I spent the weekend (and Friday and Monday) with the Mountain Club of Zimbabwe in The Corner. No, it is not a bad place, or a place for bad boys. It is stunning, especially this time of year as the Musasas are out (and the other two Brachystigias and the Julbernardia – Miombo woodland!) it is the north end of the Chimanimanis. Chimanimani Mountains, north of Chimanimani town, but a separate National Park. A corner of Zimbabwe that sticks into Mozambique. If you walk any direction but West, you will be in Mozambique in less than 8 km. (And I think we did some border jumping a couple of times!)
It is a wonderful place. It is awesome! But the road there is a bit… sub-optimal. Maybe track is a better word? There is an ablution block, boiler for hot water, and a camp site with about 8 braai stands. Beside one stream. And over the ridge, 350 meters, is another stream, waterfall, pool to swim in, trees to sleep under, aloes and succulents all over. Very rich.
So how come, aside from the access being ‘bad’, the ablution block does not work? There is no water? There really is nothing there, that was not there 30 years before. And His Excellency the President is sharing World Tourism ambassador status with Michael Sata next door. There is talk of Disney World at Vic. Falls.
Opportunities and investments!
And yet, Zimbabwean tourism is only for foreigners, who can fly in and fly out, afford the rates, stay in the fancy hotels, gamble, buy curios, and be tourists. There is no tourism for Zimbabweans. We are not allowed, or encouraged, to go see and enjoy our country – the most beautiful one in the world. If you do not have a 4 wheel drive to allow you to get down the road to The Corner. You are not encouraged to scramble together minimum resources, (mattress, blankets, food you would eat at home) and pay $5 a night for camping fee, and have home comforts. What we paid for the weekend (there was a big group) would go a long ways towards maintaining the facility there that would encourage Zimbabweans to visit, easily, beautiful Zimbabwe.
Why is Zimbabwean Tourism only aimed at ‘high end’ ‘big bucks’ foreign tourists? Where they bus in the wildlife to make an impression? Is it really tourism, aimed at promoting Zimbabwe? Aimed at Zimbabweans? Aimed at being a proud Zimbabwean? Or is it really about making money for select, connected, individuals. To ‘make it’ in the short term, and let their children grapple with the long term. Private vice equals public virtue – the capitalist mantra. Are we so utterly Capitalist, or is there still some Socialist in the government somewhere?