Af­ter more than 30 years of Mu­gabe rule, Zim­babwe has a new pres­i­dent and the hopes of a more pros­per­ous fu­ture, but the tran­si­tion of power hasn’t been seam­less.

Business Traveller (Africa) - - CONTENTS - CON­TACTS zim­bab­we­tourism.net go­tovic­to­ri­afalls.co.za ■

Zim­babwe is a coun­try on a new path, with a new govern­ment and, of­fi­cially, a new leader. But, can they turn things around and help Zim­babwe re­alise the po­ten­tial many be­lieve it has? Here’s a busi­ness travel guide to vis­it­ing this coun­try.

Robert Mu­gabe ruled Zim­babwe from 1987, dur­ing which time the coun­try bat­tled to sur­vive a strug­gling econ­omy, wide­spread short­ages of ba­sic com­modi­ties, spo­radic vi­o­lence and hy­per­in­fla­tion. Once a much-loved leader, Mu­gabe even­tu­ally found him­self un­der in­creas­ing pres­sure, not only from op­po­si­tion par­ties, but also mem­bers of his own Zanu-PF party.

The sit­u­a­tion came to a head in Novem­ber, when the 94-yearold was told to step down. When he re­fused, the party be­gan im­peach­ment pro­ceed­ings. It took two days and mil­i­tary in­ter­ven­tion to re­move Mu­gabe from power. For­mer Vice-Pres­i­dent Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa as­sumed the pres­i­dency and in Au­gust won the 2018 gen­eral elec­tion. That's de­spite MDC leader and pres­i­den­tial ri­val Nelson Chamisa claim­ing vote fraud. Zim­babwe's Con­sti­tu­tional Court dis­missed Chamisa's chal­lenge, say­ing he had failed to prove the al­le­ga­tions.

With Mnan­gagwa now of­fi­cially in power, Rishabh

Tha­par, As­so­ciate Di­rec­tor at global hos­pi­tal­ity con­sul­tancy HVS Africa, be­lieves the new govern­ment has the dif­fi­cult task of re­build­ing the econ­omy.

“The coun­try, which is un­der se­vere ex­ter­nal debt, needs to be able to gain ac­cess to credit. The govern­ment would need to cre­ate favourable poli­cies, stamp out cor­rup­tion and cre­ate/re­vive its own cur­rency – this re­quires their un­di­vided fo­cus,” says Tha­par.

The new govern­ment has pri­ori­tised the re-en­gage­ment of the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity in an ef­fort to re­build the coun­try's im­age and at­tract foreign di­rect in­vest­ment un­der the ‘Zim­babwe is open for busi­ness' theme.

“We are op­ti­mistic that this new dis­pen­sa­tion will im­prove our im­age on the in­ter­na­tional front and cre­ate a spring­board for the re­bound of tourism that will nat­u­rally in­crease foreign ar­rivals into Zim­babwe,” says Tendai Madzi­wanyika, CEO of the Rain­bow Tourism Group.

It was hoped that Euro­pean, Bri­tish and Amer­i­can sanc­tions would be lifted af­ter Mu­gabe was re­moved, al­low­ing Zim­babwe to par­tic­i­pate fully in global eco­nom­ics, but this hasn't yet hap­pened. There are still concerns that the elec­tions were not en­tirely free and fair, which is a ma­jor con­cern for West­ern pow­ers. The Euro­pean Union did, how­ever, lift sanc­tions on di­a­mond ex­ports in 2013, and Zim­babwe has been trad­ing in An­twerp, a large di­a­mond cen­tre in Bel­gium, for

“We are op­ti­mistic that this new dis­pen­sa­tion will im­prove our im­age on the in­ter­na­tional front. ”

the last five years.

China, how­ever, has no such qualms and has been a huge source of fi­nan­cial sup­port. (See side­bar)

The econ­omy of Zim­babwe is largely de­pen­dent on agri­cul­ture and min­eral re­sources, with the min­ing in­dus­try the largest driver, ac­count­ing for al­most half of the coun­try's ex­ports. Man­u­fac­tur­ing was once a key sec­tor of the econ­omy and the ba­sic man­u­fac­tur­ing in­fra­struc­ture still ex­ists in many cases. How­ever, it needs in­vest­ment, mod­erni­sa­tion and re­li­able power to get up and run­ning again.

How­ever, Tha­par feels that tourism can and should be a large con­trib­u­tor to the GDP. (See side­bar)

Zim­babwe has a long road ahead to full re­cov­ery, but many are op­ti­mistic.

