Overhaul Kamuzu Stadium

If news that it is only the artificial turf that will be repaired at the dilapidated Kamuzu Stadium and not complete renovations is anything to go by, we need some soul-searching. This mirrors lack of vision.

The conflicting statements on the issue, climaxed by threats from football teams and supporters, reminds me of the saying; ‘failing to plan is planning to fail’ because some stands were condemned way before the artificial turf was deemed unfit.

And in a manner of kicks of a dying horse, the government coats its statement that it is only renovating the turf because the Kamuzu stadium was not closed because of the delapilated stands but of the turf.

While some sporting activities are held in empty stadiums in Malawi, we cannot remember how many times our security managed to control access to areas cordoned off.

This is ample proof for the government to look beyond the nose.

My 12-year-old daughter knows that “usable” loosely means “available or convenient for use” or “capable of being used”.

It is laughable for the government to try to convince the nation that the renovations would make the facility usable.

In coming up with different versions about what it will do to make the stadium usable, the government has shown its desperation to show people that it is doing something worth handclaps.

But this is like calling a spade a big spoon.

Failure to understand what constitutes a stadium and its use exposes the government to look at the challenges it has faced in its attempt to control the safety and capacity of the stadium.

While teams, supporters and businesses have suffered following the closure of the stadium, it remains wrong for the government to champion a piecemeal approach to renovations of the facility.

It seems government still believes that half bread is better than none.

Maybe, it has forgotten that the Kamuzu stadium is not just a football facility and that the issue at hand is not merely a sports matter, but rather an international affair.

It is imperative to realise that by just renovating the artificial turf, the Sports Council is living in the world that believes that a stadium is just meant for football, 22 players chasing the ball and referees regulating the so-called beautiful game.

Budget sessions are passed year in and year out, making one wonder why a sensible allocation has not been made towards the renovation of the stadium to make it “usable” for all sporting activities.

It is high time our city planners, safety and security experts and engineers, among other technocrats, joined forces in instilling some sense of responsibility into the government hierarchy before it is too late.

How can a nation like Malawi afford not to properly plan for complete renovations of a national stadium that people have been seeing falling apart and failing the nation for decades?

The conduct of the government in this case exposes lack of continuity and signs of incompetence. It appears that only the Minister of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development has a say at a particular time.

Government need not be reminded that it has an obligation to provide safe and convenient stadia.

Issues to do with stadia have graver impacts on the lives of people and the credibility of the governments.

If the brains behind sports development are on leave, why not host a Blue Night or Kamuzu Stadium Fundraising Night at which even the government would be surprised by the size of cheques donated by its ministries, departments and agencies, including parastatals and councils?

Kamuzu Stadium needs complete renovations unless we want to bring the country’s sports sector into disrepute.  n

 

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