PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has pledged to spearhead efforts to upgrade Gwanzura Stadium in Highfield, Harare, to international standards in recognition of the initiative made by the late national hero Eric Gwanzura who constructed it for marginalised blacks in the 1960s, together with his brother Phanuel.
The President made the pledge at Gwanzura’s burial at the National Heroes’ Acre in Harare yesterday, saying preserving the stadium would be the only way to safeguard the legacy of the late Zanu PF central committee member.
“It must be turned into a spectacular stadium as an initiative by a national hero. Let’s dedicate ourselves to developing that stadium so that it even surpasses Rufaro (Stadium). I will want to lead that campaign to develop it,” the President said.
Gwanzura’s obituary produced by the Ministry of Media, Information and Broadcasting Services says the stadium was the first Fifa approved venue in Zimbabwe.
“Cde Gwanzura and his brother Phanuel built a stadium in Highfield which was named Gwanzura Stadium after their surname, a name it carries to this day. The stadium was part of their efforts to provide recreational facilities for the blacks and became the first Federation of International Football Associations (Fifa) approved soccer stadium in the country,” part of the obituary reads.
With a seating capacity of 10 000, Gwanzura is in need of massive improvements if it is to meet international standards as wished by the President.
Concrete seats no longer meet global standards where bucket chairs are now the in-thing.
Dressing rooms are in a dilapidated state and the football pitch itself is now in a sorry state.
Contacted for comment, Zifa communications manager Xolisani Gwesela hailed the President’s statement.
“Zifa has constantly appealed to local authorities to improve standards at most stadia in the country. We feel we are the major users and council charges 20% from proceeds of every match, but stadiums are in a sorry state. Against this background we support the President’s position 100%,” Gwesela said.