DURING its peak, floating and skidding boats were a permanent feature in Lake Rusape as sport enthusiasts and merrymakers enjoy their spare time in one of the biggest and majestic water reservoirs in the country.
Rusape Boating Club was one of the premier venues in yachting, caravanning, fishing and boat cruises.
When The Manica Post visited the club last week, they were welcomed by daring fishmongers floating on tyre tubes poaching fish.
Situated 5km from Rusape Central Business District on the shores of the dam are the remains of what used to be Rusape Caravan Park and Boating Club.
Now what remains are memories and a dilapidated club house.
The boating club which is located about a kilometre from the spectacular and picturesque dam wall is surrounded by granite rocks is a hidden sports tourism gem which is yet to be fully exploited.
The club was officially opened in 1975, three years after the completion of the dam and closed its doors at the turn of the new millennium after members deserted the club.
Rusape Town Council is the owner of the land and was leasing it to the club members.
The local authority which stands to benefit if the club is revived, said they are working round the clock to see to ensure that the club regains its former glory.
Acting town secretary, Charles Chindenga, said they resolved to issue a new lease to interested people who will run the club on a membership basis.
“The Rusape Boating Club was built in 1972 and officially opened on November 23, 1975 by the Caravan Club Southern Africa, Umtali and District Region. It was known as the Lesapi Dam Caravan Park, run under Makoni Rural District Council. It was meant for yachting, caravanning, camping, fishing, boat cruising, picnics, and wood sale.
“It was a tourist attraction of note, a resort which competed well in the Eastern Highlands. It used to hold cruising rallies during the period from 1976 to 1980.
“Many companies proposed to build hotels and lodges near the site, but the environmental impact assessment by the Department of Water Resources in 1997 was observed and put all attempts on hold, but we are still pursuing the matter. Council has been manning the premises and we will continue refurbishing the facility bit by bit as we try to engage potential investors for either an outright lease or private public partnerships. We hope the boating club and caravan park will be functional this year,” said Chindenga.
A resident, Taurai Chiripamberi is leading a consortium of locals who have applied to the council for a lease to operate the club.
Despite not having a single boat, Chiripamberi said if they a awarded the lease they will acquire the boats which they will hire out.
“We have approached the council and they are still assessing our application. We want locals to benefit from their dam. People of Rusape must not go to Kariba to have boating experience when we have such facilities. We want a situation whereby the club owns boats and also welcome individuals with their own boats,” said Chiripamberi.