‘Rufaro Stadium will be ready for use in the 2024 football season’, Harare Mayor Jacob Mafume says


HARARE – The refurbishment of Rufaro Stadium in Harare – which is one of the foremost signature projects for City of Harare (COH) as regards its stadia refurbishment projects – has registered significant progress and will be ready for use for next year’s local football season, Harare Mayor Jacob Mafume said in a statement on Friday.

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The mayor remarked that progress at Rufaro Stadium is at an advanced stage, with Phase 1 of the renovation works having been completed.

The first phase of renovating Rufaro Stadium, a sporting fortress which boasts of a rich heritage in terms of sport, culture and entertainment, entailed general refurbishment plans and works, as well as redesigning of the stadium in conformity with best practices and standards as per FIFA guidelines.

In light of the completion of Phase 1 of renovation, Mafume intimated that the stadium will be ready for use in the 2024 football season.

Mafume stated: “A new modern secure car park was constructed as well as the B-Arena. The whole drainage from Rufaro Stadium was redeveloped and new lawn irrigation system installed.

“Extension of changing rooms, construction of a perimeter walls and rehabilitation of ablution facilities was done to our satisfaction. We are planning to officially Commission the first phase of the Renovation Works. Rufaro Stadium will be ready for use in the 2024 football season.”

Zimbabwe’s Premier Soccer League (PSL) domestic football season typically commences around April, and ends in November or December. 

The anticipation of Harare’s city council is that Rufaro Stadium will be ready for use by April 2024, after several false starts this year derailed the reopening of the stadium.

The mayor said that the local authority is desirous of rehabilitating sporting facilities around the city with the intention of creating access to social amenities for youths.

“We intend to rehabilitate sporting facilities so that our young people have access to social amenities. This we hope will help us in the fight against drugs and substance abuse in our communities,” Mafume said.

“In this spirit, that we intend to rehabilitate include (sic): Gwanzura, Dzivarasekwa and Mabvuku Stadia. We should also be able to host the Premier Soccer League Matches.”

Mafume implored the private sector to utilize private-public partnerships in order to bring these plans to fruition.

“For us to be able to rehabilitate the stadia to acceptable standards, we call upon the private sector and corporates to participate in these initiatives,” said the mayor.

The plans to renovate the city’s dilapidated infrastructure, with the goal of improving residents’ access to social amenities, is not only confined to sporting facilities.

Mayor Mafume highlighted that the city intends to commission other projects in 2024 that include clinics and small scale industry and trading areas.

The mayor proclaimed that city will commission Chitubu Clinic in 2024, and other refurbishment projects that include “the renovation of Carter House into a state of the art enhanced maternity clinic to cater for the population which utilize our facilities, remodeling the of Glenview Area 8 Home Industry, completion of the Administration block at Mabvuku Enhanced Poly Clinic, Completion of Seke – Dieppe People Market and start construction of Marlborough and Sunningdale Clinics.”

Public infrastructural facilities and amenities under the purview of City of Harare have over the years suffered massive neglect, dereliction, and have become decrepit, which is a major disservice to residents as this impinges on their access to public social services.

Amid a disconcerting stadiums crisis in Zimbabwe that saw several local teams sharing one venue, the completion of Rufaro Stadium renovation works has been moving at a sluggard pace.

In August 2023, City of Harare postponed the handover of Rufaro Stadium for resumption of Premier Soccer League action in the capital. Jacob Mafume, who was mayor at the time, wanted to commission the stadium for use on 10 August 2023.

Despite the city’s wish to reopen the stadium for use at the time, it emerged that the stadium was not yet officially approved by the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) First Instance Board (FIB) and concomitantly disallowed to host any PSL games until it passed the inspection tests.

Reports surfaced that Harare City sources had indicated that there was no technical inspection done by the municipal engineers themselves, amid allegations that the false starts in the commissioning of the stadium were due to underhand political machinations.

ZIFA at the time advised City of Harare to ensure that the stadium is inspected before hosting any topflight league matches. 

It is hoped that this time around, the city council of Harare will not backtrack in reopening then iconic Rufaro Stadium.

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