Parliament yesterday adopted a motion to proclaim Victoria Falls Municipality as a city, a development which makes the prime tourism destination the second city in Matabeleland region after Bulawayo.

However, in terms of Section 4 (1) of the Urban Councils Act [Chapter 29;15], it is only the President who will declare the city status by proclamation in the Gazette following the motion from Parliament.

Legislators yesterday exhaustively debated the issue of granting city status to Victoria Falls and were largely in favour of the move, meaning all that is left is the Presidential declaration.

Moving the motion, Local Government and Public Works Minister July Moyo told Parliament yesterday that he was satisfied that the fast growing local authority and tourist epicenter of Zimbabwe should be awarded city status.

Moyo said the city status will improve the profile of Victoria Falls as an international tourism destination.

The city title embolden the impression of credibility and attracts development and potential investment from both local and international investors while simultaneously embracing the element of prestige, which is what any local authority envisages.

Potential visitors to any country, especially on the worldwide web look up cities rather than towns or municipalities, hence the title itself augments image. Looking at world tourist cities, Victoria Falls regrettably is not featuring,” he told Parliament.

Victoria Falls Municipality has hosted many international events, among such conventions being the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and the United Nations World Tourism Organisation General Assembly, hence conferment of city status would attract more of such events and thus benefit the fiscus, said Moyo.

Debating in favour of the motion, Chegutu West MP Dexter Nduna Victoria Falls was already home to a lot of cruise companies and helicopter companies while the recent setting up of a stock exchange there made the city status needed more now than ever. 

We have cities like the City of Kadoma which is called the ‘city of gold’ but it has no runway except one that used to be at Cam and Motor at Eiffel Flats but if we compare Victoria Falls and the City of Kadoma, you see by a long margin that Victoria Falls deserves city status.

“Victoria Falls a world heritage site and is only second to Cape Town in terms of the proliferation of hotels in that city. 

I want to also go further and say it has an establishment of an aviation sector second to none in Zimbabwe,” Nduna said.

Godfrey Dube, the MDC Alliance MP for Hwange West constituency, which covers Victoria Falls, welcomed the city status but called for the protection of natural resources as big city status usually comes with construction projects that may disturb the natural state of the Victoria Falls.

Since we have been given the city status, we do not want these things to be disturbed and game corridors, the Zambezi and the falls should not be tampered with. 

This should not just be a celebration without benefitting the local community.  This city status should not make life difficult for the locals.  For example high rates as they are already paying higher rates,” said Dube in favour of the motion.

He called for more empowerment of the local people and said the locals must benefit rather than feel punished by the City status.

We are happy that we now have the stock exchange in Victoria Falls which all goes to show that it was high time we got city status.  We hope that everything will be dealt with in the proper manner

“Our prayer is that the funds from the national parks in Victoria Falls and also from the Zambezi in Victoria Falls should not be all collected and brought to Bambazonke. 

It is the hope of the people in Victoria Falls that as they celebrate, all these things are taken into consideration and be corrected so that the clinics, schools and roads are developed or repaired by these funds that are generated by Victoria Falls because all eyes in the country are now on Victoria Falls.

Speaking as a resident of Victoria and former Executive Mayor, Hwange East MDC Alliance Wesley Tose Sansole said he was not in favour of the motion to grant the city status.

There is need to preserve the natural setting of Victoria Falls.  The world heritage site status could be lost as a result of overdeveloping the town. 

The main attraction to Victoria Falls is the wilderness experience.  When you go to Victoria Falls, you go through a forest and Victoria Falls town is surrounded by a national park.  The natural environment being the main attraction should be maintained as natural as possible, that is, the rain forest near the town should be maintained naturally.  

It is the view of the business community that Victoria Falls should be left as it is so that we do not lose the world heritage site status,” Sansole argued.

However, fellow MDC Alliance MP Joel Gabuza of Binga South constituency said “Honourable Sansole was indirectly supporting although with reservations. 

I want to applaud the Minister’s presentation and state that this was long overdue to the people of Matabeleland North and Victoria Falls.

If Victoria Falls was a business, it was a going concern.  The future of most of the cities that have been granted city status has been doomed in the sense that Victoria Falls being a tourist town, it will never die as long as the attractiveness or that scenery that attracts tourists is still alive, it will always be there and it will continue growing,” Gabuza said in support of the city status.

Zanu-PF MP Pupurai Togarepi supported the motion but called for government intervention to ensure that the new Victoria Falls City competes with the neighbouring Zambian city of Livingstone across the Zambezi. Other MPs raised similar sentiments in support, saying the high cost of hotel facilities in Victoria Falls as well as the water challenges must be addressed for the new city to complete for global spotlight.

July Moyo thanked the legislators for their support of the motion and assured those with reservations that Government was taking so much care to make sure that Victoria Falls will be preserved.

Victoria Falls would be the first city based on tourism industry in our country.

According to the 2012 census, Victoria Falls was home to 38 000 people but is believed to be now around 50 000 because of migration due to tourism. Transit population that goes through the Victoria Falls airport is about 400 000, with thousands of road users from neighbouring Zambia, and Botswana.

Victoria Falls Municipality started off as a railway station in the colonial era, with Livingstone as the town (under the Rhodesia Federation), and then achieved town status in 1971 before being proclaimed a municipality in 1999.

Victoria Falls Municipality applied for city status in 2017 to then Minister of Local Government, Rural Development and National Housing Saviour Kasukuwere who appointed a commission to look into the application. The commission made its findings and gave him the report in favour of the application.

Kasukuwere was to be replaced by July Moyo in December 2017.

Credit: Zimbabwe Voice

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Tamblr @mygokwe

Be the first to receive our news

Subscribe to our newsletter and get the latest news updates 

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.