Footsteps Through Time

Footsteps Through Time
A History of Travel and Tourism to the Victoria Falls -

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Vic Falls residents feast on problem jumbo

VICTORIA Falls residents on Thursday jostled to have a piece of elephant meat after Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife (Zimparks) officials killed one of the three elephants that had been causing havoc in the resort town.
Zimparks officers battled to maintain order as more than 500 residents in Mkhosana suburb scrambled to get a glimpse of the problem elephant when it was being killed.
Some residents left without a piece of the game meat , but others went home with bags full of venison.
Elephants have been causing havoc in Victoria Falls with residents’ properties like tuck-shops, walls, taps, water meters and pipes being destroyed on a regular basis.
During a meeting held in Mkhosana on Wednesday, residents complained that Zimparks officials were not taking action against the problem animals.
“At least they are taking action now by killing this elephant,” Clement Ndlovu, one of the residents who helped National Parks officers skin the elephant, said. “We hope that it would scare other elephants away because elephants have destroyed our property.”
Another resident, Dion Matonga, said killing one elephant would not make much difference and Zimparks should have killed all three elephants that had been causing havoc in residential areas.
“Zimparks benefit even when they kill these elephants. They get the skin and tusk so they should kill these jumbos,” Matonga said.

Friday, 17 July 2015

Victoria Falls bush sex murder

A FORM 4 pupil picnicking with her boyfriend at dusk close to the Victoria Falls Rain Forest was killed in a senseless attack and her body dumped in a river.

Her boyfriend, 21, an Upper Sixth pupil at Mosi-oa-Tunya High School, was badly beaten, stripped and dumped in the woods with his hands tied behind his back.

Superintendent Dominic Sibanda of Victoria Falls Police told The Chronicle last night that police had launched a murder investigation.

Praise Mpofu of Mkhosana suburb and her boyfriend, Brain Dube, of Chinotimba suburb, in the tourist resort were enjoying a sunset sex romp in an area known as Big Tree on the banks of the Zambezi River when they were approached by two men, according to sources familiar with the investigation.

Praise's uncle, Cornelius Mpofu, said the men accused the two lovers of being in a "prohibited area" before separating the duo.

Mpofu said his niece left home on Wednesday morning for school and later hooked up with her boyfriend, who attends the same school.

"I'm told that when the two were having fun somewhere near the Big Tree, they were approached by two men who accused them of being in a prohibited area. I understand that they attacked the boy first who was then dragged towards the river by one of the assailants while the other man remained with my niece," Mpofu said.

"We were called by the police after they found the boy but they could not locate my niece. We went to conduct a search but stopped at around midnight and resumed this morning (yesterday) only to find her body floating in the river."

Taurai Mpala, 35, a member of the neighbourhood watch committee, said he was operating in the area when he was approached by a local tour operator who had seen Dube completely undressed near the VIP entry gate to the Rain Forest on Wednesday evening. He assumed he had a mental problem.

"I dashed to the scene of the incident and found the young man undressed with his hands tied to the back. He was in a state of extreme shock. We wrapped him with a plastic sheet round the waist to cover him," he said.

He was rushed to Victoria Falls Hospital.

Brain's father, Edgar Dube, said: "I can't tell his condition at the moment as I'm still waiting for the doctors to brief me. I hope that in this time of grief, our two families will work together. It's also our hope that the police will do their best to bring the culprits to book."

Superintendent Sibanda said an intense police operation was underway to locate and apprehend the assailants. 

Source: Victoria Falls bush sex murder (17/07/15)
More: Vic Falls Murder: Cops pick used condoms from scene (18/07/15)
  Victoria Falls grisly murder: Two suspects arrested (18/7/15)
Update: Second Vic Falls murder suspect appears in court (28/07/15)

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Hunters investigate killing of Zim's best-known lion

A hunters' association in Zimbabwe says it is investigating the circumstances surrounding the unexpected killing of one of the country's best-known lions on a hunt last week.
There has been outrage following the news that black-maned Cecil, a much-photographed lion from the Hwange area in western Zimbabwe, was killed on a hunting safari.

Wildlife fans say Cecil was extremely relaxed around visitors and apparently a favourite with those on photographic safaris, who sometimes travelled long distances to watch him.
He had been seen in the area for the last 13 years and was often in the company of another male lion known locally as Jericho.

