Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Senior Sports Reporter
At the turn of the century, an unprecedented, totally unheard of position at Highlanders took place right infront of bewildered members at the club house when two office bearers, holding the most important positions in the executive, decided, out of principle, and perhaps as a show of protest, to resign.
These two still respected gentlemen within the Highlanders family, couldn’t farthom working with someone who had embezzled club funds and publicly acknowledged his thievery to members who somehow had some empathy towards him, forgiving him for his crime which by the way could have landed at a ZRP Charge Office in the City.
The two gentlemen respected members’ position but out of their own principle and conviction, felt it was no longer a conducive environment to work with a colleague who had helped himself to club funds, they realised that the boardroom was certainly going to be toxic, making their execution of duty for Highlanders almost impossible, a situation which would have badly hurt the Bulawayo giants.
They rose above their own personal egos to remain in office while the institution they would be leading was burning.
To them, the foot was no longer on the accelerator pedal but right on top of the breaks pedal and if it was on the accelerator pedal, the car was on the reverse gear.
I am referring here to Roger Muhlwa and Peter Dube, who were Highlanders chairman and secretary respectively.
They stepped down out of principle and in protest after members forgave then treasurer Lazarus Sibanda.
Their resignation if anything, earned them unrivaled respect from members hence years later Dube was to bounce back as club chairman and later members ratified him when he was nominated to the position of board member.
Muhlwa, an avid golfer, where he, unfortunately has won more Most Golfer Awards (pun intended) than first prize, has on more than two occasions turned down approaches from members to come back and contest as chairman or be a nominee for the board of directors which would have been a mere formality as members were certainly going to ratify them.
This is what principle, conscience and conviction for what is right leads to.
Fast forward to late December 2021, a toxic wave, a tsunami, swept across and Highlanders and it’s still causing irreparable damage even to the sponsors. Members and by the same vein, sponsors, were told that within the executive and the board there were people who were not Highlanders, people who were not supposed to be holding the position they were entrusted by members.
These utterances were uttered not once, not twice but an incredible four times. Crucially too, they were not uttered by an ordinary member of the club, but a whole board chairman who has shown all and sundry that he has no respect for the club’s electoral system.
Quite scaringly, he has possibly put the sponsors on high alert because they could be wondering if their money and investment was safe when there are people in leadership position at the club who are not Highlanders.
The board chairman has shown that he has no respect for members’ constitutional right to choose who they want to run Highlanders on their behalf. He has also disrespected fellow board members who make up the electoral college that oversees the vetting process for aspiring candidates.
Those in the executive are subjected to the two processes before finally becoming an executive member. For the board, one is nominated by the executive in consultation with board members already in office and critically, they are then brought before members who can either reject or accept them, that is the beauty of the Highlanders democracy through the electoral system.
Unfortunately, that system which has stood the test of time and has been a model in football administration in the country, now faces a serious threat from the very same office that has to protect it.
The question that begs an answer now is what will those members of the executive committee do, same as board members? Will the board members continue as normal when their colleague is trampling upon the very founding principles of the 1926 founded club?
It is not known who the board chairman continuously refers to as not Highlanders and not fit to hold that office and in such a situation, one can as well suspect all or any member of the executive and board except of course the board chairman.
If members of these two bodies are uptight, they may step down and let the chairman run the club, for he is the only one who is Highlanders. Unless he publicly names those whom he claims are not Highlanders, this could be one of the only two options available unless members decide to take it upon themselves. The second option is for the board to recall their chairman unless they too are in agreement with their chairman’s claims.
So, do we have a principled Highlanders executive committee and board of directors that can rise up to this threat to club democracy?
Article Source: The Chronicle