ZANU PF supporters bussed in to witness President Robert Mugabe’s lavish 91st birthday celebrations in Victoria Falls reportedly trashed the resort town and destroyed flora and fauna.
The ruling party bussed in thousands of people from the country’s 10 provinces to attend the bash, but most of them were stranded and resorted to sleeping on pavements and other open spaces, leaving a trail of litter everywhere they set foot.
Most Jacaranda trees that decorate the resort town were destroyed as the stranded party goers used the branches for bedding or shielding themselves from the scorching sun.
Beautiful lawns in designated areas were damaged, including the Elephant Hills Golf Course, which will need a facelift.
The resort town’s sewer system was overwhelmed, leaving local residents experiencing incessant sewer bursts.
Bushy areas around the resort town were littered with human waste as existing ablution facilities could not cope with the multitudes that thronged the town. Victoria Falls town clerk Christopher Dube confirmed that there was heavy littering, but said his council had cleaned up by Tuesday.
“We have finished cleaning the town of the heavy litter,” he said.
“In Victoria Falls we have a culture of not littering. We have designated areas for throwing litter. However, there came people from other areas and they were throwing litter everywhere.”
A council source said workers in the health department had to work overtime to clear the town of litter and human waste.
“We have never worked like that,” the council employee said. “I have been working in council for several years now, but have not seen such dirt. Big conferences are held here, but we have never experienced what we saw after the birthday celebrations.”
A tour operator, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said events like Mugabe’s bash should not be brought to tourist destinations of Victoria Falls’ status.
“It affects our tourism,” the operator said.
“That dirt and destruction of trees chase away tourists. Our town would be viewed as a dirty destination. Imagine what image tourists who jetted into Victoria Falls in the aftermath of the celebrations have about the resort town?”
Victoria Falls had been receiving a steady influx of tourists since the successful hosting of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation general assembly in August 2013.