By Michelle Chifamba
Harare residents have raised concern over plans by the city council to construct a sports stadium in High Glen adding that there are other better priorities.
If constructed, the 45 000 seater stadium will add the number of stadia in Harare to six.
The council has already set aside about $1.4 million as part of reserve funds in the 2019 budget to facilitate in the designing and drawing of the stadium plan.
However, residents consider the move by the council as evidence of misplaced priorities as the city is failing to deliver basic services such as refuse collection and provision of safe water in most suburbs.
Memory Mahachi, a resident from Glen View 8 urged the council to revisit its budget and opt for critical services such as water and sanitation instead of the stadium.
“The water scarcity situation has worsened throughout the capital with many residential areas such as Budiriro, Glen View, Glen Norah and Kuwadzana receiving water only three days a week.
“In most cases, the council puts the blame for the water rationing on the scarcity of foreign currency to purchase chemicals to treat the water. It is better to divert the funds for the stadium for better services such as water,” said Mahachi.
Since the beginning of the year, Harare City Council has increased its water rationing time-table which has seen residents in various suburbs both high and low density going without water for more than four days a week.
Most Harare residents now rely mostly on boreholes where they endure long queues.
“The money budgeted for the construction of this stadium should be used to revamp dilapidated water infrastructure,” Mahachi added.
Another resident from Glen Norah, Evans Karichi said the city council should consider building more water reservoirs and dams so that they ease the water problems affecting the city instead of building a new stadium while the few that already exist are being underutilised.
“City of Harare should be talking about building dams and improving service delivery such as refuse collection, resurfacing roads, traffic lights and street lights.
“Constructing a new stadium is a misplaced priority when the council is failing to even provide residential stands for home-seekers. In addition, those existing stadiums are actually being underutilised,” Karichi said.
However, the Urban Councils Act (Chapter 29:150) mandates local authorities to provide sport and recreational facilities to its residents.
In an interview, Highfield Councillor Fungai Nyapokoto commended the council for the High Glen Stadium plan adding that other suburbs have their own stadiums.
“It is commendable that the City of Harare is taking initiatives to develop the high-density suburb (High Glen).
“Most residential areas such as Highfields, Warren Park and Mbare have each a stadium and it would be a great move for the city council to build that stadium,” said Councillor Nyapokoto.
The councillor also added that since Zimbabwe is a developing country there is still needs to develop infrastructure that includes the construction of stadia which can go a long way in helping it host regional and international sports tournaments.
“Zimbabwe is failing to host sports tournaments because it is lagging behind in terms of sporting infrastructure and I find it as a worthy cause for the city council to propose the construction of the stadium.
“If council breaks ground to build, it would then become easier to attract private sponsors who would then take the project forward,” Councillor Nyapokoto said.-