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Media should feature Zim as safe tourist destination – The Zimbabwe Independent

THE Zimbabwe tourism sector suffered setbacks due to the outbreak of Covid-19, which affected some sectors of the economy, including hospitality. Our reporter Freeman Makopa (FM) caught up with Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) vice-president Brian Nyakutombwa (BM, pictured) to give us an insight of the sector post-Covid-19. Here are excerpts from the interview:

FM: How do taxes on Zimbabwe’s tourism and hospitality sectors affect local businesses?

BN: Taxes are a cost to individuals and businesses. Their quantum determines the ultimate effect on the cost of products and services, disposable incomes and attractiveness to investors of Zimbabwe as a destination.

FM: What is the greatest priority for infrastructure investment in Zimbabwe?

BN: Dualisation and expansion of major highways. This development will decongest the busy highways given the increased traffic from commodity-ferrying haulage trucks and intercity buses. The maintenance of feeder roads off the main highways, especially in national parks. There are a lot scenic areas that are found in our national parks, which need to be accessed by all types of vehicles particularly those with a low clearance, and the average domestic tourist will have one such vehicle. The feeder roads are already in place and just need some close attention.

Telecoms for efficient coverage in all areas across Zimbabwe as tourism cuts across all regions and travellers require to remain in constant touch with the rest of the world as they travel.

Hospitals in tourist destinations must be equipped with drugs and essential equipment to be fully geared to respond to health emergencies and routine medical requirements by tourists and local residents.

Regional airstrips would facilitate faster movement between destinations whilst also enabling more places to be accessed by travellers.

FM: How can private sector operators play a role in boosting local and regional tourist numbers?

BN: Refurbish their facilities to give them a modern look and in line with modern trends. Upscale skills training for staff for excellent service delivery that meets international standards.

Upscale marketing efforts to increase online and digital presence whilst also paying attention to efforts to promote domestic tourism through local media channels.

Come up with innovations that avail financial packages to both local and regional travellers so that they can invest in travelling whilst enjoying favourable payment terms.

FM: What can be done to improve the investment attractiveness of the tourism sector?

BN: We need to use different local and international media channels to feature Zimbabwe as an attractive tourist destination and attend international trade exhibitions and also host local exhibitions to showcase what the country has.

We need to offer attractive investment terms to would be investors and encourage innovative and entrepreneurial initiatives by youths and individuals aspiring to venture into business.

There is need for the operationalisation of the tourism revolving fund, which should set in motion tourism development initiatives and spur the industry forward. A revolving fund simply means the funds set aside in that facility get loaned out at concessionary interest rates and as the borrowers repay the money is availed to others and it revolves like that. It is a quick and affordable way of availing much-needed funds for capital expenditure for the industry.

FM: What is the current state of hotel occupancy this year compared to last year?

BN: Last year was greatly subdued due to the prevalence of Covid-19; but thanks to the various interventions by the government that helped to bring down new cases and deaths related to Covid-19.

The year 2022 has witnessed an encouraging rebound in occupancies, which some in the industry are calling the post-Covid-19 rush as a result of various organisations rushing to catch-up with their stalled strategic planning sessions that had been halted by the advent of the virus and associated travel restrictions. This has seen the MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) business contributing significantly to occupancies for the sector. There has also been resumption in the traffic of regional and international tourists, by both road and air, as the Covid-19 port entry requirements have been relaxed in response to the positive impact of the Covid-19 vaccines and booster jabs.

FM: How much does the sector require?

BN: In terms of the financial sum required by the sector, it needs some exercise to determine that and that is work in progress. But speaking in terms of non-financial requirements, we need more awareness of Zimbabwe as a beautiful place to visit; we need a change in the perceptions of Zimbabwe as an unsafe place to visit, and the resumption of inbound air traffic from the region and rest of the world.

FM: What are some of the challenges facing the sector?

BN: Inconsistent power supply; exchange rate fluctuations; unavailability of affordable funds to retool and; low human capital skills depth.

FM: How do you intend to deal with this challenge?

BN: Operators are installing alternative power sources with a lot of emphasis on solar, which as an association we would like to see gaining momentum. We also would like to cooperate with the power and energy authorities regarding efforts to conserve power.

We are also happy with the interventions to control the exchange rate and the pricing mechanisms in industry through the now in motion due diligence exercise between service providers and government departments and agents. As an association, we await the operationalisation of the Tourism Revolving Fund so that operators can start benefiting from the facility.

Regarding human capital skills depth, as a country, we have suffered a steady brain drain over the last two decades and there is need to reconstruct the skills base.

I am happy to say that there is a manpower development plan that is in place and HAZ is closely following its roll out to ensure that it delivers the intended benefits to the sector.

