Sun, Steel and Spray - a History of the Victoria Falls Bridge

Sun, Steel and Spray - a History of the Victoria Falls Bridge
Sun, Steel and Spray - a History of the Victoria Falls Bridge

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Vic Falls hosts eco-musical event for wildlife

Leonard Ncube in Victoria Falls

ENVIRONMENTALISTS in conjunction with tour operators and hotels in Victoria Falls are organising a musical show to raise $50 000 which will be used towards fighting human-wildlife conflict. The first ever eco-musical event dubbed Elefenst2016 has been slated for December 17 at Riverside – on the edges of the Zambezi River.

Artistes from the resort town – Evicted, Mackay, Flying Bantu, Army and the Calamities, Kweseka Band, So Kindly and Bud Cockcroft & friends are billed to perform with more national artistes set to be unveiled.

Show organiser Guy Cockcroft said they wanted to raise funds to erect a solar electric fence around a dumpsite near Masue River. The project also includes setting up a string of beehives between Mkhosana suburb and the Chamabondo National Park and Zambezi National Park (elephants are afraid of bees) to prevent elephants from straying into human settlements as well as erecting another electric fence around the Big Tree where elephants have killed people before.

“The initial target is $50 000 but even if we reach this, plans are underway to make the fundraising an ongoing annual event,” Cockroft said.

“We hope to erect a fence around the dumpsite after realising that every night, there’re elephants and other species scavenging for food which end up eating plastics. An elephant eats about 2 000kgs of grass daily and that includes plastics and researchers from Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust have been finding dead animals with plastic in their abdomen.”

Elefenst2016 will be a family fun day as people are encouraged to come out to support the cause.

“We’re appealing for corporate sponsorship in cash or kind,” said Cockroft.

Organisations involved in the fundraising include Victoria Falls Green Fund, Environment Africa, Shearwater, Wilderness Safaris, Victoria Falls Hotel and Beauty Guest Lodge. Tickets for the show are already on sale with the cheapest being $10. VIP tickets are being sold for $60.

@ncubeleon.

Source: Vic Falls hosts eco-musical event for wildlife (14/11/16)

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Vic Falls is ours, not yours: Zim tells SA

SOUTH Africa must stop advertising Victoria Falls as its own destination, as Zimbabwe is losing out in terms of tourism revenues, deputy chief secretary to the President and Cabinet, Ray Ndhlukula, has said.
Speaking at an All Stakeholders Zimbabwe Image Management workshop in Harare yesterday, Ndhlukula said it was disturbing that tourists were now flying in and out of Zimbabwe on the same day.
“Do you know South Africa advertises Victoria Falls as if it belongs to South Africa? That is what they do. A lot of people (tourists) get the impression that Victoria Falls is part of South Africa. So, for example, they get to the Victoria Falls at 10am, view the falls, they have lunch there and then at 4pm, they are flying out,” he said.
“There are some people, who have asked if Victoria Falls is in South Africa, but South Africans do not tell them it is in Zimbabwe, which is very unfair for us. It is an issue we need to discuss with South Africa. Now, that we have got a bilateral agreement, they must stop advertising Victoria Falls as theirs.”
The workshop was aimed at improving the Zimbabwean brand.
Victoria Falls is the country’s premier tourist destination and has the second highest tourist occupancy rate after Harare.
The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority first quarter report shows that Victoria Falls had an occupancy rate of 35% from 450 572 tourists, who visited the country during that period.
The threat of neighbouring countries, mainly, South Africa and Zambia, was seen when occupancy levels declined by 2% from the first quarter of 2015.
Zimbabwe Council of Tourism (ZCT) president, Francis Ngwenya said “something” needed to be done, as the competition from neighbouring countries had become a major challenge facing the tourism sector.
“The reason why South Africa started marketing the country as theirs was because during the 2008/9 crisis, Zimbabwe could only market the country with South Africa and Zambia. This led to our brand (Zimbabwe) being overtaken. So something needs to be done,” he said.
Ngwenya said the country had to use Zambia and South Africa because of the negative perception that came from the 2008/9 period.
An analyst said that from his previous experience, the only way to market Victoria Falls and stop other countries from elbowing out Zimbabwe was to offer a very attractive package that would lure tourists to explore the country beyond Victoria Falls.
In 2015, ZCT polled 145 tourists staying at Victoria Falls, and discovered 74% to be using international agents in making their trip, with only 10% preferring local agents. The average budget for tourists was $1 900 per visit.
However, ZCT found that 52% of them underestimated the costs and ended up spending more than their budget.
The average stay for a tourist is two to three nights.

