Story by Lawrence Trusida, Sports Editor
CORRUPT individuals including some high-ranking officials have been accused of derailing the upgrade of the National Sports Stadium to meet international standards.
The country’s biggest match venue, the National Sports Stadium is currently in a sorry state and barred from hosting international matches after failing to meet Confederation of African Football (CAF) standards.
Were it not that Zimbabwe has been suspended from international football, the Warriors would not be able to use the facility.
Even domestic league matches have been put on ice due to the sorry state of the facility where there are no water reticulation facilities.
The government has since stepped in to try and rectify the situation, but the process has been slow.
“We have been trying to get the National Sports Stadium renovated for the last three years. The first attempt ended up with a lot of bureaucracy, with a lot of corruption,” said Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts, and Recreation, Honourable Kirsty Coventry.
“Things that were tendered out and were given back, I think that they (Ministry officials) think Ministers don’t read things, but when I requested to read some of the documents that were sent in, we noted that were not using any reputable companies, they were third parties and basic things that should cost around US$200 were about US$3 000 to US$4 000.”
“So, the inflation went from renovating the stadium which should have cost us about US$7-8 million, which the government had already set aside, to US$19 million. So, we turned the tender down and started afresh,” she added.
There is, however, a ray of hope as the government has kickstarted the process of refurbishing the stadium through a phased approach.
“We have recollected ourselves, we’re working with a reputable company that built the soccer stadium in South Africa for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in Johannesburg,” the Minister added.
“We have put together a proper step-by-step plan of what needs to be done and right now there’s a feasibility study being undertaken. We have an incredible corporate that has come on board to help with those things, who at this time will remain confidential.”
“The idea of the feasibility study is to uplift the entire area, not just the stadium but to look at the possibilities with hockey, originally steps two, three, and four which were not completed there. There were meant to be bucket seats they were delivered but they went. They didn’t make it to the stadium,” she went on.
The National Sports Stadium has been closed to pave the way for refurbishment works with the turf having been worn out due to overuse by Premier Soccer League teams.
In just 12 rounds of PSL matches the National Sports Stadium had hosted 44 matches in 77 days as Dynamos, CAPS United, Herentals, Yadah, Cranborne Bullets, Black Rhinos, ZPC Kariba and Simba Bhora were using the match venue for their home games.
Dynamos and Herentals were also holding training sessions at the facility.