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Churches banned from National Sports

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The Ministry of Public Works will ban churches from congregating within the pitch of the National Sports Stadium, Public Works minister Joel Gabbuza told Parliament yesterday.

Gabbuza said this in the House of Assembly while responding to a question by Mbizo MP Settlement Chikwinya, who asked the him to explain if the “decay” of the stadium had not emanated from use for non-core sport business by church organisations, with some of them accommodating about 100 000 congregants at the stadium.

Masvingo Central MP Jeffreyson Chitando also asked the minister to explain the measures he was going to take to maintain the stadium to international standards before the next international match, given “the grounds now resembled a potato field”.

“There was a tendency to make the soccer stadium available for weddings and church gatherings, but we have said we can only make it available for sport-related issues because of the fragile lawn,”said Gabbuza.

“When we visited the stadium immediately after independence celebrations, we found the army and other institutions were using the grounds for their displays, but now we have limited use of the stadium and said churches can only use the perimeter of the seating arenas and halls and not the pitch part of the stadium,” he said.

Gabbuza also told Parliament that apart from overbooking of the stadium, they were experiencing problems with the Chinese contractor who was revamping it.

“We had two problems: one of overbooking as we tried to raise finances for the stadium; and the other problem was with the Chinese contractor. We later realised that the contractor had imported some lawn from outside Zimbabwe which did not do so well. We have since asked them to remove the lawn so that we bring back a lawn that is more indigenous and compatible with our weather patterns, “said Gabbuza.

He said the stadium would not be used until it was fully refurbished.

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