Zimbabwe to build football World Cup mega-village, report says

Cash-strapped Zimbabwe plans to build a 70-trillion-Zimbabwe-dollar (2.3 billion US dollars) games village in time for the 2010 football World Cup, reports said Sunday.

Zimbabwe to build football World Cup mega-village, report says

Cash-strapped Zimbabwe plans to build a 70-trillion-Zimbabwe-dollar (2.3 billion US dollars) games village in time for the 2010 football World Cup, reports said Sunday.

The games village, to be funded by private developers, will be built on a 100-hectare plot near the southern city of Masvingo on the shores of scenic Lake Mutirikwi, the official Sunday Mail newspaper said.

It will comprise 14 luxury villas that could accommodate 128 visitors or up to three visiting teams at a time, according to the report.

There were also plans for a shopping mall with a hypermarket, banks and a filling station, according to the report.

Zimbabwe is pinning its hopes on the 2010 World Cup - to be held in neighbouring South Africa - to revive its flagging tourism fortunes and bring in desperately-needed foreign currency.

Foreign tourist arrivals to game-rich Zimbabwe have plummeted following the launch of a controversial land reform programme seven years ago and subsequent reports of rights abuses and widespread food and fuel shortages.

Attempts to lure foreigners from non-traditional markets like Asia have had only limited success.

Authorities, currently struggling to find the money to import food for hundreds of thousands of hungry households, are keen to benefit from the football showpiece.

A development committee for the games village has already been set up, led by local hospitality guru Frederick Kasese.

"There is an expected influx of football lovers as well as other tourists that will visit the region, hence the need for a development of this nature," Kasese told the Sunday Mail.

The village will be occupied by foreign visitors during the 2010 World Cup and handed back to developers after the games, making it a hub of economic activity for the province, he added.

Once-prosperous Zimbabwe's economy is at its lowest ebb, with inflation running at more than 7,600 per cent. Fuel stations are dry and shops bare of necessities like bread, cooking oil, the staple maize-meal and milk.

President Robert Mugabe's government blames the crisis on so-called Western sanctions and alleged sabotage by local manufacturers, refusing to acknowledge the effect controversial policy decisions such as a state-ordered price slash in July have had.

In a front-page report, the Sunday Mail said the government believed big commodity manufacturers like Schweppes Zimbabwe were deliberately starving the market of goods.

What we have gathered is that some producers are deliberately defying production orders, said the head of the official Price Monitoring and Stabilisation Taskforce Elliot Manyika.


DPA

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