By Ngqwele Dube
Former Highlanders chairman, Ernest “Maphepha” Sibanda will not be challenging the board’s decision to bar him from contesting the post of chairman in elections scheduled for next week.
Sibanda told Sunday News that it was important for Highlanders to move forward as a united family irrespective of the differences that might exist. He said what he simply wanted was democracy and the opportunity to serve the club he loves and was not fighting anyone.
“We are one family and cannot be seen to be fighting like this. All I wanted was democracy and the chance to serve the club I love but whatever the decision the board reached, whether right or wrong, I accept. We chose the board to be there hence we should respect their decisions. I believe they (board) feel they came to that decision in the interest of the club,” said Sibanda.
He said while differences might exist, in-fighting should never rear its head at Highlanders and the slogan “we are one”, highlights the unity that should obtain at the club. Sibanda said he wishes the best for the incoming executive and urged all Highlanders members to rally behind the new leaders to ensure the success of the club.
The Highlanders board on Tuesday barred Maphepha from taking part in the elections citing “incomplete rehabilitation” following his readmission to the club in 2012 after he had been suspended over financial irregularities. The board said he was not eligible because in recent years he was an executive member of Bantu Rovers, who were also in the Premiership, a view that has been met with mixed feelings with the majority of the view that Bantu Rovers, a project started by another Highlanders son Methembe Ndlovu cannot be viewed in strongest terms a “rival”, adding that Sibanda was in fact working for Bantu Rovers and not an executive member, just like a coach can move from one club to another.
Those backing Sibanda saw the move as a deliberate effort to hand the chairmanship to Kenneth Mhlophe, who remained the only person running for the chairmanship. It was also the second time that Sibanda was barred with the board standing on his way when he wanted to contest against outgoing Peter Dube.
Meanwhile, Maphepha met incoming chairman, local businessman Mhlophe, whom he was set to contest with, on Friday and they “smoked the peace pipe” and agreed to work together for the good of the club.
Impeccable sources at Highlanders said the two rivals, who were set to duel for the chairman’s post next week agreed to diffuse the poisonous environment that had engulfed Bosso. Sources close to the two Bosso life members said it was agreed the club should come first.
“They met on Friday afternoon and they realised the campaigns had gotten out of hand with supporters engaging in mudslinging causing deep fissures among the Bosso family. The two realised it was in the interest of the club that they calm their supporters and work together for the good of the club,” said the sources.
The source said they both understood elections were not supposed to divide Bosso but only choose able leadership.
“There was real fear that the divisions might become entrenched leading to Highlanders members failing to work together in the future which will have a huge negative impact on the future if the club. They agreed to work together for the benefit of the club as there is no bad blood between them. They both love Highlanders and want to see it prosper. Mhlophe agreed to maintain an open door and consult in the future,” added the source.
Both Sibanda and Mhlophe separately confirmed the meeting saying they were ready to leave the past behind and look ahead and work together towards the success of the club.