Ellina Mhlanga Sports Reporter
ONE of Harare’s most famous football homes – Gwanzura – remains closed, with Premiership and Division One clubs unlikely to access it for the second successive season. This comes as Harare City Council have indicated that they have started work to refurbish Gwanzura, which was unused for the entire 2017 season.
Harare City have notoriously been slow with refurbishments, with work on Rufaro having taken ages to be completed when the artificial turf was replaced with natural grass. A visit to Gwanzura by The Herald Sport this week revealed a stadium that is in poor state, with a gaping hole on a section of the pre-cast wall and rusty gates and turnstiles greeting visitors to the Highfield venue.
On the pitch, the old grass has been dug out as Harare prepares to lay new turf. The city’s corporate communications manager, Michael Chideme, said they had begun work to improve the stadium so that it meets the Premiership standards.
“Yes the stadium is going to be renovated. We have already started in terms of clearing the existing lawn so that we can put a new lawn. We are refurbishing the stadium to make it come up to the right standard,” said Chideme.
However, Chideme pointed out that the renovations will be done in phases, with the top priority at the moment being the turf, which is expected to be ready by mid-2018.
“Gwanzura Stadium is going to be done in phases. So the first phase will involve the turf. So we are anticipating that all the work around the stadium will be completed by mid-2018. But before that, the turf will be ready for use.
“But that will only depend on the inspection by the PSL and ZIFA. So the actual use of the stadium will depend on the approval by the governing bodies. So once they give us the go ahead to use the stadium, then it would be ready,” said Chideme.
The city council is targeting to renovate the whole of the stadium, and it will involve refurbishment of the terraces, toilets, pre-cast wall and repairing the dressing rooms, whose drainage has often been a huge problem during the rainy season.
“All those things, so yes there is going to be reconstruction of some of the buildings at the stadium, so that will take a little much longer. It will be available, it will be refurbished and it will be ready. It’s been some months now when we applied the weed killer to kill the existing lawn.
“Because it’s different from the work carried out at Rufaro in that at Gwanzura, we are not removing the artificial turf, so here is just planting new grass and it should take place very soon. So very soon we should have new lawn,” said Chideme.
Gwanzura was condemned in 2015 and will complete two years tomorrow without hosting a top-flight game. Harare has five Premiership clubs – CAPS United, Dynamos, Black Rhinos, Herentals and Yadah Stars, who rely on the few venues in the city.
Meanwhile the city fathers are investigating the unsanctioned change of land use in which some of the facilities at Waterfalls Sports Club are being destroyed to make way for residential stands.
The council-owned sports club houses several sporting facilities, including basketball courts, tennis courts, a football pitch and a swimming pool as well a club house While the club house, swimming pool, tennis and basketball courts are fenced, it is the football pitch which is situated outside the security fence, which has been mostly affected.
What irked the residents in and around Waterfalls is the fact that foundation trenches have been dug encroaching into the pitch, which they rely on for recreational activities in line with the Urban Councils Act. Chideme said they are now investigating the circumstances that led to a once thriving sporting facility being turned into residential stands.
“We are investigating circumstances that led to such developments. So once we have established why it’s happening, then we will also be in a position to give feedback,” said Chideme.
According to some of the residents, the pitch is also used by several colleges in the area and it is the only recreational facility they have around that area. There have been several cases where residents have lost their money after being sold housing stands on undesignated land by land invaders, hence the concern by some of the residents in Waterfalls over the recent developments.