“The pre­vail­ing spirit in Zim­babwe has changed dra­mat­i­cally over the past years,” says Dun­can Bon­nett, Di­rec­tor Strat­egy & Busi­ness De­vel­op­ment at re­search and con­sult­ing spe­cial­ists Africa House. “Zim­babwe's pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tors are more pos­i­tive than they have been in pos­si­bly 15 years, but with a sense of re­al­ism. Sig­nif­i­cant in­fra­struc­ture and in­dus­trial re­vi­tal­i­sa­tion projects are planned, but there are still cer­tain chal­lenges in the way of realising them.”


The cap­i­tal city Harare is the most pop­u­lated city in Zim­babwe and the coun­try's pri­mary busi­ness travel des­ti­na­tion. Set in the nat­u­ral gar­den of the Zim­babwe Highveld, 1,500 me­tres above sea level, Harare is a friendly city of flow­er­ing trees and gar­dens and a tem­per­ate cli­mate. Don't miss the Harare gar­dens, Mbare mar­ket and mu­seum on your visit.

Bu­l­awayo is the sec­ond largest city lo­cated south-west of Harare. The Zim­babwe In­ter­na­tional Trade Fair is lo­cated here and is the largest in­tra-re­gional trade fair south of the Sa­hara, pro­vid­ing the largest, most con­ve­nient trade hub in the re­gion. Zim­babwe's most pop­u­lar tourist and MICE des­ti­na­tion is Vic­to­ria Falls, home to the great­est cur­tain of falling wa­ter in the world. (See side­bar)

The Great Zim­babwe Ru­ins in Masvingo and the Khami Ru­ins in Bu­l­awayo are among the world's most well-pre­served an­cient cities. In ad­di­tion, the Hwange Game Re­serve is the coun­try's largest wildlife sanc­tu­ary and home to one of the largest ele­phant pop­u­la­tions in Africa. Lake Kariba is also a pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion for game view­ing and fish­ing.


Harare's air­port is the largest in the coun­try, sit­u­ated 10 kilo­me­tres from the cen­tre of town. There are shops and small restau­rants in the air­port. Most of the air­lines, in­clud­ing Emi­rates, SAA, BA (op­er­ated by Co­mair), Kenya Air­ways, Air Zim­babwe and Ethiopian Air­lines do of­fer air­side lounge fa­cil­i­ties to their first and busi­ness class pas­sen­gers. The air­port se­cu­rity and cus­toms x-ray sys­tems are ex­tremely thor­ough, though, so re­move your belt, shoes, watch and ev­ery­thing from your pock­ets. Taxis, air­port shut­tles and trans­fers by car are the most pop­u­lar forms of trans­port to and from the city.

The check-in ex­pe­ri­ence can be long, es­pe­cially in econ­omy, but im­mi­gra­tion tends to be fast. The

ar­rivals hall ap­pears dis­or­gan­ised, but it flows. Hav­ing your forms com­pleted, know­ing your visa re­quire­ments, and hav­ing ex­act change for your visa will ex­pe­dite the process.

Fast­jet be­gan op­er­a­tions into Zim­babwe in 2014 from Dar es Salaam. The air­line set up a Zim­bab­wean arm in 2015 and cur­rently flies in­ter­nally be­tween Harare and Vic Falls as well as Harare and Bu­l­awayo.

Other air­lines that land in Harare in­clude Air Botswana from Gaborone, Air Namibia (which also flies to Vic Falls) from Wind­hoek, Air­link from Johannesburg, and LAM from Mozam­bique.

As the coun­try's na­tional car­rier, Air Zim­babwe con­nects Harare, Bu­l­awayo and Vic­to­ria Falls. BA (op­er­ated by Co­mair) of­fers flights to Vic Falls from South Africa, while SAA reaches Bu­l­awayo and Vic Falls in ad­di­tion to Harare.

In July, Air­link en­hanced its six weekly flights be­tween Cape Town and Vic Falls by switch­ing to an 83-seater AvroRJ re­gional jet air­craft, which has busi­ness class seats.

The new Vic­to­ria Falls In­ter­na­tional Air­port opened in 2016, and has been well re­ceived. SAA was the first air­line to land a wide-bod­ied air­craft there when its Air­bus A330-200 touched down from Johannesburg in March last year. In the same month, Ethiopian Air­lines launched four weekly flights from Ad­dis Ababa util­is­ing a Boe­ing 737, whilst in May, Kenya Air­ways launched three di­rect weekly flights from Nairobi.

“These three air­lines alone add 80,000 new seats per an­num into Vic­to­ria Falls In­ter­na­tional Air­port and the re­gion, of­fer­ing a huge op­por­tu­nity for growth, as well as con­nect­ing new des­ti­na­tions with the in­cred­i­ble Vic­to­ria Falls hub and KAZA tourism re­gion,” says Ross Kennedy, Chief Ex­ec­u­tive at Africa Al­bida Tourism.


