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Potentially vibrant tourism development under threat

The navigation centre is meant to monitor boat activities on the lake.
The tourism resort had potential to create 500 jobs and had attracted interest from the world’s leading hotels, according to people close to the development.

The megaproject would spread over 600 hectares of land. Of that land, 200 ha is in private hands, another 200 ha owned by National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and the remainder is state land.

The promoters of the project have already got blessings from National Parks as well as secure the land which is in private hands but now requires the remaining 200 ha where the Ministry of Transport wants to build a control centre.

Standardbusiness was told last week that the area was designated as tourism development zone by then Minister of Environment and Tourism, Francis Nhema.

Up until the construction of a hotel in Beitbridge by the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) and Rainbow Tourism Group, there has not been any tourism development over the years.

Garry Stafford, director at Kuimba Shiri told Standardbusiness that it was weird that the ministry was coming up with such a project and suspects “someone is trying to jeopardise the development”.

“It’s strange because there are options. The piece of land they are fencing has no facilities such as water and electricity,” he said.
“It (navigation centre) has been here at Kuimba Shiri for 20 years. Why do they have to build another one where there is no water, electricity and roads when everything here was provided for free?”

Stafford said that there are other government-owned properties where the centre could be housed and if it goes ahead there would be government offices in front of the chalets.

According to the project plan, there would a 50-roomed hotel, a golf course and a cultural village. The project also aims to enhance water activities on the lake, gaming and photographic safaris.

Stafford said the Transport ministry has already fenced the 200 ha piece of land on where the project would spread to.

Transport, Communications and Infrastructural Development minister Nicholas Goche’s mobile numbers went unanswered on Friday.
His deputy, Tichaona Mudzingwa, was unavailable to shed light on the matter.

The initial development at the resort is the refurbishment and construction of new self-catering chalets at Kuimba Shiri at a cost of US$6 million.
Currently, there are seven chalets and there are plans to add 40 more.

Stafford said that he was talking to three bankers in January when Zanu PF activists invaded the resorts around the lake.
“It (invasion) puts us back and we haven’t progressed,” he said.

In January, Zanu PF activists invaded the resorts against what they termed utter racism by some operators.
The invaders were driven off the properties by the Joint Operation Command, a unit that comprises members from the police, army and the intelligence.

Zimbabwe’s tourism industry is on a growth path spurred on by the stable political environment obtaining in the country.
In his 2012 budget statement Finance minister Tendai Biti said the continued growth of tourism would be driven by the development of a National Tourism Master Plan, review of the Tourism Act to streamline the roles of different players and rehabilitation and development of tourism infrastructure among others.


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