Harare — ZIMBABWE'S ambitious plan to host the 2034 FIFA World Cup has received the support of locals, who believe the country can defy the odds and realise that dream.
During the just-ended edition in Brazil, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister, Walter Mzembi, said the country would bid to host the 2034 edition, an idea he would take to the cabinet.
Mzembi was upbeat that the country would secure support at the Regional Tourism Organisation for Southern Africa (RETOSA) Council of Ministers meeting, which Zimbabwe will host in September.
He said Zimbabwe would use all possible avenues to lure support from SADC regional members states to ensure the idea becomes a reality.
“One step that we are going to take is to table the idea (of hosting the World Cup) as one of the agenda items at the RETOSA Summit in September.
We are the current chair of RETOSA and we are going to host the summit," said Mzembi.
“We have an advantage where we need to set the agenda and be in the driving seat so that we frog-march this organisation into action,” Muzembi was quoted by state media as saying.
Locals took to social networks to support the plan to bring the tournament to Africa for the second time after neighbouring South Africa hosted the 2010 edition.
"I strongly believe the country has the resources and capacity to hold the 2034 World Cup provided the preparations to bid and construct modern stadia start now, Zvidzai Manyeruke said.
He added, "I would like to urge Zimbabweans not to listen too much to doubting Thomases, otherwise with such people, we might not develop at all. We may have failed to host the Afcon, but we must know that this is a new era."
Chidza Sachidza, who said the country had the capacity to host, echoed the sentiments.
"I think it is a dream that can indeed come true. That people have failed before and the fact that they have the audacity to keep trying shows just how strong spirited they are," Sachidza said.
Resource-rich Zimbabwe has grappled with economic hardships since the turn of the millennium. Critics blame these on government's economic policies such as th invasion of white owned farms by war veterans and landless people in 2000.
Last year, it co-hosted the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNTWO) with its northern neighbour, Zambia.
On the sporting front, it jointly hosted the Cricket World Cup in 2003 but lost the rights to host the Africa Cup of Nations football event in 2000 due to inadequate preparations.