BY STEPHEN CHADENGA
GWERU Residents’ Forum (GRF) director Charles Mazorodze has castigated council for trying to sell land around the Gweru Sports Club to private developers as part of efforts to expand the central business district (CBD), saying such a move would deprive the city of recreational facilities.
Mazorodze accused some councillors and management of wanting to dispose the sporting facility for personal gain.
“The Gweru Residents’ Forum has received disturbing reports emanating from Gweru Town House that there is a cabal of some councillors and council management officials who are pushing the agenda of selling council-owned Gweru Sports Club and its environs to a private developer,” Mazorodze said yesterday.
“While the GRF fully understands the need to transform the cities in line with best international practices, the GRF is disturbed at the haste of undertaking such an initiative in a turbulent socio-economic environment, whereby council does not realise much in terms of revenue to the benefit of a few individuals who are bent on disposing public assets for personal gains.”
Mazorodze said residents deserved recreational facilities and urged council to “rescind the proposed sale of Gweru Sports Club in the public interest and look for alternative space for the so-called investor”.
Last year, council chamber secretary Vakai Chikwekwe indicated that the municipality would not renew lease agreements on premises located behind the Government Complex to pave way for the establishment of an industrial park that will extend to Fairmile Motel, along Bulawayo Road.
Chikwekwe said council had given the two institutions until January 31 this year to wind up operations.
The proposed disposal of the sports facility has drawn widespread condemnation from the Sports and Recreational Commission, among other stakeholders.
Council has, however, maintained that getting rid of the premises to expand the CBD was good for the development of the Midlands capital as part of its vision of “a sustainable prosperous city of choice by 2030”.
Council spokesperson Manford Gambiza denied any underhand dealings by council officials in the disposal of the sports club and music academy, which is also affected.
“These are allegations and you should appreciate that people have their own ways of seeking relevance in life by peddling falsehoods,” Gambiza said.
“Whatever is going to come out of the area will benefit Gweru residents, not individual council employees. Allegations will remain allegations.”
He said council had not yet identified private developers interested in investing on the land along the industrial park zone, as the decision required due diligence.
“It is (still) work in progress on the two issues (disposal of Gweru Sports Club and the Midlands Academy of Music,” he said.
“This cannot be done overnight as due diligence has to be done.”