Ray Bande Senior Reporter
DEPUTY Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Tino Machakaire, who toured Sakubva Stadium in Mutare on Tuesday to get first hand appreciation of the ongoing renovations, has challenged local authorities to invest more in the maintenance of sports facilities.
Machakaire was at Sakubva hours before the nation received the sad news of a Caf ban on Barbourfields Stadium – the only match venue in the country that had remained suitable to host international matches prior to the ban.
The Warriors were hoping to host defending African champions Algeria at Barbourfields next month.
But the Bulawayo venue, which was given a partial clearance when the CAF inspectors last toured in November 2019, has been added to the list of banned stadiums.
This means CAF inspectors have now struck all the country’s stadiums, including the National Sports Stadium, off the roaster.
Zimbabwe are likely to relocate to South Africa for their home matches and this prospect is likely to put their twin campaign in the 2021 AFCON qualifiers and 2022 World Cup qualifiers in jeopardy.
“It is a sad development (Barbourfields ban) that we will all be seized with. I cannot really say much since there should be serious meetings convened over the matter and deliberations in those meetings will then inform us of the next step as a nation.
“However, in the same breath we really want to urge our local authorities to be more serious with the way they maintain our sports facilities. They are the custodians of these facilities and we look up to them to prioritise the maintenance of these facilities.
“I am sure we have all seen the neglect that our sports facilities have been left to suffer. It is sad and this is the time to say enough is enough. We need to turn over a new leaf and see to it that we renovate these facilities as a matter of priority,” said Machakaire.
The Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Deputy Minister, who was impressed by Mutare City Council’s pace in finalising renovations at Sakubva Stadium, said local authorities countrywide owe it to their ratepayers to ensure that stadiums are in a good state.
“I think it is clear to us that local authorities countrywide owe it to their ratepayers to ensure that stadiums are in a good state. We have to be honest and admit that there has been a tendency by local authorities to do business usual and neglect these stadiums, volleyball, basketball and tennis courts around our cities and town.
“We strongly believe that our local authorities surely have to do more. We cannot tolerate the kind of decay that our sports facilities have been allowed to sink into,” he said.
Top-flight league football could be played at Sakubva Stadium this year exactly three years after the match venue last hosted a Castle Lager Premiership match.
The construction of the pre-cast wall has been completed and refurbishment works have now moved to the interior facilities such as changing rooms, perimeter fence and media box.
Mutare City Council has commendably left no stone unturned in a short space of time to finalise refurbishment works both on the pre-cast wall and amenities inside the stadium.