The upgrading and refurbishment of the Setsoto Stadium hangs in the balance as it emerges that the country might not be able to afford financing the initiative as there are no funds for the upgrades of the stadium.
The situation follows the possible overspending of the funds by the ministry of Gender and Youth Sports and Recreation (MGYSR) during and after the African Union Sports Council (AUSC) Region 5 Games which were held in the country from 3- 12 December 2021.
During the upgrades for the AUSC games, the Local Organising Committee had said facilities which were to be renovated included the installation of a new turf at the Setsoto Stadium but it emerges that might be too far-fetched to happen.
The turf, the change rooms and sanitation facilities were amongst some of the things mentioned by FIFA when it condemned Setsoto stadium in May last year for the hosting of any official international matches.
According to the ministry’s Media Officer Maqalika Matsepe that might not happen as the money which was allocated for the installation of a new turf has since been used to pay service providers who delivered services for the AUSC Region 5 games.
“There was money allocated for the rehabilitation of the stadium and amongst things to be done was installation of the new turf but that could not happen last year because the tartan track was already being worked on and this two could not happen at the same time,” Matsepe said.
He further pointed out that the contractor was notified that the turf would instead be installed in January, a feat which he said has been hampered by the fact that the contractor now wanted a full payment before starting work which is not how the government works.
“We are currently settling payments for the service providers who worked with us during the AUSC games and we cannot afford to take the same money and pay for services that we are yet to receive, that is not how government works. Any service provider that gets a government tender gets a 20% deposit first,” he said.
He indicated that turf rehabilitation works will only begin as soon as all service providers who worked during AUSC Games have been cleared. He said, however, that there is has been no deadline set for completion of the works although he confirmed that the ministry is aware that failure to get the stadium in working order means it will not be available to host international competitions including World Cup and Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier games.
Meanwhile, the national soccer governing body, Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) announced that the senior national soccer team’s international matches would be played in South Africa seeing as the stadium will not be readily available by March when the games begin.
The turf installation was set to be financed from the M250 000 million which was approved by the government for organizing and hosting of the AUSC games.