Senior Business Reporter
THE Government has started crafting a blueprint to guide the operationalisation of the greater Victoria Falls Special Economic Zone (SEZ).
Cabinet a few months ago approved the Integrated Development Programme/Conceptual Development Framework for the Victoria Falls-Hwange — Binga SEZ whose idea is to integrate economic activities, catapult growth and improve livelihoods in the province.
A committee comprising the Ministers of Local Government and Public Works July Moyo, Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu together with the chief executive officer of the Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency (Zida), Mr Douglas Munatsi, were directed to come up with an implementation matrix.
Addressing journalists after the 40th post-Cabinet briefing, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said progress has been made in the planning and development process.
“Cabinet was briefed by the Minister of Local Government and Public Works on the progress made in the planning and development process for the Victoria Falls-Hwange-Binga Special Economic Zone. The committee has since identified a consortium to prepare a visual blueprint for the area,” she said.
“The Victoria Falls Development Programme will entail the upgrading of Victoria Falls Municipality to city status and improved land utilisation and modernisation, which should unlock land for new investment.”
The Government plans to make Victoria Falls its conference capital and is planning to build a multi-purpose convention centre with top-notch facilities such as five-star hotels, medical centre, a university, a Zimbabwe Defence Forces camp and sporting facilities.
There are plans to build Masue and Batoka satellite towns as part of the Victoria Falls Development Plan whose corridor comprises Masue Stateland, Batoka City, Mlibizi, Binga Centre, Sijalila, Hwange Hinterland and Gwayi Shangani resort.
Minister Mutsvangwa said the institutional framework and detailed designs as well as a Statutory Instrument to operationalise the establishment of a Masue Joint Management Committee has since been drafted.
“Regarding the Masue Resort, planning for the mixed use and commercial zones is underway. A proposed new town anchored on power generation activities will be created at Batoka once the legal processes have been completed. Furthermore, layout plan extensions for Binga, a highly promising tourist node are being prepared,” said the minister.
Binga is key to Government’s plans to leverage on domestic tourism as it presents an opportunity to tap into untapped facilities such as sand beaches, hot springs, aerodrome, wildlife, fishing and cultural attractions. The Victoria Falls-Hwange-Binga SEZ will capacitate tourism, agriculture and mining as it includes integration of the natural environment, current ecotourism activities and requirements of the World Heritage Status while enhancing tourism products and integrating other activities such as mining and irrigation in Binga and Hwange districts.
According to the framework, 10 nodes were identified within the Victoria Falls-Binga SEZ namely: Victoria Falls Municipality area, Jafuta (Masuwe) State land, Batoka Town, Mlibizi Resort, Binga Centre, Sijalila Resort, Binga hinterland, Gwayi-Shangani Dam Resort, Hwange Town, and Hwange Aerodrome Centre.
In the selected areas, Government plans to develop integrated resorts, a research, innovation and educational parks, power generation and aquaculture, development of beaches in Binga, world class golf course, recreational theme parks, upmarket houses, state-of-the-art civic centres and redevelopment of the residential area in Victoria Falls, as well as building an airport in Binga.