Grace Chingoma Senior Sports Reporter
SOME suppliers attempted to fleece the Government, through inflated prices for the installation of bucket seats at the National Sports Stadium, leading to the cancellation of the exercise.
This is one of the reasons the process is yet to be completed.
It has led to the latest decision, by the Confederation of African Football, to ban the National Sports Stadium, from hosting international matches.
The ban will come into effect next month, after the Warriors complete their home 2022 World Cup qualifiers, against Ethiopia.
Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Minister, Kirsty Coventry, intervened and cancelled the original tender, for the installation of the bucket seats, after noting some anomalies, regarding the pricing of the materials.
Coventry told The Herald some of the bids were three to four times higher than their estimates.
The Government ended up cancelling the tender, and restarted the process which resulted in the country missing some of the CAF timelines.
Earlier this week, CAF announced they had banned the country’s biggest sports facility from hosting international matches, until it has been upgraded, to the required standards.
But, Coventry, speaking on the sidelines of a handball national team kit presentation ceremony at the Swiss ambassador’s residence in Harare, explained the challenges the Government has faced.
“We are obviously quite disappointed but, at the end of the day, procedures need to be followed correctly,’’ she said.
‘’When the tender process started, we had done some investigations into how much the seats and some of the things, would cost.
“Unfortunately, when the bids came in, they were three to four times the amount which, for me, was a red flag, and shows different forms of corruption.
“The bids that were given to us were ridiculous prices, prices that were unaffordable for the Government to even try to justify.
“The tender was cancelled and we were given permission to do a direct procurement, which is what we are doing.’’
There has been considerable progress made, with the sprucing up of the playing field, which now has a lush green surface.
The changing rooms and the ablution facilities have also received a makeover to add to the other internal refurbishments, at the giant stadium.
But CAF wants the giant stadium fitted with bucket seats, electronic turnstiles, and the setting up of the Venue Operations Centre, for safety and security, purposes.
Coventry said she advised ZIFA of the developments, hoping that they would appraise CAF, of the challenges, which they faced.
“This was explained directly from myself to ZIFA, and I had hoped that they would pass on those comments to CAF,’’ she said.
“I am not sure if that was done. It is disappointing to see that CAF hasn’t understood the reason why the bucket seats aren’t in the stadium.
“But, that’s not for me to judge, it is what it is.”
Coventry also explained the process was going on very well, with some noticeable progress, on the procurement exercise.
“The Government is going ahead with the direct procurement, and that process is going on very, very well, and I hope that we will be able to see, and give you some more information, in the next two weeks, in terms of when we will expect seats to be installed,” she said.
“We have the timelines, which I am not going to be sharing with you right now until they are confirmed.
‘’Everything is on track, obviously, there was the sideline because of these ridiculous bids that came in, which has made us re-evaluate how things are being done. “And, it’s because of that re-analysing of the situation, that we had to start from scratch, again.
“But, again, as I said from the beginning, for me, I want things done correctly, and I will not have any form of corruption under my Ministry at any point, that can be spoken about, during my term.”
The Warriors, who played a World Cup qualifier against Ghana at the giant stadium a week ago, were granted a reprieve, to complete their 2022 World Cup campaign, on home soil.
They are scheduled to play Ethiopia, in their final game of the campaign early next month, just days after returning from the penultimate round fixture, in South Africa.
The National Sports Stadium has been under the CAF spotlight for the last two years.
It was initially banned in February last year, after it failed to pass, a series of assessments.
In May this year, CAF banned a number of stadia in seven African countries, including Mali, Senegal, Liberia, Central Africa, Namibia, Malawi, and Burkina Faso.
Other countries, like Senegal, were then given a reprieve.
Zimbabwe enjoyed the privilege to play their international matches on home soil, on condition outstanding issues were being addressed, to bring the giant stadium, to the required standards.