In the meantime, the challenges are increasing the cost of doing business, compromising customer experience and delaying the much-needed refurbishment exercises for the hospitality establishments. On the human capital skills depth deficiency, it simply means that the levels of service and product quality are not where they should be as service delivery will be fraught with inconsistencies and frequent service failures, which compromise the customer experiences and reputation of the establishments and nation at large.

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S Africa’s Ramaphosa faces impeachment threat over farm scandal – Zimbabwe Independent

An independent panel appointed by the speaker of South Africa’s parliament has found preliminary evidence that President Cyril Ramaphosa violated his oath of office, findings that could lead to his eventual impeachment.

Parliament will examine the report, which was submitted on Wednesday, and decide whether to push ahead with impeachment proceedings next week.

This comes just weeks before an elective conference that will decide if Ramaphosa gets to run for a second term on the governing African National Congress’s (ANC) ticket at 2024 polls.

The president immediately denied any wrongdoing and has not been charged with any crimes.

“I categorically deny that I have violated this oath in any way, and I similarly deny that I am guilty of any of the allegations made against me,” Ramaphosa said in a statement issued by the South African presidency on Wednesday.

On Thursday, he delayed an appearance in parliament to answer questions, requesting time to consider the report, noting that the panel’s recommendations had “implications for the stability of the country,” parliament said in a statement.

In June, it emerged that an estimated $4m in cash was stolen from Ramaphosa’s game farm in 2020, raising questions about how the billionaire president, who took to power on the promise of fighting corruption, acquired the money and whether he declared it.

The three-person panel was set up in September and tasked with ascertaining whether there was sufficient evidence to show that Ramaphosa committed a serious violation of the constitution or the law or grave misconduct, National Assembly speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said when she was handed the report earlier on Wednesday.

The panel said Ramaphosa should face further scrutiny on his ability to stay in office.

“In all the circumstances, we think that the evidence presented to the Panel, prima facie, establishes that the president may be guilty of a serious violation of certain sections of the constitution,” the report found.

These include not reporting the theft directly to police, acting in a way inconsistent with holding office and exposing himself to a clash between his official responsibilities and his private business.

While Ramaphosa has confirmed that a robbery occurred at his farm, he said the cash was from proceeds from the sales of game. He has denied breaking the law or any regulations relating to his office.

John Steenhuisen, the leader of South Africa’s main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), said Ramaphosa was in a tight bind, Reuters news agency reported.

“The report itself leaves the president in a virtually untenable position, particularly as it relates to his own party’s step-aside rules and the strong line that he has taken against others within his party,” he said.

Ramaphosa came to power in 2018 on a promise to root out graft after the corruption-stained era of his former boss, Jacob Zuma, and has generally insisted that any party official accused of corruption leave office pending investigations.

The alleged cover-up has tarnished the president’s reputation and overshadowed his bid for re-election at the helm of the ANC.

Ramaphosa, 70, is the favourite to win at the ruling party’s December 16-20 conference, where he faces a challenge from Zweli Mkhize, 66, an ex-health minister who resigned from the government last year amid corruption allegations.

In November, the spokesperson to the president, Vincent Magwenya, told journalists that Ramaphosa would “gladly step aside” if he were to be criminally charged.

The chances of impeachment are slim given the ANC’s dominance of parliament, where it holds 230 seats, or nearly 60 percent of the total, and typically votes along party lines. Impeaching a president requires a two-thirds majority.

The inquiry is separate from a criminal investigation that police are conducting, and which Ramaphosa has welcomed.

The report will be debated in the national assembly on December 6, said the speaker, Mapisa-Nqakula.

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America, Europe easing their stance on Zimbabwe – Bulawayo24 News

The current economic stability prevailing in the country is indirectly forcing the West to mend its relations with Zimbabwe, economic analysts have said.

Economic analysts, Abednigo Matsika said that the recent developments that include the invitation to the US-Africa summit and proposals towards re-joining the Commonwealth were a manifestation of how President Mnangagwa’s Engagement and Re-engagement policy was bearing fruits.

“We are witnessing a change of stance by the West on Zimbabwe. Of late, the West has been warming up to the Government and has been pouring money to support various developmental projects in the country. Recently, the EU pledged over 100 million Euros to support women empowerment and agriculture programmes in the country. This shows that relations between the West and Zimbabwe are thawing,” said Matsika.

Matsika added that days of Zimbabwe’s isolation by the West were coming to an end. He said the sudden surge of traffic by the EU, US and the United Kingdom (UK) into Zimbabwe was positive and will lead to the removal of the illegal sanctions imposed on the country by the West.

In explaining how Zimbabwe-West relations were warming up, Matsika said that last week, the country and EU signed financial agreements totalling US46 million under the Zimbabwe-EU cooperative programme. Matsika added that the US46 million aid was an affirmation that the engagement and re-engagement drive with the international community was bearing fruits and that the EU was rapidly moving out of the sanctions orbit.

