Bulawayo councillors have expressed mixed feelings over the local authority`s continued financial support rendered to Bulawayo City Football Club.
The football entity gained promotion back to the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League after spending a year in the Zifa Southern Region Division One League.
The debate came to life during a full council meeting, Wednesday, with some councillors calling for the council to wean off the team while others advocated for the local authority to continue supporting the team.
Ward 4 councillor Silas Chigora argued that the team was a liability to the council hence should be allowed to look for a new fulltime sponsor while the council focuses on service delivery projects.
Cllr Chigora said the team has not yet matured to be a brand worth financing, saying it was draining council coffers.
“It is high time we wean this football team and make it find an alternative funding. It is highly inappropriate that we lag behind on service delivery projects and yet pour more money into football. Bulawayo City is not yet a brand, at the moment it only manages to pull a crowd of about 300 people in a city that has about 1 million or more people. Let it find another mother where it is going to suckle milk not from the council because we need that money to go to the social clubs in wards. From these clubs we can then identify talent which will go into competing teams such as Highlanders and Dynamos,” said Cllr Chigora.Ward 4 Councillor Silas Chigora
Ward 24 councillor Rodney Jele hastened to say that Amakhosi is a community project that is enhancing people’s livelihoods and called upon fellow councillors to support the cause.
He noted that the council is not mandated to fully finance the team as it is under the financial care of Ingwebu Breweries.
“There is nowhere in the council report where it says the team will be sponsored by the council directly. The team will be sponsored by Ingwebu and other partners who would be interested. In my ward there are people who benefit from this team and it is serving as a social club in other wards as well,” said Cllr Jele.
Ward 5 councillor Felix Mhaka concurred with Cllr Jele suggesting that there be policies that individuals or companies that get tenders from the council give back to the community through funding the team.
“This is a community project which we as councillors need to embrace an ensure that we support. In the face of financial issues there are alternative ways that can be explored to raise funds. We could implement a policy that whoever gets a tender from the council has to plough back to the community, through channelling a small percentage back to the team. Let’s not only focus on the ratepayer but we must look at other avenues, Bulawayo City is our team and we must fully support it,” said Cllr Mhaka.