Leonard Ncube and Nonsikelelo Moyo, Business Reporters
HWANGE Rural District Council (HRDC) and Victoria Falls Municipality (VFM) have set eyes on integrating developmental programmes to promote tourism with both local authorities having separately started crafting their five-year strategic plans.
Hwange district is the country’s prime resort area harbouring Hwange, Zambezi and Chamabondo national parks, the Mighty Victoria Falls Rainforest, state-of-the-art tourism facilities such as hotels, the Victoria Falls International Airport as well as tour activities which attract tourists.
There are however concerns about the haphazard approach to development thereby negating tourism growth.
The two local authorities, which both are in the district and preside over some of the facilities, seem to have found each other and willing to work together.
Recently they held strategic planning workshops with various stakeholders to plan for the next five years.
In an interview on the sidelines of the workshop at St Mary’s in Hwange, HRDC chief executive Mr Phindile Ncube said the idea of a strategic plan came after realisation that there had been a disintegrated approach towards development.
“The Strategic Plan (2018-2020) seeks to assist the local authority on how it is going to develop. We have invited sector ministries and traditional leaders so that we speak with one voice.
“There has been a lack of development plan which has affected progress hence we want to eliminate that haphazard development by planning together,” he said.
Mr Ncube said the local authority has been lagging in its developmental programmes due to haphazard approach that has even affected tourism.
“You will find that Zimparks (Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority), Forestry Commission of Zimbabwe, Hwange Local Board and the Rural District Council are not co-ordinated which is what we want to address.
“We are a tourism capital and all our tourism facilities and policies should be integrated.
“We need to come up with an integrated tourism plan and this strategic plan will assist HRDC to plan accordingly so that we have a properly integrated plan within the district.
Mr Ncube said besides tourism, HRDC had set ambitious targets for itself such as improving road networks, water and sanitation, building schools and clinics as well as drilling solar-powered boreholes and developing irrigation projects in each of its 19 wards.
Similarly, VFM has adopted a greening approach to tourism as part of it strategic plan.
Participants at the VFM workshop held on Wednesday in the resort town said the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) status opens up opportunities for potential investors.
Victoria Falls mayor Councillor Sifiso Mpofu invited development partners to work with the local authority.
“This gathering aims at appealing to the community of Victoria Falls in its entirety to join the local authority and contribute ideas on what the strategic plan should contain,” he said.
The town clerk Mr Ronnie Dube said; “From here we are going to chart a way forward as council. We will sit and identify the goals that can be achieved within the 100 days. You will realise that this is a target and we have to strive to meet it,” he said.
The resort town’s strategic plan borders on a world class green city, safe tourist and investment destination as well as a well developed and competitive city by 2030.
Last year Victoria Falls Municipality applied for a city status and is awaiting Government response. — @ncubeleon, @nonsy_m