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HEROES NEEDS AN OVERHAUL

GREETINGS sports lovers.

I hope this letter finds you well as we continue to interact on a number of issues affecting or contributing to both the growth and decline of sports development in the country.

Through my letters I have raised a number of challenges that are affecting the growth of sport in this country, and infrastructure has been one of the major things that have contributed to the downfall of sport. We are all preaching about investing in new sporting infrastructure but we are forgetting to maintain the little we have. Last time I talked about OYDC-ZAMBIA, that I think it is in a distress call to have that multi-purpose development center refurbished like yesterday.

While we are talking about that, we have the multi-purpose stadium, the National Heroes stadium in Lusaka. The stadium does not only need some of the vandalised or stolen equipment by both residents around the stadium or hungry and frustrated workers at the facility, but it needs a total overhaul.

The stadium is currently used mostly for football matches, weddings, and kitchen parties, among other activities. It also hosts home matches for the Zambia national football team. The stadium holds 60,000 spectators and it opened in 2014. The name of the stadium refers to the 1993 Zambia national football team air disaster which took the lives of most of its national football team, journalists and the Zambia Air Force crew.

Upon completion of construction in 2013. Then sports minister Chsihimba Kambwili wanted it named the Gabon Disaster Memorial National Heroes Stadium. But due to public outcry, then president Michael Sata listened to the public and prevailed over his arrogant and impossing minister. The stadium was therefore given the name that it holds to this day.

The National Heroes Stadium is located right next to the historical Independence Stadium and the Heroes Acres Memorial where the players who died in the Gabon air disaster in 1993 are buried. I would not want to duel on the state of the memorable infrastructure as it is story for another day.

Line ministries to the stadium under the new dawn government, you need to up your game in putting things in order. The more you delay putting things in order like the past regime which has been singing songs of doing the right thing at the stadium, the more the facility will deteriorate. It will soon be a white elephant.

In October 2021, this government said it will soon appoint a management board to maintain the state and infrastructure of the National Heroes Stadium. Sports minister Elvis Nkandu said his office was alive to the fact that the stadium needed adequate maintenance so that it could get back to its previous state. Nkandu said once management was instituted, the outlook and status of the infrastructure will be leveled to that of Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola.

While I upload the minister’s sentiments or moves to have a board that will oversee the stadium, such a board needs to look at a number of issues that are affecting the stadium. My number one on the list is that the new board should know that the stadium is owing huge amounts of gratuity to workers on contract. They have not been paid their gratuity for so many years, and this is definitely a source of worry as workers are being demotivated and frustrated at the same time. And once you have an institution with such demotivated workers, it’s definite that work done is equal to zero – there can be no meaningful production.

So, minister, your board should be able to tackle those issues; not forgetting the unqualified staff who are owed or not paid their allowances on time after events or functions. This because the stadium doesn’t have any human resource to listen to views of the staff. Hence people in management make trips to go to the Copperbelt in the name of offering technical support, but they just want to pay themselves or acquire money through allowances.

The ministry of sport has somehow neglected the facility as there isn’t that much support. Make sure that the board will have enough support from the ministry that will fall down to the qualified management that will be brought forward, not the cartels that have been running the stadium.

As I conclude, can your office investigate the K600,000 that was paid by Jehovah’s Witnesses to have an event in the stadium but the people in management misused it. Instead of paying off gratuities that they owe staff whose contracts ended, management diverted the money elsewhere.

I end here for today. Looking forward to interacting and sharing more ideas with you, sports lovers. Remember to propose a topic that you would like me to consider in the next letter. Thank you so much for your support and keeping reading my Monday letters. Adios!

Send comment to: bright.t.tembo14@gmail. com or on WhatsApp: +260 976 163505.

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