The multi-million-dollar High Glen Stadium in Budiriro remains a pipe-dream for Harare City Council, with land invaders having built almost 500 houses on the site, many of them rebuilds after previous structures were demolished.
In February last year, council said the 45 000-seater High Glen stadium would be completed in four years, but almost two years down the line, there is nothing to show except the almost 500 houses. While the houses on the site have been demolished almost annually, the site has neither been fenced nor has work started.
Land barons have been illegally subdividing land set aside for social amenities such as sports facilities, schools and recreation land, and for subdividing wetlands where development approval is now impossible.
The Government has made it clear that regularisation of such buildings cannot be contemplated. Potential regularisation may be possible only on stands that follow approved layout plans but where building started before services were put in place.
Recently around 190 houses on an invaded school site in Budiriro were demolished, an action resulting in the Government staying council plans for demolition until the end of the rainy season, but there are council officials who believe that the stadium site could be a special case for earlier demolition since houses have already been demolished there but people came back and rebuilt them.
Acting Harare town clerk Engineer Zvenyika Chawatama last Tuesday said more demolitions were on cards to pave way for the stadium. “The stand has been planned and set aside for the stadium,” he said.
“There are structures on the site put up by land invaders. These have been demolished and will be demolished again in due course.”
Eng Chawatama said while council was yet to conceptualise and adopt the stadium implementation model, that will be done during the master plan review process.
The High Glen stadium is expected to cater for high-profile games both domestic and international. Council had budgeted to spend $1,4 million on the designs of stadium using the pool of reserved funds provided for in the 2019 capital budget under the department of housing and community services. These were to be released to facilitate preliminary works of the designing and drawing of plans for construction of High Glen Stadium.
The stadium is part of the city’s infrastructure development programme and part of council’s responsibility to provide recreational facilities to residents.
At the moment, Harare has five stadiums including Rufaro, Gwanzura and Dzivaresekwa. Council spokesperson Mr Michael Chideme recently said the stadium was meant to see people around the Budiriro area coming to watch football matches, musical galas, and other sporting activities.