Circumstances surrounding Cecil's death are not yet entirely clear. There are claims he was wounded with a bow and arrow and then shot. He was reportedly wearing a collar when he was killed.

Zimbabwean hunters posting in online forums have insisted the hunt was legal.

The Zimbabwe Professional Hunters and Guides Association (ZPHGA) said in its statement late Monday that the lion was killed "outside [Hwange National] park on private land on a safari".

"An investigation is ongoing at this time. We are awaiting all relevant documentation for verification," the association said, confirming that the professional hunter involved was one of its members.

A lion hunt in Zimbabwe can cost a foreign client up to $45 000, insiders say. Unconfirmed reports say that the client on this hunt was from Spain.

News of Cecil's death has reignited the testy war of words between trophy hunters and those who are strongly opposed to hunting.

One reader posted to Safari Guide Africa's Facebook page: "Heartbroken. Cecil was beautiful and majestic a true King. He will be sorely missed."

The ZPHGA said: "We do not know all the facts yet."

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Taxi drivers riot in Livingstone over the hike in fuel prices

Police moved in to quell riots that broke out in Livingstone Wednesday morning.Police rounded up 54 taxi drivers and other vendors who were protesting.

(Image credit Lusaka Times)

The riots which were concentrated in the city centre saw irate drivers fight running battles with armed police officers.The drivers were protesting over the recent hike in fuel pump prices by the Energy Regulation Board.

One protesting taxi driver, said fuel was very expensive and RTSA and ZRA fees had also gone up which made life unbearable.He said police officers were also making the life of taxi drivers difficult by impounding them and hence they resolved to protest.Another taxi driver interviewed said the hiked RTSA and ZRA fees were promoting traffic police officers to be corrupt and taxi drivers could not to raise the fees which were being asked for.

One protesting taxi driver, said fuel was very expensive and RTSA and ZRA fees had also gone up which made life unbearable.He said police officers were also making the life of taxi drivers

He asked Government to find a way of easing the life of taxi drivers as the situation was not good for them. Mr. Ngambi, a taxi driver, explained that road tax which was at K96 was currently at K150 while the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) charges had increased to K450 from the previous K300 with the road service license standing at K470 from K313.

Mr Ngambi said despite having challenges for them to make a daily cashing with the increased fuel prices, there was also a shortage of fuel in the tourist capital.He said it was unfair for the Government to keep quiet when prices for commodities and services were being increased almost at the same time,making the cost of living unbearable for most Zambians.

He said all the taxi drivers were demanding for was an immediate reduction especially on the taxes, saying it was becoming impossible for them to reach their daily cashing target there by making it difficult to provide for their families.

“We have families to take care of, now with these increased fuel prices and taxes, how are we going to cash in and what will our families eat? We have rentals to pay and school fees for our children to offset. So we are asking for the government to intervene and look into our plight,” Mr Ngambi said.

The taxi drivers blocked the main roads intothe city centre with stones and logs and threw stones at police officers.Business came to a standstill in the Livingstone Central Business District as Police officers fought running battles with protesting taxi drivers. Taxi drivers, who resolved not to carry passengers,closed the main Mosi-oa-tunya Road leading to Victoria Falls with stones as well as drums and logs while burning tyres, which prompted the police to use teargases to disperse them.Taxies and other pirated vehicles, which were spotted carrying passengers, were attacked and had their vehicles stoned.

The police continued patrolling the streets and removed the drums but stones and burnt tyres were still in the streets by mid-day while other motorists had to by-pass the town centre to access other parts of Livingstone for their safety.

Livingstone District Commissioner Omar Munsanje called for calm among taxi drivers as Government had heard their complaints.

“I have met representatives of the Livingstone Taxi Drivers Association and I asked them to calm their colleagues as we address their concerns.

Some shop owners and individual persons talked to said there was need for the Government to address the issue and see how best they could strike a balance with RTSA especially on taxes.

“We feel for the taxi drivers especially that most taxes have been increased by over 100 per cent, but the best thing they can do is to dialogue with RTSA and the government,” a concerned shop owner, who opted for anonymity, said.

Efforts to reach Southern Province Commissioner of Police Mary Chikwanda proved futile as she did not pick up her mobile phone.

