THE Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management says it will declare “tourism war” against Zambia over its plans to allow a Chinese investor to put up a spin wheel at the Victoria Falls against UNESCO standards governing World Heritage Sites.
And former National Heritage Conservation Commission (NHCC) executive director Nicolas Katanekwa says the development proposals at the Victoria Falls through the construction of a Spin-Sational Ferris Wheel similar to that at Disneyland by a Chinese investor Ju Wenbin, the chief executive officer of China-Africa Cotton Development Limited, will spell an end to tourism in Livingstone.
A Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZNPWMA) official in Victoria Falls town, who spoke anonymously as they were not authorized to give interviews to the press, said Zambia should not tamper with the Victoria Falls World Heritage Site (WHS).
“Our superiors in Harare have said they will not sit idle and see the Victoria Falls getting deregistered as a WHS. They have informed us that we need to be ready for ‘war’ against Zambia, it’s going to be a tough tourism war and Zambia is bound to lose,” the wildlife official said.
He said Zimbabwe was not ready to lose the Victoria Falls heritage status due to Chinese developments which would be against UNESCO regulations.
“In 1989, UNESCO declared the Victoria Falls a WHS, bringing the number of WHS’s in Zimbabwe to three after the Matopo Hills and the Zimbabwe Ruins. The falls is a shared WHS with Zambia. Mind you, Zambia has only one WHS which is the Victoria Falls, so the government must tread carefully whenever thinking of developments at the site,” said the Zimbabwean official.
And Katanekwa said the Victoria Falls Eastern Cataract was a gazetted National Monument which needed strict protection.
“A National Monument can’t be sold unless it is de-gazetted; after all, it is also a National Park and a World Heritage Site. I remember during my era that Sun Hotels wanted to build an 2but UNESCO refused this proposal, so any developments such as that of a wheel can only take place if the Victoria Falls is removed from the World Heritage list and Zambia, through parliament, de-gazettes the Eastern Cataract National Monument,” Katanekwa said.
He added that he supported chief Mukuni’s views over the Victoria Falls and appealed to the PF government to listen.
W“You can’t sell a National Monument to an individual, that proposal is unacceptable,” said Katanekwa. “The Eastern Cataract National Monument has a lot of historical items there dating a thousand years back and that should not be threatened by massive developments such as that of constructing a wheel. If this goes on, we risk the Victoria Falls being de-listed from the World Heritage Site list by UNESCO.