MAPHEPHA SAGA: ‘We could not risk sponsors’


HIGHLANDERS board chairman Mgcini Nkolomi has come out in full support of the nomination court’s decision to bar former player, manager and chairman Ernest “Maphepha” Sibanda from contesting in the club executive elections on Sunday, saying they would not compromise on the team’s sponsorship.


Maphepha intended to bounce back at the Bulawayo giants as chairman challenging incumbent Peter Dube, but was disqualified by the nomination court on January 17 because of an unsound financial history with the club.

Dube will stand unopposed for the chairmanship.

In what he termed “the contetious decision of the nomination court”, during the club’s annual general meeting (AGM) on Sunday, Nkolomi said the verdict of the nomination court, chaired by Luke Mnkandla, had created emotions and commotion in the Bosso family.

chairman Ernest “Maphepha” Sibanda
chairman Ernest “Maphepha” Sibanda

“My board report would obviously not be enough without making comment or reference the decision of the current sitting nomination court whose decision to bar Ernest ‘Maphepha’ Sibanda has rattled and created so much emotion and commotion from all concerned, with members sharply divided on the verdict of the nomination,” Nkolomi said.

“The technical reasons or justification of that decision are dealt with in a separate item on the agenda, but my commentary on the matter is mainly to give members the general spirit with which your board deals with issues of principle and ethical conduct in defending the ideals of our vision/mission statement.

“As your board chairperson and speaking on behalf of my board, we are profoundly disappointed to be going to this extent to explain what motivates our decision-making processes.

It is prudent for members to know that the club operates in a wider strategic stakeholder environment which includes our sponsors and would-be sponsors who place high priority on issues of corporate governance and there is just but no way or room this board would want to compromise our revered standing as a proud institution.

May I dare ask which is better to err and infringe on the perceived rights of the individual, or to err and compromise the reputation of the club which currently is our single biggest currency considering our going concern risk issues.

The statement by Nkolomi set the motion for the debate on Sibanda’s prohibition by the nomination court from club members with others challenging his disqualification while another section supported the former Bosso chairman’s exclusion from the election race.

The AGM eventually endorsed his disqualification. It resolved that Maphepha should remain a Highlanders card-carrying member, but not eligible to hold an executive position.

Nkolomi said it was unfortunate that there were some club members who were bent on posting on social media, claiming to be bona fide members of Highlanders, but urged his fellow board members to desist from relying on information posted on social platforms.

“As your board, we don’t have the latitude of posting on social networks or rushing to the media about everything we do, but we are equally worried about lies which are always in circulation on various media with regards our involvement in the club,” he said.

“Your board speaks the language of renewal, continuous improvement and best practice and yet some of you are advocates of recycling and yet expecting different results. I will not be the one to mention what those people are called, but no reward is offered to get the answer right.

“Highlanders is a big institution with so much depth in talent and skills and for one to serve in any of its structures is a great honour and privilege. We strongly believe that none of us has the preserve of knowledge and talent, we cannot be smarter than the generation behind us as there is so much turbulence and change around.

“All we can do as leaders is to create a smooth platform and environment to tap into this limitless pit of opportunities and talents that surround us.”

However, a member questioned why Ndumiso Gumede was brought back as chief executive officer of the club if Highlanders was not bent on recycling leaders.

The board chairman paid tribute to traditional sponsors BancABC for its continued backing of the team in the harsh economic environment.