INCREASED power cuts and delays in the delivery of some material from South Africa for finishing touches at the African Union Sport Council Region 5 Under-20 Youth Games venues in Bulawayo will not stop Zimbabwe from making the event a success, a top government official said yesterday.
Misheck Sibanda, the chief secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet, made the assurance after touring the venues ahead of the official opening of the games by President Robert Mugabe next week.
The games will be held from December 5 to 14. However, there are growing concerns that some venues will not be ready as contractors are still battling to meet deadlines.
Mugabe will officially open the games at Barbourfields Stadium on December 4. Sibanda and his team toured the Bulawayo Athletic Club, Bulawayo Polytechnic College (command centre), Hillside Teachers’ College (games village), Bulawayo City Pool, White City Stadium, Bulawayo Large City Hall, Luveve Stadium and Barbourfields Stadium among other venues.
“I am extremely happy with the state of preparedness,” he said.
“In fact I can say that we are 99% ready from what I have seen. I have been assured that come Friday everything will be ready.”
He made the assurances despite the fact that the tartan track at White City is still to be laid.
“We launched the whole process when the tracks were being done (White City track),” he said.
“It is a sign that everything is moving. We are assured that the material is at the border and through our intervention should be here by tomorrow (today) with the latest being on Saturday. Everything should be finished by then.”
The contractor at White City Stadium said they were waiting for some material from South Africa for the warm-up pitch and were concerned it could be held up at the Beitbridge border.
But Sibanda and Media, Information and Broadcasting Services permanent secretary George Charamba said they would ensure that the material was delivered on time.
Sibanda said contingent plans were in place to deal with load-shedding.
“There is no load-shedding,” he said.
“That is why I came with the Energy and Power Development secretary (Partson Mbiriri) who has assured me that they have already issued a statement that all the centres where there is going to be sporting activities are exempted from load-shedding.
“In addition, we have standby generators. He has also assured me that their reaction time in times of crisis will be attended to immediately.
“He is going to be stationing not only people who are normally based here, but there will be people from head office who will be monitoring as well.”
Sibanda’s team included his deputy Ray Ndhlukula, Sport, Arts and Culture secretary Thokozile Chitepo, her Transport and Infrastructural Development, Local Government, Public Works and National Housing counterparts Munesushe Munodawafa and George Mlilo respectively, as well as Charamba and Mbiriri.
Sibanda said he was generally happy with preparations, including those for the opening ceremony.
He said the games would leave a legacy for Bulawayo because of the infrastructure that has been upgraded.
“As far as we are concerned, we see it as the beginning, the recovery and resurgence of Bulawayo,” he said.