Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Maphepha opens up on Tarumbwa saga

Sikhumbuzo Moyo Senior Sports Reporter
CHARISMATIC former Highlanders chairman Ernest Maphepha Sibanda, yesterday picked up his nomination papers for the chairman’s post in what could mark a dramatic return to the club he led to the championship in 2006.

It has remained the only championship victory for the Bulawayo giants since then.

Enerst Maphepha Sibanda
Sibanda, accused of financial irregularities over the sale of then striker Obadiah Tarumbwa to a Belgian club also opened up on the issue and said he never took the club’s money but chose to protect the name and image of Highlanders.

“The Tarumbwa issue was a deal that went bad, that’s the truth and nothing more. I wanted to protect my club from certain things and to do that I had to bite the bullet and take the blame. I told myself that yimfalayo and people may take it in whatever way they want but the honest truth is that I wanted to protect the club,” said Maphepha who will square off against incumbent Peter Dube in the February elections.

He said it was unfortunate that some reports have chosen to look at what they purported was damaging to his person while deliberately leaving out the good that he has done for the club in the past.

“Not to say I am dancing to my own music but how many of you knew that the entire time that the late Eddie May was our coach he was using my Hyundai car? I never charged the club anything but all those things are not mentioned. The Highlanders people know the truth and will decide on election date but I have no hard feelings,” said Sibanda.

On his candidature and election chances, the former Highlanders and Warriors manager said it was his own personal conviction and people had also asked him to return to his boyhood club.

“I have been following this team for a very long time. I think what we lack is unity of purpose between the team, executive and supporters but a chairman can not do that alone. Once I am in, I will take Bosso back to the people. If you check my strategic plan back then, you will realise that I had opened supporters’ branches right across Zimbabwe and abroad because this is a people’s project. I would not pass Gweru without letting our supporters know that we will be passing through, its important for the people to embrace the team,” said Sibanda.

Asked to comment on reports that there were plans to employ him as welfare manager, Sibanda said he never applied for the post.

“Peter Dube remains my good friend and I don’t think my decision to challenge him will affect our friendship. At the moment I will not comment on any assumptions, I have picked up my nomination form and signed it. I ask for peaceful elections which over the years has been the culture at Highlanders,” he said.

They have been unconfirmed reports that some Highlanders board members were against the candidature of Sibanda and wanted him disqualified from the race but board secretary and spokesperson, Jimmy Ncube rubbished the reports.

“Where have you heard that, where is it written? Sibanda was forgiven for his crime so what wrong has he done now? I personally don’t know of such a provision so if ever he wants to contest for any post, I believe he is free to do so and members will either embrace or reject him,” said Ncube.

Nominations for the elections close on Saturday, January 17 with interested candidates expected to submit a form signed by at least 10 bona fide members. The candidates will pay $100 which is refundable provided the candidate gets more than 10 percent of the vote.

Highlanders members will vote on the first Sunday of next month with three posts up for grabs, the chairmanship, held by Dube, secretary which is held by Andrew Tapela, constitutionally barred from contesting and that of committee member held by Charles Moyo.

Moyo is seeking a re-election and is likely to face the challenge of Faith Silandulo Dube while for the secretary general’s post, four candidates have since confirmed their candidature and these are former manager Emmet Ndlovu, Innocent Batsani Ncube, Donald Ndebele and National Association of Primary Heads (Naph) Bulawayo provincial chairperson Njabulo Bango. Chronicles
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