Game ON! with BENEDICT TEMBO
UNDENIABLY, the club house at Lusaka Golf Club is in tatters.
It is nowhere near the status of a premier golf club which hosts international tournaments.
In view of this, the club needs an investor – in fact a partner to help rebuild the club-house to international standards.
The new club house should encompass mixed use by having other facilities such as gym, spar, conference centre, private restaurant, pool table, darts, tennis and squash courts.
In short, the new club house should be an embodiment of a country club concept.
This is the urgency that the Lusaka Golf Club needs in terms of upgrading the club house – sprucing it up and bringing it to contemporary standards.
The golf course, too, needs to be refurbished.
These are the issues members ought to be pre-occupied with, making the golf club the pride of the country and the visitors.
After all, the club is patronised by the ‘who is who’ in the capital city – the political and economic petty bourgeoisie.
It is, however, a pity that the club has been entertaining some fantasy about transforming the premier golf club overnight.
On the notice board of the club hangs a grandiose plan for the proposed new Lusaka Golf Club development. It has been there for over a year.
It is a positive move considering that Lusaka Golf Club is the country’s flagship entity.
And everybody at the club agrees that something must be done and any idea to spruce up the club is welcome.
To actualise this project which promises a new club house and hotels, among others, about US$380million is required.
In this economy, it is very difficult to mobilise the kind of money the promoters of this project are looking for.
One year down the line, the likelihood of mobilising that colossal sum of money is becoming a nightmare and the promoters may start downsizing the amount required.
And if that happens, members may start asking why the promoters could have started from the premium of the initial US$380million to around US$200million.
In which case, the promoters have to get back to the members like they did when getting approval for the mega project.
While this model being promoted by the promoters of the project at Lusaka has worked elsewhere, it may not work at the country’s premier golf club.
While the desire to upgrade Lusaka Golf Club is genuine and urgent, it needs a phased approach so that there is minimum disturbance to the environment and golf activities.
There is absolutely no need, for instance, to change the golf course because the existing one is still playable and just needs a re-touch.
What is needed is a new club house.
That is the feeling I get from the members, who feel that if the project is rushed, there is going to be disruption to golf activities for at least two years since the golf course will be invaded by contractors.
Besides, some members are seeing some grey areas in case of the deal for the development of the new golf club fails, who suffers? It is the members.
That is why there is need for change of strategy to the re-development of the club. Instead of looking for external partners who may disappear when their expectations are not met, Lusaka Golf Club members and promoters should look inwards – seek a local partner such as the National Pension Scheme Authority to come on board.
Meanwhile, the course should be left intact and instead in irrigation.
Lusaka Golf Club members or promoters need not be over-ambitious instead learn from Chainama Hills Golf Club or indeed City of Lusaka Football Club.
The Chainama Hills Golf Club attempted to lease its premises to an investor and attempts to annul the deal have led to a protracted court process.
At the heart of the wrangles at Woodlands Stadium, the home of City of Lusaka Football Club, is the title deed because the land there is prime.
In case Lusaka Golf Club finds a partner, it should opt for the ‘Build-Operate and Transfer (BOT)’ concept so that it does not lose its prized piece of land to some invisible investors.
Under the BOT, the investor will hand back the club to the members after an agreed time – just like the Show Society is dealing with people or corporates developing in the showgrounds.
Land issues in Zambia have become so delicate that people in possession of title deeds have to think several times before signing it off.
In this case, Lusaka Golf Club members should first ensure that the trustees take interest in the proposed development.
Article 21 of the Lusaka Golf Club says the property of the club is vested in the three trustees.
Currently, there are only two trustees, Alexander Chikwanda, the former Minister of Finance, and Patrick Chisanga, the former Zambia Development Agency director-general, following the passing on of eminent lawyer Bruce Munyama.
Maybe, the club should also, as a matter of urgency, replace Munyama so that trustees, too, can form a quorum in discussing the delicate issue of the club’s land.
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Game ON! with BENEDICT TEMBO