We have our own money – says Harare Mayor Mafume after Sakunda fallout; promises to rebuild decrepit Rufaro to international standards

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By Leopold Munhende I Chief Correspondent

HARARE Mayor Jacob Mafume has declared that council will rehabilitate Rufaro Stadium to world class standards on its own, declaring the local authority has the financial capacity to implement the ambitious project.

Mafume’s comments come after council’s sensational fallout with Sakunda Holdings who were set to renovate the stadium on a long lease and hand it over to Zimbabwean football giants Dynamos as part of its corporate social responsibility and also in its capacity as the club’s main sponsor.

However, without giving timelines, Mafume said he was working on a plan that involves, convincing councillors within his administration to ring-fence income from its beer tax and profits from council bars for use in rehabilitating the now-closed ceremonial home of Zimbabwean football.

In a no holds barred statement to journalists Wednesday, Mafume also said council will move to get revenue from its Southerton Brewery currently being used by Delta Beverage with nothing being remitted to the local authority.

Mafume layed into ‘Harare-made millionaires who had a sense of entitlement’ whom he said took advantage of his diminutive stature to disrespect him while offering very little for development of public platforms.

He appeared to be referring to Sakunda Holdings proprietor Kudakwashe Tagwirei, whose Chief Operations Officer Mberikwazvo Chitambo wrote a damning letter Tuesday, accusing Mafume of malice and engineering the deal’s failure.

“Given the toxicity we have seen in the council’s attitude and lack of political will to implement the project on the part of Council, Sakunda hereby withdraws its participation from the project. Notwithstanding, all projects and plans will be donated to council in the public interest,” said Chitambo on Tuesday.

Mafume vowed to restore Harare’s sporting facilities, highlighting that they had already ensured residents of the capital’s oldest suburb Mbare get their swimming pool working.

Harare mayor Jacob Mafume

“The money is there. We are having people swimming in Mbare, people are swimming in Mbare and people will be playing football in Rufaro Stadium, the money is there,” he said.

“Football will be played in Rufaro Stadium, and it will be played in a world class stadium if it is the last thing that we do.

“We will restore the sporting facilities. To say we cannot restore a stadium that was built by residents in the 1970s cannot be possible; it will be built.

“Harare City council has 85 bars whose revenue was not getting into city coffers but going to individuals. We are taking those 85 bars back and getting the revenue back to the city.”

He continued; “We own, as a city, the biggest opaque beer brewery in Southern Africa which is being used by Chibuku.

“That brewery has been so successful that they have even decided to start putting flavours in opaque beer. It is owned by the city and we are getting zero cents from that brewery since 1995 when Bernard Chidzero went on an ESAP experiment.

“It is very successful and is making a lot of money. That money will be ring fenced to develop our stadia.

“This is not a train smash, not all is lost. There are many corporates in the city interested in Rufaro stadium.”

Mafume hit out at Dynamos, Sakunda Holdings, and “other millionaires who were exhibiting a sense of entitlement regards public resources” and indicated that he was custodian of public property which he could not let go for long periods no matter the lease details.

Sakunda is understood to have sought a 30-year-long lease for the stadium. In addition to revamping Rufaro, the company intended to build a state-of-the-art mall, parking bays, clinic and other modern facilities that would have steered DeMbare into the 21st century.

Asked whether the deal’s collapse meant Harare had wasted the period between 2019 and 2022 in which it could have rehabilitated the stadium, Mafume said there was no hurry as the FIFA and CAF bans had already relegated Zimbabwe’s topflight soccer to a boozers’ league.

Added Mafume; “We have to bring soccer back, we are currently banned, they are playing boozers soccer.

“We want to urge the ministry of sports to quickly sort out the problems that they are facing so that we come back.”