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Saturday 26 December 2020

Lamcent Capital to build US$40m hotel in Vic Falls

 Lamcent Capital intends to raise US$40 million through a combination of debt and equity to build a 200-roomed hotel in Victoria Falls. According to the company, US$16 million will be raised through equity, generating an average annual return of 14,6 percent and 12,1 percent on both return on equity and return on investment respectively over 10 years.

The hotel would have an estimated terminal value of US$55 million in 10 years based on an EBITDA multiple of 9,5x. The other US$24 million will be raised through debt with a 10-year tenure at 8 percent interest per annum, assuming a 2 percent US dollar inflation rate and a once-off 1 percent debt processing fee.

“The proposed hotel will spot 200 keys with 120 standard rooms, 48 deluxe rooms, 30 suites, and two presidential, making it an upper upscale scale brand in the same benchmark with Victoria Falls Hotel, Illala Lodge, A’Zambezi River Lodge, Africa Albida Lodges (Safari Lodge, Safari Club, Safari Suites),” said Lamcent.

“The land is aptly situated on the Zambezi River frontage, making it a premium destination for tourists. The river fronting location could be an exclusive offering in Victoria Falls as opposed to many competitors that do not benefit from river views, access to the river offers the potential for other revenues streams (cruises and water activities).”

Efforts are currently underway to have the project listed as a Special Economic Zone and to have it declared as a national project which will unlock tax benefits and funding flexibility.

The project is also eligible for the Afreximbank Construction Tourism-Linked Relay Facility.

Construction, expected to start during third quarter of next year and is estimated to take two years with official opening scheduled for third quarter of 2023.

Source: Lamcent Capital to build US$40m hotel in Vic Falls (25/12/20)

Wednesday 23 December 2020

Hotel slashes rates to cater for domestic market

 Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter

VICTORIA Falls Hotel has re-opened its flagship Jungle Junction Restaurant and slashed by half service charges as it shifts focus towards the domestic market.

Victoria Falls Hotel’s clientele was traditionally 95 percent international before lockdown.

The unprecedented closure of the industry due to Covid-19 induced lockdown led to a paradigm shift in terms of clientele focus as international tourists are mostly restricted from travelling.

Victoria Falls Hotel runs four upmarket restaurants that include the Jungle Junction, Livingstone, the Terrace and the Pool Side restaurant.

Jungle Junction Restaurant officially re-opened last Friday with a buffet dinner for invited guests and partners mostly made up of locals as it transforms its dishes to meet the local taste. Deputy general manager, Mr Temba Maripakwenda, assured clients of their safety saying all basic Covid-19 protocols have been put in place. The facility had remained closed since March. The company hopes to ride on the festive season activity to reset its presence on business.

Mr Maripakwenda said the 2020 festive period was a different one as there are no international arrivals hence the focus on local travellers.

He said the hotel has slashed accommodation and meals rates by more than half to cater for the domestic market in line with country’s drive to promote domestic tourism.

“Our guests are happy so far because of our competitive rates. We are a five-star hotel and you can’t find such discounts anywhere.

“We have all basic Covid-19 protocols in place and our staff has been trained hence guests are assured of their safety and protection,” said the deputy general manager. The hotel’s executive chef, Mr Paul Muranda, said they had adjusted meals to tap into the local market. About 95 percent of our clients was international and now we have adjusted our dishes to meet local taste.

This year has been difficult and demand for our industry has been low hence we have to adjust the service to be all encompassing,” he said. — @ncubeleon

Source: Hotel slashes rates to cater for domestic market (22/12/20)

Monday 21 December 2020

‘Curb Rampant Poaching Of Firewood In Matabeleland North’

 Authorities have been urged to address rampant illegal poaching of firewood which has led to deforestation in Matabeleland North province. There has been a notable increase in unsustainable harvesting of firewood in rural and peri urban areas in the province which has resulted in the mushrooming of illegal firewood traders who have commercialised the commodity.

Power cuts in urban areas have increased demand of firewood as an alternative source of energy with vending stalls now a common site along the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls highway.

In a speech by the Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution for Matebeleland North, Richard Moyo which was read by the Deputy director in his office, Tapera Mugoriya during the provincial Tree planting day held at Chief Nekatambe’s homestead in Dete on Saturday called on authorities to carry out post harvesting audits to curb rampant firewood poaching.

