Victoria Falls Residents cash in on ZANU-PF conference delegates


A banner advertising Zanu-PF’s 15th Annual People’s Conference in Victoria Falls. Pic by Sunday News

VICTORIA FALLS – Residents are cashing in on delegates to the 15th ZANU-PF annual national conference seeking alternative accommodation after finding all hotels and lodges in the resort town fully booked.
The conference kicked off with a Politburo meeting held in Harare on Monday.
Some of the delegates who started arriving in the resort town on Monday were still searching for alternative accommodation in the residential areas by Wednesday evening.
The accommodation situation is expected to worsen as the rest of the delegates arrive on Thursday.
President Robert Mugabe will officially  open the conference on Friday morning before it breaks into smaller groups to deliberate on diverse thematic issues.
An estimated 6000 ZANU-PF members are expected to throng the small town which government declared a special economic zone for its thriving tourist business.
But before delegates think about the business of the conference, they have a nightmare as to where they will put their heads at night.
A scan around the town showed that local residents have taken the opportunity to make quick buck by taking in some of the delegates in their homes at various costs.
For example, a room in the high density suburb of Chinotimba, where homeowners have turned their houses into temporary lodges, is going for US$50 per person per night.
The leafy suburbs are going as high as US$80 per person per room per night.
Some of the delegates are offering to take up rooms in groups of four or five which means on average, one room would fetch up to US$200 per night.
So serious is the situation that some are spending the nights in their cars and get up the following morning to pay for showers.
Very high temperatures, soaring to levels exceeding 37 degrees celcious, have made life easier for those sleeping in the open.
Some of the residents who spoke to the Financial Gazette said they were happy to cash in on their properties.
‘I actually hope that they come here every week so that I can make as much as possible,’ said a smiling Cornelius Sibanda who owns a house in Chinotimba suburb.
But while the homeowners are smiling all the way to the bank, peeved delegates are having a torrid time trying to secure a decent place for the night.
‘Imagine I came here on Monday and moved from hotel to hotel and then switched to lodges and still could not find a place. It’s so frustrating,’ said one delegate from Mashonaland Central Province who declined to be identified.
Also enjoying brisky business are small entrepreneurs like those operating restaurants, taxis and tour operators who have grabbed the opportunity of a are mass clientele to hike prices, often beyond the reach of many.
For example, a plate of sadza and chicken which normally sells for US$2 was being sold for a whooping US$5.
Taxis are asking at least US$5 to ferry delegates to and from the venue.
There however seemed to be no interruption of the normal tourism business as tourists appeared to actually enjoy and extra and free spectacle of a sea of colourful delegates swarming the town.

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