Friday, 11 November 2016

Conservationists in human-wildlife quandary

Sydney Kawadza, Senior Features Writer, The Herald

As delegates to the State of Kavango Zambezi Trans-Frontier Conservation Area Symposium in Victoria Falls wrapped up the conference it was not hard to pick the anecdotes shared among the wildlife conservation gurus.

The anecdotes were both classical and, somehow, saddening. Most of these stories involved discussions on human-wildlife conflict in the KAZA region.

Five countries — Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia and Angola — signed the KAZA TFCA Treaty to conserve bio-diversity and market it using nature-based tourism as the engine for rural economic growth and development.

The commendable project has had its successes and challenges but the stories of human beings and animals facing off for food and scarce resources has been of major concern.

Imagine warthogs rushing towards residential areas when women start scouring their pots in Chinotimba Township in Victoria Falls. The warthogs, wildlife and tourist attractions to some, is a delicacy to others.

The animals have become prey to crafty residents turned poachers who feed the warthogs with traditional beer to become easy prey when they are tipsy. “That could be far-fetched but can you imagine that some people have stripped game parks of their fences to tie tomatoes in their gardens.

“They are suffering now when elephants destroy the same crops. Other wild animals also attack their livestock just because people have removed the fences around conservancies,” said conservation expert based in Zambia.

These tales could have been hilarious and unbelievable but the human-wildlife conflict has had fatal consequences.

In Zimbabwe, according to Environment, Water and Climate Minister Oppah-Kashiri, 19 people have lost their lives in human-wildlife conflicts since January this year.

Noting the hardships affecting communities living next to wildlife, Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said a further 13 people had been injured in these incidents.

“In many areas within Southern Africa, and in Zimbabwe in particular, wildlife kills human beings and livestock every year leading to serious conflicts with local communities,” she said.
Farmers have also lost 18 cattle, 11 donkeys and 105 goats to predators.

This, Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said, called for wildlife conservation practitioners to craft solutions to these challenges.

She said these solutions could be converted into opportunities to create assets and capital for business while facilitating benefit-sharing from wildlife conservation programmes.

“The role of rural communities in the KAZA TFCA programme is a key factor in the management of natural resources, especially considering the vast base of natural assets and rich cultural resources that local communities preside over and present in their areas.

“Our wildlife heritage must always play a fundamental role in overall development of our communities and poverty alleviation.

“The survival of our wildlife resources will obviously depend on their relationship with the people and our desire is to see wildlife conservation paying for itself is a sustainable manner.”

Speaking on behalf of traditional leaders, Chief Shana, Mr Jonah Neluswi said people only killed wild animals through ignorance.

“For people to see an animal and kill it for food would be from not knowing how to protect it and how to benefit from it.

“That’s what is lacking within the communities.”

Chief Shana, however, said communities have seen hunters from outside killing the animals while they do not draw any benefits from conservation programmes.

“They see how other people come and hunt the animals and so they also want to do the same but that is not the way it should be.

“We always encourage our people to know is that even our forefathers looked after the wild animals and they would only kill them if there was a genuine reason for that,” he said.

Chief Shana called on KAZA authorities to educate the communities on how to benefit from the natural resources.

“We should be taught how we can form Trusts so that we can benefit from the animals that are in our areas,” he said.

“If we have anything we want to build like clinics, schools, roads, we can develop ourselves from the resources.”

Chief Shana, however, noted efforts being made to conserve tree and animal species in Zimbabwe.
“In this part we conserve trees and animals because we appreciate the fact that it’s our heritage and wealth.

“Wildlife is part of us and without our animals and trees Hwange district would never have been popular. Even Victoria Falls itself, we conserve the river! It’s part of us!”
KAZA TFCA executive director Dr Morris Mutsambiwa however focused on the positive aspects of the initiative.

“In the past 10 years, KAZA has made a few strides, definitely, in 2006 when the MoU was singed here in Victoria Falls we were at a different stage

“Now we can record the successes that we have made and also the challenges that that we are addressing,” he said.

Dr Mutsambiwa said the fact that KAZA had a working structure working on its development.
“The structure comprises the ministries responsible for the environment, the permanent secretaries, senior Government officials, the joint management committee and the secretaries

“The joint management committee supervises the secretariat and I can say that this structure is working to address specific technical issues such as conservation, security, tourism development,” he said.

KAZA TFCA is now seized with a programme on addressing the issues to do with community participation in wildlife conservation.

Dr Mutsambiwa said several documents have also been prepared to assist in the development of KAZA.

