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Doubts cast as new convention project announced for Vic Falls

Pre-election claims for new development sparks questions about funding

Confusion surrounds claims of a major new development in Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls area, which were announced by vice-president Constantino Chiwenga ahead of this week's national elections.

Chiwenga flew into Victoria Falls yesterday and officiated at a ground-breaking ceremony for a US$1.2 billion project undertaken by what he claims is an Arab firm called Feonirichi LLC. However, others claim that the funding comes from Nigeria and is of questionable status. 

He said the project will provide motor racing facilities, a state-of-the-art medical resort, a seven-star hotel, convention centre and a shopping mall. Chiwenga said the investment was a testimony that Zimbabwe is open for business.

He said: “As a government, we welcome this investment and as a demonstration of our commitment to the project, we provided the 271 hectares of land to facilitate the development. Over and above being granted the national project status, the investor will also benefit from a range of incentives under the Special Economic Zones regulations, including unrestricted repatriation of profits, liberal taxation and duty rebates on imported goods, services and equipment,” Chiwenga said.

“This is clear evidence that the government is on a correct trajectory for economic recovery. By harnessing all low-hanging fruits to our advantage, of which tourism is one such sector, we can surely leapfrog our national economic development agenda and achieve the President’s vision that Zimbabwe will be a middle income economy by the year 2020.”

“As we move with speed to transform our economy, government will put in place sustainable incentives to enable rapid transformation of the tourism economy.” including the low-income groups, children, the elderly and people with disabilities.”

The government designated three Special Economic Zones in the country - Bulawayo for industrial hubs, Harare for high-tech industries and Victoria Falls anchored on tourism and financial services.

Victoria Falls mayor Sifiso Mpofu said the investment was welcome as hotel occupancy since November had been increasing. The project is situated along Victoria Falls-Bulawayo Road near the Victoria Falls International Airport.

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