The Sunday News
Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter
THERE was excitement ahead of the original date of the Highlanders elections, then disappointment when the polls were postponed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
That excitement is upon us once more as part of the build-up to today’s plebiscite as Bosso bona fide members will make a beeline to the voting booth to choose three executive members. Highlanders members, whose membership is up to date will get to choose a chairman, secretary and committee member. The elections were originally meant to take place on 7 February but, together with the club’s Annual General Meeting that was scheduled for 31 January could not take place because the country was on Level Four lockdown, with public gatherings not allowed.
Current chairman, Kenneth Mhlophe’s threat to getting a fresh mandate comes from Bulawayo businessman and cattle rancher, Johnfat Sibanda, a formidable challenger who has been involved with the club for over three decades.
Israel Moyo, who was voted secretary in 2018 is being challenged by Victoria Falls-based Morgen “Gazza” Dube while the battle for the committee member’s post is between Bhekumuzi “Mahii” Sibanda and Mgcini Mafu. Wisdom Mabhena is constitutionally barred from seeking another term as committee member since he has occupied the post for two consecutive terms.
After months of campaigning, the candidates will finally know their fate by midday today after members had cast their ballots.
Last Sunday, the six candidates were given an opportunity to address members at the end of the AGM as part of marketing themselves to the electorate. There is no doubt that while there are three positions up for grabs, most of the attention is on the race for the chairmanship, which is the most powerful position on the Bosso executive.
Mhlophe pleaded with members to retain him so he completes revenue-generating projects he had started.
“I have been your chairman for the past three years, my plea to you all, all other chairmen of Highlanders you gave them two terms, what crime did I commit for you not to give me just three years and say I must go. What about my projects that I want to complete?” pleaded Mhlophe.
In 2016, Mhlophe, lost to Modern Ngwenya for the post of vice-chairman and in 2018 assumed the position of chairman without any challenge after the disqualification of club legend Ernest “Maphepha” Sibanda. Projects started by the Mhlophe led committee include the mining claim and rehabilitation of the club’s training pitches.
Johnfat Sibanda spoke of his involvement with Highlanders from 1986 when he was part of the club’s supporters tasked with ferrying players to matches. He promised a return to the Highlanders exciting brand of football if elected as the club’s leader.
“I know the Highlanders culture, at Highlanders, together we are one, at Highlanders all members are equal. What I am offering if you elect me to lead this club is respect for the constitution. I don’t know anything called a faction, I have worked with Highlanders chairmen from 1986 up until today.
“My promise is that if you elect me to lead the club, we will go back to the Highlanders exciting brand of football,’’ Sibanda said.
On Friday, the Highlanders electoral court caused apprehension among the members when it sent out a notice stating that those who have ordinary membership must have been paid up by 28 March 2020 and done so again by 31 January 2021 to be allowed to vote today.
The notice was signed by Cosmos Sikhosana, the electoral court’s returning officer. — @Mdawini_29