MP bemoans govt’s failure to renovate National Sports Stadium – says only US$5 million needed to stop the “embarrassment”

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By Anna Chibamu

ZANU PF Murewa West legislator Farai Jere has said Zimbabwe’s failure to renovate the National Sports Stadium is deeply embarrassing with the national soccer teams resorting to play home matches in neighbouring countries’ facilities.

The Sports Minister Kirsty Coventry had said ongoing renovations at the NSS would be complete by June this year but this was not achieved.

Zimbabwe has no CAF-approved facility to host international games. This forced the Warriors to host a World Cup Qualifier match against Lesotho at South Africa’s Orlando Stadium.

Jere who is also the Premier Soccer League (PSL) chairman told the Speaker Jacob Mudenda during a recent Q and A session that US$5 million would be enough to give the stadium a facelift and make it “useable”.

“I wanted to check with the Finance minister on the government’s plan for the renovation of the National Sports Stadium.

“The country is under serious embarrassment that we are playing our matches outside the country,” Jere said.

Responding to the MP, Finance Deputy Minister David Mnangagwa said that in addition to the budget allocation set aside for the Stadium, there was a need for more funding.

“We are currently in talks with some private sector players (PPPs) to see how best we can create a vehicle that can be listed as a right on the Victoria Falls Stock Exchange to enable us to allow pension funds, private players and Zimbabweans in general, to crowdfund for the refurbishment of the National Sports Stadium.,” Mnangagwa said.

He told the house the idea had worked on other construction developments such as the Highlands Park and a few shopping malls in Harare.

“We have seen this to be an expedient way to raise the capital needed to holistically sort the issue that we are facing with the National Sports Stadium.

“It is indeed a priority but we have realised that if we join hands with the private sector, we can get closer to running the stadium commercially but also getting the private sector involved in what could be a lucrative investment.”

Jere revealed that the amount of money required to refurbish the National Sports Stadium was US$12 million but US$5 million could make it usable.

“We really appreciate what the government is doing, the roads and other infrastructure which is cropping up.

“However, are we saying we cannot sacrifice 5 million USD as a government to save the embarrassment which the President, Dr. E.D Mnangagwa is going through if you go on social media that your government is failing to refurbish the National Sports Stadium…?

“Are we saying as a country, we cannot raise US$5 million whilst we are waiting for other investors to join hands to make sure that at least we play our next match here at home?” quizzed Jere.

Zimbabwe is expected to play in September this year in an AFCON 2025 qualifier.

The deputy minister assured Parliament that the US$5 million would not be a sacrifice as there was money already budgeted for the National Sports Stadium and the disbursements are happening according to the schedule of contracts in place.

Another MP, Bajila condemned authorities for opting to procure bucket seats for the stadium from China yet local companies were manufacturing those.

“I have seen news about procurement of bucket seats for the National Sports Stadium outside the country when local companies such as Tredgers Plastics in Bulawayo have got capacity that they have demonstrated to manufacture these bucket seats.”

Mnangagwa told the Speaker that the government’s policy in terms of procurement is guided by the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Act which would call for bids and overseen by the procurement regulator, PRAZ.

Citizens Coalition for Change Mbizo MP Corban Madzivanyika also chipped in by suggesting taking advantage of the Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) arrangements adopted by many countries to finance the construction of the stadia.