“For example, one of the major activities will be the stakeholder engagement so that they are with us from the beginning.

“We have a document that was produced in 2011 which is a stakeholders’ business strategy.

“We have an integrated development plan for each country which have now been put as the master document integrated development plan.”

Dr Mutsambiwa said the master document was the framework for the KAZA development into the future for the next five years from 2015 – 2019.

“That is the plan under implementation and it is the framework for development into the next five years,” he said.

In terms of assisting Government agencies responsible for conservation, Dr Mutsambiwa said, KAZA had assisted member countries in infrastructure development programmes.

“We have to put up infrastructure, for example, the Sioma Ngwezi National Park in Zambia, the park was established a long time ago, 50 years ago.

“However, the park did not have a headquarters to operate from but we have established one for them to operate from — that is, offices, staff houses, workshops — and everything to make itself contained establishment,” he said.

Dr Mutsambiwa said in addition to infrastructure development there has been procurement of equipment, vehicles and boats to make it easier for staff to be deployed during law enforcement activities. He, however, bemoaned the co-ordination challenges between member countries.

“The difficulties are bringing all the partners and/or ministers together and we managed to bring three ministers to Zimbabwe but we would have loved to have all of them deliberating with stakeholders,” he said.

He said the KAZA TFCA was working with one funding partner and this affected the implementation of programmes.

“We are looking implementing the third phase of our programmes which would help us implement the integrated development strategy on three sites.

“He had, however, identified six sites for the programme but due to lack of funding we will be working on three wildlife dispersal areas,” he said.

KAZA was now working on sourcing funding or the other three sites.

Dr Mutsambiwa said there was also need to expedite the harmonisation of the different legislation from the parties to the KAZA Treaty.

“It’s a difficult process because the TFCA programme is about feeding off the sovereignty for the common good.

“We are expecting more difficulties when we ask the governments to shed off some of their authorities to local communities.

“It is naturally inherent to us to keep what we have so there is need for stakeholder engagement so we need to take this participation seriously,” he said.

The KAZA TFCA is Africa’s largest conservation landscape and the world’s largest trans-frontier conservation initiative. It seeks to develop the management of shared natural and cultural resources to derive equitable socio-economic benefits for member countries.

Source: Conservationists in human-wildlife quandary (10/11/16)

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Zim tourism peaks as festive season approaches

THE Zimbabwe tourism industry is beginning to wake up from its slumber with the country’s prime tourist destinations starting to witness increased activities and bookings ahead of the festive season, officials in the industry have said.

Zimbabwe, which according to the Zimbabwe Council of Tourism (ZCT) heavily depends on tourists from the neighbouring South Africa, has been struggling to tick largely because of the slump of the rand against the United States dollar.

But with the festive season approaching, players in the industry said they are expecting a boon with hotels and activities in the resort area of Victoria Falls already seeing an improved number of bookings for the months of November and December.

Tourism Employees and Tour Operators Association president Clement Mkwasi told Zimpapers Syndication that some hotels in the resort town of Victoria Falls were already fully booked for November and December.

“Likewise, some activities are already fully booked for the month of November and December here in Victoria Falls. This is expected of the festive season in a prime and world class tourist destination like the Victoria Falls. We are inundated with tourists making inquiries for the festive seasons,” he said.

Mkwasi said the culture of using plastic money that the country recently embraced is likely to improve business within the industry with tourists not necessarily needing to carry hard cash as has been the norm.

“We are having a number of domestic tourists also taking advantage of the plastic money to place their bookings,” he said.

Mkwasi said the coming in of the bond notes in the coming weeks was expected to help ease cash crisis thereby improving business.

“There has been some reservations with regards to the introduction of the bond notes but as an industry I don’t think this is really an issue to us.

The fact that they will be in smaller denominations will ease pressure in doing small business transactions like buying food and change,” he said.

Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe president George Manyumwa said 2016 was a bad year for the tourism industry but the situation was beginning to change with the festive season.

“The festive season has always been the yardstick on which to measure our business for the year. We are beginning to feel it. Business is picking now and we hope things will continue in this positive direction.

Manyumwa said tourism players would be convening an annual congress later next month to review the year.

“With the slump of the rand in value against the dollar, the liquidity crunch among other factors, this year has been one to forget for the industry.

But we hope to convene our annual congress next month to reflect on the year and come up with strategies that can make this important industry to the Zimbabwean economy grow,” he said. - Zimpapers Syndication.

