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Excitement over city status grips Victoria Falls

by Staff reporter
12 Nov 2020 at 05:46hrs | Views
IT'S finally happening for Victoria Falls. The city fathers are excited that the resort town municipality is upgrading into a city.

Victoria Falls Mayor Councillor Somvelo Dlamini said the level of excitement is high as everyone is enthused by the developments. He said the recent approval by Parliament capped a long journey which started around 2014 when the council applied to Government for the city status.

Local Government and Public Works Minister July Moyo set a commission three years ago to assess the municipality's capability.

The commission submitted its report on January 19, 2018 recommending that the municipality was fit to be granted city status.

Minister Moyo then approached Parliament which recently unanimously approved that Victoria Falls be granted city status. The local authority now awaits official pronouncement by President Mnangagwa who is expected to visit the resort town on a date to be advised for the conferment.

The municipality also plans to honour the President with the Freedom of the City, the highest honour bestowed by a municipality to a valuable member of the community or to a visiting dignitary.

Historically, Freedom of the City was an ancient honour granted to military organisations allowing them the privilege to freely parade the city with drums beating, colours flying and bayonets fixed.

Victoria Falls will be honouring President Mnangagwa for his contribution to the town's growth into a city and he becomes the first recipient of the honour in the history of the town. It will cement relations between Victoria Falls Municipality and central Government. Cllr Dlamini said the council is ready and waiting for confirmation of the date of pronouncement.

"We applied way back around 2014 and a few years later a commission was sent to assess our capability. The commission made its investigations and was convinced by the findings leading to approval by the Minister and Parliament.

"We have come a long way and we are excited that it is finally happening. We are just waiting for official pronouncement. There is a lot of anxiety in town and council although some sections think this will in turn lead to a hike in rates. The truth is this will bring immense development hence we are eagerly awaiting the day. As a Mayor I am very proud," said Cllr Dlamini.

He could not be drawn into giving details about the planned Freedom of the City honour to the President saying the issue was being handled at Local Government ministry level.

Victoria Falls Combined Residents Association chairman Mr Kelvin Moyo said upgrading of the town to a city is a welcome development. He however, implored the city fathers to ensure that residents are apprised about the developments so they understand what it means to be a city. If granted, Victoria Falls will become the first city in Matabeleland North and also the first city based on tourism in the country.

This will cement its prestigious status as the only tourism destination city that competes with Cape Town in South Africa in terms of the number of hotels.

Victoria Falls has hosted many international events such as the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, United Nations World Tourism Organisation General Assembly and the 6th session of the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (AFRFSD) held in February this year.

Conferment of a city status will attract more such events and indeed growth was inevitable for Victoria Falls. Government is also considering devolving some responsibilities including water management rights to Victoria Falls Municipality so the local authority has autonomy to manage its own water reticulation to become a real city.

The council has been engaging Government over the years with a view to be allowed to take over water management from Zimbabwe National Water Authority.

The Local Government ministry has also commended Victoria Falls management for keeping updated audited financials and for crafting a robust redevelopment concept aimed at improving infrastructure.

Government is also working on improving its infrastructure in the town to match world tourism destination standards with Masue and Batoka satellite towns also set to be established as part of the Victoria Falls-Hwange-Binga Special Economic Zone.

Government wants to make Victoria Falls its conferencing capital and plans 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.

Source - chronicle

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