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Old Mutual opens US$24,6m hotel – NewsDay

FINANCIAL services group, Old Mutual Zimbabwe Limited opened the US$24,6 million Palm River Hotel here yesterday, as part of its portfolio diversification strategy.

The four-star facility, a world-class real estate gem on the shores of the Zambezi River, is a partnership between Old Mutual and Spencer Creek, an established tourism firm with significant interests in the industry, according to Old Mutual chairman, Kumbirai Katsande.

The hotel boasts 73 rooms that include a presidential and honeymoon suites, in addition to private villas.

It is strategically located at a point upstream of the waterfall where on a clear day, guests can view the spray that juts into the air from Victoria Falls, and hear the thunder that roars as millions of litres of water plunge into the globally-acclaimed landmark.

The hotel is targeting to create 200 employment opportunities for locals, and generate US$6 million for the country annually.

Katsande said Zimbabwe’s tourism sector, which suffered the worst pandemic-induced knocks since COVID-19 and exploded in 2019, grounding global travel, was ripe for investment.

“The tourism industry is ripe for more investment, as it is a good source of hard currency which can be injected to boost economic activities across the country,” he said.

“This sector also in a way showcases what Zimbabwe has to offer to the international world.

“Old Mutual Palm River Hotel — a spectacular state-of-the-art leisure centre is a magnificent asset done to international standards, and really deserving of this official opening occasion.

“The project is a US$24,6 million investment done through a partnership between Old Mutual and Spencer Creek, a hotel operator that runs another luxurious hotel here in Victoria Falls.

“Old Mutual partnered with a number of pension fund clients to co-invest in the project.”

The Old Mutual boss added that the firm’s aim was to support the communities it serves.

“We have demonstrated this commitment to build Zimbabwe for over 100 years through projects that contribute to the growth of the economy,” he said.

“Some of the recent projects we are most proud of include green energy projects among them solar and hydro energy plants, infrastructure to support agriculture and mining centres and investments in projects and ventures across the sectors of our economy.”

Officially opening the hotel, Victoria Falls mayor Somveli Dhlamini commended the project for creating employment opportunities for the locals.

“With this new establishment prospects of visitors coming to Victoria Falls to access the facility are strong as the project cements our ambitions to be a preferred destination,” he said.

As a way to woo investors to Victoria Falls, Dhlamini said the authority was offering serviced land and a 24-month tax holiday to facilitate smooth implementation.

The hotel will open to the public on December 1, 2021.

For over 100 years in Zimbabwe, Old Mutual has committed to play a leading role in the development of businesses, the local economy, and communities across the country.

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Trevor Noah roasts Texas governor for claims South Africans are crossing US border – The Zimbabwe Mail

Trevor Noah

When you consider Texas is 14 636km and an ocean away from South Africa, it’s hard to comprehend how one man thought South African’s were crossing into the US state illegally via its southern border.

However, this is exactly what Texas governor Greg Abbott thinks. One South African was not having it.

This week, comedian and host of “The Daily Show”, Trevor Noah, roasted Greg for his false claims that South Africans were crossing into the US illegally during that country’s travel ban.

Greg came under fire after blaming US President Joe Biden for “doing nothing to stop immigrants from SA entering [America] illegally”.

“Biden banned travel from SA because of the new Covid variant. Immigrants have recently been apprehended crossing our border illegally from SA. Biden is doing nothing to stop immigrants from SA entering illegally. Pure politics and hypocrisy,” he wrote in a tweet.

Mocking the Republican governor, Trevor said his claim might not be too far-fetched because every day millions of South African walk through the Atlantic Ocean to cross the border.

“I mean, why did I book a flight? I could have hitched a ride,” joked Trevor.

“This is the biggest load of bulls**t ever.”

Trevor then jokingly gave the governor points for being able to turn any story into a complaint about the US border

“Everyone is watching Red Notice on Netflix when what they should be doing is watching the southern border,” he said.

Weighing in on the travel ban on SA and several nearby countries, Trevor said it was “total bulls**t”.

