Zim 2034! Hang on, a few things need fixing first

Not to be outdone by Arjen Robben and Lionel Messi, Zimbabwe had to find a way to grab attention. It fell to our good Tourism Minister, Mzembi, who pronounced his dreams for Zimbabwe to host the 2034 World Cup tournament.

Mzembi
Mzembi

Mzembi is the same man who was talking about opening a Disney Park in Victoria Falls. Let us say he is an optimist. However, Zimbabwe has a long to-do list to work on before we can start talking of bidding.

A few economic figures can best illustrate my point. Our national budget as presented by Finance Minister Chinamasa last year is a meagre $4.4 billion. Brazil spent $11.5 billion and South Africa spent $3billion on hosting the tournaments. We are burdened with a $10 billion debt, which means no one is willing to lend us the billions. The Finance Minister is still battling to secure the overambitious $27 billion to kick-start the ‘never to be understood’ ZimAsset.

We need allies

Bidding for such big tournaments is not something a country can do in isolation. Zimbabwe needs allies, not fly-by-night friends. We need to re-engage the international community and make the best of friends with those that have the influence.

You may be pointing fingers at Russia hosting the 2018 edition but realise this: Russia is a super power armed with nuclear weapons and a major producer of oil and gas for Europe. They are important and so they are better leveraged on the bargaining table. We are but a small nation of 13 million that frequently runs with a begging bowl to multilateral lending institutions. The only way we can be taken seriously is if we spruce up our image and deal with our human rights record.

Media and telecoms

We have a vibrant ICT sector and there is great potential but we lag behind in so many aspects. The state broadcaster still relies on analogue systems, which begs the question on how we can accommodate more than 400 journalists beaming to the world. Our ICT infrastructure needs a revamp. We need to upgrade from analogue systems to digital if we are to boost our capacity as a serious bidder. And most importantly we need to work on our media laws.

As we speak, we have only one stadium worth the mention. The National Sports Stadium, which we are so proud of, but it does not meet all the FIFA standards. If we are to co-host with Zambia as Mzembi suggests, we need to build at least three more stadiums. A 40,000-seater Arena Pantanal in Cuiaba, Brazil cost $260 million and the Nelson Mandela Bay in South Africa cost $270million to construct. We therefore need at least a billion dollars to spend on constructing stadiums alone.

From these facts, Mzembi sounds like an overzealous politician but I believe he meant more than what he said. When we look at the to-do list in our quest to host the World Cup, we realise that this is exactly what we need to do right now. We urgently need to re-engage the international community, service our national debt, upgrade our infrastructure, work on our human rights record, etc.

Mzembi is merely hinting on what we need to do as a nation. In the Herald interview, he alluded to age. The tourism minister meant to say that 20 years from now, the dead worm, crooks and lumberjacks in government will be long gone and then Zimbabwe might have recovered from the effects of decades of maladministration. – Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @KalabashMedia and like us on Facebook – Kalabash Media

Post published in: Football

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