President Emmerson Mnangagwa has approved a series of multi-million-dollar tourism projects proposed by former Reserve Bank Governor, Gideon Gono for the northern shores of Mutirikwi Dam in Masvingo.
The Mirror has a copy of a letter dated February 19, 2021, written to Gono by Jorum Gumbo who is the Minister for Presidential Affairs and Monitoring Implementation of Government Programmes confirming the approvals.
One of the projects is a high end restaurant sitting on a rotating floor built at the highest peak of the park and giving guests 360-degree experience. The other is a top notch golf course.
The projects are to be undertaken by a company called Simply Wild in which Gono, Emmanuel Runganga Gumbo and Clifton Marcus Reed Sparrow are shareholders. Simply Wild holds a 400-hecatre piece of land at the dam where it keeps 10 lions.
Gono was invited into the company as a shareholder by Gumbo and Sparrow in 2021 and according to Gumbo; Gono has already injected US$400 000 into the project.
The proposed mega-projects are however, already blighted by the poor running of the place that has seen 21 workers going on strike complaining that they have not been paid salaries since Gono came in 2021.
The lions are also said to be getting emaciated because they are not having meat and water regularly.
Gumbo is the Zimbabwean Ambassador to Sudan and Sparrow was the original owner of Simply Wild until he ran to South Africa after his conservancies including one of the biggest in Masvingo were compulsorily taken over by Government at the height of the land reform programme in 2008.
Efforts to get a comment from Sparrow and Gono were futile but Gumbo confirmed the developments. Gumbo said Zimbabweans should look forward to massive transformation of the dam environs through mega projects by Simply Wild. He hailed Gono as a big financier.
Simply Wild’s project proposal in the hands of The Mirror shows that the company plans a 3 – 7 star holiday resort with a top notch golf course, the High-end-restaurant, Luxury cruises will also be introduced. Tree chalets, fishing and hunting are the other attractions.
“Pursuant to your meeting with His Excellency the President on February 3, 2021, I am pleased to inform you that his Excellency approved all the projects. I proceeded to write to the individual Ministers under whose jurisdiction the different projects reside. I also had telephonic conversations with each of the Ministers regarding the urgency of the same,” reads Gumbo’s letter.
Elasto Mapanzure, a worker at Simply Wild said workers are wallowing in poverty without salaries. He said that there appear to be a lot of misuse of money by managers and pointed out the current manager Levison Phikelele as a culprit. We want Gono to come and address workers,” said one worker.
Phikelele however, insisted that he fired Mapanzure and wanted him out of the company premises. He said most of the people who claimed to be on strike were not workers but prostitutes and criminals including murderers wanted by Police who are staying at Simply Wild. He said that the company now only had three workers.
Gumbo said he was extremely worried by the said situation of workers and said is not be on the shareholders but Phikelele who is the manager on the ground.
He also bemoaned the statement by his manager that there were criminals staying at Simply Wild.
“I will not react to utterances allegedly made by Phikelele that Simply Wild is harbouring murderers and prostitutes. I am a law abiding Zimbabwean so are the other two directors. There is no way murderers would roam free on our property.
“About Simply Wild allegedly having only three workers at the present moment, I can tell you that I am not aware about that. What I know is that our operations at Simply Wild cannot be undertaken by three workers alone,” said Gumbo. Masvingo Mirror