By Robson Sharuko
When the late national hero, Eric Gwanzura, with the help of his brother Phanuel, built a stadium in Highfield, he wanted to fight the injustice of the day, based on racial discrimination, and also leave a legacy for his people.
Gwanzura, the teacher, trade unionist, businessman and politician, felt that a stadium in Highfield would defy colonial restrictions on access to sporting infrastructure for black Africans in the capital back then.
He succeeded in building a stadium which, before Rufaro was opened in the early ‘70s, was the home of football in this country.
While one man, with the aid of his brother, found a way to build such an iconic facility — where the likes of George Shaya first showcased their talents in the capital — an entire city has, somehow, failed to maintain it.
It’s an indictment of those who were tasked, over the years, to provide both the human, and financial, resources for the maintenance of this stadium which is now in the hands of the Harare City Council.
A tour by The Herald last December showed that Gwanzura now appears like a ghost facility and opened the stadium to the media scrutiny that has now followed it in recent days.
That tour showed a stadium left behind by time and the changing seasons, a facility which the authorities forgot to crumble into something that now looks like a haunted ground, where even vampires won’t dare to play their ball games in the dead of the night.
A stadium reduced into a shell, by those tasked with preserving its beauty, and all the memories that Gwanzura carries, including its legacy as the oldest football stadium built in this country.
Gwanzura has not hosted a Premiership match for five years now after the PSL ordered their clubs not to use the stadium.
Lost in the narrative, which has followed discussions related to how Gwanzura has been left to rot, and possibly collapse, has been the story of how those who have failed to maintain it have let down the late national hero, Gwanzura, who built this stadium.
Gwanzura died seven years ago and, during his burial at the National Heroes Acre, his obituary, produced by the Ministry of Media, Information and Broadcasting Services, said the stadium was the first FIFA-approved venue in Zimbabwe.
“Cde Gwanzura and his brother Phanuel built a stadium in Highfield which was named Gwanzura Stadium after their surname, a name it carries to this day.
‘’The stadium was part of their efforts to provide recreational facilities for the blacks and became the first Federation of International Football Associations approved soccer stadium in the country,” part of the obituary reads.
The late national hero trained as a builder at Waddilove, worked as a teacher at Sandringham High School, where he taught for two years before moving to Kawara Primary School, a Salvation Army institution in Mhondoro, where he also taught for two years.
He then moved to the capital and started a construction company which built houses and barns. The Herald