By Nash Mkokwayarira
It seems there is no end in sight to Highlanders’ pre-season woes as players vowed to continue with their strike until their grievances are fully addressed by the team’s leadership.
The Bulawayo giants have had a shaky pre-season training that has been characterised by player revolts due to non-payment of salaries and signing on fees.
The strike has left the Bosso technical team led by Madinda Ndlovu in a quandary as they cannot properly plan for the 2019 Castle Lager Premiership season which commences on March 30.
As things stands the ZNA Charity Cup scheduled for Sunday between Highlanders and Chicken Inn now hangs in the balance with reports last night indicating the match had been cancelled.
Players, who spoke to the Daily News on condition of anonymity blamed the team’s leadership for not being sincere and truthful to their plight.
“Imagine the chairperson (Kenneth Mhlophe) addressed us on Tuesday and told us that we will get our dues before end of day that same day. He even begged us to train as we were going to get our monies that very same day,” said one seemingly frustrated senior player.
“Up to now (yesterday) nothing has come. Some of the players are already being evicted from where they rent. It is unfortunate the executive has failed to keep their word so many times, they keep shifting goal posts. Imagine the club chairperson lying to the players, who are we going to trust now?”
Highlanders’ one-year sponsorship deal with telecommunications giant NetOne expired at the end of last year and they are believed to be negotiating for the extension of the deal.
The delay in agreeing terms has, however, impacted heavily on the Bulawayo giants’ preparations ahead of the new season.
The team has hardly prepared this pre-season as players are not willing to train without receiving their salaries. Another player who also chose not to be named for fear of victimisation said: “The players are willing to train and love the team so much.
“Instead of the executive dealing with the problem at hand they prefer to play hide and seek after making false promises.
“Instead of addressing the problems, some players are victimised instead in what I think is witch-hunting. The issue is getting out of hand because it looks like no one really cares about our welfare and our families who depend on us.”
Another senior player added: “All they want is for us to train, how are we expected to focus when we are being evicted from where we stay and have since become a laughing stock in the community?
“Worse when it’s news all over that a Bosso player is failing to feed his family, pay rent and children have not paid school fees three months into the year.
“It doesn’t give a good picture of the team as a whole and even the sponsor that we desperately need. Remember, we are brand ambassadors for Highlanders and the sponsors.”
And while players admit to be on strike, club chief executive Nhlanhla Dube has been spreading a different gospel saying the players are not on strike but were given time off after a vigorous training session, in what appears to confirm what the players are saying on the insincerity of their leadership. DailyNews