KATIMA MULILO – The prospect resumption of operations of the state-owned Zambezi Waterfront and Tourism Park (ZWTP) is as bleak as it has been over the past two years when it was temporarily closed down by government, following allegations of mismanagement.
This closure resulted in nearly 60 employees being left jobless, with only 17 of them employed on six-month renewable contracts to help with the maintenance of facilities.
New Era understands that employees’ allowances, which include pension fund and medical aid, were stripped off. New Era was further informed that employees’ last contracts expired in February, and they are yet to be renewed as workers continue to work in fear – without job security.
At the time of the closure, government had invested over N$200 million in the development of the first phase, which included site clearing, bulk earthworks, engineering, infrastructure, construction of the administration building, 15 bungalows and camping sites, conference facilities, and walkways on a piece of land, measuring approximately 22 hectares.
The park is slowly becoming a white elephant, as only caretakers who are maintaining the facilities can be found on-site. Some the facilities, particularly bungalows, are deteriorating due to the lack of maintenance. The facilities have also been encroached by trees, and snakes are now reportedly breeding in them.
The Ministry of Environment and Tourism has been appointing temporary managers on six-month contracts; however, since the last manager, Connie Situmbeko left last month upon the expiry of her contract, the position has been vacant.
Reliable sources informed New Era that the Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR) is on the verge of taking over the facilities, and a delegation recently had a familiarisation visit to the waterfront.
Efforts to obtain clarity about the future of the waterfront from the environment ministry proved futile, as by the time of going to print, their spokesperson, Romeo Muyunda, had not yet responded to the questions that were emailed to him yesterday. Conversely, Muyunda stated that the waterfront has too many irregularities that might take time to resolve:“There is a lot of issues there. There is ownership, there is also the issues of the way the infrastructures were developed, there is also the issue of maladministration of funds which still needs to be investigated, there are just so many issues,” said Muyunda.