WILL Kenneth Mhlope be re-elected for the second and final term in office as Bosso chairperson, or will it be the dawn of a new era for the Bulawayo giants as Johnfat Sibanda is ushered into office?
These will be some of the questions that will be answered today when bona fide Highlanders members converge in Bulawayo to choose the club’s new leadership.
The contestants have spent the last few months on whirlwind campaigns during which they sold their manifestos to the electorate.
Of the two candidates battling it out for the chairmanship post, incumbent Mhlope believes he has unfinished business with Highlanders and seeks to leave a legacy while challenger Sibanda is of the belief that he has what it takes “to awaken the sleeping giant within Bosso’’.
And interestingly, going into the election, both Mhlope and Sibanda are confident of victory in today’s elections.
“I am ready for the elections on Sunday (today), let it be. Members will choose their preferred candidate, but I still have unfinished business with Highlanders,” said Mhlope,
His counterpart Sibanda exudes the same confidence.
“I am ready for the elections and the contest. I would not have contested for the post if I was not sure and doubted myself for the position,” said Sibanda.
For Mhlope there is a legacy he wants to leave at a club that he holds dear to his heart.
“I have served my first three-years as chairman of Highlanders. I am seeking re-election because I have unfinished business with the team. I want to leave a legacy at Highlanders,” he said.
During Mhlope’s tenure, Bosso managed to clear a legacy debt which amounted to nearly US$1 million.
They have also ventured into mining as an alternative source of revenue away from gate takings following the acquisition of a mining claim in Inyathi, Matabeleland North province. Mhlope says he wants to see the mining venture become fully operational as it offers Highlanders an opportunity to also create jobs for the club’s former players.
He wants to emulate the vision of club president Ndumiso Gumede who acquired some properties during his tenure as chairman.
“Gumede bought the current club offices (along Robert Mugabe Way) and Hotel California (in Luveve). He also got us a 99-year lease for the piece of land where our club house is situated and just like him I want to leave a legacy at the club.
“We have already acquired Inyathi gold mine, but I want to leave it operational. I want to be remembered as the chairperson who brought in money and made the club self-sustainable.
“This I will only do once I am re-elected,” said Mhlope.
He also points to the three-year kit sponsorship deal worth US$300 000 with United Kingdom-based sports apparel firm, On the Ball, which he has clinched for Highlanders and some partnership deals with Arenel Biscuits, service partnership with Sanctuary Insurance, technical partnership with OTB Sports Apparel as well as kit sponsorship for all the junior teams from Eyethu Fruit and Veggie.
“Like I said, I still have unfinished business with Highlanders, and there are some things waiting in the pipeline that are ready to be activated once I get re-elected.
“The future of Highlanders is bright, so we are urging them (voters) to decide on a bright future for their team,” said Mhlope.
He wants Highlanders to end their long Premier Soccer League championship drought.
“We won the Chibuku Super Cup, but it has been a long time since Highlanders last won the championship.
“Once I am re-elected I intend to make Highlanders a team of choice on the market.
“We want to compete on the market, and become a team of preference. Once we become attractive to players, then nothing will stop us from winning the championships and reclaim our position as a giant both locally and continentally,” said Mhlope.
For Sibanda, the mission is to get Highlanders to realise their full potential both on and off the field.
“I know what people want from Highlanders. Highlanders is a community team, a team that comprises members and not supporters and I know what that community wants. I stand for that, I represent the Highlanders community,” he said.
Sibanda said it was now time for the owners of the Bulawayo giants to take a leading role in the club affairs and be part of the team.
“The Highlanders members who are the owners of the club now get to know of developments at the club through the media. This is not correct; they should be part of decision making at the club.
“If elected to the post of chairman, like I said Highlanders has members and not supporters, it is the members that drive the team, therefore I will be answerable to the members’’.
Sibanda believes his ascendancy to the throne will be critical in turning around the fortunes of Highlanders as a football giant, hence his manifesto is titled, “The giant awakens, together we are one”.
“Highlanders has so many immovable assets, and if properly managed the club can become self-sustaining and this is what we want to unlock,” he said.
Sibanda has set his sights on reviving the junior development policy of the club which he believes will be the key to Bosso’s success both on and off the field.
“It is without a doubt that the success of Highlanders, both on and off the field, lies in junior development. If elected into office, I will ensure that we develop and maintain a self-contained and well-supported junior policy. We will adopt a soccer academy model to build, fund and sustain junior teams into the future,” he said.
Apart from the Mhlope against Sibanda contest, there will also be a battle for the secretary-general’s post between Israel Moyo and Morgen Dube while Bheka Sibanda and Mgcini Sibanda square up for the committee member’s position. – The Standard