The Sunday News
Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter
AS news filtered in last Tuesday that Highlanders chief executive officer, Nhlanhla Dube had been sent on forced leave, Sunday News sought clarity on this development.
After all, Highlanders is the oldest football club in Zimbabwe and an integral part of life in Bulawayo such that whenever something happens at Bosso, it becomes the talk of the town.
Since the Highlanders offices on Robert Mugabe Way are just a few minutes’ walk from this publication’s premises, this reporter decided to do it the old-fashioned way by taking a walk there. On arrival at the Bosso offices, this reporter noticed that there was a serious staff meeting going on and those in the gathering actually closed the door when they noticed this scribe finding his way into the premises.
With no one to attend to him, this reporter left and met outside the gate a Highlanders executive committee member who claimed that a story written by Sunday News had made things worse for Dube. Further unfounded claims were made by the executive committee member to the effect that the reporter had told Highlanders chairman, Johnfat Sibanda to fire Dube.
“The story you wrote about our CEO was damning, I am sure you told the chairman to fire the CEO,’’ claimed the executive committee member.
Perhaps the executive committee member was referring to the story carried by this publication in August in which players vowed to push out Sibanda and bring back former chairman Kenneth Mhlophe. At that time, players had gone for three months without receiving their salaries and were getting impatient.
Dube was alleged to be part of a ploy to push for a vote of no confidence on the Bosso chairman and plot for the return of Mhlophe, who players claimed used to bail them out financially when things were tough, something Sibanda was accused of not doing. However, Dube has maintained his innocence.
The new executive had vowed to find sponsorship for the club and do away with unorthodox ways of running the club.
Dube was given an opportunity to comment and he denied the allegations, which he described as “stupid allegations by lazy minds with infantile imaginations.”
It turns out a volatile meeting between the Bosso leadership and Dube last Monday might have sealed the head of the secretariat’s future. Word on the streets of Bulawayo is that the CEO even banged tables as he tried to avoid going on leave.
His employers, however, unanimously insisted that he takes a well-deserved break as from last Monday as he had accumulated a lot of days, which were long overdue.
Many have been wondering how Highlanders could send their most senior member of the secretariat on leave at a time they have just secured sponsorship from Sakunda Holdings and Utande to take care of salaries for players, coaches as well as administration staff.
While Highlanders chairman Sibanda on Wednesday insisted that there was nothing amiss about the club’s CEO being sent on leave, all signs are pointing to Dube’s exit because his leave ends on the day his contract with Bosso runs its course.
Ronald Moyo, the Highlanders media and communications officer has been appointed as acting CEO.
The club did not state how long the CEO is going on leave and there seems to be confusion on how long he will be away.
In an interview with a local daily, Dube stated that his leave was for three months while Sibanda was quoted in the same story saying the break is for one month.
Dube, appointed Highlanders CEO in May 2017 has since his initial two-year contract expired in April 2019 been a source of division in the Bosso executive committee. Vice-chairman Modern Ngwenya together with the then secretary Israel Moyo were suspended and eventually expelled from the Bosso executive committee when they voted against recommendations of the club’s human resources sub-committee that suggested that Dube’s contract be extended until the end of that year.
Ngwenya and Moyo eventually bounced back into their positions a few months later. Sources have said this time around the Highlanders executive is in agreement that the CEO’s contract must not be renewed when it expires.
“The Highlanders executive is united that the CEO must go, his leave ends on the same day his contract ends. The meeting was volatile, he knows he is on his way out,’’ said a trusted source.
When he was hired as CEO in 2017, Dube was expected to among other things, bring in sponsors, provide sound leadership to the secretariat and maintain good relations with all stakeholders. Dube’s future is certain to come up for discussion when the executive committee meets again tomorrow at its weekly meeting. Meanwhile, Dube was given a chance to shed light on the circumstances which saw him go on what clearly is forced leave and he did not respond.
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