“Regardless of the importance of indigenous trees to the wellbeing of Zimbabwean communities, the trees suffered heavy destruction in some areas due to a number of factors. While firewood has traditionally been harvested for domestic use, it has increasingly become a commercial commodity in urban areas to complement other forms of energy. This has led to the unsustainable harvesting of trees in rural and peri urban areas and the mushrooming of illegal firewood vending stalls across the country’s towns and cities including along the highways.

“Some of the firewood traders are holders of legitimate licenses/permits issued by the Forestry Commission and Hwange Rural District Council. I want to challenge these two authorities and other environmental agents to conduct post harvesting audits covering the areas where the firewood is coming from before renewing or issuing new licenses/permits,” said Moyo.  He said the country was saddled with a high level of deforestation which stood at 262 000ha annually which was exacerbating climate change. 

“We must ensure that we abide by the country’s environmental legislation and statutes if we are to address the levels of deforestation which nationally currently stands at about 262 000ha per annum. In times such as these when climate change induced challenges are real, it is our duty to as responsible citizens to plant and conserve trees as these form our first line of defense and safety nets against this natural problem. Tree planting is one of many responses to mitigate and adapt to climate change situations.”

Moyo said this year’s commemorations which featured the Baobab tree ran under the theme” Fruit trees for food security and nutrition” was part of efforts by government to promote food security.

Companies in Hwange were also urged to plant trees which play a very important role in regulating the localised microclimate associated with built up areas. Last month a joint operation comprising of security organs, agencies, local authorities and other stakeholders carried out a blitz that was targeting among other things illegal firewood traders especially in Hwange and Lupane districts.

Stakeholders who included Forestry Commission, Painted Dog Conservation, safari operators, District Development Coordinator, Zimparks, traditional leaders, community and traditional leaders took turns to plant Baobab trees in and around chief Nekatambe’ s homestead. The baobab/umkhomo tree which is abundant in Hwange district is used to make fruit pulp, immune boosters, relish, ropes, coffee, bags, paper, oils and amongst other things.

Mishingo Private Business Cooperative, a community-based self-help group has embarked on utilisation of the tree’s products through value addition projects.

Source: ‘Curb Rampant Poaching Of Firewood In Matabeleland North’ (20/12/20)

Saturday 12 December 2020

President directs urgent facelift for Victoria Falls Border

 Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter

PRESIDENT Mnangagwa has said that the Victoria Falls Border is in a sorry state and requires urgent facelift to meet modern standards expected from a port of entry into a world destination.

The President visited the Victoria Falls Bridge via the border on Wednesday as he relived memories of how he was deported to Zambia by Rhodesian government after his release from a 10-year detention in 1972.

He has been in Victoria Falls since Tuesday to receive Freedom of the City from the local authority and also conferred City status to the municipality on Wednesday.

“This morning I went to the bridge and the customs area is in a sorry state. The building is old and dilapidated yet it should be the face of the country. I will ask the Minister of Local Government and Public Works to look into the matter and we will ensure to finance any developments that he may come up with,” said President Mnangagwa, who later officiated at the conferment ceremony.

The Victoria Falls Border with Zambia is characterised by a single small building with only two offices for the Immigration Department and Zimbabwe Revenue Authority besides the immigration hall on the entry and exit sides.

Port health, a key department especially during the Covid-19 era, has no office and uses a makeshift facility once used by the Ministry of Agriculture outside the building. The Environmental Management Authority also has no office.

There is also no proper police post at the border and security personnel operate from a small makeshift shed and no parking space for vehicles especially buses and heavy vehicles. This is despite the border being a busy port of entry in the tourism capital alongside Kazungula Border on the border with Botswana further upstream from Victoria Falls.

As a result, there are usually delays in clearing cargo and sometimes human traffic during peak periods because of limited space.

The Victoria Falls Border is a critical facility to the tourism sector as it is used by tourists especially in the Kavango-Zambezi Trans-frontier Conservation Area where a Uni-Visa model is being piloted. Before Covid-19, the border would attend to about 1500 travellers per day. Immigration department’s North Western Region consists of Victoria Falls, Kazungula, Pandamatenga and Binga Border posts as well as Victoria Falls International Airport. The Binga border is still under construction.