Source: Zim tourism peaks as festive season approaches (31/10/16)

Monday, 31 October 2016

CBZ begins $12m Vic Falls housing project

Leonard Ncube in Victoria Falls

SERVICING of roads and sewer infrastructure under the CBZ Holdings $12 million housing project in Victoria Falls has started with the financial institution saying actual work on housing structures will start in March next year.

The bank unveiled a $12 million housing project in the resort town targeting close to 1 174 residential stands as part of its efforts to complement Government’s efforts to provide houses to low income earners.

Of these about 1 008 will be high density and the remaining 166 stands being medium density housing in line with the financial institution’s strategy to deliver low cost housing.

The housing project covers the Buffer Zone between Mkhosana and Chinotimba suburbs as well as along Victoria Falls-Kazungula Road and south of Mkhosana.

CBZ Holdings chief executive Mr Never Nyemudzo led a team from the bank on a tour of the project last week accompanied by municipality housing director Mr Lot Siatimbula.

He said all the stands had been taken and the bank was now working on mortgages for beneficiaries who will soon be announced once the process is completed.

“We came to assess progress to see how far we have gone with roads, sewer and water and to see how many people from the waiting list have been forwarded to the bank. I am glad to announce that all stands have been taken up.

“When we launched in July we made some promises and we can only achieve these by monitoring progress. So far tremendous progress has been made as we have opened roads everywhere and out of the 15km we are supposed to do, 8km has been worked on,” said Mr Nyemudzo.

The roads have been surfaced with the first two bases before the final surface.

Workmen are busy on the ground laying storm drain pipes, surfacing roads and clearing land.
Engineers said they managed to get material for the first two bases from within a 12km radius casting fears the project was going to be costly because of unavailability of material due to the type of soils around Victoria Falls.

Mr Nyemudzo assured beneficiaries that the project would be successful after teething problems that threatened it were solved when the bank, municipality and residents’ leaders convened.

“What’s important to residents is our promise to deliver a quality product and the kind of progress made so far should bring confidence to them.

We are happy with progress and some of the residents that have been assessed. The challenges were only a question of communication breakdown and that has been ironed out,” he said.

He added: “The actual servicing of the stands could start in March next year depending on the municipality approving completed stages and parallel development.”

Mr Siatimbula said he was happy with progress so far.

“Construction is a process involving what we call pre-construction, which can last about five months and we should also consider the rainy season.

As a municipality we have no problem with parallel development,” he said.

CBZ has channelled $70 million towards various low, medium and high density housing schemes as a private developer or in conjunction with municipalities across Zimbabwe.

CBZ developed more than 1 000 stands in Gweru and also serviced residential stands in the Grange in Harare, Chikanga in Mutare, Mbizo in Kwekwe, while similar plans are underway in Bulawayo and Marondera as the bank seeks to contribute to housing delivery as espoused in the country’s economic blueprint, Zim-Asset.

The national housing backlog is more than 1,2 million. The housing waiting list in Victoria Falls currently stands at 15 000.

@ncubeleon

Source: CBZ begins $12m Vic Falls housing project (31/10/16)

Monday, 24 October 2016

ZC shelves ambitious Vic Falls stadium plan

FINANCIAL constraints have forced Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) to shelve its ambitious project of building a multi-purpose cricket stadium in the resort town of Victoria Falls.

ZC chairman Tawengwa Mukuhlani said the project would only be pursued once they get partners to assist financially.

ZC first undertook to build the country’s third Test ground in 2011, with a view of complementing the Harare Sports Club and Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo after the Victoria Falls Town Council had granted planning approval for a stadium near the iconic waterfalls.

Mukuhlani told Chronicle Sport that construction of the stadium was not part of his board’s priorities.

“There’s nothing on the cards with regards to the Victoria Falls stadium. As ZC, we don’t have finances to pursue that project. We’re going through a lean period in terms of finances. Unless we get partners, I don’t see ourselves embarking on that project anytime soon,” said Mukuhlani.

His predecessor, Wilson Manase, had in 2014 given the impression that they had laid some groundwork to source funding for the construction.

“We cannot divulge many details on where exactly the funds will come from at this stage, but we are hoping to get some help from sponsors and other partners. This is a big project that will help our game grow and we can spread it to other parts of the country. We have major sporting events happening here like the marathon and we have had sevens rugby here so we want to have cricket in this town. With so many tourists frequenting the area, we can also sell our game,” Manase said then.

The proposed stadium was going to have a seating capacity of 12 000 and architects had presented a plan, which included a clubhouse.

Former ZC chief executive officer Ozias Bvute said the Victoria Falls stadium was going to promote sport tourism, while ex-chairman of selectors Alistair Campbell said the venue would become an alternative to international tournaments that are held in Dubai.

