HIGHLANDERS’ elections for chairman, secretary-general and committee member are due on February 7 and the aspiring candidates have begun their campaigns in earnest.
Weeks after incumbent chairman Kenneth Mhlophe was castigated by Bosso members for what they said was a reckless and divisive campaign poster after he seemed to single out one supporters’ chapter chairman and describing him as a recognised chapter leader, another one has fallen victim.
Mhlophe’s statement triggered a backlash from some members and supporters, who said they felt indirectly insulted, especially when they too have been doing a lot for the club.
They reportedly said it was mischievous for Mhlophe to ride on a debt clearance campaign, which was never his idea from the word go, but the brain child of Nodumo Nyathi, who mooted the bold move well before he even became the South African Chapter chairman.
One candidate, Johnfat Sibanda, who will be seeking to be elected as chairman, has somehow found himself in the firing line of some of the club’s fans and members for making what they believe to be dream-like plans and promises.
And the notoriously fickle and opinionated fans have called him to order for making these grandiose plans they see as impractical to achieve.
Highlanders fans have taken to social media to call out one of the candidates for the club’s chairmanship and questioned the practicality of his manifesto.
Sibanda, who is challenging the incumbent Mhlophe for the revered position, launched his manifesto last week and made several promises including introducing longer contracts for players and technical staff, commercialising the club and ensuring that the club’s amenities like the clubhouse flourish.
Campaigning under the mantra “The Giant Awakens, Together We Are One”, Sibanda contends that continuity and the provision of adequate training equipment and facilities will enhance player development.
“We will also develop and maintain a self-contained and well-supported junior policy,” said Sibanda in his manifesto.
“My vision is to promote and maintain Highlanders Football Club as a cohesively united democratic entity of world-class standards through collaborative engagement with its members, supporters and the business community, to jealously uphold and enforce the club’s constitutional provisions through integrity, transparency, responsiveness and efficacy.
“I want to turn Highlanders FC into a national and global financial giant through professional and qualitative management of its commercial entities and resuscitating the revenue potential of its junior policy, to overwhelmingly thrive to promote a united Highlanders’ executive and board member and encourage the enforcement of a collective and collusive work ethic towards achieving the ideals and aspirations of the club,” said Sibanda in his three-page manifesto.
However, in conversation within a supporters WhatsApp group, fans have called him out questioning the practicality of his grandiose plans.
Reacting to the aspiring chairman’s manifesto, fans were not very flattering in their opinions.
“Sibanda views Bosso as a place to say all sorts of theories that he can’t apply in his own life and businesses. Planning on other people’s pockets and perceived financial support is rife at Bosso but history tells us that this is a bad idea,” posted Bhekimpilo Dube, a Highlanders supporter.
“But you can’t force a player to sign a long term contract if he doesn’t want that’s the policy. Zim players have resorted not to signing long contracts because local clubs don’t buy players from another local club they wait for your contract to elapse,” Buhle Ncube said.
In more chats in this group, fans continued to find holes in Sibanda’s manifesto firmly making known what they feel about Sibanda and his plans for the club.
“Where is he going to get the money to tie down players?” asked Bosso member Lindani “Khabazela’ Hadebe.
He added: “Highlanders does not need a reconstruction but renovations so we cannot be talking about putting new policies which are there and being implemented. People must not fool us and say “elect me” ..I will make Highlanders wear black and white. They are already wearing those colours and it will always be that. Period.”
Another member Innocent “Bra Nox” Mikazhu said “what our aspiring chairman is dreaming about if he wins, we will hold him accountable if he fails to execute one item here of which I’m foreseeing. Manifestos should be simple and SMART.”
Meanwhile, candidates for next month’s Highlanders executive elections have collected nomination forms ahead of the deadline to submit the documentation on Saturday.
Incumbent secretary general, Israel Moyo, the man who is challenging him, Morgen “Gazza” Dube and aspiring committee member Mgcini Mafu on Tuesday collected their nomination forms after paying US$200.
Before the three picked up the forms, Kenneth Mhlophe and Johnfat Sibanda who are squaring off for the chairman’s post had already done so together with Bheka Sibanda, who is gunning for the committee member’s position.
The candidates have to get the forms signed by at least 10 Highlanders members with up-to-date membership before they submit them to the club offices. After the close of the nomination process, Highlanders electoral court will sit to vet each candidate’s suitability to stand in the election.
Bosso members in good standing will on 7 February choose three members of the executive that is the chairman, secretary general and committee member. While Mhlophe and Moyo are seeking fresh mandates to the club’s affairs for another three years from the members, Wisdom Mabhena, who holds the post of committee member cannot seek another tenure since he has served two consecutive terms which means he is no longer eligible to contest.