Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
THE Highlanders executive led by chairman Johnfat Sibbanda has embarked on “a meet the stakeholders” initiative, with the first visit being made to long-time club benefactor Tshinga Dube and the ruling Zanu-PF secretary for administration Obert Mpofu.
Sibanda, who took over the chairmanship from Kenneth Mhlophe in March after winning a close election by 154 votes to 149, led his team of vice-chairman Modern Ngwenya, treasurer Donald Ndebele and committee member Mgcini Mafu to Dube’s residence on Sunday.
On Monday, they paid a courtesy call on Mpofu’s Bulawayo offices.
Victoria Falls-based club secretary Morgan Gaza Dube did not attend the two meetings.
Sources said the executive pleaded with Dube to facilitate an “introductory” meeting with President Mnangagwa.
“The Highlanders executive met Tshinga Dube on Sunday. Only four executive members attended the meeting where they discussed, among other things, the gold mine issue. When they left Dube’s residence, they said they are going to write a letter to President Mnangagwa, which Dube will take to the President,” said a source.
Government, through the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, approved relevant paperwork for Bosso to start operations at a gold mining claim in Inyathi, Bubi District.
After realising that Highlanders had been surviving on the benevolence of well-wishers, Bulawayo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Judith Ncube pushed for Highlanders to get a mining claim to help ease the club’s financial woes.
The claim came as a result of the Visit Zimbabwe Promotion Campaign; a movement which seeks to leverage on the sports and tourism sectors to market the country as a premier tourist destination.
The mining venture that the Bosso executive led by former chairman Mhlophe pursued, is a first by a local club not owned by a mining company and should improve Highlanders’ liquidity if run properly.
Highlanders is facing financial challenges and is yet to pay players their April salaries.
Club sources said by the visiting traditional stakeholders, the executive hope to unlock a funding source.
Contacted for comment on their visit to Dube and Mpofu, the Bosso chairman declined to comment.
“Who told you about that? Talk to Ronald (Moyo, the club public relations officer), because when I make those kinds of visits, they are not personal but club business,” said Sibanda.
The club later issued a statement, which read: “The new executive has been meeting our traditional stakeholders. Given the club’s historical relationships with these stakeholders, it is normal that the new members of the executive committee meets these stakeholders for the purposes of maintaining and strengthening relations.”
Club sources said the visits by the Bosso executive is meant to reach out to club benefactors who took offence to Sibanda’s victory speech that Highlanders had been captured. — @ZililoR