Land Dispute Puts US$50 Million Hotel Plans At Risk
A land dispute between Victoria Falls Town Council (VFTC) and a private company, Wild Horizons has put at risk plans to construct a US$50 million hotel in the resort town.
The local government authority informed Wild Horizons that it was selling the land – the company was occupying on a 25-year lease – to an investor wishing to build a seven-star hotel.
Wild Horizons insists that the VFTC ought to give it the first right of refusal since it is the sitting occupant of the land in question. VFTC says the request was not part of the terms of the lease agreement.
Instead, the VFTC has offered Wild Horizons another piece of land which is located next to the site where a hotel is to be constructed. Wild Horizons has refused to accept.
The council’s Town Clerk, Ronnie Dube, told the Daily News:
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A full council meeting, which was deferred on February 3, is expected to deal decisively with the matter when it next convenes.
Council received an application to construct a seven-star hotel estimated at around US$50 million, which would invariably employ more than 200 people, the majority of them being locals. Council then notified the lease holders to vacate within 90 days as provided for in Section 18 of the lease agreement.
Wild Horizons responded by rejecting the council’s position and they claimed that that move would cost 700 employees their jobs, but in our view, the jetty site does not employ more than 10 people.
It is the council’s considered view that the new applicants would add value in the development trajectory in line with the National Development Strategy 1, which calls for employment creation. This will also imply that council will be able to charge rates, unlike the $7 000 lease rental being paid now. The relocation on its own would even create more employment with the beginning of construction which will benefit most businesses in Victoria Falls.
Wild Horizons said it had hoped that the council would address the matter at its deferred full meeting where it had its representative attending.
Wrote Wild Horizons corporate affairs and business development director, Barbra Murasiranwa-Hughes:
We would like to put on record that we believe this move has rendered your letter null and void, as we feel Wild Horizons was given notice “illegally” before all due processes were followed within council.
Murasiranwa-Hughes said they await advice from the council on the next full council meeting which they will attend to defend their position.