The Sunday News
Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter
LAST Sunday saw Highlanders Football Club finally hold elections for three executive committee posts whose much talked about result was for the chairmanship where Johnfat Sibanda edged Kenneth Mhlophe by five votes.
Sibanda was voted on the day together with secretary Morgen “Gazza” Dube and committee member Mgcini Mafu.
After his defeat last Sunday, Mhlophe must be wondering why the Bosso membership denied him a second consecutive term in office.
Sunday News spoke to some Highlanders members soon after the elections and they aired their views on why they voted to remove Mhlophe as chairman. Dumile Ncube was of the view that Mhlophe appeared to be dancing to the board’s tune all the time.
“What we no longer liked about Mhlophe is the team that he was working with, the CEO and the board, he failed to put them in line, they undermined him as the chairman elected to run the club on daily basis in my view. Mhlophe on his own, he is a good guy, but his team undermined him, he was now being controlled by a board that is not elected,” Ncube said.
Members of the Highlanders board are not elected by club members like the executive. They are seconded by the executive and then brought before the club members for approval or disapproval. While the executive is mandated to run the daily operations of the club, according to the club constitution, the board, among other duties, must “play a direction setting role for the club and to advise and oversee the executive committee on technical and specialised areas of concern to the smooth administration of the club.”
Ncube also raised the issue of training grounds which Mhlophe promised to fix when he became chairman in 2018 but are still not ready for use.
“We have been talking about the issue of training grounds, even when Mhlophe became chairman he spoke about them, he undertook to get them fixed, what did he do? They said they will fix the durawall (pre-cast wall), they only did 10 metres.”
To Donald Maviva, Mhlophe failed to make good use of the three years to complete the projects he undertook to carry out when he came into office.
“Mhlophe was beaten fairly and squarely, probably he must be beating himself that he didn’t do enough within the past three years to market himself to the electorate. If he had fulfilled the promises he made, we would have supported him,’’ Maviva said.
Clifford Ncube felt that Mhlophe was no longer doing what he was elected to do.
“The former chairman was no longer doing what the people elected him to do, it seemed like he was being influenced by a certain section of the club. If something is for the people, it should not be a secret with a few unelected people making big decisions for the club. He also abandoned the juniors, all of a sudden just because there is an election, he recalls the coaches. And the constitution was no longer being followed,’’ Ncube said.
Harare based Highlanders member, Derrick “Gijima” Ncube echoed Clifford’s sentiments.
“We were not happy with how Mhlophe was conducting his duties. What Highlanders needs being a community team is to involve the people, make them feel like they are also part of the project. He made it easy for Johnfat Sibanda when he was campaigning since he said he was taking Highlanders back to the people, that is why we took his ideas and saw it best to work with him,’’ said Derrick.
Tavengwa Zidya, popularly known as “Mafridge” said by getting rid of Mhlophe, they had solved a problem at Highlanders since the club constitution was no longer being followed, referring to the extended term of office for executive members by the board after elections were postponed due to the Covid-19 lockdown at the beginning of the year.
A section of the club felt the board should have appointed interim members to join vice chairman and treasurer whose terms of office were still running, and not give a blanket extension to everyone. While the call was made by the board, many felt Mhlophe as chairman should have made his views on the issue known.
“Mhlophe was no longer leading. He was being controlled by the board that is not elected and undermining the constitution. He bended the constitution, he forgot it. At Highlanders, we want someone who follows the constitution. For Highlanders to get sponsorship there has to be order,’’ Zidya said.
Mhlophe has now lost an election twice at Highlanders as he was beaten to the vice-chairmanship by Modern Ngwenya in 2016. He then got into office as chairman in 2018 when he came in unopposed after the board disqualified his contender, former manager and chairman Enerst “Maphepha” Sibanda, who was undergoing rehabilitation from a suspension. — @Mdawini_29