Zimbabwe: So Near, Yet So Far – Hope of Football Return to Rufaro Stadium is Diminished

HOPE of football matches returning to the capital is up in smoke as renovations at iconic Rufaro Stadium are far from completion despite a hurried attempt by Jacob Mafume to commission the ground.

Rufaro Stadium is going through a facelift after years of neglect by the city fathers.

The stadium was condemned to host football matches in 2020 after it was deemed unfit by the local football mother body Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA).

Harare Mayor, Mafume earlier this year embarked on a project to refurbish the home of football, setting an ambitious target of completing the renovations by mid-year.

This was after Mafume led council spurned a deal to refurbish Rufaro by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ally Kudakwashe Tagwirei.

Harare City Council has missed numerous deadlines to complete the refurbishment of Rufaro Stadium.

The City of Harare has work cut out if they are to complete the refurbishment before the end of the local football season.

The stadium has not ticked all boxes that were set by FIFA with the media box having not been refurbished.

Ablution facilities, one changing room, and a scoreboard at the stadium are also far from completion.

Media box of newly refurbished Rufaro Stadium pic.twitter.com/uNfRulwmPt

— NewZimbabwe.com (@NewZimbabweCom) August 10, 2023

However, it is not all doom and gloom as the City of Harare has constructed a parking area – a space that had been invaded by vendors.

Work is underway for the establishment of a B-Arena and electric turnstiles.

Addressing the media at Rufaro Stadium, Mafume said they had covered 95 percent of the work.

“Our works are what I would describe in our own optimistic view 95 percent complete. We have the best pitch in the country as we speak right now. Our grass is green, it is lush turf, a soccer’s dreamer. We have done a state of the art parking lot. We have done a state of the art boardroom. You can see it has dramatically changed. It is a work of art.

“We have done changing rooms almost to completion. The toilets and ablution facilities are what is left for the general public. We are putting town tiles in them. We have put up a demo of electric turnstiles so that we meet PSL and FIFA standards,” said Mafume.

One dressing room has been refurbished at Rufaro Stadium while work is in progress for the remaining. Harare Mayor @JMafume says 95% of work has been completed. @cohsunshinecity pic.twitter.com/jo79ApYl6y

— NewZimbabwe.com (@NewZimbabweCom) August 10, 2023

City of Harare had brought fresh hope of local football bouncing back into the Capital.

Currently, Harare teams have been forced to look for alternative venues as all stadiums have been deemed unfit to host games.

ZIFA Normalisation Committee chairperson Lincoln Mutasa expressed satisfaction over the progress made in bringing Rufaro stadium back to life.

“They have made tremendous progress and are very pleased with the developments taking place. It brings back nostalgic memories but I was pleasantly surprised that the dressing rooms are much bigger and have the showers that FIFA and CAF stipulated,” said Mutasa.


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