Bulawayo-based international and award-winning artist Cont Mhlanga has urged the government not to focus only on the development of the 30-kilometre road leading to King Mzilikazi Khumalo’s grave but to market the grave site itself as a tourist attraction.
Mhlanga told NewsDay that what was neglected about the founding Ndebele king’s grave was the road and the promotion of the grave as a tourism site.
“The real thing that is neglected is the 30km road from Bulawayo to the grave. The road to Cecil John Rhodes’s grave is a highway built all the way to the hill where he lies and maintained to the extent that there is a gate with ablution facilities.
The road to King Mzilikazi’s grave is a dust road and off that dust road you have to walk for over 1,5km to get to the grave. You can’t drive a car on that 1,5km strip. There is a need to develop even that path.
“What is stopping the government from developing the six-kilometre strip that connects the hill where King Mzilikazi is buried and the hill where Cecil John Rhodes is buried?” asked Mhlanga.
King Mzilikazi died on September 5 1868 and was buried in a cave at the Matobo Hills.
In a recent interview with NewsDay, Tourism and Hospitality minister Walter Mzembi said it was the government’s plan to develop the monument under a historical tourism programme.
“If we can develop Rhodes’ and Allan Wilson’s graves why can’t we do the same for King Mzilikazi and King Lobengula? National shrines of spectacular view like that should be developed.
“We are working on a project which is still at conceptual stages on historical tourism and King Mzilikazi’s grave is one of those sites that we are looking at.
We are also working on a parallel programme and (Sylvester) Maunganidze (the permanent secretary) is currently in Binga trying to urge chiefs to understand the shrines programme, which is our focus in 2011/2012,” he said.