Highlanders have taken aim at Zifa president Philip Chiyangwa, accusing him of leading a spirited campaign by the local football governing body to destabilise the club by interfering in its internal affairs.
BY FORTUNE MBELE
The stunning allegations by the leadership at the country’s oldest football club come after Zifa’s recent attempt to bar the Bulawayo giants from holding its executive committee elections slated for the first week of February.
Although Zifa made a U-turn after a nasty backlash from local football stakeholders, Highlanders were not amused by Zifa’s actions.
Standardsport gleaned the communication between Highlanders’ board of directors chairman Mgcini Nkolomi and Zifa’s general secretary Joseph Mamutse, where the former alleged there was a sinister plot by Zifa to cripple Highlanders.
Mamutse penned a letter to the Bulawayo giants on January 4 advising them they could not hold elections without the authority and supervision of the football governing body.
Nkolomi had no kind words for the Zifa leadership, saying he was aware of their plot which dates back to 2016 when they arbitrarily suspended the club’s chairman Peter Dube and then CEO Ndumiso Gumede.
“We acknowledge with regret your letter of January 4 2018 addressed to our chief executive officer [Nhlanhla Dube], the contents of which cannot possibly be allowed to go unchallenged if for nothing but the fact that there appears to be a pattern in all this, a pattern which betrays a systematic trajectory towards crippling the club,” Nkolomi said.
The Highlanders board chairman went on to narrate a chain of events in the letter, which he said exposed Zifa’s alleged sinister motive to incapacitate the Bulawayo giants.
“The current Zifa administration has always pursued a sinister agenda designed to reduce our club to a pariah that most football institutions in this country have degenerated to regrettably under the watch of Zifa,” Nkolomi said.
“By the letter dated November 13 2016, our CEO Ndumiso Gumede was ‘suspended’ and at the same time banned from all football activities, including discharge of his duties as the chief administrator of the club. This was done arbitrarily without any charge and needless to say, without according him and indeed the club the opportunity to make representations….that the life ban impacted negatively on our club which was left to trudge on without an administrator at a critical period of renewal of players’ contracts and registration in preparation for the following season, did not concern Zifa which did not elicit representations from our club or indeed Gumede,” Nkolomi said.
Nkolomi said to add salt to injury, Chiyangwa went on to suspend Dube, who, one year two months after being suspended, has not been summoned for a disciplinary hearing to defend himself.
He said this “underscores that fact that the suspension and banning were arbitrary and designed to incapacitate our club.”
The board chairman said it was surprising that the Zifa leadership would spend a lot of time in meddling in Highlanders’ internal affairs instead of attending to pressing national football issues.
“It is not without reason that Zifa has been unable to hold its own congress and to think that the same institution would now want to prevent the holding of a constitutional imperative at Highlanders, the AGM and elections — means that football lovers must really be afraid that the stewardship of football’s affairs remains firmly in the hands of this Zifa administration,” the Highlanders boss said.
Nkolomi paid tribute to the Sport and Recreation Commission (SRC) for bringing sanity into the Highlanders’ elections issue after urging Zifa to acknowledge that the Bulawayo giants have their own statutes that govern their affairs.