Turf wars between govt and council disrupting sports infrastructure development – Sports minister

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By Sports Reporter

Minister of Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture Kirsty Coventry says local councils are not willing to work hand in hand with her ministry to develop sports infrastructure around the country.

She said this on Thursday during an open session on the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture.

The majority of sports infrastructure around the country is dilapidated, and most sports federations have been on record pleading with the government to uplift these structures.

Two weeks ago, the Zimbabwe Olympics Committee’s technical and development chair Rick Fulton was on record saying the country is failing to send more athletes to the Olympics because there is no proper infrastructure.

Commenting on why the government is failing to improve local infrastructure, Coventry responded, “We need help because some of these areas are under councils and we do not have a great relationship with councils, there is always turf wars ‘this is mine, we don’t want you here’.

“So we will rely heavily on the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee to help build this relationship so that we can work together and make progress.

“We have made efforts, last year we had a meeting with all councillors to explain to them our vision as a ministry and how we cannot do without them.”

Lack of cooperation by local authorities has been one of the major stumbling blocks in the development of sport infrastructure; in 2017 Prophetic Healing and Deliverance (PHD) Ministries founder Walter Magaya approached Chitungwiza town council with a lease request for dilapidated Chibuku stadium but was turned down.

The self-styled prophet also met the same fate when he approached the City of Harare for Gwanzura stadium.

Thereafter he built his stadium which was officially opened on December 10 last year by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Giant petroleum company Sakunda Holdings was also frustrated out of a deal to re-model Rufaro stadium, the ceremonial home of football but the Jacob Mafume-led council decided to go it alone and has made a series of unfulfilled promises on when the stadium renovations will be completed.

Currently, the Ministry of Sports is facing criticism for failing to renovate the National Sports Stadium which has been condemned by CAF from hosting international games.

During the 2024 budget the Ministry of Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture was allocated ZWL136 billion and from that amount ZWL 24 billion was specifically allocated for National Sports Stadium’s renovation.