VOTERS in Hwange West have challenged aspiring legislators in the area to ensure that tourism revenue derived from the Zambezi Rainforest is channelled towards development of the constituency.
BY NOKUTHABA DLAMINI
The calls were made on Sunday during a Victoria Falls civic society consultative meeting held at Chinotimba Hall.
The residents accused previous legislators of failing to properly represent them.
“I am a rural primary teacher in Jambezi and my pupils walk about 18km to school every day. They get exposed to lots of dangers where some have been attacked by wild animals. Our schools have no furniture, no books and are pupils have to make-do with what is available,” a local teacher who declined to be named said.
He added: “The pupils have not even seen the Victoria Falls and the Rainforest. When we appealed to authorities to at least slash or offer free entry to them, but the request was turned down. How will our country grow and have a generation that has a sense of belonging when things are done this way? I appeal to these candidates to advocate for at least once a year and allow our children to have an appreciation of their heritage,” he said.
On average 250 000 tourists, 75% of them foreign, visit the rainforest annually. Locals pay $7 (adults) and $4 (children) while tourists from the Sadc region pay $20.
International tourists pay $30 per head.
“The district has no vocational training centres and schools. In this town, we only have one government school. No development has been happening and that is why as residents we ended up suggesting that council bill $1 levy per household to go towards education because thousands of our children have been performing dismally. We recently built our own laboratory because the school did not even have any science subject because of that but you as aspiring parliamentarians, we are assigning you present that issue and formulate policies that will work for your people, mainly students,” a resident said.
Another Mvuthu villager complained that their land had been invaded by tour operators.
“As villagers from Chief Mvuthu and Chief Shana’s area, we are not happy about the way we are being treated in our own land. Tourism activities have stretched to our land and we have run out of grazing and farming areas. Animals are also destroying our crops and attacking community members. We did not reap anything this year because of elephants. We want to vote for someone who will address those issues,” she said.
The aspiring leaders promised to work with the people and bring a change as they admitted that there was unfair sharing of resources.
Morgen Dube represented the MDC-T led by Thokozani Khupe, while Godfrey Dube stood for Nelson Chamisa’s MDC-T.
Christopher Ndiweni represented National People’s Party, Johnson Ndlovu (Mthwakazi Republic Party) and Jose Mthembo (Republican Party of Zimbabwe) led by Kwanele Hlabangana. Zanu PF was not represented.