Nearly a year after the ground-breaking ceremony held at the proposed site of the US$3 million OlympAfrica Centre in Epworth, construction is yet to begin as the Epworth Local Board is still battling to remove the remaining 81 settlers who invaded the piece of land on which the Olympic stadium is supposed to be built.
The sports centre, whose ground breaking ceremony to mark the beginning of the construction was done by the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, Saviour Kasukuwere, and Sport and Recreation Minister Makhosini Hlongwane last year, is expected to spearhead sport as a channel for peace and development in the area located on the outskirts of Harare.
The centre is the brainchild of one of Epworth’s most illustrious sons, Musekiwa ‘Mwalimu’ Kumbula and former Zimbabwe Olympic Committee (ZOC) President, Tommy Sithole who mooted the idea to build the Olympic size stadium, a library and conference centre before they go into partnership with local Olympic body.
However, a year down the line, construction has not started yet despite assurances that settlers would be moved and offered alternative land to build their accommodation.
Epworth Local Board Mayor, Tafireyi Murambidzi said their efforts are being hampered by some political forces despite assurances that 81 settlers would be moved o pave way for the construction to begin.
ZOC President, Admire Masenda said the OlympAfrica sports centre is a long overdue project and part of a ZOC legacy project, adding that they have been in meetings with all relevant authorities to pave way for construction.
He said they would be meting again this coming Monday.
Epworth legislator, Zalera Makari said efforts to move to the settlers were being thwarted by the opposition MDC-T, while some of the settlers were unwilling to relocate and had sold alternative pieces of land they were offered.
The sports centre project is being funded by the International Olympic Committee through the OlympAfrica Foundation Development Fund to the tune of US$150 000.
The construction of the centre falls in line with ZOC’s vision 2014 meant to nurture talent and provide social skills.
Olympic day sports gala
Meanwhile, the sprawling high density suburb of Epworth was a hive of activity this Saturday as thousands of youths thronged the OlympAfrica centre to commemorate the Olympic Day celebrations for the second year running with a memorable sports gala.
This year’s event was again staged at the proposed site of the OlympAfrica centre next to Domboramwari Secondary School where a number of sporting events were showcased, with the main event being the Olympic Day 10 km and 5km fun runs.
ZOC was excited to host the event in Epworth once again.
Several sporting disciplines such as football, netball, triathlon, cycling, volleyball, archery, table tennis, pool, karate, judo, taekwondo, wrestling, wushu as well as aerobics were part of the day.
Residents of Epworth and surrounding areas thronged the centre which was free to all interested sport-loving people.
Local schools provided entertainment for the participants and invited guests.
The Olympic Day falls on June 23 although most governing bodies do not hold celebrations on that day choosing to celebrate the day that commemorates the founding of the international movement by Frenchman, Pierre de Courbetin in 1894 with the aim of promoting participation in sport around the world.
The aim of the day is to spread the ideas and values of the Olympic movement as well as participation in sport worldwide.