50m inadequate for Independence Stadium

Martin Endjala

The N$50 million budget for the renovation of the Independence Stadium is insufficient and the Ministry of Youth, Sport and National Service has started holding engagements with the private sector to raise the shortfall of 48.1 million dollars.

A meeting at the Safari Hotel in Windhoek today emphasised the importance of maintaining infrastructure to ensure longevity.

The engagement by various stakeholders was called by the Ministry of Sport, Youth and National Service to discuss the renovation and upgrading of the Independence Stadium, which is in a state of disrepair because of years of neglect.

Also of particular concern was the government’s attitude towards maintaining its infrastructure, advising it to inject capital into maintenance and not leave it to dilapidate.

The engagement with stakeholders is to call on private and public sectors and individuals to pledge contributions towards the renovation and upgrading of the Independence Stadium to bring it to international standards in view of Namibia bidding to host 2027 AFCON together with Botswana.

Namibia’s national football team, the Brave Warriors is currently playing its international home games in South Africa, because there is no playing ground in Namibia that meets international standards.

The Namibia Breweries Managing Director Marco Wenk stressed that the issue of lack of maintenance of stadiums and facilities over the past years in the country, is one of the contributing factors why the country’s sporting facilities are not fit for international games.

Speaking in his personal capacity as a former civil and construction engineering, Wenk said companies given tenders of this nature should not only focus on making a profit, but to rather make it affordable in order to secure the pride of the country for the benefit of all.

He further said that it is not a good thing in terms of sponsorships to have a national team play its home games outside its own country, hence he urged the government to ensure that upon upgrading the stadium, mechanism must be put in place to ensure that it is maintained for the future.

Wenk said as an organization governed by corporation governance policies, it will not make a pledge now but will engage its board and will announce itself by next week.

Another stakeholder from the trustees’ of Pupkawitz Namibia Trust said that it will require written assurance from the Ministry of Works and Transport on how they plan on maintaining the stadium and facilities as well as the cost. They too could not make a pledge but are willing to contribute to the renovation and upgrade of the stadium.

Namcor’s MD Immanuel Mulunga pledged N$1 million on behalf of the company towards the renovation and upgrade of the Independence Stadium, adding that SOEs Forum is also expected to assist.

The Executive Director of the Ministry of Youth, Sport and National Service, Audrin Mathe assured stakeholders and Namibians that the ministry is currently discussing modalities to be enforced on how to maintain the facilities and will publicly announce it ones completed.

The ED also pointed out that ones the stadium is completed, it will not only bring national pride, but it will have positive impacts on all sectors, be it tourism, hospitality and food sector among others.

It is for this reason that the MSYNS has engaged the hospitality association in ensuring that Namibia builds a three-star hotel as per the CAF requirements if the country is to host events like AFCON.

Mathe further said that the MSYNS have spent about N$2.4 million on the Brave Warriors every time they had to play outside the country, hence the short-term plan is to start the construction of stadium in August ones the shortlisted companies have completed overseeing the stadium as from today to Monday and start some sports activities.

The initial budget N$50 million set aside in the budget of the ministry is inadequate for the total cost set at 98.1 million dollars, which excludes work on parking space.

Owned by the City of Windhoek, the parking space is valued at 26 million. The City of Windhoek has pledged to work around it and see how best to contribute to the national pride.

Mathe also stated that thanks to Christine Mboma, many athletes want to come Namibia and train here.

The Independence Stadium in Windhoek is planned to host some AFCON games, as well as the Swakopmund Vineta Stadium, while the DR Hage Geingob and Khomasdal stadiums are envisaged for training.

Mathe further pointed out that with bilateral engagements, the MSYNS is looking at United Arab Emirates holding world cup in Qatar to donate some of its infrastructures that will be deconstructed from one of their stadiums after the 2022 World Cup to donate to Namibia to develop training grouds.

The ED said they plan on commercializing the stadiums in order to maintain them, while cautioning Namibians that given the population of the country, full capacity will be very hard to maintain except when there are competitions such as AFCON.

Hence, he is calling on the utilization of the facilities by Namibians and to come in numbers when there are events in the country, hinting that some facilities not needed might be transferred to other parts of the country to develop stadiums.

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