By Sikhumbuzo Moyo
Highlanders’ junior coaches this week downed tools in protest over non-payment of salaries and failure by the club to offer them contracts.
Dan Ngwenya, who heads the Under-14 and Under-16 teams and Under-20 coach Sizabantu Khoza’s contracts expired in December last year. While Bosso 90 coach Melusi Mabaleka Sibanda has a running contract, he boycotted Saturday’s training session in solidarity with his colleagues.
Ngwenya’s boys were the Zifa Bulawayo Province champions last season.
“We have been coming to work since resumption of the pre-season preparations out of love for the team and also hoping that these guys will act on our situation, but sadly they are doing nothing about it and we felt enough is enough now. We have families to feed and we board public transport when coming to work, and the situation is now unbearable for us,” said one of the coaches.
They said it was sad that club chairman Kenneth Mhlophe told members at the annual general meeting last month that they had engaged them for the 2020 season when reality on the ground pointed otherwise.
Mhlophe told the AGM that the entire Highlanders’ technical team for the 2020 season will be headed by Mark Harrison, with Mandla Mpofu and Bekithemba Ndlovu as first team coaches. Sibanda was named as junior teams’ technical manager, with Khoza and Ngwenya as Under-16, Under-18 and Under-14 coaches respectively.
“These guys seem to be concentrating on the first team only and they don’t seem to worry about juniors. Even our working conditions are terrible, no soccer balls and other basic things needed and when we tell them we are told all sorts of sad things. We are committed to our work, but we are family men as well.”
He said they have been told that they are volunteers and therefore must not ‘act desperate’.
Highlanders’ spokesperson Ronald Moyo expressed ignorance about the coaches’ industrial action and would not say whether or not Ngwenya and Khoza had contracts.
“Look I am not aware that they didn’t train yesterday (Saturday), I might need to verify that because normally we don’t train during the weekend. As for the contract issues, I also have to find out if it’s true that they don’t have any contracts, but off hand I can’t deny or confirm,” said Moyo. The Chronicle