Leader of the Blantyre concerned supporters, Mabvuto Chibambo, has claimed that President Joyce Banda intervened to have Kamuzu Stadium reopened after the Ministry of Youth and Sports put its foot down.
Chibambo said this on Wednesday morning when asked what his group would do to ensure that crowd trouble does not vindicate the ministry’s earlier refusal to allow the facility to host games with the condemned terraces cordoned off as is now the case.
“To appreciate the President’s gesture, I thus would like to ask my fellow supporters to behave on Sunday. If something goes wrong at the stadium, government will blame me,” said Chibambo.
“Let me also reveal that it took the intervention of the President, after I wrote her office, to have the stadium reopened; otherwise, the ministry officials were reluctant to cordon off the terraces and reopen it,” he said.
When asked about Chibambo’s claims, Presidential press officer Steven Nhlane could not directly confirm Chibambo’s story, but simply said the President was keen on ensuring that the sports sector develops like the other sectors.
“The President interacts with her Cabinet members and technocrats all the time on policy and strategic issues. With regard to the stadium issue, all the work and subsequent reopening of the facility received her full blessings,” said Nhlane.
Sports Minister Enoch Chihana, after several warnings from the group to take to the streets, promised in November to close the dilapidated terraces and reopen the stadium within two to four weeks, but the reopening delayed as government was waiting for procedures in the bidding process for the firm to work on the terraces.
Chihana was not readily available for comment on Thursday.