A ground breaking ceremony was held at the site just off Pioneer Road in Victoria Falls’ industrial site between the railway line and Chinotimba suburb in October 2014, but nothing went beyond the event. Mukuhlani’s comments suggest the ZC Victoria Falls cricket ground dream has been reduced to a heap of its ambitions.

Victoria Falls has, however, been earmarked to host an International Cricket Council meeting in 2022.

Source: ZC shelves ambitious Vic Falls stadium plan (20/10/16)

Friday, 21 October 2016

Victoria Falls Residents Petition Council

Victoria Falls — Council has been petitioned by residents to stop approving new housing projects because the resort town is now overcrowded.
At a recent stakeholders' meeting convened to discuss the 2017 budget, residents made the point that the existing infrastructure can no longer cope with the town's population, estimated at over 40 000.
For example, residents are going for days, if not weeks, without water, and the sewer infrastructure is showing signs of being overwhelmed as evidenced by the prevalence of burst pipes.
Currently, the town has 7 000 housing units, and a housing backlog of 15 000.
Victoria Falls, better known for being home to one of the seven natural wonders of the world -- also known as Mosi-oa-Tunya, has been unable to clear the housing backlog because it has run out of land.
What complicates its situation is that the town is located within the Zambezi and Chamabondo National parks hence it cannot grow its stock of land without decimating the wildlife environment.
To avoid putting a strain on service provision, city fathers were recently advised to decline new applications for housing.
"Council is failing to supply water, but still wants to add more people. There is no land for expansion and the waiting list should also stop expanding," bemoaned one of the residents who attended the meeting.
A businessman, only identified as Moyo, said it boggles the mind that council was generating revenue through application fees from people who wish to be included on the housing waiting list when it was quite obvious that the municipality no longer has the land for new housing projects.
Council charges US$5, US$10 and US$15 for one to be included on the housing waiting list for high density, low and medium density sections, respectively.
"Why don't you suspend the process and tell those people seeking housing stands to go elsewhere like in Hwange or Lupane?" queried the businessman.
The last time council went into housing development was in 2005 when it rolled out the Hlalani Kuhle/Garikai housing initiative, which was meant to resettle victims of Operation Murambatsvina, conducted 11 years ago to restore order in various towns and cities.
The project, named Mfelandawonye suburb, saw council utilising a buffer zone that was meant to be an animal corridor, infuriating animal lovers in the process.
Notwithstanding pressure from residents, the city fathers are unlikely to take heed.
Acting town clerk, Kholwani Mangena, said council has no legal basis to suspend new applications for houses because every citizen of this country should have a roof over their head.
"I don't think as a local authority we can legally do that as people are allowed to seek accommodation anywhere in the country," Mangena said.
Meanwhile, council, along with the Hwange Local Board, have appealed to government to be allowed to take over the management of raw water from the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) in order to improve the availability of the resource to their residents.
Both councils accuse ZINWA, which has the rights to pump water into their respective towns, of incompetence.
In Victoria Falls, ZINWA is failing to manage the pumping system which needs constant shifting in the Zambezi River, as water levels are rapidly falling due to excessive heat.
Mayor, Sifiso Mpofu, recently told a full council meeting that discussions with the relevant authorities were in progress to claim pumping rights from ZINWA.
ZINWA blames the poor state of its equipment and lack of funding as frustrating efforts to make running water available to residents.
Hwange Local Board secretary, Ndumiso Mdlalose, said following their appeal to government, an inter-ministerial team was dispatched to the mining town recently to assess the water situation.
The board is now waiting for feedback upon which they would decide on the next course of action to take.
"We have engaged government through an inter-ministerial team that visited us recently that we need water for development of our town," said Mdlalose.
Some of the suburbs in Hwange such as Number 1, Number 3, Chibondo and Railways have been without running water for years.
Once in a while, the local authority has been forced to dispatch water bowsers to supply residents with the precious liquid.
As a result of the water shortages, some of the residents are fetching water from Deka River, which is heavily polluted.
Some are even scouring streams that cut across the coal mining town, exposing themselves to many health hazards.
Besides enduring scorching heat without water, the majority of residents now use the bush to relieve themselves, which is further polluting the environment.
"It's no longer an issue to see people queuing for water at public taps or bowsers. One worrying factor is that we are sitting on a health time bomb because people now mostly use the bush to relieve themselves because of lack of running water," said Hwange Residents Association chairman, Lucky Daka.
Source: Victoria Falls Residents Petition Council (20/10/16)