Shingi Matibiri, Sports Reporter
Some top government officials working in cahoots with corrupt elements within the Gweru City Council have been identified as the force behind the push to acquire the Gweru Sports Club under the guise to expand the Central Business District.
Investigations have revealed that the Gweru City Council is being used as a front by the corrupt government officials to acquire the Gweru Sports Club for commercial purposes under the pretext that there is need to expand the CBD in line with international best practices.
“It’s the high ranking government officials who want the piece of land for their own personal gains not the so called expansion of the CBD,” said a source who declined to be named for fear of reprisals.
“They are working with some directors and councillors within the Gweru City Council who are benefiting from the offsets of the corrupt sales and that is if the land has not already been sold.
“If you look at most Sports Clubs in Africa,Asia and Europe, they are within the CBD and also act as breathing space for the cities. They are just looking for a lame excuse to annex the land. They don’t even have title deeds to the land because it was bought by the British South Africa Company for the Gweru community.”
The Chronicle newspaper reported last week that the Midlands Minister of State Larry Mavima has already approved a plan by the Gweru City Council to acquire the Gweru Sports Club.
Gweru Sports Club chairman John Grey Makuwalo said as a community they are baffled by Gweru City Council’s move to offer them land to build a new sports club when they have over the years failed to do basic things like maintaining facilities under their purview.
“According to the latest estimate, Gweru Sports Club is valued at around US$6.5 million. So if Gweru City Council are failing to do basic things like maintaining Ascot stadium, Mkoba stadium and other facilities that they own, how are they going to raise something like US$6million for a new Gweru Sports Club,” said Makuwalo.
“Right now they are struggling to raise money for a new dump site because the current one in Woodlands is now a healthy hazard to the community. Reports say they need about US$100 000, so if they are failing to raise that money, how are they going to raise money for the new Gweru Sports Club,” he quipped.
“We are pro development and we need to see our city growing in all sectors. Sports is also development, right now we don’t have any infrastructure in the city that can host an international sporting event yet Gweru City Council want to take the only facility that has the infrastructure to do so.
“Ascot stadium needed leniency to host Premier Soccer League matches, and perennial they are always condemned for poor standards. There is no other rugby facility in the city except at Gweru Sports Club.
“No athletics fields to talk about and right now we have a partner to develop an international standard tartan track at the Gweru Sports Club.”
The Gweru Sports Club land was bought by the British South Africa Company in 1918 for the then Gwelo community.
Over the years up to independence, Gweru Sports Club has been run by the community with the Gweru City Council playing an oversight role but it is in recent years under the current admistration of Mayor Josiah Makombe and the current directors that the council has been making frantic efforts to acquire the facility.