|ZPC Kariba won the hearts of local soccer fans when they nearly won the premier soccer league in their debut season last year while playing home games, not in Kariba, but distant Harare.
And as the new season begins, Saul Chaminuka’s lads host Highlanders at Harare’s Gwanzura Stadium because their home ground still does not meet premiership standards.
How they must wish they had a politician of Professor Jonathan Moyo’s influence – and industry – to support them.
Competing with ZPC Kariba in the new season is the newly-promoted Tsholotsho FC who, for similar reasons, will play their home games in Bulawayo.
However, thanks to minister Moyo’s intervention, Tsholotsho FC will, by mid-July, likely be playing their home games at Tsholotsho Stadium.
Moyo, who lost the Tsholotsho North constituency to the MDC-T in the 2013 elections, has ensured that the cash-strapped government takes over a project to upgrade the stadium at a cost of $4,5 million.
The Ministry of Home Affairs is said to have given a Casino licence, while the Ministry of Environment allocated a hunting concession to help raise funds for the project.
Incidentally, there will soon be a by-election for the constituency. Moyo has already vowed to reclaim the seat for the ruling Zanu PF party after the MP for the area was recalled from Parliament for crossing the floor.
And on Thursday the minister expressed concern over the lack of progress during a meeting at his Munhumutapa government offices.
“This is the fourth meeting we have had but, seriously speaking, I don’t have something to suggest progress, despite that this is the fourth meeting,” he said.
“I don’t have something in front of me, anything I can say wow, we have moved from that point to this point.
“When you are put in that kind (of position) it’s an invidious position because given the task anyone would have thought by now considerable progress would have been made.
“I would have thought that by now we were getting some feed-back on the approval and we were just talking about the costs and the fund-raising.
“So, we have lost ground and we need to regain. There is no obvious reason why other than communication breakdown.”
Moyo said government’s decision to take over the project had nothing to do with the fact he came from Tsholotsho.
“The fact that I come from Tsholotsho is obvious. I cannot run away from that,” he said.
“I do come from Tsholotsho, I am a member of the community and each and every one of us has been touched in a very profound way that a community-based team, with absolutely no support, has made such an achievement.
“It starts in the Second Division, gets into First Division and before we discover what is going on they are in the Premier League.
“We all understand that this is not a small achievement. It’s not every day that a football club in a rural community qualifies for the Premier Soccer League
“That is a kind of development which will jolt any normal person’s interest and take notice and, obviously, then you come to realise that they made an achievement which requires everyone’s involvement to be sustained.
“First and foremost, that’s a fact, I do come from Tsholotsho, and I am also part of the national leadership and this achievement is precisely what the Government would like to see across the country.”
The stadium upgrade needed to be expedited, the minister added.
“There is something about playing your home games at home. Tsholotsho needs that experience as well,” he said.
“The worst thing that could happen to Tsholotsho is to get relegated because they have played all their games away from home. That would leave one with a sinking feeling worse than losing an election.
“When I was with the team in February they were realistic and I got the impression that they are people who know what they are doing.
“The most important objective for them is to remain in the Premiership and there is no doubt that everyone will be very impressed should that happen.”