By Sikhumbuzo Moyo
Highlanders are in advanced talks with a Chinese investor to operate their newly acquired gold mine in Inyathi, with the Bulawayo giants saying they will draft an agreement that will see them getting at least 60 percent of all sales.
Highlanders chairman Kenneth Mhlophe, who is seeking re-election in the February 7 elections, said his vision was for the mine to run separately from the football club.
He said when fully operational in about a year’s time, the club’s financial woes would become a thing of the past.
“I am a visionary; yes there could be some doubts over the mining venture but our members need not worry. We have done due diligence and believe me, that mine will be a cash cow for the institution. I am in talks with experts in mining, especially in China, who will come and apply their expertise while the club gets 60 percent for its rights. We didn’t have any costs in acquiring that mine, so I believe at least 60 percent is a good deal for us,” said Mhlophe in an interview.
The philanthropist and businessman said he, like veteran administrator Ndumiso Gumede, wants to leave a legacy at the club.
“I want people to remember me as the chairman who acquired a gold mine for the club just like we are talking about Gumede, whose tenure saw us acquiring three properties, Hotel California, the club house and club offices,” Mhlophe said.
Asked about the juniors, which he had promised to fully support during his campaign in 2017 only for the club to see an exodus of junior coaches citing poor working conditions, Mhlophe acknowledged that the coaches might have left as a result of a salary backlog.
The club also failed to promote juniors to the first team, especially last season but instead registered old horses,
“It’s true that we sometimes owed our junior coaches salaries of say three months and this was not because we didn’t care for them but we were trying our best to look after them. We could not stop them from leaving if they got better offers elsewhere.
“As for not promoting our juniors, I want members to know that we gave coach Mark Harrison six youngsters but he said he could not win the championship with kids and we really couldn’t do anything because if we had forced him to take the juniors, it would have been difficult for us to hold him to account,” he said.
Mhlophe faces the challenge of another businessman and farmer Johnfat Sibanda in the elections that will also see members electing the secretary-general as well as a committee member. The Chronicle