at the late chief's homestead.

Mlotshwa family spokesperson Mrs Effie Mlotshwa-Sithole said the family would follow the Nguni culture to which its chieftaincy is rooted.

"What's happening is that we are remaining behind as family to discuss this issue and we should submit a name tomorrow to the DDC office. The issue is not about who is first born or who is who, we are following the succession as it has always happened. Of the five chiefs in our lineage, two were not first-born children but were considered because there are several other qualities that are looked at," she said.

The family choice Mr Mlotshwa is a son to the late chief's brother Simon who is also late. The family said he is eligible to take over because his father was a chief.

Ms Mlotshwa vowed to stand for her right as she refused to bow to the family's plea for her to step down for her uncle.

The family was supposed to agree on a name for the successor and notify the DDC on Tuesday but had not done so by late yesterday afternoon. Chronicle

Source:  Chieftainship Wrangle Rages, Six Years On (01/10/20)