The Mines and Mining Development minister Obert Mpofu on Thursday came to the rescue of Highlanders, forking out a $17 000 debt owed to former coach Mohamed Fathi and saving the club’s attached property from going under the hammer.
The $17 000 is part of the Egyptian coach’s salaries and allowances while he was at the Bulawayo soccer giants last year.
All in all, Mpofu paid $22 000 including the storage fees at the Deputy Sheriff for the team bus, computers, sofas, television set, a double door fridge, tables, soccer balls and office chairs which were due for sale to offset the former Bosso gaffer’s dues.
Speaking at a press conference at the Highlanders’ offices yesterday, Mpofu said he came to the Bulawayo soccer giants’ rescue after learning of their plight from one of his officers, a Ncube who is a Highlanders’ supporter.
Mpofu’s said Ncube highlighted Bosso’s predicament when he officiated at the Independence Celebrations on Monday at White City Stadium and he opened his heart.
“Highlanders is a household name in the Bulawayo community. After what the media has reported, I got worried. While I was officiating at the Independence Celebrations, some people approached me and I felt it was embarrassing that leaders (in the region) have not taken up the issue of Highlanders,” Mpofu said.
The senior government official said he had to drive from Harare on Wednesday to meet the Highlanders’ executive to discuss the club’s issue.
Mpofu said his gesture was not tantamount to politicking as he did not harbour any political interests in Bulawayo but felt Highlanders was a big institution in the city.
“We have some people, who go about saying they support Highlanders but when there are problems like this they hibernate. I would like to appeal to Highlanders to approach all leaders. I support all sporting organisations.
Without Highlanders there may be no Bulawayo. I am not politicking. This is a genuine intention. We have decided to intervene,” Mpofu said.
Highlanders board chairman Dumisani Sandi said Highlanders was humbled by Mpofu’s gesture.
The press conference was also attended by Highlanders chairman Themba Ndlela, secretary Andrew Tapela and treasurer Odiel Nkomo.
Bosso had committed to pay Fathi’s debt on April 18 after negotiating with the coach’s representatives for their property not to be auctioned about a fortnight ago.
They however failed to honour their promise until Mpofu came to the rescue.