HIGHLANDERS members resolved that former chairman Ernest “Maphepha” Sibanda should not contest any position in the club’s executive committee as his image would tarnish the Bulawayo giants after he was implicated in the Asiagate match-fixing scandal.
While he was cleared by Zifa after turning witness, yesterday’s annual general meeting (AGM) in Bulawayo resolved that he was not in good standing with the club.
The former Warriors manager was suspended by Highlanders after funds from the sale of Obadiah Tarumbwa to a Belgian club in 2008 went missing.
Despite calls by club members to have his disqualification discussed at yesterday’s AGM, Sibanda declined to read the judgment on request by returning officer Luke Mnkandla which contained the reasons for his ineligibility to contest. He argued that he was not given enough time to study the judgment and was, therefore, not in a position to read it in front of members.
“I should have been given that on that Monday and read it,” he said. “If I was satisfied I was going to appeal there and then, but saying I should read it now you are putting me in a difficlt position.
“I cannot come and start reading now. If I have a query, do I ask in front of the people? I cannot do that; it’s impossible. You should have given me that earlier. If there was something, we could have discussed it before coming here. Now you are bringing it here and you want me to read it.”
Prior to him being asked to read the judgment, board chairman Mgcini Nkolomi had asked Sibanda for permission to have the ruling read out.
“We are asking the concerned member to give us permission because these are private and confidential issues about the club,” he said.
“Some of these things the press did not know about, so we want to be given that permission.”
Sibanda last week contested the issue of having three of the six members of the nomination court, but Mnkandla said they had spoken to them on the day through the telephone.
Mnkandla said: “It is very unfortunate that things are turning out to be what they are. Before Ncube and Sibanda left the office we had agreed. I read the whole judgment. I read it and he said he had understood it. But when I saw it in the paper, I noticed details had changed. I was surprised.”
It was only after this response that the matter was put to rest with the house agreeing that he would be a member, but would not be allowed to contest.
“We agreed that we would give him an opportunity to talk and give his views,” Mnkandla said.
“We agreed that if the others did not come because they were elsewhere, we would have a phone conference.”
He added that despite having discussed the issue with Sibanda on Monday, their stance had not changed and he was told the findings which he agreed to.
Mnkandla said since Sibanda was not in good standing, he would tarnish the image of the team and they could fail to get a sponsor.
“There is a lot at stake that can become a problem for us,” he said.
“We do not have money. We want to look for a sponsor, but Sibanda has an issue that could cause problems. He should wait for a while. We are doing it for Highlanders. We are following the constitution. What if we agree and then a sponsor withdraws?”
Sibanda remained adamant that he was not given time to read the judgment.
“You wrote notes and said the notes should be given to me,” he retorted.
“I would study them. How do I respond to them without seeing them? We agreed that the only thing that we would tell them (members) is that I had been disqualified and everything else would be discussed at the meeting.
“We know the issue of Obadiah Tarumbwa. Let us talk about it and let people know.”
He continued: “The board and the members talked about this six years ago and I got a judgment from the board that was in office then. They stated clearly that I was banned from Highlanders for three years. I agreed and after two years I appealed and the board lifted all those things. They gave me my card back as I was a life member.
“Today are you saying I am no longer fit to be at Highlanders. I feel you should have told me that I was banned. If you had told me that I would not have wasted my time.”
Board secretary Jimmy Ncube called for unity.
“I see progress today,” he said.
“Forget about what has happened before. We are going into a new season and by the end of this meeting we will be proud of ourselves.
“We cannot go forward when we are divided. Let us continue to support each other, the executive and the board. Forget the difference that we talked about.”