Harare City Council has okayed the proposal by energy giant Sakunda Holdings for a long-term lease which would see the refurbishment of Rufaro Stadium into a world-class facility.
This comes a few days after the city fathers invited corporates to approach them directly for partnerships after snubbing a proposal by Harare giants Dynamos, who were being backed by Sakunda Holdings.
Sakunda Holdings is the major sponsor for two of the country’s biggest clubs Dynamos and Highlanders and the latest development is set to benefit DeMbare as the facility will be their home.
Rufaro Stadium last hosted football matches during the 2019 league season before it was red-flagged by the Zifa First Instance Board in 2020. The stadium has since become an eyesore after renovations by the city council stalled.
The latest development will see the revival of the country’s “ceremonial home of football”.
“I am glad to advise that on the 28th February 2022, council granted the acting town clerk authority to sign a memorandum of understanding on behalf of the City of Harare with Sakunda Holdings on the proposal for a long lease for refurbishment of Rufaro Stadium to Fifa soccer stadia standards subject to expectations of the City,” acting town clerk Phakamile Moyo said in a letter to Sakunda Holdings dated March 7, 2022.
“The council is in the process of preparing the draft memorandum of understanding. It further authorised a selected team to visit foreign countries to appreciate modalities of developing, refurbishing and upgrading of councils stadia
“May you now make the necessary arrangements for the selected team to undertake the said exchange visit to a country of your choice,” he added.
According to its proposal, Sakunda Holding’s vision is to drive community development in Mbare by establishing a Fifa accredited stadium for use by Dynamos and other local clubs.
Sakunda is also looking to rehabilitate Belgravia Sports club and its facilities for use by Dynamos for training purposes as part of the deal.
Dynamos currently use Prince Edward High School grounds for their training sessions.
“Sakunda Holdings together with our local and international Strategic Partners propose to acquire a long-term lease from City of Harare to rehabilitate and develop Rufaro Stadium and Belgravia Sports Club to worldclass sporting facilities.
“The scope of the works will include but not limited to:
- Rufaro Stadium turf rehabilitation
- Terrace refurbishment and bucket seat installation
- Parking and road construction
- Surrounding and facilities rehabilitation
- Power supply system — solar options
- Water supply
- Sewage reticulation
- Water drainage management system.
“Once Rufaro Stadium has been fully rehabilitated, local premiership matches, regional and Caf matches and international Fifa matches would be hosted there.
“Dynamos Football Club would also use the stadium as its home ground
“Belgravia Sports Club would be rehabilitated and its grounds used for regular training by Dynamos FC Sakunda Holdings would manage the two facilities for the City Council for the duration of the lease period.
“Others would be allowed to use the facilities in liaison with facilities managers,” Sakunda said in its project proposal.
In January this year, the city council revealed that it had awarded tenders to different companies to work on the various aspects of the ground such as cladding, expansion joints, steel works and gutters, PA system, LED electronic scoreboards, LED flood lights and new changing rooms.
It also claimed to have put a transformer in place as well as work on the drainage system around the pitch despite admission that it was “overwhelmed” by other commitments
The collapse of Rufaro Stadium has created problems for the seven Harare-based teams which are part of the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League considering that there is only one approved stadium in the capital, National Sports Stadium.
Other clubs have been using Baobab in Mhondoro-Ngezi for their home matches, while Black Rhinos has been using Sakubva Stadium in Mutare on some occasions.
At times, some Harare clubs have asked to play matches on a Friday to avoid playing at home outside Harare.
The refurbishment of Rufaro Stadium will be a major relief for the clubs.