THERE is little activity towards developing the Gonarezhou National Park in the south-eastern Lowveld and insignificant progress to merge it into the propo
sed Transfrontier National Park despite an allocation of $100 billion for the purpose in this year’s budget.
Huge financial benefits projected to cascade into the Zimbabwe economy from the World Cup in South Africa in 2010 risk becoming a mere splash on the panhandle unless government takes serious steps to put together a refurbishment package for infrastructure, a parliamentary report says.
The report by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Environment and Tourism paints a gloomy picture of the expected windfall, and chalets and lodges supposed to have been built have not been constructed. Electrification of one of the prime resort spots at Chipinda Pools has not started although the Parks and Wildlife Authority has already paid $10 billion to the Rural Electrification Authority.
More than $100 billion was set aside in this year’s budget for infrastructural development for the expected overflow of visitors to Gonarezhou National Park.
A strategic bridge linking Zimbabwe and South Africa over the Runde River that was washed away by Cyclone Eline six years ago has not been repaired.
“It is not clear whether the Ministry of Transport has set aside funds for reconstruction of the bridge,” the report says.
The Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park is a 30 000 square kilometre game park which is in the process of being formed.
It is expected to link the Limpopo National Park in Mozambique, Kruger National Park and the Mala Mala Reserve in South Africa, and Zimbabwe’s Gonarezhou.
The park will encompass Manjinji Pan Sanctuary and Malipati Safari Area in Zimbabwe, as well as the area between Kruger and Gonarezhou, the Sengwe communal land in Zimbabwe and the Makuleke region in South Africa.
Fences between the parks have started to come down allowing the animals to take up their old migratory routes that were blocked before due to political boundaries.
“On the aspect of tourism, especially in view of the 2010 games in South Africa, the development has been slow if any at all,” the committee said. “This was being noted by the absence of lodges (and) chalets for tourists to camp. There are about 14 developed camps, 17 bush camps and there has not been any significant development in the area,” the committee said.
Parks director general Morrison Mtsambiwa told the Portfolio Committee on Environment and Tourism that the biggest threat to the project was rampant inflation that had whittled away the value of funds provided.