Controversy surrounds Nyasa Big Bullets stadium site land President Peter Mutharika promised to Men Growth Centre in Blantyre regarding owership.build for the team near Money
A teacher at the school, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed the land that Bullets’ stadium project was given is for Zingwangwa Secondary School.
The teacher said: “The ministry is aware. Everybody is aware that the land that has been allocated to Bullets belongs to Zingwangwa Secondary School. The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and Ministry of Lands and Housing approached us to inform us about this development.”
Asked if they need the land the teacher said: “When the government allocated the land to the school, they did it for very good reasons. We have learners who are coming from far away and we could build hostels, especially for girls. Right now we are also fighting with encroachers who are farming on school land.”
But Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture spokesperson Symon Mbvundula differed with the teacher, saying the land belongs to government.
“This is government land. We are aware that the school [Zingwangwa Secondary School] and communities use it. The fact that Zingwangwa Secondary School is using it does not make it their land,” he said.
However, Mbvundula disclosed that the ministry has plans to relocate the ground within the campus, which he said would be better.
But in an interview, a Ministry of Lands and Housing official, who opted for anonymity, claimed the site is secondary school land.
“The Ministry of Science and Education was consulted and it actually consented to the transaction. What is going to happen is that the plot will be subdivided so that the other part can be used by the government for the construction of a stadium for Nyasa Big Bullets. It is a big chunk of land that stretches from where a football pitch for the secondary school is located,” said the official.
On Wanderers stadium site at Soche, Mbvundula said Blantyre City Council offered the land to the Ministry of Sports.
“This was city council land and we trust that all is well,” he said.
But Ministry of Lands and Housing spokesperson Charles Vintulla could neither deny nor confirm whether the land belongs to the school or not.
“Most public institutions like schools and hospitals need their plots resurveyed following various cases of encroachment which has affected both sides on the plot boundary. As these sit on public land, the ministry is mandated to carry out their respective resurveys and provide guidance on actual boundaries.
“The case of Zingwangwa Secondary School needs to be ascertained as to whether it is true that the land allocated for a stadium belongs to or falls under Zingwangwa Secondary School. But there is no cause for alarm as both situations involve public land, which government directly administers,” he said.
Vintulla also said land laws allow government to normalise where there are cases of double plot allocation or an overlap of boundaries of public land.
In an interview, an alumnus, who spoke on conditions of anonymity, said the proposed Bullets Stadium site is where they held sporting activities on Fridays.
“Just close by is where we used to have the basketball court and down was the netball and volleyball courts where some people encroached and are now planting maize. It’s unfortunate that now the football ground is going just like that,” he said.
In an interview on Wednesday, the school’s sports prefect Uchizi Kaunda questioned the decision to allocate the school land to build a stadium for a private institution.
“This is the ground that we use and we are worried that it will go. We have accepted because we have no power to oppose. It’s good to Bullets and not us,” he said.
Kaunda’s schoolmate Kenneth Maganga called on non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to intervene.
Bullets chief administration officer Albert Chigoga declined to comment on the concern regarding the land, saying: “The government gave us the land upon which the stadium will be built. We have no comment about other issues.”
Ironically, Blantyre City Council, who handed over the land to former Minister of Sports Grace Chiumia in April also declined to comment about the land.
“I cannot comment on this issue because the best people to comment are from the Department of Lands,” Anthony Kasunda, public relations manager, said in an interview on Wednesday.
But Blantyre City Council director of town planning Costly Chanza was quoted in our sister newspaper The Nation in April as saying they were proud to handover the land to the country’s football powerhouses.
“When the President made the directive to identify land for the two stadiums, we did not waste time. We immediately identified these two sites for the projects,” he said.
During campaign in the run up to the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections, President Mutharika promised to build stadiums for Bullets and their rivals Be Forward Wanderers.
The issue of Zingwangwa Secondary School land is not an isolated case as the situation is the same at Namiwawa and Naotcha primary schools, where football grounds have been used to build school blocks; hence, depriving learners an opportunity to exploit their sporting talents.