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‘Philip Chiyangwa project can help with stadium crisis’

ZIMBABWE’S social infrastructure and stadium crisis could be solved by such private sector initiatives as Philip Chiyangwa’s Harare South project, analysts say.

Philip Chiyangwa is currently the president of Cosafa, the southern African regional football body.

The development comes amid a national outcry about the state and lack of proper recreational facilities, including Rufaro and Gwanzura stadiums. But according to an eight year-old plan by Chiyangwa’s Pinnacle Property Holdings (Pinnacle), the group intends to build a US$55 million and multi-purpose stadium on a 16-hectare plot in Stoneridge.
“After realising the challenges we are facing as a country… we have decided to accelerate this project. We are being condemned … at a time when we should be redeveloping our facilities and constructing new ones,” he said.
“There is urgent need to do something about the old stadiums, most of which are now dilapidated. We do not have… state-of-the-art venues in the mould of Moses Mabhida… (to) stage boxing, athletics, musical concerts and conferences..,” Chiyangwa, the COSAFA and ex-Zimbabwe Football Association president, said.
The facility, it has emerged, is part of Pinnacle’s ambitious US$400 million infrastructural programme and capital outlay across the country. And stakeholders, including the Harare City Council (HCC) and the Sports, and Recreational Commission, have expressed “enthusiasm” over the project.
“It’s too early to say much about that project, but it would be a welcome development. We encourage other entrepreneurs to think along the lines of this country’s sport infrastructure development,” commission chair and lawyer Gerald Mlotshwa said recently.
On the other hand, HCC spokesperson Micheal Chideme said: “The city exists to facilitate development. We are very excited with such grand plans, which have the effect of making Harare a world class city by 2025..”
With such world-class projects requiring huge amounts of money and capital injection, independent analysts say Chiyangwa and Pinnacle might have to join forces with such partners as government, FIFA and Aleksander Ceferin’s UEFA, which is keen on capacitating African football.
“We know very well that African players are playing an important role in European football, so we owe something to the other parts of the world…(and) I think we can help (here). Our principles are that we don’t send money anywhere (but) send experts, we help in building infrastructure,” he said on a recent visit of Zimbabwe.
Meanwhile, construction expert and project manager Evans Munaku says the 40 000-hectare facility will not only take 24 months to complete, but its a “multi-disciplinary sports facility endeavouring to bridge urban social divides through sport, and recreation. It will also accommodate … extreme sports like skateboarding, indoor rock climbing, water sports … as well as track and field events”.