Cresta Ho­tels has the most com­pre­hen­sive Harare of­fer­ing of all the ho­tel groups, with three es­tab­lish­ments in the city. The cen­trally-lo­cated Cresta Jame­son has a 24-hour front desk, busi­ness cen­tre, con­fer­ence fa­cil­i­ties, wi-fi con­nec­tiv­ity, and a health and beauty spa, whilst Cresta Lodge Harare, on the out­skirts of the city cen­tre, has a sim­i­lar mid-mar­ket, yet solid of­fer­ing, in a dif­fer­ent set­ting. The group also op­er­ates the Cresta Oa­sis, which is a ho­tel that also of­fers ser­viced apart­ments for longterm stays. Cresta also has the Cresta Churchill in Bu­l­awayo – a 50-room prop­erty that ap­par­ently “oozes Tu­dor charm” – and Cresta Sprayview in Vic Falls.

Rain­bow Tourism Group, the sec­ond largest ho­tel group in Zim­babwe by num­ber of rooms and mar­ket cap­i­tal­i­sa­tion, is rep­re­sented in Harare by two ho­tels. The Rain­bow Tow­ers Ho­tel & Con­fer­ence Cen­tre, one of the few tall build­ings pierc­ing the city sky­line, was re­fur­bished in 2013 and has 304 rooms, wi-fi and 24-hour room ser­vice. Din­ing is pro­vided by four eater­ies – the Har­vest Gar­den (buf­fet restau­rant); the Kom­ba­hari Restau­rant (Afro-Asian fu­sion); Tep­pan Yaki (Far East cui­sine); and La Pa­tis­er­rie, the ho­tel's lobby cof­fee shop.

Rain­bow's sec­ond Harare prop­erty, the New Am­bas­sador Ho­tel, is lo­cated in the CBD, and is walk­ing dis­tance from the main fi­nan­cial, com­mer­cial and govern­ment in­sti­tu­tions, as well as a host of shops, cin­e­mas, restau­rants, the Na­tional Mu­seum and Art Gallery. It of­fers 72 rooms, a busi­ness cen­tre, wi-fi con­nec­tiv­ity and three din­ing op­tions. RTG also has the Bu­l­awayo Rain­bow Ho­tel – its only prop­erty in that city – and two ho­tels in Vic Falls, in the form of

the A'Zam­bezi River Lodge and the Vic­to­ria Falls Rain­bow Ho­tel. (see side­bar)

The four-star Monomo­tapa Ho­tel, now un­der the man­age­ment of Legacy Ho­tels & Re­sorts, over­looks Harare. It of­fers a mix of twin rooms, king leisure rooms and suites, and en­joys panoramic views of Harare, right on the doorstep of the city's Cen­tral Park and Gar­dens. Zim­babwe's Na­tional Gallery is a five-minute walk away and the renowned Botan­i­cal Gar­dens a short 10-minute drive. There is also a va­ri­ety of restau­rants to choose from.

Legacy has ear­marked funds for the up­grad­ing of the ground floor and pub­lic ar­eas to the es­ti­mated tune of $22 mil­lion.

There are also big plans for the area sur­round­ing this ho­tel, with a vi­sion to turn it into some­thing akin to Johannesburg's Sand­ton City, with of­fices, ho­tels, shops and re­cre­ation fa­cil­i­ties. The Harare Gar­dens are in front of the ho­tel, and around the cor­ner sits the Na­tional Art Gallery. The new own­ers have con­cluded a deal with the Harare City Coun­cil and will pur­chase 5.4 hectares of the park land, which will be­come part of the ho­tel.

Fol­low­ing a deal con­cluded with African Sun in 2015, Legacy now man­ages four other Zim­babwe ho­tels – Ele­phant Hills and The King­dom at Vic­to­ria Falls, Hwange Sa­fari Lodge and the Trout­beck Re­sort. There are plans to even­tu­ally up­grade and re­fur­bish all of these prop­er­ties.

Al­though no man­age­ment agree­ments have been signed yet, Legacy is set to take over the man­age­ment of two more ho­tels in the near fu­ture – Caribbea Bay in Kariba and the Great Zim­babwe Ho­tel in Masvingo – which will in­crease its Zim­babwe port­fo­lio to seven.

Radis­son Blu en­tered Zim­babwe when it be­gan con­struc­tion of the Radis­son Blu Ho­tel Harare in March 2017. Doors are ex­pected to open next year. The new fives­tar ho­tel, lo­cated along­side the Chap­man Golf Club, will fea­ture 245 ho­tel rooms and suites and pro­vide 40 long-stay res­i­dences, an all-day restau­rant, a spe­cial­ity restau­rant and cock­tail lounge, a pool bar and grill, and a large ter­race, all with views across the golf course. There will also be con­fer­ence and meet­ing fa­cil­i­ties, a spa, a gym, two swim­ming pools and a kids' club.

