Grace Chingoma-Senior Sports Reporter
PRESIDENTIAL envoy and Ambassador-At-Large to the Americas and Europe, Prophet Uebert Angel, has pledged to bring in more investors to partner him in refurbishing Gwanzura Stadium after he injected an initial US$50 000 for the project.
Work at the dilapidated infrastructure in Highfield began this week with Harare City Council going into partnership with the office of the Ambassador-At-Large.
As concerns continued to be raised over the collapse of Harare City Council-owned facilities over the years, with the council not doing much progress in resuscitating these facilities, private partners have decided to save the situation.
The pitch at the old stadium has been removed and a grader was yesterday clearing the pitch, removing the spoil. An underground irrigation system will be put in place and then a new turf, that has already been secured by the Harare City Council, will be laid on.
Funds from Prophet Angel’s office will cater for proper irrigation on the pitch while media booths, VIP toilets and changing rooms will also be spruced up during the facelift.
The maintenance works are expected to be completed by mid-year.
Angel’s chief investments officer, Sobona Mtisi, told reporters during the tour of Gwanzura yesterday that they are part of the drive to bring investment into the country through sport.
“Our partnership with the City of Harare was a response to President Mnangagwa’s call to invest in sports facilities, and Ambassador Uebert Angel took it upon himself to pull some funds together to renovate Gwanzura Stadium, which is of national importance to the country, and Highfield is our base to Zimbabwean sport, and we thought that Gwanzura would be the best place to start investing and renovating, bringing it back to the community.
“We want to see the complete works, we don’t want to do things in half, but to make sure that people are coming back to these stadiums to play, not just the community but also national teams will come here and play and we will refurbish it according to the FIFA standards,’’ said Mtisi.
Although a capital injection of US$50 000 has been tabled, Mtisi is confident that some Zimbabweans in the diaspora will also chip in and assist in bringing the facility to the modern standards.
“We are most likely going to increase the budget, we will talk to our partners and might add on as other partners come on board.
“We have a lot of people that are willing to support the refurbishment of Gwanzura, people from the diaspora that grew up in Highfield and want to participate and see the stadium regain its former glory,” said Mtisi.
Harare City Council chairperson of Education, Health, Housing, Community, Services and Licensing Committee, Partson Tafadzwa Mangwiro-Chikwakwa, said they are grateful for the support and will complement the ambassador’s efforts.
They hope to have completed the works by mid-season.
“I am not quite sure about the time-frame right now, but we are expecting that by mid-term, this stadium will be usable for Premier Soccer League matches,” he said.
Mangwiro-Chikwakwa further gave a breakdown of the sections of the stadium that will be financially taken care of by the ambassador, as well as the part that will be played by the council.
The council has already purchased the lawn and other accessories needed to carry out the work.
“We have come to appreciate the work being done here by the city council and Ambassador Uebert Angel. Currently, the city council is clearing the pitch, as you have seen that the turf has been cleared, and now after removing the spoil, through Uebert Angel’s funding, which is to the tune of about $50 000, they have committed to putting up proper irrigation on the pitch, and then the council will put the new turf here. Prophet Uebert Angel has also committed to renovating the media booth, the VIP toilets, one changing room, with the other changing room being done by the city of harare,” he said.
Engagements between the Council and the office of the ambassador-at-large began in November and were concluded with both parties agreeing to refurbish the stadium.
“We are looking forward to more. We really appreciate the commitment. We are looking forward to more partnerships of this sort. Even for other stadiums, and even for High Glen stadium, that is in our plans. Currently we don’t have the funding but we really appreciate corporates and other players coming in with the funding to make the dreams we have as a City a reality.
“They are committed and the City of Harare is also committed,” Mangwiro-Chikwakwa said.