At long last. Malawi Government on Saturday reopened Kamuzu Stadium after completion of the cordoning-off work of the faulty stands.
Youth and Sports Minister Enoch Chihana gave the seal of approval after inspecting the facility at around noon and the stadium is set to stage a TNM Super League game between Big Bullets and Mafco today (Sunday) afternoon.
“I had to come and see for myself that a proper job has been done and I am convinced that games can be played after being satisfied with the work that has been carried out.
“So, I have approved the reopening of the stadium and even tomorrow [Sunday], a game can be played here,” said Chihana amid wild applause from a group of football fans who attended the brief ceremony.
However, the minister had a word of caution.
“But what I would urge you [clubs and fans] is to help us in ensuring that the cordoned off areas should be no-go zones because the moment we establish that some fans are climbing the fence or tampering with it, then we’ll close the stadium immediately.
“The fans need to realise that the cordoned-off areas are danger zones and it would be recipe for disaster for them to invade that area,” Chihana warned.
He added: “I cannot dictate on where the games can be played as that is the responsibility of Sulom [Super League of Malawi] and FAM, but I can safely announce that the stadium has been reopened though temporarily until such time that we’ll be ready to commence major renovations.”
The minister then urged all stakeholders such as clubs, Sulom, security personnel and the fans to ensure that there is total security whenever games are being played.
He also disclosed that the cost of cordoning off the affected areas was over K20 million (about $60 606).
Chihana also reiterated that government is planning to construct another stadium in Blantyre.
“Of course, there were calls and suggestions for the complete demolition of the structure, but what I can say is that history is very important.
“This [Kamuzu] stadium has a rich history and, therefore, we’ll not completely demolish it, but rather rehabilitate it fully. Yes, we’ll build another stadium in Blantyre, but Kamuzu Stadium will be renovated so that Blantyre should have two big stadiums.
Asked when the two projects will start, the minister said: “As for the rehabilitation, we’ll have to follow the normal bidding process as it will be done under the Triple P [public, private partnership], but it should be very soon.
“And as for the new stadium project, we’ll submit a proposal for consideration in the next fiscal plan.”
Sulom boss Innocent Bottomani and chairperson of concerned Blantyre-based football supporters Mabvuto Chibambo thanked government for the move.
Said Bottomani: “We are very grateful to government for its gesture to reopen the stadium because the teams were spending a lot to play their games outside Blantyre.”
Bottomani also said Sulom will ensure total security during games.
“With the support of government, clubs and security personnel, we’ll ensure that the cordoned-off areas are no-go zones.
“But having said that, let me state that we’ll require the cooperation of the fans themselves and the clubs, particularly Big Bullets and Mighty Wanderers who have a large following,” said Bottomani.
On his part, Chibambo said: “We are very grateful to government for fulfilling its promise to reopen the stadium because we were spending a lot of money travelling outside the city to watch our teams play and our clubs were also heavily affected by the closure.”
He assured that the fans would ensure that the cordoned-off areas will be no-go zones.
Other notable figures that attended the function included principal secretary II in the Ministry of Youth and Sports Justin Saidi, the stadium’s manager Charles Mhango, Sulom general secretary Williams Banda and stewards head Pascal Nkuta.