HARARE City Council has hit back at Sport, Arts and Culture minister Andrew Langa for his suggestion that local authorities should reduce stadium rentals and levies, saying his utterances were inapt.
Langa, speaking at a Press conference in Bulawayo last week during the African Union Sports Council Region 5 Under-20 Youth Games review, raised concerns over what he called “high levies” charged by local authorities.
Most councils collect 20% from gate charges for the use of their stadiums by teams or a hire charge for the use of their facilities, which Langa says are prohibitive to most communities.
“We have always been concerned about the rates that are being charged by the city fathers. It is not only in Bulawayo, but if you go to Harare and Masvingo, it is the same. I am concerned about the rates. They are rather too high,” said Langa.
“Even Khumalo Hockey Stadium charges are too high. That is what we will try to discuss with local government and my ministry to ensure that the rates are managed by our athletes and our sports persons.
“If you go to Harare, the Chitungwiza Aquatic Centre is now being run as a church, night clubs are all over. We do not want to see such a thing in Bulawayo. It is important that as a ministry and other players we manage our facilities so that we do not go back to the facilities that were being used here in Zimbabwe in 1995,” he added.
However, Harare City Council sports administrator Sunny Mbofana has hit out at Langa saying his utterances were offside.
“This Langa guy is not fit to be a minister at all. To begin with, he is a minister who does not know that Chitungwiza Aquatic Complex is not in Harare, but in another town. He is so unimpressive and his tenure as Sports minister will not add value to the sports industry,” Mbofana said.
Mbofana added: “Like I have alluded to, sport is an industry and it follows, therefore, that it has lots of potential to rake in billions of revenue if sound leadership is put in place.
Municipalities are not profit-making organisations and the idea of them having to charge 20% on ground/facility use is to try and sustain themselves without having to charge exorbitant amounts in terms of rates directly to ratepayers.
“Langa should, however, focus his energy more on how to grow sports in the country without trying to rob municipalities. For instance, if Highlanders were to put a system that helps them rake in billions and minus 20% levies to Barbourfields, then everyone becomes a winner. In short, I’m challenging Honourable Langa to think and not turn to populist insinuations that do not bring anything for the good of sport and the country.”
Langa also said the responsibility for the stadia should not lie with the local government alone, but also involve his ministry.
“The management of our sports facilities in Zimbabwe will not only remain the responsibility of local government, but as Sports ministry we also have to have a say so that whenever they (athletes) want to use those facilities they can access them,” he said.