The Sunday News
Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter
FROM being labelled as clueless in the early days of his term, Highlanders executive committee chairman Johnfat Sibanda is about to prove his detractors wrong as he is on the verge of clinching the biggest ever sponsorship deal for the club.
Some had even vowed that Sibanda, elected as the leader of the Bosso executive on 28 March was not going to last three months in his position but with the deal on the horizon that Amahlolanyama are about to enter into, the chairman might have already done enough to secure a second consecutive term in office. During his campaign Sibanda had vowed to make the Bosso brand attractive to the corporate sector, something which seems to be falling into place now.
The new chairman was in July forced into making an apology for utterances he made during the campaign period and soon after his elections as those who had supported the club financially before his ascendancy claimed to have been offended by his statements and vowed not to provide any monetary support.
Even after making the apology, Sibanda, a week later found himself making a passionate plea for financial assistance from members, supporters and well-wishers to pay players as well as meet other financial obligations. While that assistance did come in, the funds were just enough to pay players top ups to their salaries but not the actual remuneration, leading to further unrest.
Highlanders, together with their fierce rivals Dynamos are, according to impeccable sources, in the coming days entering into a sponsorship deal with a corporate in the energy sector that is believed to be worth US$1 million per year, with the arrangement to run for three years.
When it is eventually signed on Tuesday, the deal will no doubt bring further calm to Highlanders where unrest had been creeping in after the club failed to pay salaries for players for three months. Last month, Highlanders entered into a partnership with Utande, which will see one of the country’s leading Internet service providers pay salaries for all the Bosso contracted first-team players from this month until February next year. While the partnership with Utande only caters for first-team players, it is understood that the imminent new sponsorship will cover even the coaches and the secretariat.
“Highlanders and Dynamos are soon signing a sponsorship deal with a company that is a major player in the energy sector, everything is under wraps but the launch should be held in Harare on Tuesday,” said the source.
The biggest ever sponsorship for Highlanders in US dollar terms was the deal they secured with BancABC worth US$700 000 in 2014 when the financial institution renewed the bankrolling arrangement with Bosso as well as DeMbare that had been initially signed by the Themba Ndlela executive in 2011. Originally, BancABC gave Highlanders US$100 000 in 2011.
BancABC then downgraded the deal in 2017 to US$200 000 as they prepared for an exit from funding Highlanders at the end of that year. Highlanders in 2018 then landed sponsorship from NetOne that was worth $350 000 for each year, which the mobile network operator maintained until last year when they walked away.
Once the impending deal is signed, the Sibanda led Highlanders executive committee can now focus on making the club self-sustaining by focusing on projects such as the mining claim in Inyathi, which is seen as one of the long-term initiatives to take care of the club. Furthermore, the challenge will be on the shoulders of players and coaches to deliver silverware. — Follow on Twitter @Mdawini_29.