By Leopold Munhende
RUFARO stadium could soon be a football paradise if what Harare Mayor Jacob Mafume is promising is fulfilled.
The stadium, home to giants Dynamos FC, has not been used since 2019 and besides raw sewer that flowed outside its perimeter walls, it had become a relic of its former glory.
Barely two months after dumping a deal with Kudakwashe Tagwirei-owned Sakunda, which would have seen it being rebuilt to international standards, Mafume has cemented his promises to do the same and assured Harare residents they will not regret his move.
Mafume was responding to Caps United legend Alois Bunjira who had queried how the renovations council is currently working on at Rufaro will be completed in four weeks, as promised by the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) councillor.
He promised bucket seats, a self-powered stadium whose roofs will be made of solar panels, electric turnstiles, and an international standard pitch that will be handled either by Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) or golf course groundsmen.
Sakunda had sought to lease the stadium and develop it for DeMbare, whom they sponsor.
“So, I have had a few guys tagging me and some inboxing me about renovations taking place at Rufaro stadium. They were asking why I was not talking about it. Indeed, I have heard there are renovations going on at Rufaro stadium,” said Bunjira.
“This is a welcome development and I applaud the city council for taking this step forward.
“I felt so happy when I heard about it however when I heard that the city council had partnered City Parking for the development and renovations and that the renovations were going to take only four weeks for the stadium to be ready my happiness turned to dismay and suspicion.
“Are they only going to renovate the parking space add a few shops outside, repair the durawall, paint the gates and walaaaa the stadium is ready? Four weeks?”
Dynamos, which will be celebrating its 60th anniversary, is looking forward to playing at Rufaro stadium this season and has shared those wishes with Mafume’s council.
“Private actors are free to approach us for land to build stadia to their heart’s content,” said Mafume in a veiled attack on Sakunda while responding to Bunjira.
“Bucket seats will be bought, and the intention is to have them in the whole stadium. The gates will be electronic and so will the ticketing system.
“We will talk to solar companies to make the roofs a renewable energy station. Technology has advanced, the roof now is made of lighter material, and we should be able to cover all stands progressively.
“(When it comes to) the pitch ,we are engaging the best groundsmen in the land, we will reveal their identity once the contract is finalised. We will engage them for the whole year and get them to do a skills transfer, we will attach people whom we will then employ. As a hint our best grounds men are in cricket and golf.”
If council manages to rehabilitate Rufaro stadium to promised standards, it could eventually be the only one capable of hosting international matches after suspension of National Sports, Barbourfields, Mandava and others.