US$1m used for Rufaro refurbishment
Tadious Manyepo Sports Reporter
HARARE City Council says they have used just under US$1 million in the refurbishment of Rufaro Stadium after turning to their own employees and in-house expertise to reduce the high costs of outsourcing.
The venue is expected to pass compliance tests by the ZIFA First Instance Board ahead of the commencement of the 2024 Premier Soccer League season. It last hosted a league game in 2019 and the ground has been continuously failing to meet the minimum set standards to stage top-flight matches over the years.
But the stadium has been given a significant facelift with the municipality addressing faulty water reticulation, erecting aluminium goalposts, putting together standard changing rooms as well as redoing the playing turf.
The VIP car park has also been built while electronic turnstiles are expected to be erected in the coming days. And the work has cost the council around US$950 000 to complete.
Harare City mayor Jacob Mafume said almost US$1 million has been used in the first phase of the upgrading work at the stadium.
“We have used just under a million in United States Dollars. We have done most of the things in-house and that has kept a tight lid on the costs of what we have done and I believe that people will be amazed with the amount of work we have done and the little money that we have used,” said Mafume.
“You know when the figures were being brandished, some were talking of US$50 million, US$100 million just to get soccer to be played at Rufaro.
“But we have taken a practical approach to say we have got employees, we have the expertise and we said let’s look at ourselves and do the work.
“We were procuring the material needed and using our employees and at times getting outside expertise where we didn’t have ours in-house.” Mafume said they are now putting in the final touch-ups to ready the stadium for the 2024 season. The ground was scheduled to be officially opened by a massive Harare derby fixture pitting Dynamos and CAPS United in the inaugural Mayor’s Challenge Cup yesterday.
But the organisers were forced to shelve the fixture after Dynamos expressed reservations about playing at a stadium that had not been certified fit by relevant authorities.
Mafume, though, said the game could still go on this coming Sunday if the FIB, which was expected to inspect the stadium, deemed it ready to host top-flight games.
“This ground is as good as others to watch soccer matches. The changing rooms have been done to a reasonable degree of satisfaction. The public toilets are being revamped. We are in the process of widening the turnstiles gates and the contract for the turnstiles is going on.
“They should be fitted within the next few days, so to speak. We are reasonably confident that the ground is ready.”
Mafume said the City of Harare will embark on phase two of the redevelopment work at the stadium at the end of this coming season. The assumption is that the ground will pass the FIB inspection and will be allowed to stage PSL games then they will look at further developing it during the off-season.
With CAF having already condemned the stadium for international games after saying the playing pitch needs to be re-constructed, Rufaro Stadium is out of contention to host any international matches this year.
And it is those areas amongst others that Mafume said will be addressed during the second phase of the refurbishments at the Mbare venue.
Floodlights and bucket seats installation are some of the issues, which are targeted in the second phase.