Look­ing at the other main ho­tels in Harare, the Meik­les Ho­tel is a five-star prop­erty set in a prime lo­ca­tion in the cen­tre of the city. Lo­cal tourist at­trac­tions such as East­gate Cen­tre, African Unity Square and the Na­tional Art Gallery are not far from the

“We an­tic­i­pate that Zim­babwe is on the verge of a ma­jor eco­nomic turn­around that will re­sult in an in­creased de­mand for rooms and MICE busi­ness. ”

ho­tel. Also nearby are the Harare Gar­dens, Queen Vic­to­ria Mu­seum and Na­tional Mu­seum. Din­ing fa­cil­i­ties at Meik­les in­clude La Fon­taine, a good restau­rant worth try­ing. The ho­tel also of­fers trans­porta­tion to/from the air­port for an ad­di­tional fee.

The Bronte Ho­tel is renowned for its beau­ti­ful gar­dens and col­lec­tion of Shona sculp­tures. Cen­trally lo­cated in the Av­enues, within walk­ing dis­tance of down­town Harare, the Bronte of­fers well-ap­pointed rooms and ex­ec­u­tive suites in a gar­den set­ting. Suited to both the busi­ness and leisure trav­eller, the ameni­ties in­clude com­pli­men­tary wi-fi, two swim­ming pools, a fit­ness cen­tre, com­pli­men­tary break­fast buf­fet, se­cure on­site park­ing and fine din­ing at Em­manuel's Restau­rant.

On Samora Machel Av­enue,

the Hol­i­day Inn Harare is just 200 me­tres from the CBD and 12 kilo­me­tres from Harare In­ter­na­tional Air­port. Mez­za­nine­floor meet­ing rooms can ac­com­mo­date up to 250 guests. Din­ing is pro­vided by the Sil­ver Spur Steak Ranch restau­rant, 24hour room ser­vice, and the ho­tel restau­rant.

IHG also has the new Hol­i­day Inn in Mutare, which the group opened in July. The fran­chised prop­erty is owned by African Sun and of­fers 96 rooms, an out­door pool, and a meet­ing room for up to 250 peo­ple.


The de facto of­fi­cial cur­rency is the US dol­lar and it is very much a cash econ­omy. The South African rand and Bri­tish pound are also ac­cepted, but you do not get a favourable ex­change rate. Ma­jor in­ter­na­tional credit cards (Visa and Master­Card) are now ac­cepted in most of the larger ho­tels, restau­rants and shops, but many smaller es­tab­lish­ments still do not have credit card fa­cil­i­ties. Din­ers Club and Amer­i­can Ex­press are of­ten not ac­cepted.

There is cur­rently a cash flow prob­lem in the coun­try and ATMs of­ten re­strict with­drawal amounts. Mo­bile money trans­ac­tions are pop­u­lar and the num­ber of point of sale ma­chines in the coun­try in­creased by 20% to ap­prox­i­mately 70,000 in 2017. This is good news for trav­ellers as it re­duces the need to ar­range foreign cur­rency, al­though, it is still ad­vis­able to take a small num­ber of low de­nom­i­na­tion bills for cer­tain ba­sic trans­ac­tions.


Trav­ellers from the fol­low­ing African coun­tries do not re­quire visas to en­ter Zim­babwe: Botswana, DRC, Ghana, Kenya, Le­sotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozam­bique, Namibia, South Africa, Swazi­land, Tan­za­nia, Togo, Uganda, and Zam­bia.

African coun­tries whose na­tion­als are granted visas at the port of en­try on pay­ment of the req­ui­site visa fees ($30 – sin­gle en­try): Egypt and Sey­chelles.

All other African pass­port hold­ers need to ap­ply in ad­vance.


Malaria is preva­lent in large parts of the coun­try, so do take the nec­es­sary pre­cau­tions.

Pri­vate med­i­cal cen­tres of­fer ex­cel­lent health­care, es­pe­cially in Harare, where qual­ity treat­ment is avail­able 24/7. There are also sev­eral am­bu­lance com­pa­nies who can un­der­take med­i­cal evac­u­a­tion where nec­es­sary.

There are also a num­ber of emer­gency clin­ics of­fer­ing good health­care af­ter hours, if you pre­fer avoid­ing a hos­pi­tal.

Drink­ing tap wa­ter is not ad­vis­able, al­though Vic­to­ria Falls does have its own wa­ter pu­rifi­ca­tion plant.

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