By Leopold Munhende | Chief Correspondent
HARARE Mayor Jacob Mafume has announced a Dynamos versus Caps United charity match as the official opener of Rufaro Stadium, almost five years after its unceremonious closing.
The match, which will be played on the weekend of 10-11 February this year, comes two years after rehabilitation of Zimbabwe’s ceremonial home of football began and just over a year after Mafume began a series of unfulfilled promises to reopen it.
With the Castle Premier Soccer League (PSL) making a return next month, Mafume Tuesday promised this time he would not miss the mark and give a fake promise as he did, thrice in 2023.
“We are very determined to make sure that the fourth time is the charm. We will work flat out to make sure we complete this stadium by that time,” said Mafume.
“As you can see we have made progress at each time. It might take time but we are all the same when everything comes out the way we want it to.”
The stadium now has access to electricity, a feature that troubled the council in its previous life, it has remodelled dressing rooms that now appear modern and a relatively flat pitch which will, however, have to be reconstructed if Rufaro Stadium is to host international matches.
From a 34,000 seater, the stadium will be reduced to between 25,000 and 30,000 according to Mafume.
The once muddy area behind Rufaro Stadium’s VIP section has been built into a well-kept car park with palm trees and paved bays professionally operated by City Park.
Before the renovations potato traders used to park their heavy trucks in the area while some residents of Mbare used a section of it as a dumpsite.
Harare giants Dynamos and Caps United will be the main tenants of Rufaro Stadium, which despite failing to meet international standards might be able to host local matches.
“We were supposed to make the stadium ready for local matches and as you know the story of Rufaro Stadium cannot be told without Dynamos or Caps United so we have held meetings and decided that the first game is going to be between the two.
“The two giants are going to be our key tenants, they will share the stadium and we are going to try to keep the tenants to a minimum to avoid it going back into disrepair.
“We are going to enter into long-term lease agreements that are beyond 10 years so that we can work together to renovate the stadium.”
Zimbabwe currently has a stadia crisis that forced all Harare-based clubs, Simba Bhora and ZPC Kariba to share the National Sports Stadium for the greater part of last year.
After its closure Dynamos was forced to use Barbourfields Stadium in Bulawayo, Caps United used Gweru’s Bata Stadium, and Yadah used Baobab Stadium in Ngezi. At the same time, Herentals opted for Mandava Stadium in Zvishavane.