The recent announcement by President Peter Mutharika that Kamuzu Stadium should be demolished has divided opinions on what exactly needs to be done at the country’s oldest football arena.
Speaking during the official opening of Masauko Chipembere Highway in Blantyre last weekend, Mutharika pledged to replace Kamuzu Stadium with a modern stadium.
But a source in government said a Chinese contractor, who was engaged some four years ago to assess the stadium and suggest the way forward, recommended that the facility only needs major renovations.
The source said the contractor reported that he could carry out the renovations in six months at a cost of K6 billion.
“The contractor said he could put the stands back to full use by building more pillars. He insisted that renovating the stadium would be more viable than demolishing it,” he explained.
Government had pulled down the stadium’s four floodlights and replaced them in the 2011/12 Financial Year, besides other continued maintenance works.
The new floodlights are yet to be put to use.
The source noted that demolishing the stadium that has newly-installed facilities, such as floodlights, would be a waste of resources that could have been channeled to other needy areas.
He questioned government’s wisdom in spending millions renovating a facility only to demolish it later.
“Demolition is also an expensive venture. We must first of all get money for that exercise and then get more money for construction of the new structure,” the source added.
Ministry of Sports and Culture spokesperson, Christopher Mbukwa, acknowledged the differences in opinion on the demolition of the stadium.
He said as a government department, they are bound by whatever direction the Head of State gives.
“Any pronouncement that the President makes becomes public policy. He is the one who guides us. So, we believe that he has the best plans for the stadium,” Mbukwa insisted.
Minister of Sports and Culture, Grace Chiumia, is on record to have acknowledged initial plans to renovate the stadium, but said after consultations, it was agreed to demolish the structure and erect a new one.
“The renovation would have been costly. We consulted officials at the Ministry of Lands and Planning and other stakeholders and settled for construction of a new stadium,” Chiumia said.
Dates for the demolition of the stadium and construction of a new one are yet to be made public.
Decades ago, former President Dr. Bakili Muluzi, promised to construct an additional stand at Kamuzu Stadium, where as his predecessor, late Dr. Bingu wa Mutharika’s pledge for an in-door netball court remained a pipe dream.
Peter Mutharika’s predecessor, Joyce Banda, also promised to erect a new stadium in Blantyre after reversing Bingu wa Mutharika’s plans to have the Bingu National Stadium in Blantyre.