Cletus Mushanawani Mash Central Bureau
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa says his administration has put in place measures to ensure free and fair elections next month and challenged fellow contestants to accept loss or defeat in a dignified manner. Officiating at the launch and ground-breaking ceremony of a multi-million Bindura University of Science Education National Sports Academy in Bindura yesterday, President Mnangagwa said: “Let those who win do so with humility and honour, realising that they carry the nation’s hopes and aspirations.
“In similar spirit, let those who lose demonstrate discipline and good sportsmanship by accepting defeat. I once again call upon all political contestants to be peaceful throughout the pre, during and post-election period.
“My Government has put in place concrete measures to ensure transparent, free, fair and credible elections.”
President Mnangagwa, the National Sports Academy’s patron, promised to crack the whip on sporting disciplines that tend to attract negative headlines in the Press.
“The negative headlines on some of our back pages are most unfortunate and point to the urgent need to clean-up the administration of some of our sporting disciplines.
“I urge sporting administrators to embrace honesty, integrity and good corporate governance as conduct contrary to that is detrimental to sports development in general and de-motivates deserving sportspersons who go unrewarded,” said President Mnangagwa.
He said matters of corporate governance remain contentious in Zimbabwe’s sports.
“I urge the various sporting disciplines to shun all forms of corruption and to prudently utilise resources availed by sponsors and international sporting associations.”
He said sports enhance social cohesion and act as a direct and indirect catalyst in promoting hope, peace, unity and solidarity within a nation.
“Sport is fast emerging as an important facet in human capital development and a route to financial independence and inclusion for our youths. In the past, sport was casual, relaxed and more recreational. Presently, sport is much more organised, mechanised, marketed and administered as a business.
“Sport encourages health and fitness, entertains and relieves stress, builds a spirit of national integration and instils a sense of pride in the event of winning,” he said.
President Mnangagwa, who donated 4 000 litres of diesel towards the construction of the National Sports Academy, also pledged Government’s continuous support for the project.
“The construction and completion of this National Sports Academy requires collaborative effort by Government, sporting and academic institutions, partners, local authorities and well-wishers. The significance and impact of this sporting infrastructure will thus have a far reaching impact on the future of the sector and economic development in general.
“Bindura University of Science Education alone cannot accomplish the full construction of the planned sporting complex. I therefore appeal to both local and foreign investors to partner the university towards the realisation of this noble dream.”
He added: “On the economic front, global statistics indicate that between 2005 and 2017, the global sports market generated US$91 billion, with North America claiming a market share of US$14,2 billion within the sports merchandising market.
“Mindful of these huge monetary exchanges taking place within the industry, the time is now for Zimbabwe to tap into the business potential of the sporting sector. I therefore invite more investment into such sporting academies, sports clubs, recreational facilities, stadiums, golf courses, equipment and sportswear manufacturing, among others.”
The National Sports Academy, which is set to become a game changer in Zimbabwe’s sporting circles, will be built in two phases, with the first phase expected to cost about $2 million.
The academy will sit on a 100-hectare piece of land and already 98 percent of the civil works have been completed with the assistance of the Zimbabwe National Army.
The first phase will involve construction of a soccer-cum-rugby pitch with an athletics tartan track around and sports facilities for basketball, volleyball, netball, tennis and multi-purpose facilities. It is expected to be completed by December 2019.