Sharon Chigeza and Takudzwa Chiwereweshe
The preservation and conservation of heritage sites is critical in the promotion of domestic tourism in line with the National Tourism Master Plan to be launched this month, an official has said. This comes as there have been reports that new rock paintings believed to be from as far back as the Stone Age have been identified in Zimunya and Chipinge.
In an interview with The Herald last week, National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe (NMMZ) regional director Mr Paul Mupira said the process of discovering and identifying such sites has been ongoing and NMMZ has embarked on a drive to fence-off and deploy custodians at various heritage sites that have previously been neglected.
“NMMZ carries out routine interventive conservation measures like cleaning graffiti and diverting water from washing on painted faces, as well as non-interventive methods like photography, fencing and posting custodians at sensitive sites,” he said.
“These methods are being adopted to ensure the preservation of these historic sites. The process of discovery and identification of heritage sites is being championed by various research institutions such as National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe and universities. Periodic recordings of rock art sites are also done when members of the public report such sites to us.”
NMMZ, he said, was optimistic that Government’s directive to promote domestic tourism will turnaround the fortunes of the industry, which experienced a marked reduction of visitors to such historic sites. According to Mr Mupira, the challenging economic environment has contributed to the neglect of little-known sites.
“Unfortunately, due to the prevailing harsh economic conditions facing most of the potential participants in domestic tourism like civil servants, it has not been possible to lure more members of the general public to visit heritage places. Most of the little-known sites are in remote and often inaccessible locations, which makes it costly for many people to visit,” said Mr Mupira.
Analysts believe that the prospects in the arts and culture sector had been blighted by inadequate resources. NMMZ is a statutory body responsible for the management and conservation of both cultural and natural heritage sites.