The Sunday News
Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter
HIGHLANDERS chairman, Johnfat Sibanda has endorsed the appeal to members, supporters as well as well-wishers to assist the club so as to meet its financial obligations.
Bosso are racing against time to raise salaries for players, technical staff as well as the secretariat who still have not been paid for June, with July salaries also due this week. Players are, however, said to be agitated by the lack of communication from those running the 95-year-old institution.
The players reportedly got food hampers delivered to them recently but they are said to be an unhappy lot after a letter to the club written by the captains was not responded to, with their patience said to be wearing thin on a daily basis.
Donald Ndebele, the Highlanders treasurer on 16 July sent out an appeal for financial support. Those willing to assist have been asked to join WhatsApp groups as a sign of commitment, with the contributions starting from US$2 a month up to US$20 monthly.
Sibanda has pleaded with all those who wish to see Amahlolanyama survive to assist in whatever way they can to meet the immediate obligation of paying salaries to its employees. He is hoping they can collect enough to pay salaries.
“We are appealing to the people, the owners of Highlanders, members, supporters and well-wishers to come on board and help with the little that they have. We are also working on other initiatives as well to get some money so that we don’t solely rely on donations,’’ said Sibanda.
Highlanders have running partnerships with Arenel, Nyaradzo Funeral Assurance, Sanctuary Insurance and the recently added Bonique Perfumes.
With sponsorship proving hard to come, Sibanda outlined that they are looking at adding more partnerships to increase the club’s revenue base and stop relying on donations.
“The partnerships are why we are where we are, the club could have folded a long time ago had it not been for these partnerships, the partnerships are bringing in something, now we have added another one. We are working on another one in the near future, we are working on partnerships so that when things are now moving, we don’t solely depend on donations,’’ said the Bosso chairman.
Sibanda’s critics have since his election in March pointed to statements attributed to him during his campaign that sponsors were ready to chip in once he ascended to the chairmanship. He sought to clarify that by stating that he was referring to the owners of the club, the members who should be sponsors of Tshilamoya.
“If they listened properly, I went on to qualify to say the sponsors are the Highlanders people, they can sponsor their own team, they are the sponsors, that’s exactly what I was saying. Of course, the corporate world, under normal circumstances would come in but everything is slow now because of this Covid-19 pandemic, the world is closed. I still have not backtracked from my statement.
“First and foremost, Highlanders belongs to its people and they must run their club, they must support it financially and otherwise, those are the sponsors that I was talking about. I never said anything about Emirates sponsoring Highlanders,’’ Sibanda said.
On how bad is the situation at Highlanders, the Bosso executive committee supremo said things were terrible since the club has not paid salaries for June, which means a deficit is being accumulated.
“The situation is bad in that we failed to pay salaries for June and we still haven’t managed to get them. So, going forward we are still having that deficit so its going to kill us because we are saying if we can pay June, then July we can then move. If we pay June, July and August it gives us room to manoeuvre,’’ he said.
He stated that while they have tried to explain the situation to the players, all the employees want is to be paid what they are owed.
“Obviously a worker does not understand because they expect to be paid, whether football is being played or not, they have a contract to be paid, they must be paid. We have tried to bring them on board and make them understand but they can only understand to a certain level but when they are hungry, they are hungry, they want to be paid,’’ Sibanda said.
In 2020, Highlanders were fortunate enough to have NetOne as main sponsor before the mobile network operator walked out on the club in May last year. Bosso were in 2020 also boosted with over US$40 000 in development fees for its junior products, Marvelous Nakamba and Teenage Hadebe. Before that, the club also got US$50 000 for the transfer of striker, Prince Dube to Tanzanian club, Azam. — @Mdawini_29