Outrage over Harare City funding

HARARE - Harare residents have reacted with outrage over disclosure that the City of Harare funds its top-flight football club to the tune of $1.6 million, apparently at the expense of ratepayers.

Norman Markham, the council’s finance committee chairperson, resigned from his post this week in protest over, among other things, the bankrolling of Zimbabwean Premier Soccer League (PSL) club Harare City.

Precious Shumba, chairperson of the Harare Residents Trust (HRT) said: “The HRT has always wondered why the City of Harare would have a team when it is unable to provide essential services.

“We commend Councillor Markham for taking a principled stand against elitist corruption disguised as community service by the city council.

“That team is being treated like an individual project by a former club and PSL official to massage his ego in the football fraternity. The football team should not be used to settle personal scores for certain officials but priority should be given to service provision and being accountable to residents.

“The HRT will engage councillors in the finance and development committee to hear more about what is really happening concerning the football team.

“Without much information, the HRT can only speculate, so until we have been furnished with information of the transactions that go on in the team, we are in a difficult position to take a productive stance.”

Shumba added that running the football club should not be a responsibility of the Council, neither should it be at the expense of residents, who continue to endure substandard service.

“For the City of Harare to have a football team, it is a noble idea,” Shumba said.

“However, without the necessary funding mechanism, the HRT calls for the selling of that team to interested stakeholders and make it a private team rather than for it to be the responsibility of Harare residents. Let those in council keen to have a football team use their resources to have a place in the PSL.”

Overseas, particularly in the UK, clubs previously run by local government are now mostly privately owned – although still retaining local identity.

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