Police arrest drivers rioting over the hike in fuel prices and taxes in Livingstone (15/07/15)

Zimbabwe retailers lose out to desperate street vendors

Harare (AFP) - The cries of street vendors have become the soundtrack to Zimbabwe's collapsing economy as increasing numbers of the unemployed try to eke out a living, leaving shopkeepers -- and the taxman -- poorer.
Redundant workers, school leavers and college graduates have spawned a new phenomenon of "shop-front stores" in major cities, where they peddle anything from medicines to vegetables, pirated CDs and clothes -- often on the doorstep of legitimate shops selling similar items.
For 39-year-old Sherry Njere, a mother of three with an unemployed husband, street vending is a matter of survival.
"I am doing this not because it is something I decided to do in life, but it is because there are no jobs," Njere said at her self-allotted post outside a school uniform shop -- where she also sells school uniforms.
"If I don't do this and just sit at home my children will die of hunger."
Zimbabwe's economy has been on a downward spiral for more than a decade following President Robert Mugabe's land reforms, which broke the country's agricultural backbone.
Laws which require locals to hold majority stakes in all firms are also blamed for scaring off foreign investors.
Mugabe, 91, who has been in power since independence from Britain in 1980, was re-elected in 2013 on the promise of creating two million jobs, but independent economists say unemployment is running at around 80 percent.
The UN World Food Programme says 72 percent of the population live below the national poverty line of less than $1.25 per day.
Njere, whose prices mostly undercut those in the shop behind her, says that on a good day she earns $50, which she splits between ordering new stock and buying daily provisions for her family.
Shop manager Canton Matope bemoans the influx of unlicensed vendors, saying they are taking business away from the formal economy.
"They put their wares on our doorsteps and accost customers, telling them that our prices are slightly higher than their prices," he complained.
Shop owners cannot match the prices of vendors as they are burdened by taxes, rent, salaries and licence fees, he said.
- Cutting the tax base -
The director general of the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, Gershem Pasi, said the growing number of vendors was eroding the country's tax base.
"We are receiving complaints from formalised businesses that they are no longer able to do sufficient business to meet their tax obligations," he said.
"Most of the vendors we now have are young people and I am sure most of them would not want to be doing vending if they had an opportunity to go into formal employment," Pasi said.
"We are creating a generation which may never know what formal employment is all about and that generation is wasted investment."
Last month, hundreds of street vendors petitioned parliament after authorities threatened to move them off the streets, by force if necessary.
The protestors said they were not vendors by choice and demanded that the government create jobs for them instead.
A June 26 deadline for them to take down their stalls passed without action, and so far it has been business as usual for the vendors, who make use of any available space to display their wares and render some pavements almost impassable.
"I don't know if the authorities will be able to remove the vendors and what force they will use to remove them," Matope said.
If the government uses force to clear out the vendors, it wouldn't be the first time.
In 2005, riot police were deployed to remove informal traders and demolish backyard buildings, a move that was condemned by the United Nations.
The operation, code named "Murambatsvina" or "Drive out filth", resulted in 700,000 people losing their homes and their source of livelihood, a UN report said.
While the official threats of a new crackdown remain, Mugabe's wife, Grace, has urged police not to arrest unlicensed vendors in urban centres.
The call was interpreted as tacit approval of illegal vending and led to a fresh influx of vendors disregarding municipal zoning by-laws.
"We once had problems with shop owners, but when we were given a go ahead to sell then it wasn't a problem," said Brighton Chidehwe, 28, a former security guard who sells books and shoes.

Zimbabwe retailers lose out to desperate street vendors (14/07/15)) 

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Victoria Falls tourist arrivals up 15%