Upgrading the border will also be in tandem with the new city status, with the city already having the Victoria Falls Stock Exchange (VFEX) and the Victoria falls International Airport among other developments, which the President said were a symbol of hope and potential in the province.

President Mnangagwa also challenged the city leadership and all stakeholders to utilise the new status to boost national image towards growing the tourism sector and other national investment, trade and modernisation programmes.

He said the Second Republic is committed to implementation and completion of projects laid out in Matabeleland especially within the Victoria Falls-Hwange-Mlibizi-Binga-Sijalila Corridor.

“As the only city in the province and being at the epicentre of development matrix, Victoria Falls must provide leadership in all these endeavours. Furthermore, strong and enabling development control measures must be crafted and promoted to give impetus to the transformation of the city into world class smart city benchmarked against the world’s best,” said President Mnangagwa.

He said Government had allocated $19,5 billion for devolution in the 2021 National Budget, which should lead to development of the country with communities taking responsibility for their own development.

The City Mayor, Councillor Somvelo Dhlamini, commended the Government for unveiling Devolution Funds, which he said had been instrumental in development projects in the city. — @ncubeleon

Source: President directs urgent facelift for Victoria Falls Border (11/12/20)

Thursday 10 December 2020

Construction of Kazungula bridge halts again

 Zambia has once more failed to pay the company constructing the Kazungula Bridge, a project that crosses the Zambezi River and borders Botswana and Zambia.

The contractor, Daewoo E&C has complained that despite numerous requests for money to complete the bridge, there has been no response.

The contractor fears that, given that Zambia has failed to pay back Eurobonds, chances of being paid are bleak

The construction has therefore been halted once more.

Source: No funding, Construction of Kazungula bridge halts again (09/12/20)

Wednesday 9 December 2020

Victoria Falls Attains City Status

ALL is set for conferment of city status to Victoria Falls Municipality this Wednesday, with President Mnangagwa arriving in the resort town Tuesday evening.

Ahead of the President’s arrival were Local Government Minister July Moyo, Matabeleland North Minister of State Richard Moyo and Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda to witness the conferment of city status to a municipality that boasts of being the mainstay of the country’s tourism.

Speaking soon after receiving Mnangagwa at the airport, Victoria Falls mayor Somvelo Dlamini said all was set for the ceremony adding that there was too much excitement in the town.

“All is set. We are ready and have made necessary arrangements. All that is left is for the President to do the official signing but otherwise it’s all done because he has since proclaimed through an SI,” said Cllr Dlamini.

Earlier on Tuesday, President Mnangagwa proclaimed Victoria Falls a city through Statutory Instrument 285 of 2020 whose substance is to upgrade the municipality into a city in terms of the Urban Councils Act.

“Whereas in terms of Section 141 of the Urban Councils Act Chapter 29:15 it is provided that a growth point, unincorporated urban area, local board or council may apply to the Minister in the form and manner prescribed for a change of its status.

“Whereas by section 14(2) of the said Act the Minister took necessary steps under the Act to effect the changes applied for and whereas Section 5 and 6 of the said Act have been complied with, I consider it desirable to make this proclamation by virtue of powers vested in the President, I do by this proclamation alter the name Victoria Falls Municipality to Victoria Falls City, and also assign the name Victoria Falls to City Council,” said President Mnangagwa through the SI.

The council will also present the President with the Freedom of the City for his contribution to the town’s growth into a city.

It will become the first such honour to be given to anyone by the municipality in its history.

Hopes are high that the city status will make the town competitive around the world.

Players in the tourism sector have said over the years they had played second fiddle to other tourist destinations because Victoria Falls was not appearing among cities.

It will be the second tourism city in the region after Cape Town.

Victoria Falls’ population is estimated around 40 000.

Source: Victoria Falls Attains City Status (09/12/20)

Tuesday 8 December 2020

Excitement in Victoria Falls as town gets first Nando’s restaurant

 Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter

NANDO’S lovers in Victoria Falls will no longer have to travel for 400km to Bulawayo or cross the border to Botswana and Zambia to enjoy flame-grilled Nando’s meals as the brand opened its first branch in the resort town on Thursday.

