Zimbabwe: Govt Acts On Stadiums

A worker breaks up matted turf to help with drainage at the National Sports Stadium in Harare on March 3, 2020.

Work on the National Sports Stadium is expected to start today to align it with the requirements of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and avoid the embarrassment of national football teams playing their home games in other nations.

Engineers and architects were on the ground yesterday, assessing what can be done immediately to correct the situation.

A high-powered delegation spent almost four hours at the stadium yesterday assessing what needs to be done.

The delegation, led by Local Government and Public Works Minister July Moyo, comprised over 30 senior officials from the Government, the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) and ZIFA

"First, we have looked at the technical aspect of it," said Minister Moyo. "We have toured the whole stadium. We have assessed the rooms that are required by CAF and the equipment that is required. The resources are now being mobilised so that work can start today.

"We are sure that all the short-term and medium-term requirements that were analysed by CAF as gaps in this stadium and at Barbourfields Stadium, we can do it."

Minister Moyo said the delegation looked at major issues that need to be addressed urgently to enable the forthcoming Warriors matches to be held at the stadium.

"It's mostly civil works and where there is manufacturing that is to be done, we have looked at companies which have capabilities and we think we should invite those companies to give us specifications," he said.

"They have to produce a proforma of the specifications that are required by CAF after which we can then ask them to give us how much it will cost.

Minister Moyo was at the stadium just before 7am and was taken through the stadium by officials and discussed, in detail, all the CAF requirements.

He also saw the extent to which the country's main stadium had deteriorated.

Minister Moyo later sat down with Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Deputy Minister Tinomuda Machakaire, permanent secretaries Zvinechimwe Churu (Local Government and National Housing) and Thokozile Chitepo (Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation), and the rest of the officials.

The officials included SRC director general Prince Mupazviriho and ZIFA president Felton Kamambo.

They discussed the implementation of each and every demand by CAF.

Minister Moyo apparently had his eye on today's Cabinet meeting at which he is likely brief his colleagues about actions being taken to ensure that both the National Sports Stadium in Harare and Barbourfields in Bulawayo were brought to international standards.

That will end, once and for all, any discussions about Zimbabwean national football teams playing their matches outside the country.

Minister Moyo talked about the availability of funds to repair both stadiums and said they would prefer that most of the material required be sourced from local manufacturers and, therefore, create employment while benefiting the local economy.

Minister Moyo and Deputy Minister Machakaire agreed with the officials that some of the issues raised by CAF would be addressed "immediately", while others would take some time.

The urgent, and most important concerns, will be addressed shortly to enable matches, at the end of the month, to be played in Zimbabwe, they agreed.

Besides taking the bull by the horns locally, Government has also launched a diplomatic offensive, and Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Minister, Kirsty Coventry, who also toured the giant stadium on Friday and spoke to the officials and ZIFA, scheduled to travel to Zurich, after her meetings in Lausanne, to take the matter up with FIFA officials.

Minister Coventry can now talk to FIFA president, Gianni Infantino as a colleague since the world football governing boss was recently inducted into the International Olympic Committee, on whose executive board, Africa's most decorated Olympian serves.

The Ministers directed that calls be made to regional managements of stadiums to find out what systems they had installed at their facilities regarding ticketing in particular.

Another meeting was set for the National Sports Stadium last night where officials were expected to go through the final list of requirements, and to establish timelines for the completion of the repairs and the new installations.

ZIFA will write to CAF to inform them about Government's commitments and propose dates for what would be a final inspection of the two stadiums.

Minister Moyo said the idea was that all the matches where Zimbabwe had to host, should be hosted at the National Sports Stadium and at Barbourfields.

"And, through this exercise, we would want to upgrade as many stadia as we can so that people in Zimbabwe enjoy international football as much as other countries do," he said.

"I have been saying to ZIFA, the Sports Commission and to the Ministry, they are the ones who must give us quality assurance and standards. And to give yourself standards you have to look at your national outlook and you also pace yourself with regional players.

"If Zambia have a new stadium, let's look at it and see what we can do to upgrade ours so that we are competing at the same level as our regional neighbours."

Minister Moyo said Government was happy to work with the Bulawayo City Council on the works to be conducted at Barbourfields.

"The Local Government system in this country and Central Government work hand in glove," Minister Moyo said.

"When they need fresh investment they always come to Government and this is the time when we think Government should step in and help Bulawayo so that it can meet the standards that have been set by CAF, which are also standards our local football clubs would cherish."

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