HIGHLANDERS head coach Bongani Mafu yesterday said he will not be responding to questions emanating from unidentified sources as he is “not a pub coach”.
BY FORTUNE MBELE
The Premier Soccer League club yesterday organised a Press conference in Bulawayo for a question-and-answer session between sports journalists, the coach and the team’s executive committee.
Responding to allegations that he is not in good books with his assistant Mandla “Lulu” Mpofu and his players had lost faith in him his training techniques, Mafu said he would not respond to that question as it was pub talk.
“That’s nonsense that I am not willing to respond to. It’s something that hits me in my personal capacity as a human being. It’s all speculation and you cannot tell me who said that. So now we are thinking about something that has been said by someone who is not alive and that is the reporting that I am against.
I am saying if next time you want to ask me that question, tell me Jack said this and Jack is in front of me. What you are saying here is dangerous play. It is very immature and very basic. I want to remain above that. I am not at Highlanders by chance. Some of the things said there could be said by a coach coaching a pub team. I am not a pub coach, I am not and I refuse that myself,” a livid Mafu said.
Following the 0-1 loss to Chapungu at Barbourfields Stadium in their last league match, Mafu was quoted in some sections of the media saying even Jesus could not coach Highlanders with the kind of friction at the club.
That was after some Bosso fans had peacefully demonstrated for his sacking at the team’s clubhouse.
The club has barred him from speaking to the media except at Press conferences and post-match interviews.
Club chairman Peter Dube said it was not a total blackout on Mafu, but it was good for the club and all stakeholders and in the future, arrangements would be made to facilitate interviewing the gaffer.
Yesterday, the club also announced that they had increased membership fees in a bid to source revenue, a move that Dube said was meant to return the club to its owners, the supporters.
Ordinary members are now expected to fork out $50 from $30 while to be a life member one will have to part with $150 from the previous $80.
The club has also introduced a supporters’ card, which is worth $10.
“The executive has come up with austerity measures to cut down on expenses and to put controls in terms of the debts that have continued to accumulate. We are cutting down on salaries on re-engaged staff both technical and administrative. Some of it is still work in progress.
We have had to reduce significantly. Last year we were a club that every player wanted to run to. The other thing that we are doing is introducing a supporters’ card and we are increasing membership fees as follows: Ordinary from $30 to $50 and life membership from $80 to $150,” Dube said.
Dube said special pleas have been made to current life members of the club to each fork out an amount of $300 over a period of three years, which will come as a relief to the financial-crippled club.
“A special plea has been made for life members to pay $300 to the club as a lump sum or in instalments. By 2017 if all life members would have paid, the club will get some relief,” Dube said.
He said the Highlanders Clubhouse and Manwele Beer Gardens were showing improvement in returns as business entities and work had started to rehabilitate the borehole at the clubhouse.
“Hopefully within the next month you will begin to see some work being done,” the chairman said.
He said the club was also making frantic efforts to resuscitate supporters’ chapters within the country and abroad using social media. Principal sponsors BancABC, this year reduced their package by 40% from $700 000 last year to $400 000.
BancABC has four teams in the PSL — Dynamos, Highlanders, Chapungu and Flame Lily.