THE budget for the African Union Sports Region V Under-20 Youth Games to be held in Bulawayo this December has been reduced downward from a staggering $46 million to $16 million after the organisers shelved plans to construct of a new games village.
Organisers of the biennial games set for December 4 to 15 had initially planned to construct three hostels at the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) to leave a legacy for the games.
However Sport, Arts and Culture minister Andrew Langa (pictured), who expressed satisfaction on the progress made toward hosting the games said they had since resolved to use the already existing accommodation facilities at Hillside Teachers’ College as the games village.
Langa said of the $16 million budgeted for the games, $14,4 had already been made available by the government of which $2,5 million was already in their account.
“I’m happy to tell Parliament and this committee in particular that there has been some tangible progress in terms of our state of preparedness for the hosting of the African Union Sports Region V Under-20 Youth Games this December.
“Our initial budget as you recall had been set at $46 million to ensure that we host these games successfully. Why we had said $46 million was because we had planned to construct a games village for the athletes at Nust as a legacy for the games,” Langa said while appearing before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Education, Sport, Arts and Culture in the capital yesterday.
“However, we have since moved the games village to Hillside Teachers’ College and this means our athletes that total almost 1 500 to 1 800 athletes will now be housed there. This therefore reduced our budget from $46 million to $16 million.
“We will be building a new block at Hillside Teachers’ College while also refurbishing and rehabilitating the accommodation facilities.
“Progress has been made in the area of infrastructure rehabilitation and construction. The budgetary requirements for the tasks at hand are being appropriately addressed through both fiscal and private sector engagement.
“I’m happy to tell this committee that the treasury has made available budgetary support of $9 million for infrastructure which will be managed through the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe. A further $4,5 million has been put up to cover the operations of the local organising committee as it plans for the games.
“I’m also happy to say that the private sector has also assisted and they will be working on our swimming pool which requires a total of almost $2,5 million. I’m certain that come September 30 we will hand over the facilities to the region organising committee,” Langa said.
Initially, 12 countries that included hosts Zimbabwe, South Africa, Zambia, Namibia, Malawi, Lesotho, Botswana, Mozambique, Angola, Swaziland, the Seychelles and Mauritius had been confirmed for the games, but three more — Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Madagascar — have shown interest in taking part in the biannual competition.
A number of facilities which include the Nust, Bulawayo Athletic Club, Bulawayo City Pool, Barbourfields Stadium, Luveve Stadium and White City Stadium will be the venues for the games.