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Thursday 22 February 2024

Vic Falls unlocks land for residential purposes

 VICTORIA Falls municipality says it has unlocked land under the Lands ministry and the Zimbabwe National Parks for housing development and town expansion.

Mayor Thuso Moyo told Southern Eye that the municipality was facing housing backlog challenges due to lack of land.

“The local authority has managed to get land from the Lands ministry and other stakeholders in the city. More land has been cleared for residential use,” Moyo said.

“Currently the council has 460 stands available for sale and these ones were granted to us by the Zimbabwe National Parks. The stands are located just two kilometers from the parks.”

Moyo said the municipality was given 13 000 hectares in Masuwe by the Lands ministry for housing development.

“The local authority is working on it. The land is run by two councils, both Hwange Rural District Council and Victoria Falls City Council. So saying there is no space for residential stands is now an understatement,” he said.

In April last year, former Victoria Falls mayor, Somveli Dlamini revealed that the local authority was working on a new master plan to unlock more land for residential purposes.

At the time, Dlamini said most of the land in the area was reserved for recreational purposes.

Source: Vic Falls unlocks land for residential purposes (21/02/24)

Wednesday 21 February 2024

City of Victoria Falls finalising master plan ahead of June deadline

Story by Tichaona Kurewa, ZBC News

THE City of Victoria Falls has made significant progress in crafting a master plan ahead of the 30 June deadline to restore sanity in local authorities.

A master plan being developed through support from the International Finance Corporation will act as the blueprint for achieving this vision by addressing key issues like infrastructure development, responsible tourism practices, environmental protection, and community engagement.

City of Victoria Falls, Town Clerk Mr Ronnie Dube said, “We have started all the preliminary works, field studies and so forth, we are done with that. Currently, the consultant is working on our report of a study which should be presented to the council in a week or so.

“We are going to meet the end of June deadline. The master plan is important as it is the long-term planning document, which deals with zoning issues, land uses and many other issues related to how we use our land so that we come up with development that is well structured.”

Experts outlined the importance of the master plan.

A lawyer, Mr Tonderai Mutasa said, “The story does not end with the development of master plans by the local authority, it ends with the adherence to the master plan. Only compelling reasons must alter land use if there is to be order in local authorities. Once the master plan is followed, we will not have problems like illegal settlements within local authorities.”

“It is important for local authorities to have master plans to have proper and orderly development. All towns should have master plans to avoid haphazard development or unplanned settlements within the town. Without master plans, there will be sprouting of ugly settlements that will also be good grounds for diseases like cholera, etc,” said the former Mayor of Victoria Falls City, Alderman Nkosilathi Jiyane.

The Victoria Falls Master Plan presents a unique opportunity to unlock the full potential of the resort city in terms of tourism and other economic activities.

 Source:  City of Victoria Falls finalising master plan ahead of June deadline (20/02/24)

Saturday 3 February 2024

Battle to protect Vic Falls rages


RENOWNED wildlife and environment painter Larry Benjamin Norton last week exerted renewed pressure on Zimbabwean and Zambian authorities to stop more commercial enterprises being set up within the precincts of Victoria Falls, amid growing concern that such developments could cost the iconic site its world heritage status.

Norton, a Zimbabwean national and Victoria Falls resident, filed a High Court application in 2022 seeking to stop Adage Success and Scanner Investments from developing commercial enterprises at the heart of the Victoria Falls,  arguing that the business ventures would disrupt the ecological and aesthetic beauty of the global spectacle.

Judgement on the legal dispute case number, HC3576/22, in which the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Authority (Zimparks) and the Environmental Management Authority (Ema) are cited as key respondents among others, is yet to be handed down.

Last week, Norton presented his fresh concerns to Zambian and Zimbabwean representatives attending a Joint Technical Committee (JTC) meeting held at a local hotel in the resort town to deliberate on strategies to preserve its world heritage status.

Broadly, the JTC meeting was meant to deliberate on the Victoria Falls’ world heritage status.

The Victoria Falls, which is shared by Zimbabwe and Zambia, was accorded world heritage status by Unesco in 1989.

In 2022, Unesco warned that Victoria Falls risked losing its heritage status due to “individual and cumulative infrastructure developments” in restricted zones within the margins of the world’s  largest waterfall.

In a document seen by the Independent, Norton drew the attention of Zambian and Zimbabwean delegates to a myriad of commercial developments which he claimed threatened to discredit Victoria Falls.

 “At the outset we are all aware that the fragile Mosia Tunya/Victoria Falls world heritage site is under threat from developments and commercialisation on both sides of the river,” he said in a presentation to the meeting.

“Over two years ago myself and nine other applicants brought an urgent application to stop the commercialisation of the Cataract Islands by Adage Success and Zimparks and the construction of the Baines restaurant by Victoria Falls Investments.”

In his High Court application Norton, a globally renowned painter, maintained that the public was not consulted when rights to develop business sites in the sensitive areas of the Victoria Falls were granted to a number of firms.

“We maintain that no proper public consultations occurred with these operations and that Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) were defective.

“For the Cataract Island operation, a number of previous operators’ applications were turned down by Zimparks for environmental reasons,” wrote Norton.

Norton’s written submission was also furnished to Zimparks Victoria Falls area manager Marvellous Mbikiyana.

Citing a musical concert held in 2023 at the Cataract Island, Norton argued that the show organisers abused the site while triggering outrage from stakeholders.

“In early December 2023 the operators of Cataract Island clearly abused the island by facilitating a music event for a well-known European pop group. Videos of this outrageous abuse of the island went viral with broad condemnation from stakeholders and agents,” stated Norton.

“How can the authorities allow such an event? We stress the need to verify coordinates and place beacons around the world heritage site and we emphasise on the need to develop a blueprint of infrastructure development for the Victoria Falls. We further direct the Joint Technical Committee to finalise development of site maps.”

Some of the sites in the resort town which Norton indicated were under threat from commercial developments include the “Big Tree”, Rock Pool, Rainforest and Islands.

Norton questioned: “What is the agreement between Zambia and Zimbabwe on the so far untouched islands upstream of the falls itself? Why is there no transparent discussion on this? Are they up for grabs? Have they been allocated?”

“It is very difficult to understand why there is no discussion…on the limits of development of the Mosia Tunya world heritage site.”

He warned that if corrective remedy is not taken, future generations will blame authorities for ruining the Victoria Falls.

“I would ask that these points be noted and added to the minutes and documentation of the State of Conservation report in the interest of truth and transparency,” Norton underscored.

“If we fail to draw clear lines that offer absolute and permanent protection to this(site)…then we fail our own children and all future generations who will visit here.”


The Victoria Falls, known in vernacular as Mosi a Tunya which translates to “the Smoke that thunders,” attracts over a million visitors annually.

 Source: Battle to protect Vic Falls rages (02/02/24)