According to Matsika, the recent visit by the Commonwealth delegation led by Assistant Secretary General, Luis Franschesci shows that the bloc was willing to have Zimbabwe as member of that community. He added that the imminent readmission of Zimbabwe to Commonwealth would spur economic growth and open an avalanche of business opportunities for the country.

Meanwhile, a source within CCC said that the thawing of relations between Zimbabwe and the West had triggered uncertainty within that party which traditionally survives on Zimbabwe’s isolation from the rest of the World. The CCC feels that these developments would rob it of an advantage of boasting that they have the keys to the removal of sanctions and to good relations with the West.

The source said that CCC was plotting to stage violent demonstrations to tarnish the image of the Government.

“The CCC leadership has been shocked by the thawing of relations between Zimbabwe and the West. We are now planning to stage violent demonstrations in a bid to compel the state security to arrest participants. The idea is to portray Zimbabwe as a country that represses the opposition voice,” said the source.

The source further claimed that Chamisa recently held a caucus meeting with his few trusted lieutenants and expressed worry over the surveys that continue to signpost a ZANU PF victory in the forthcoming elections.

According to the source, Chamisa informed his friends in the region and beyond that a political strategist had advised him to stage violent protests in the country and blame ZANU PF for the same. The move according to the source is meant to force the West to tighten up screws on sanctions.

“Without sanctions, we are gone. We must create conditions that help our supporters, including those in the UK and US to disrupt the reengagement process. We would disrupt the current economic stability .We need economic pain to win,” said the source.

The source added that Chamisa was assembling a team of ruffians who would stage the demonstrations and subsequently get arrested.

On the other side, a ZANU PF supporter Regai Chandiwana of Seke argued that the improvement of relations between Zimbabwe and the West and the possibility of the removal of sanctions would level the electoral playing field which had, hitherto been skewed in favour of the opposition.

“They had the advantage of holding the electorate hostage by threatening to ensure that sanctions would continue to bite if citizens do not vote for the CCC. If   sanctions are lifted, then for the first time in history elections would be fair,” said Chandiwana.

Meanwhile, efforts to get a comment from CCC interim national spokesperson, Fadzayi Mahere were futile as her phone was not reachable.

All articles and letters published on Bulawayo24 have been independently written by members of Bulawayo24’s community. The views of users published on Bulawayo24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Bulawayo24. Bulawayo24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.

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National Foods new mill to increase capacity by 2 000 tonnes per month – The Zimbabwe Mail

ZIMBABWE Stock Exchange (ZSE) listed food processing giant National Foods Holdings Limited’s new mill at their Bulawayo site is set to increase wheat milling capacity by 2 000 tonnes per month.

In an annual report for 2022, the company’s chairman Mr Todd Moyo said the new mill is set to start operating early next year.

“The installation of the new mill at our Bulawayo site has commenced and the mill remains on track for commissioning early in 2023.

The new mill will increase wheat milling capacity by around 2 000 tons per month,” he said.
The establishment of the new flour mill in Bulawayo comes at a time the Government is pushing its devolution agenda of industrialising production zones to boost local economies through employment creation.

In an annual report for 2022, the company’s chairman Mr Todd Moyo said the new mill is set to start operating early next year.

The food processing giant is also embarking on an exciting period of expansion with the entry into a number of new categories, as it seeks to value and add its portfolio of basic products.

Mr Moyo said the introduction of a new milling plant will see the localised manufacturing of products, which had previously been imported, reducing foreign currency requirements and increasing demand for locally processed products.

This is in line with the Buy Zimbabwe campaign, which has seen more people buying more Zimbabwean-made products and is fully supported by the Government as it is critical in attaining an upper-middle-class status by 2030 anchored by the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1).

“The prospects for the current winter wheat crop look encouraging which is a most welcome development as it will reduce import dependency. National Foods continues to play a major role in supporting the local contracted wheat crop,” he said.

The Buy Zimbabwe campaign has helped drive a robust private sector-led initiative resulting in increased local products and the creation of jobs consistent with NDS1.

The chairman added that National Foods continues to keenly support contract farming of maize, soya beans, wheat, sugar beans, sorghum and popcorn.

“During the current winter season around 12 000 hectares of wheat has been planted, representing a significant portion of the contracted crop.

that National Foods continues to keenly support contract farming of maize, soya beans, wheat, sugar beans, sorghum and popcorn.

“In addition to this, 40 000 tons of maize and soya beans were delivered during this year’s summer cropping programme.

“The various products grown under this programme now constitute a significant portion of the Group’s raw material requirements,” he said.

Meanwhile, the food giant’s revenue for the year increased by 33 percent to record $128,4 billion, driven by both volume growth and inflation-driven price increases.

The food giant’s revenue for the year increased by 33 percent to record $128,4 billion, driven by both volume growth and inflation-driven price increases.

The group’s volume for the period increased by eight percent to 569 000 tonnes from 523 480 tonnes compared to the prior year.

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