It becomes Nando’s 14th branch in Zimbabwe. The launch came at a time Nando’s Zimbabwe is celebrating its silver jubilee in the country after opening its first branch at Avondale suburb in Harare 25 years ago.

Victoria Falls residents and tourists included, have the town’s municipality to thank for its push for city status as this played a significant role in encouraging Nando’s Zimbabwe, trading under Simbisa Brands, to open the branch.

The Nando’s opening adds to already existing Chicken Inn, Haefelis and Pizza Inn brands by the same company.

Commenting on Nando’s opening, Victoria Falls residents said they are grateful as this will save them from travelling unnecessarily in search of their preferred fast food outlet.

Tourism ambassador, Carl Joshua Ncube who was the MC at the Nando’s opening on Thursday hailed Simbisa for bringing the brand to their doorstep.

“We used to travel over 100km from Victoria Falls just to get Nando’s, crossing borders and stamping passports even. But now, it’s just a walking distance. God is good,” said a visibly excited Ncube.

A youthful Victoria Falls resident, Nkosinomusa Tshuma said: “We’re grateful for what Nando’s has done. It’s now up to us to support it the way we’ve been supporting other Nando’s branches elsewhere so that it remains in our town.”

Country manager for Nando’s Zimbabwe, Stephen Chamboko said Victoria Falls residents were the biggest beneficiaries as the branch employed locals only.

“Nando’s Zimbabwe is positive about the outlook and we felt this was the appropriate time to prepare for the future. Sometimes, you have to invest when the chips look low.

“We saw an opportunity in Victoria Falls which will soon be a city and found it appropriate to bring another Simbisa brand to Victoria Falls to provide variety,” said Chamboko.

He was speaking on the sidelines of the colourful launch on Thursday evening where scores of residents and businesspersons were entertained by imbube group Ubuntu Bomuntu before being accorded an opportunity to be the first to taste the brand’s meals.

“Nando’s is a fast-food casual dining facility for people especially between the ages of 25 and 40. The brand originated from South Africa and has spread around the world.

“We call our branches CASA and our first was in Avondale, Harare which opened in 1995. We’re looking at increasing our footprint in Zimbabwe and we’re always looking for opportunities,” added Chamboko.

Currently, 70 percent of Nando’s restaurants are in Harare while the other 30 percent is in Bulawayo, Gweru, Kwekwe, Mutare which have one shop each. There are over 1 200 Nando’s restaurants worldwide. – @ncubeleon

Source: Excitement in Victoria Falls as town gets first Nando’s restaurant (9/12/20)

Rare Flash Floods Hit Vic Falls

 VICTORIA FALLS: This world-renowned resort town was Sunday morning hit by rare flash floods that affected houses in Mkhosana suburb following heavy rains.

However, residents are blaming the municipality for failing to construct storm drains as areas around the Shopping Centre, VID, Mkhosana SDA and Mukali areas were totally impassable in the morning.

Water flooded some houses with sofas, beds, cupboards and other household properties being soaked in water.

However, no one was injured or died as a result of the floods but some residents said their household property had been damaged extensively...

The whole of Mkhosana suburb does not have storm drains, which puts the whole area in danger of flooding in times of heavy rains.

Roads are also poorly drained and waterlogged, and rains leave heavy deposits of sand and litter on the road, putting people’s lives at even more risk of water-borne diseases.

However, the town clerk, Ronnie Dube and some engineers visited the suburb after residents had complained about the floods.

“This is something to be looked at as a matter of urgency and our engineers will sit down to find a solution,” said Dube while talking to some residents.

Weather forecasters have predicted that heavy rains will be experienced across the country with possibility of floods in most parts of the country.

Early this year, parts of Binga district and Hwange town were hit by flash floods which destroyed most properties while livestock such was swept away.

In Binga, one life was lost then while crops were destroyed.

In Hwange, close to 100 families were evacuated to a Hwange Colliery Company facility following the floods which also blocked the storm drains.

Some of the houses in Hwange remain unoccupied as the colliery company relocated the occupants to alternative shelter pending refurbishment.

Source: Rare Flash Floods Hit Vic Falls (07/12/20)