The iconic Midlands province whose capital is the City of Gweru, hosted Honourable Mangaliso Ndlovu, the Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism, and Hospitality Industry, and his delegation as part of the sector’s itinerary dubbed the Midlands Indaba, in conformity with its goals under the National Development Strategy (NDS1 2021- 2025) to achieve a geographical spread of tourism in all Provinces.
The move augurs well with President Mnangagwa’s Independence Day speech in which he called on all government departments to be unwavering in creating opportunities for inclusive growth in all sectors of the economy, tourism included.
“Through this engagement, we are therefore carrying through this pronounced vision. It is my fervent hope that this collaboration was the stimulus that informed the essential input for the Tourism and Environment Sector in the Provincial Economic Development Plan (PEDP).
“Hon Minister, you will recall that I had a similar programme some two years back but it was then disturbed by COVID19 related lockdown protocols. Based on what I saw then and during this visit, I am convinced that it has explicit diversity and is a true reflection of ”everything Zimbabwe”. Midlands is endowed with a rich history and heritage; pristine wildlife and nature; and wonderful people and culture,” Minister Ndlovu said.
Midlands has a natural blend and easy fit of the Mashonaland and Matabeleland traditions, culture, history, heritage, and the people.
It is also in this region that one finds an assortment of minerals along the Great Dyke; ranging from chrome, iron, diamond, platinum, and gold, to name but a few.
The province is reported to have perfected the art of artisanal gold mining, no wonder the mining museum was appropriately located at the Golden Phoenix mine.
Minister Ndlovu compelled all Mining Companies operating in Midlands province and nationally, to invest resources to rehabilitate the areas they would have mined so as to preserve the environment and encouraged stakeholders to take steps to eradicate the environmental damage posed by some of the mining activities taking place.
He contends that the Midlands province, among its unique attributes, has “the happiest and generous populace in the country and embraces a lot of the country’s successful small-scale miners”.
“I challenge everyone in this province to extend your happiness and generosity towards the tourism and hospitality sector. Charity begins at home, Zimbho/IZIMYAMI! Undoubtedly, once you arrive in the Midlands Province its aura urges you to seek out more, out of an array of exciting tourism products. Remarkably this mix caters to both local and international tourists.”
The range of tourism products in the Midlands Province includes the courteously secluded Chizarira National Park, the serene Sebakwe Recreational Park, the famed Paper House in Kwekwe, and the Gweru Military Aircraft Museum, the Antelope Park, and Gwenoro Dam.
Notwithstanding all these tourism products, Zimbabwe still has a number of untapped tourism opportunities in the Midlands Province.
Minister Ndlovu pledged to expose such opportunities to the world.
“It is in that context that a joint team of officials from my ministry, your office, National Museums and Monuments, and ZimParks, visited the region to assess an assortment of wonders dotted around this province. Their discovery is revealing of a Province that is surely blessed with numerable opportunities.
“The potential for Community Based Tourism Enterprises (CBTEs) at Chiyubunzoi Cultural centre can never be underestimated. Key areas for investments include the family-friendly Whitewater Resort, the scenic Korogwe Gorge in Zvishavane, the magical Gandavaroi Gorge in Gokwe, and a Public-Private Partnership at Kautsiga Hunting Safari area with immense benefits for the local community. Through this noteworthy collaboration, we will continue to take an intensive audit of all potential tourism sites in this Province, so that we can come up with development plans for them to attract investments and promote these sites to both domestic and international tourists alongside the popular tourism products in the country.”
The province has a strong product base to lay the foundation for tourism to contribute meaningfully to the Provincial Economic Development Plan. The Minister called on provinces to make use of their different selling points which can be leveraged to collate Destination Zimbabwe packages.
He said such cross-cutting packages will be the stimulus for tourists to stay longer in the country, thereby increasing the length of stay and revenue for the country.
Zimbabwe boasts of an extraordinary wealth of natural and diverse ecosystems. It also has diverse flora and fauna including rare and endemic species and a wealth of ethnic lifestyles and cultures. This underlines the powerful tool of tourism to contribute not only to ecosystem and biodiversity conservation but also to the development of local communities and the Nation at large.
“There is indeed no doubt that tourism is low-hanging fruit with the potential for quick wins and it is our belief that it will contribute immensely towards the attainment of Provincial Gross Domestic Product. As a Ministry, we are cognisant of the essence of Devolution and decentralisation which has taken prominence under the Second Republic. The Ministry has now embarked on a determined drive to push for the development of tourism at the Provincial level for the benefit of the local communities who are the custodians of the resources. I, therefore, call for continued cooperation and coordination with all stakeholders in your province and all the local authorities in the Midlands, and my Ministry in the development of tourism in the Province. I would like to take this opportunity to call for a fruitful discussion as we map the way forward for the development of tourism in the province,” Hon Ndlovu added.