Mukudzei Chingwere Sports Reporter
IN a move that is as ill-advised as it is retrogressive and against the spirit and aspirations of Zimbabwe’s Second Republic, the Gweru City Council have resolved to destroy sports facilities in the city after ordering the closure of the fourth city’s sports club and agreed to relinquish maintenance of other sporting facilities.
Gweru Sports Club, the only venue capable of hosting big events as it has facilities for more than 10 sporting disciplines including a rugby ground, cricket field and squash courts.
In a letter written by the local authority and addressed to the Gweru Sports and Recreation Club, the city council notified the club of their intention to change the use of the facility, ordering them to vacate the premises by January 31, 2019.
“I wish to advise that council is in the process of preparing the CBD extension layout plan covering the area currently occupied by Gweru Sports and Recreational Club and the Midlands Academy of Music. The layout plan is intended to create additional commercial stands to accommodate more investors who have shown interest to invest in Gweru due to its size and strategic location within the province
“You are, therefore, given six months’ notice within which to wind up your business and vacate the premises by 31 January 2019.
“In the meantime, council is in the process of identifying a suitable alternative site to accommodate you.
“Any inconvenience caused is sincerely regretted,” reads part of the letter.
At last month’s pre-budget consultation meeting, the city’s town clerk Elizabeth Gwatipedza said they were thinking of withdrawing their employees at some sports facilities as it was no longer profitable.
“We are planning to lease out the (swimming) pools and redeploy council employees in other divisions so that we can realise more money from rentals,” said Gwatipedza.
The local authority has been blamed for not renovating facilities like Ascot and Mkoba stadiums, which have the potential to earn more money for the city if they were to be developed into top-class venues. ZIFA’s grounds committee have over the last few years been forced to flex their muscles and force the council to spruce up Ascot at the start of each season.
In an era in which sport has become a major industry, the proposal by the Gweru City Council is a retrogressive step for the Midlands capital and the country at large.