Organisers blamed for Independence Day vandalism


Some Bulawayo city councillors have castigated the organisers of the Silver Jubilee celebrations at Barbourfields Stadium for the chaos that erupted just before the Highlanders and Motor Action soccer match, resulting in council property, particularly traffic lights, being vandalised.

Pandemonium broke outside the stadium when irate soccer fans who wanted to watch the Independence Trophy final between the city’s most popular team and the Mighty Bulls were barred from entering Barbourfields because it was full.

To make matters worse, Highlanders were clobbered 2-0 by the Mighty Bulls. Hooligans vandalised traffic lights, barricaded roads and stoned cars and buildings.

The chairman of the council’s finance committee, Phil Lamola, said people who intended to use the stadium should be asked to pay insurance so that the municipality would not be forced to fork out money to repair any resulting damages.

Though the council is operating with a small surplus, it has been forced to cut down on capital projects because of delays by the government in approving its budget.

Last year, the government only approved the council budget in April, but reversed rate increases two months later. The government is reported to have approved this year’s budget only a week or two ago, but the council still has to look at what was approved.

Bulawayo executive mayor Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube has asked the council to assess the damage and submit a report to the Resident Minister and Governor of Bulawayo Metropolitan Province, Cain Mathema.

Several councillors said the organisers of the celebrations should not have bussed people to Barbourfields when they knew there would be a game that involved Highlanders because supporters of the team alone could have filled the stadium.

They said the celebrations should have been separated from the soccer match, with the game being played at a different venue from where the celebrations were taking place.

Controversial councillor Stars Mathe, the only woman councillor in the city, while agreeing with her colleagues about the poor organisation, said the people of Bulawayo were to blame because they should have been aware that they were the ones who would foot the bill for any damage they caused.

“Violence will not solve anything,” she said. “We must educate our people to understand that council property is their property. If they have any complaints they should bring them up via the normal channels. But they should not destroy property because this is their property,” she said.


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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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