“Omicron has already been found in more than a dozen countries around the world. We don’t know where it started. We don’t know how long it’s been around. It’s everywhere — from Hong Kong, to Israel to Spain,” said Trevor.

“So why aren’t you banning travel from all of those countries too? Huh? Only the African countries? I don’t get the logic. You think Omicron is going to get to Europe and then decide to stay there?”

Take it from a South African: the Omicron travel ban is bulls**t

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UK tightens travel testing rules amid omicron concerns – The Zimbabwe Mail

LONDON (AP) — Britain’s government tightened travel restrictions Saturday amid concerns about the spread of the omicron coronavirus variant, saying all travelers arriving in England will need to take a COVID-19 test before they board their flight.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the new rules will apply from 4 a.m. London time Tuesday.

“In light of the most recent data, we are taking further action to slow the incursion of the omicron variant,” he said in a tweet.

Javid also added Nigeria to the U.K.’s travel “red list,” which means that arrivals from there will be banned except for U.K. and Irish residents, and those travellers must isolate in designated quarantine facilities. He said there was a “significant number” of omicron cases linked to travel with Nigeria, with 27 cases recorded in England.

Karen Dee, the chief executive of the Airport Operators Association, said the new measures will be a “major deterrent” to travel, just as airports and the travel industry were hoping for a small uplift over the festive season.

“This is a devastating blow for aviation and tourism,” she said

Authorities recorded another 42,848 confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.K. as of Saturday, with 127 more deaths. With over 145,000 COVID-19 deaths in the pandemic, Britain has the second-highest virus death toll in Europe after Russia.


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Australians are stranded in Zimbabwe and stuck in quarantine after Omicron travel ban on southern Africa – ABC News

Australians stranded overseas after the government’s snap ban on flights from countries in southern Africa are calling for repatriation flights to be arranged to bring them home.

On Saturday last week, Sydney lawyer Debbie Anderson travelled to Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second largest city, to bring her elderly mother home to Australia.

While her plane was mid-air, Australia closed its borders to travellers from eight countries in southern Africa, including Zimbabwe, and her return flights were cancelled.

“My brother died recently in Zimbabwe, and so my mum is on her own,” Ms Anderson said.

“It’s just quite an emotional time because of that, and then the overlay of uncertainty is awful.

Her mother Sheila Lazarus is 85 and has Australian residency. Ms Anderson had hoped to spend two weeks there to scatter her brother’s ashes and help pack up her mother’s life in Zimbabwe.

Her husband and daughters in Sydney are worried she won’t be home for Christmas, after Ms Anderson had flights repeatedly cancelled.

“It’s all very well for the government to say that Australians and residents can come back, but there is no way for us to get back. We’ve tried everything,” she said.

“Nobody wants to get sick or spread disease, but you do want to be able to get home.”

A picture of a woman with blonde hair and sunglasses standing next to her mother with grey hair.,A picture of a woman with blonde hair and sunglasses standing next to her mother with grey hair.,
Sydney lawyer Debbie Anderson and her mother, Sheila Lazarus, are stuck in Zimbabwe, with no flights home.(Supplied)

Ms Anderson added that countries in Africa tend to be lumped into one basket, but pointed out her mother’s city in Zimbabwe was leading the country in vaccine take-up and said Zimbabwe had also imposed border controls due to Omicron.

The Australian government has said the border security measures were based on medical advice and as a precaution to protect Australians from the Omicron variant.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said a government facilitated flight arrived in Howard Springs from Johannesburg on November 25 with 20 passengers onboard. 

“We continue to monitor demand for government facilitated commercial flights.” 

The ABC understands government facilitated flights are scheduled to depart from Singapore and Islamabad in December.

A nurse speaks with three women in masks.A nurse speaks with three women in masks.
Zimbabwe authorities have urged people to get vaccinated amid fears of the Omicron variant.(AP: Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

“I just think that the government should think about the repercussions of what they’ve done, and not just leave people stranded,” Ms Anderson said.

