Zimbabwe to take back tourism-related land: Mzembi
GOVERNMENT has said the special purpose vehicle – Mosi-oa-Tunya Development Company – which was created by the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality would be used to re-possess land that was previously used for tourism purposes but had been re-distributed for agricultural use under the land reform programme.
Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi said the correction of land use would contribute to the development on the tourism sector.
“Many of you will recall that during the land reform program we erroneously acquired tourism assets using agricultural tittle. My Mosi-oa-Tunya Development Company is designed to claim back many of these assets that have gone moribund,” he said.
“If you go to Kariba part of the reason why Kariba today is “dead” is because much of that land was acquired yet it was a tourism asset. We will wish under the Mosi-oa-Tunya Development Company to warehouse these assets and leverage on them to take the next step in tourism development.”
Mzembi said this at a handover ceremony of 650 vehicles from the Indian government to the Tourism Ministry and the Environment, Water and Climate ministry for use in promoting tourism and upscaling wildlife conservation efforts.
He said many tourism areas had been overtaken and turned into farming areas.
“I am seized right now with work on tourism master planning which is basically capturing the entire country as a tourism development zone and we wish to re-assert the value of that land and its use,” he said.
Meanwhile, the vehicles comprised of buses, lorries, game ranger vehicles, fire tenders and ambulances, and were bought from Ashok Leyland of India under a $50 million facility availed by the Indian Export and Import Bank on a 20 year tenure.
The vehicles will come in batches. “The first batch at a cost of US$700 000 is just a sample to show for the bigger consignment that will be coming.
“This facility aims to promote domestic tourism as well as the wildlife conservation in the quest of growing the tourism sector,” Mzembi said.
He said the facility is a legacy project that was initially targeted for the period when Zimbabwe hosted the UNWTO general assembly in 2013.
Indian Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Surinder Kumar Datta said the vehicles would play an important role in developing the country’s tourism sector.
“Zim tourism industry has so much potential and I think this should be fully exploited in order for the sector to contribute to the exchequer,” he said.
Environment, Water and Climate Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri called for increased investment in tourism and wildlife conservation.
“Today’s handover is a clear demonstration of the complimentary roles of tourism and conservation,” she said.