THE government plan to build an African Disneyland at the resort town of the Victorian Falls at an estimated cost of $300 million is a high-sounding ambitious project whose successful implementation will hinge on investor-friendly economic policies, analysts have said.
Report by Gamma Mudarikiri
Analysts yesterday said because of the country’s policy inconsistencies, it would be impossible for the government to find investors with deep pockets to bankroll the project unless President Robert Mugabe’s new administration used its own financial resources.
Tourism and Hospitality minister Walter Mzembi told a local news agency on the sidelines of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation general assembly that the government was planning a $300 million theme park near Victoria Falls, branding it a “Disneyland in Africa”.
Mzembi disclosed that the government had reserved 1 200 hectares of land near Victoria Falls International Airport for construction of hotels and convention centres. The complex would have a banking centre “where even people who do not necessarily live in Zimbabwe can open bank accounts”.
But analysts who spoke to Southern Eye yesterday said the project was too ambitious for a government, which was battling to attract foreign direct investment and allay fears about its controversial black economic empowerment policies, particularly the indigenisation programme.
They added that Mugabe’s controversial re-election did not augur well for such a massive project that needed foreign investment.
Economic analyst John Robertson said the building of the $300 million Disneyland would be possible only if the government implemented policies which attracted investors.
“The government does have the money to build such a facility. It only has to create an investor-friendly environment to raise such an amount,” he added.
Environmentalists said the plan, if implemented, would disturb wildlife in the area.
Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force chairperson Johnny Rodrigues said the country had already enough natural tourist attractions and building a Disneyland was likely to disturb the environment.
“Building a Disneyland will disturb the wildlife. Why build it when we already have enough natural attractions?” asked Rodrigues asked.
He advised the government to first carry out an environmental impact assessment and consult other stakeholders before building the facility.
Twitter feedback @mudarikirig