SPORTS minister Makhosini Hlongwane has taken a swipe at officials in the Ministry of Local Government for prioritising Pastor Chris’ Christ Embassy Church crusade at the expense of the scheduled Castle Lager Premier Soccer League fixtures, which were slated for the National Sports Stadium.
BY FORTUNE MBELE
Pastor Chris will be in the country on May 7 for the crusade and the Premier Soccer League (PSL) had also written to the Local Government ministry, headed by Saviour Kasukuwere, expressing their displeasure over the disruption of the league programme.
Addressing journalists at the Sport ministry’s stand at the ZITF yesterday, Hlongwane said he was not happy with the Local Government ministry’s decision.
“This is to do with the fact that the Premier League schedule may be disrupted as a result of the fact that the National Sports Stadium has been rented out to a church. As Ministry of Sport and Recreation, we abhor the ceding away of space that belongs to sport and recreation to churches especially in cases where it happens at the expense of sport and recreation activities,” Hlongwane said.
The National Sports Stadium is the only facility available at the moment for clubs in Harare. A contingent plan was made yesterday where three of the four matches in Harare will be played at Morris Depot.
“We know that some of these facilities when sports activities are not happening will be hired out for various other activities as a way of raising income in order to look after and maintain those facilities especially given the constrained fiscal space at the moment.
However, this should not happen at the expense of football and sport activities. Therefore, we want to urge those officials within the Local Government ministry to understand and take their role seriously and understand that government did invest in constructing this infrastructure for the benefit of the sport and recreation sector. We will not tolerate any continued disruption of scheduled sport and recreation activities on account of that space being ceded out to other activities that are not sport and recreation,” he added.
The government official said he had engaged Kasukuwere over the matter and also made consultations with Zifa president Philip Chiyangwa.
“We take that very seriously and we are very unhappy with this development. I had discussions with minister Kasukuwere last night (Thursday) in respect of this particular matter and he promised that he was going to discuss with his officials to make sure the situation is corrected. “