Financially-troubled Highlanders Football Club have promised to pay their players’ outstanding dues in batches beginning on Thursday, although the players have sworn they will not be attending training until the first payment is made.
A source close to the goings on at Bosso on Wednesday told NewsDay that the executive had promised to pay the players their salaries and winning bonuses in tranches, the final batch of which will be paid by December 21.
Bosso on Tuesday night held a crisis meeting at the club offices where the executive undertook to clear their debts to the players but the source of the money could not be immediately established.
“The executive met with the boys on Tuesday night and they agreed that they would start making payments tomorrow (Thursday).
They promised the boys that that the money would be paid in batches. The executive told the boys that due salaries would be paid in full by December 21 (Tuesday next week),” the source said.
A senior player said: “They promised to give us the money this week and the rest by Tuesday next week but we are adamant not to start training until the first payment is made. If that payment is done, then maybe we will see that these guys are serious and we return to training,” the player said.
Highlanders play FC Victoria in their last league match of the season on Sunday at Mucheke Stadium in Masvingo.
However, by Wednesday afternoon, NewsDay investigations revealed that the players were receiving individual calls from certain senior players asking them if they were willing to return for training after the Tuesday crisis meeting.
The Bosso players have been on strike since last week demanding outstanding salaries and winning bonuses.
They however fulfilled a league fixture against Kiglon at the weekend, saying they were not doing it for the executive but for the multitude of their supporters.
The players did not attend training on Tuesday and by Wednesday they were still unyielding.
Asked to comment, Highlanders spokesperson Andrew Tapela repeated his trick once more, making this reporter hold on to his call for about 10 minutes.
He returned the call to say he was on a long international call and asked to be called 15 minutes later after which his mobile phone went unanswered after several attempts.
Meanwhile, the Sports Writers of Zimbabwe (SWAZ) has condemned Tapela’s violent behaviour towards NewsDay photographer Chrispen Tabvura on Tuesday morning which Tapela does not deny.
Tapela allegedly manhandled Tabvura at the Highlanders’ offices for taking photos of the Highlanders players and officials as they came in for a crisis meeting. Lovemore Dube, SWAZ’s vice-chairman had this to say:
“We are very disappointed with the conduct of one of the experienced sports administrators in the country, a man we believe to have come through the mill to be where he is right now.
“We would like to warn sports persons and administrators that it is poor administration that invites “negative” publicity. We will not turn a blind eye to that. We will remain the watchdog of our society and the continued onslaught of our members must come to an end forthwith.”