Grieving Australians stuck in hotel quarantine

Several Australians now stuck in mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine had travelled to South Africa for compelling family reasons, including saying final goodbyes to loved ones who they have been separated from for almost two years.

A couple stand with backs to camera looking at flight signs in an airport.A couple stand with backs to camera looking at flight signs in an airport.
Flight bans have had an impact on travel worldwide.(AP: Joan Mateu Parra)

One man, who asked not to be named, told the ABC he flew to South Africa to visit his dying mother.

When he saw the United Kingdom was shutting its border, he scrambled to get a flight out of South Africa on November 26.

His mother passed away the next day. He was unable to be there for her final moments.

He said he wanted an explanation from the NSW government, as he had travelled on the assurances from Premier Dominic Perrottet that hotel quarantine would be a “thing of the past” for fully vaccinated travellers. 

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Play Video. Duration: 2 minutes 44 secondsPlay Video. Duration: 2 minutes 44 seconds

The NSW Premier said hotel quarantine would be a ‘thing of the past’ in NSW from November 1, but the Omicron variant has changed that.

He said he was frustrated by the “knee jerk reaction” from countries shutting borders when there was still so little information about the new variant.

He added that health experts have pointed out vaccines may not stop people catching the virus, but are designed to prevent severe illness and avoid overburdening the health system.

One woman, Vee, flew to South Africa after her mother suffered an aneurysm in August. Her mother remains in a coma.

Vee said she travelled to help her father, who has early-onset dementia, and to arrange for her mother’s palliative care.

A woman with glasses and a mask with curly hair. A woman with glasses and a mask with curly hair.
Vee, whose mother has been in a coma since August, had to rush back to Australia from South Africa.(Supplied)

“I couldn’t go earlier, due to the requirements of quarantine and the cost involved, and not being able to afford that as a single mother,” she said.

“My dad’s really struggling … I was in the process of trying to get him to accept that my mum’s not going to wake up again.”

While in South Africa, she woke up to find 53 messages on her phone from family and friends — the UK had shut its borders, and other countries were following suit.

She rushed home to Australia, where her three children live, and is now dealing with the isolation of hotel quarantine. 

But, she added, she was grateful to the staff who were “putting their lives on the line” in doing tests on potential COVID-19 patients.

“It’s really having an effect on my mental health,” she said, describing quarantine as “not only a physical but a mental jail too”.

Vee said she and other travellers from South Africa were isolated from other passengers at Singapore airport, but her flight to Australia was packed and she sat next to travellers from Europe and Asia, who were not required to quarantine as she was.

Travellers caught off guard by rule change won’t be charged for quarantine

Vee said a major concern was a lack of clarity about whether they would be charged for the mandatory hotel quarantine.

Authorities in NSW and Victoria have said people caught off-guard by the sudden changes will not have to pay for quarantine.

A woman getting vaccinated. A woman getting vaccinated.
South Africa sounded the alarm on the new variant, triggering travel bans. But Omicron was detected in the Netherlands a week prior. (AP: Shiraaz Mohamed)

“People who were in transit when the new Public Health Orders were introduced and didn’t know about quarantine requirements will not be charged,” a spokesperson for the Department of NSW Premier and Cabinet told the ABC.

“Arrangements for future arrivals are being considered and will be communicated to travellers.”

In Victoria, international travellers from an “extreme risk” country who enter hotel quarantine between 11:59pm on Saturday November 27 and 11:59pm on Saturday December 4 will not be charged a fee.

Cecil Bass, a registered migration agent in Sydney, said many of his clients were stranded and desperate.

They included a British family who were passing through South Africa on their journey to move to Australia permanently and are now stuck there.

His nephew, an Australian permanent resident, was due to leave South Africa on Wednesday, but his flight was cancelled.

He said he was not critical of the government, but felt South Africa had been treated unfairly after the emergence of the Omicron variant. 

“It’s disrupted peoples’ lives,” Mr Bass said.

“There’s a lot of sadness among South Africans, especially at this time of year when they should be together.”

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