Finally closed and condemned. Does the dilapidated condition of Kamuzu Stadium translate into K150 million (about $500 000) or so which government has pumped into the facility between 2005 and 2011 for repairs?
In 2005/6 financial year, government announced that the entire stadium renovation project would cost K150 million or K30 million (about $100 000) every financial year up to 2010. Then, rehabilitation was timed to reposition Malawi to host some of the 2010 World Cup-bound teams.
The round figure for the renovations jumped to K180 million in the 2009/10 national budget before being revised upwards to K260 million (about $870 000) in the 2011/12 budget.
During the week, Malawiâ€™s principal secretary in the Ministry of Youth and Sports Alex Mseka said it was wrong to assume that what was reflected in the budget over the years translated into the actual money that was released. Mseka said he could get the actual amount spent on the renovations once he returns to work from holiday.
Justin Saidi, who deputy principal secretary in the ministry said he cannot comment fully on the project since he was not there in some years. But he insisted that the renovations were completed, adding that the issue of the cracked terraces, which has led to the closure of the stadium, was outside the renovation project.
â€˜There was no scrutinyâ€™
On his part, Herbert Bimphi, chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Social Affairs under which the stadium expenses fall, admitted that they have never scrutinised the stadium renovation expenditure.
The stadiumâ€™s manager Charles Mhango said the Ministry of Youth and Sports took full charge of the renovations; hence, he could not comment. Since 2005, contractors such as Enchoh Electrical Contractors and Tafika Building Contractors have worked on the stadium.
Malawi Government embarked on the stadium project following Fifa and CAF recommendation of numbering the terraces for security reasons, building a tunnel from the dressing room to the ground, replacing iron fence on the southern side and setting up a communication bureau.
Yet, most toilets are in sorry state, promise of two additional stands remains a song, some walls have not been painted, the drainage system for the open stands is lamentable while some walls lack final touches.
However, notable successes story include the numbering of terraces.
In the end, the biggest victims of the stadiumâ€™s closure are the clubs and Flames who have to host Ghana next month at a smaller Civo Stadium while the artificial turf Fifa erected to the tune of K90 million (about $300 000) at the abandoned arena, lies idle.
The renovation started at a snailâ€™s pace with some electrical installations. By 2007, then Sports Minister Jaffalie Mussa revealed that that yearâ€™s allocation to the stadium was forfeited due to bureaucracy as the money was not spent on the facility. He accused the Ministry of Works of bureaucracy.
â€˜Additional resources, no fruitâ€™
When presenting the national budget on May 28 2010, then finance minister Ken Kandodo, announced: â€œAdditional resources include K150 million ($500 000) for the construction of an indoor sports complex in Lilongwe, K180 million (about $600 000) for the rehabilitation of Kamuzu Stadium and K30 million (about $100 000) for the construction of Mzuzu Youth Centre.â€
Nation on Sunday of April 15 2008 quoted Fifa technical director responsible for stadiums Walter Gagg as warning that: â€œIt [Kamuzu Stadium] is not secure. Fifa prioritises the security of spectators and government must identify funds to rehabilitate the stadium.â€
On its list of achievements for the 2005/2009 period, Ministry of Youth and Sports claims on government website that it had successfully renovated stadia, including Kamuzu Stadium. In its summary of achievements for the 2010/ 2011 financial year, the ministry also brags about Kamuzu Stadiumâ€™s rehabilitation.
â€œIn readiness for the 2010 Fifa World Cup, Kamuzu Stadium has undergone complete rehabilitation. Rehabilitation works include laying of artificial turf, renovation of the stadium toilets and other sanitary requirements, upgrading of dressing rooms, construction of a brick wall fence and cladding of the stadium fence,â€ reads a posting on www.malawi.gov.mw.