The Sunday News
Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter
SUNDAY is usually a laid back day in Bulawayo as residents of the country’s second city attend church services with some preparing to return to work on Monday.
Before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, whenever Highlanders had a home match, the mornings were characterised by the blowing of the vuvuzela, sound of car horns and loud music as Bosso fans prepared to find their way into Barbourfields Stadium to support their team.
Covid-19 has however killed that vibe as fans were not allowed in the stadium. That only changed last Thursday when Sports and Recreation Commission gave the green light for 2 000 fully vaccinated fans to be allowed to watch Chibuku Super Cup matches.
Last Sunday, Highlanders took on Bulawayo City in their last Chibuku Super Cup match at Emagumeni but there was no sign whatsoever that the biggest team in the City of Kings was in action on that day.
Those passing by the Highlanders offices situated on 4th Avenue and Robert Mugabe Way might have wondered which important person was visiting the place as some sleek wheels found their way through the Bosso gates.
It was the visit to the Highlanders premises by Sakunda Holdings chief executive officer, Kudakwashe Tagwirei. During the visit, Tagwirei and his team, which included the Deputy Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Tino Machakaire met with the Bosso executive, board, players as well as secretariat.
Tagwirei said it felt great to be associated with Bosso and expressed his wish for the relationship to last longer than the initial three years that were signed last month.
“It’s a great feeling that I have, and I want to be a part of Highlanders for a very, very long time,’’ Tagwirei said.
One thing that did not take long for Tagwirei to notice when he arrived at the Highlanders offices was how dilapidated the place is.
He promptly announced that Sakunda Holdings will fund the renovation of the Bosso offices in honour of Ndumiso Gumede, who was the chairman when Amahlolanyama acquired the property in 1986. Gumede, now the Highlanders president was present when the announcement was made.
“One of the things that I will start looking at is umdala uGumede, that you have managed to get these people a nice office and as a gift to you, I was looking at this place and how dilapidated it is, so as a gesture of what you did for Highlanders, we are going to fix it for you starting on Monday.
So that when everybody comes here, they must say this is our home,’’ announced Tagwirei amid thunderous applause from those in attendance.
He spoke of his battle against the coronavirus, which saw him being in hospital for four months and a in a coma for 37 days as one of the reasons he decided to assist Highlanders and Dynamos, the most followed football teams locally.
“It was one of my friends who called me and told me about the plight of Highlanders and I was having lunch with them and they told me what was going on.
“God has blessed me with life because for four months I was in hospital with Covid-19, I was in a coma for 37 days, so when I came back, I was seated with my friends and they told me about the plight of Highlanders and Dynamos, mainly it was Highlanders that players had not gotten salaries for three months,’’ he said.
A lot has been said about Tagwirei sponsorship Highlanders, with naysayers claiming that he is angling to take over the oldest football club in the country using his financial muscle.
Tagwirei answered this when he stated “Later on we heard some debate on radio where people were talking about the ownership structure of Highlanders, it really disturbed me because, I will tell you freely, I believe that Highlanders should be a community club and should remain so”.
Tagwirei expressed his gratitude to Highlanders for allowing Sakunda Holdings to be involved in the progress of Highlanders and promised that were many other areas in which he wishes to assist Highlanders.
“Thank you very much for giving us as Sakunda the opportunity to participate in your growth. Our belief is that when we work together as Zimbabweans without any discrimination, we will be able to be successful as a country.
My dream is always that I work together with the people, any resources that we get, we want to share them with the people.
With that in mind and what God has allowed us to have, we thought maybe we should just start working with
Highlanders. We also have a lot of great things that we want to work with you,’’ he said.
Tagwirei, who lived in Bulawayo’s Barham Green when his father used to work in city praised Highlanders for being an organised club that has always done things in an orderly manner.
“One of the greatest assets that you have had since the 1970s, is that Highlanders has always got good administration maybe things have been difficult now because of the resources, that’s where we chip in.
It’s easier to work with good administration because then you don’t interfere a lot,’’ he said.
Tagwirei had huge praise for Highlanders treasurer, Donald Ndebele for his resilience during the sponsorship negotiations.
“You have a good treasurer, we had a bit of bashing of the heads and I slept at midnight one day, my wife was asking what is it. At least he was compromising in some areas and I was compromising in others areas.”
One thing for sure is that Tagwirei’s visit to the Bosso offices was such a spectacle in the city, with things looking more promising for the 95 year -old institution, which a few months ago faced collapse due to financial difficulties.
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