‘Let us have faith in developing the country’
Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter
Zimbabweans must have faith in themselves and in their efforts to develop the country, President Mnangagwa said yesterday while opening the 5 000-seater, The Heart Stadium in Waterfalls, Harare, constructed by Prophetic Healing and Deliverance Ministries leader Prophet Walter Magaya.
According to the clergyman, the state-of-the-art stadium is a replica of the home of English Championship side Swansea City, the Swansea Stadium.
It boosts a world class suspended pitch, which enables an efficient drainage system.
There is a corporate booth, a roll of honour wall, international standard dugouts and crafty change-rooms that meet the local Premier Soccer League and Confederation of African Football requirements.
Added to this, the stadium is entirely installed with bucket seats.
It is expected to be expanded to accommodate 10 000 people by February next year, increasing to a final capacity of 40 000 as time goes on.
The stadium is complemented by Yadah Hotel, which is part of the complex, and can be utilised by teams and individual sportspersons.
President Mnangagwa said construction of such a stadium was a demonstration of the national philosophy that “Nyika inovakwa, inotongwa, inonamatirwa nevene vayo/Ilizwe lakhiwa, libuswe, likhulekelwe ngabanikazi balo”.
“As a people, we must believe in ourselves and transition from the straight-jacket models of development by adopting local and relevant strategies to modernise, industrialise and grow our economy,” he said.
“We should not look at internally-driven development initiatives as being inferior to those from outside. The media is also urged to report honestly about the commendable development milestones in our country. Many people do not know that we have such an impressive infrastructure here in Waterfalls.
“All of us, both here at home and in the diaspora, have a role to play in building the ‘Zimbabwe we all want’. In this particular instance, sports development must never be the responsibility of the central Government alone.”
An aerial photograph of The Heart Stadium commissioned by the President in Waterfalls, Harare, yesterday. — Picture: OPC
President Mnangagwa was impressed by the stadium and said when Prophet Magaya went to State House to invite him to officiate at the opening ceremony, he was initially sceptical that the pictures of the stadium he was shown were real.
“I asked him (Prophet Magaya) twice to check if what I was seeing in the pictures was really on the ground,” he said. “Having toured the infrastructure, I am truly impressed. Well done, you did a great job.”
President Mnangagwa congratulated Prophet Magaya and the entire PHD Ministries for completing the project.
He urged sportspersons and the private sector to take up opportunities and develop modern sporting infrastructure.
“It is praiseworthy that this stadium was constructed in keeping with the international best practices, including guidelines of the Confederation of African Football and the Federation of International Football. It is my expectation that this Heart Stadium will attract high-level sporting events,” said President Mnangagwa.
Modern sporting infrastructure goes a long way in enhancing the quality and standards of the country’s sporting disciplines, said the President, and they impacted on the overall performance of national teams.
Sports personalities that represented the country were urged to recognise the responsibility bestowed on them by wearing the “Zimbabwe jersey”.
“We expect our national teams to be self-driven and to win international fixtures,” said President Mnangagwa.
“Equally, our national team selection processes must be above reproach. Talent and hard honest work must be rewarded and the best players must be given the opportunity to represent our country.”
Conditions to have competitive leagues had to be put in place, including those for strong junior leagues.
“Local authorities are called upon to facilitate the development of this project and similar initiatives,” said President Mnangagwa. “Aspects such as accommodation, accessibility and health facilities should be incorporated in development of this nature.”
President Mnangagwa jokingly apologises to journalists after kicking the ball in their direction while flanked by Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture Minister Kirsty Coventry, Deputy Minister Emily Jesaya (left) and PHD Ministries leader Prophet Walter Magaya (right) during the official commissioning of The Heart Stadium in Waterfalls yesterday
President Mnangagwa thanked PHD Ministries for availing The Heart Stadium and complementing facilities to the entire sporting fraternity, adding that sport was an important enabler for sustainable development and helped promote social cohesion, tolerance and respect.
“The sport and recreation industry has become a notable driver of economic growth through enhanced country image, sports tourism, meetings and conferences,” he said.
“In view of the immense potential of the sector, my Government will continue to take all practical steps and measures to facilitate and encourage sporting and recreational activities across the country and amongst all age groups.”
President Mnangagwa reiterated his call for the country to remain united in its quest for development.
Prophet Magaya thanked the President for opening the stadium and expressed gratitude for the opportunity to contribute to the country’s development.
“Zimbabwe is our home, and it is our duty to invest in its future,” said Prophet Magaya.
“I am humbled to have been part of this transformative project and I believe that The Heart Stadium will serve as a catalyst for further growth and unity in our beloved country.”
He added that he would like to embark on similar projects starting with Chitungwiza and spreading to other towns.
The event was attended by Defence Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, Sports, Arts and Recreation Minister Dr Kirsty Coventry and her deputy Emily Jesaya, and Sports and Recreation Commission chairman Mr Gerald Mlotswa and several yesteryear footballers.