Tourist arrivals in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe’s prime resort, is seen surging 15% up above last year due to a stable political environment in the country, an official has said.
Clement Mukwasi, president of the Employers’ Association of Tourism and Safari Operators, told NewsDay that the tourism industry was on a recovering path.
“Things look good at the moment as we have seen a surge in tourist arrivals between June and July attributed to the South African school holidays. Last month only, we recorded a 23% growth in tourist arrivals above last year in the same period, which is a very good development,” said Mukwasi who is an executive of the Shear water Adventures group.
“Between now and December, we would be very busy because of Australian, European and Asian markets and we are projecting an annual average of 15% above last year. Numbers are also expected to swell after the completion of Victoria Falls Airport,” he added.
Mukwasi said due to political stability in Southern African countries, tourist arrivals from traditional markets such as Australia, Asia, Europe and the US had started turning to Zimbabwe.
However, Mukwasi said the industry needed to further stretch its capacities.
He said some players in the tourism industry would not recover following the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa in March last year.
“We have companies that were heavily affected by the Ebola virus out-break in West Africa and are currently overburdened by debts as there were lots of trip cancellations. As such, some of them might not be able to recover as they are insolvent,” he said.
The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority last year said Zimbabwe lost business worth $6 million since the outbreak of the highly contagious virus in March which has resulted in limited international travel.
The virus triggered a spate of trip cancellations, while several foreign buyers withdrew from Zimbabwe’s premier tourism expo last year.
Zimbabwe’s tourist arrivals increased by 2,6% to 1 880 028 in 2014 from 1 832 583 recorded the previous year, but the figure was still below the overall regional growth rate.
The country recorded a marginal 3% decline in total annual earnings to $827 million from $856 million in 2013.

Monday, 13 July 2015

Batoka hydro-power project feasibility study nears completion

LUSAKA (Reuters) - Zambia and Zimbabwe will conclude a study on a planned 2,400 megawatts (MW) hydro-electric scheme between them by the end of this year, the chief executive of the company in charge of the project said on Friday.
Munyaradzi Munodawafa said Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) was updating the engineering feasibility studies and undertaking those on environmental and social impact.
"It is anticipated that these studies will be completed at the end of 2015," Munodawafa told Reuters.
"ZRA will provide an update on the market response to the project in the first half of 2016 where it will indicate the likely dates when financial close will be expected."
Ernst and Young has been engaged as the financial and legal advisors for the development of for the Batoka Hydro-Electric Project, he said.
The financial and legal transaction advisory service was critical to the development of the project as the consultant needed to analyse the different transaction structures, he said.
"The financial and legal advisors component completes the list of the vital preparatory works," Munodawafa said.
Plans for the Batoka hydro-electric power plant were expanded to 2,400 from 1,600 MW following a recent study.
The completion of the project, which will involve the construction of a dam and a hydro power plant on the Zambezi River, is expected to ease an electricity shortage in the two countries and southern Africa.

The cost, previously estimated at $2.5 billion, would be known after the feasibility study, which would be done after Ernst Young completed its work, Munodawafa said.

Monday, 6 July 2015

Ernst & Young engaged as Batoka Hydro advisors

The Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) has engaged Ernst and Young as financial and legal transaction advisors for the development of the Batoka Gorge Hydro Electric Scheme.

ZRA chief executive officer Munyaradzi Munodawafa said through the financial and legal transaction advisory services contract, the consultant was expected to analyse the different transaction structures.

Mr Munodawafa said this in a statement issued yesterday by ZRA public relations and communications manager Elizabeth Karonga. He said this included options such as Public Private Partnerships, Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT), engineering procurement and construction.

This was with the view of recommending the most optimum and bankable structure considering the prevailing market conditions. He said priorities of stakeholders involved and the technical parameters and development schedule resulting from the updated feasibility study were also crucial aspects.

The advisory services team comprises international experts in finance and legal services while participants were drawn from the Batoka Gorge Hydro Electric Scheme Project Steering Committee and the Project Management Unit appointed by the Governments of Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Mr Munodawafa commended the World Bank for financing the preparatory studies of the Batoka Gorge Hydro Electric Scheme through a grant under the Co-operation in International Waters in Africa (CIWA). 

The preparatory studies consisted the updating of the engineering feasibility studies, updating of Environmental and Social Impact Assessment Studies as well as the financial and legal transaction advisory services. Project steering committee co-chairperson Benson Munyaradzi, assured stakeholders and consultants that the Zambian and Zimbabwean governments were committed to making timely decisions necessary for the services to be completed as planned. He urged the consultants, Studio Pietrangeli, Environmental Resource Management (ERM) and Ernst and Young to work closely as their processes and outputs were interrelated.

He said the results were critical to effective and timely execution of the Batoka Hydro Electric Scheme.


More on the Batoka Hydro Power Scheme