HIGHLANDERS members yesterday resolved that former chairman Ernest “Maphepha” Sibanda should not contest any position in the club’s executive committee as his image would tarnish the Bulawayo giants after he was implicated in the Asiagate match-fixing scandal.
While he was cleared by Zifa after turning witness, yesterday’s annual general meeting (AGM) in Bulawayo resolved that he was not in good standing with the club.
The former Warriors manager was also suspended by Highlanders after funds from the sale of Obadiah Tarumbwa to a Belgian club in 2008 went missing.
Despite calls by the club members to have his disqualification discussed at yesterday’s AGM, Sibanda declined to read the judgment on request by returning officer Luke Mnkandla which contained the reasons for his ineligibility to contest.
He argued that he was not given enough time to study the judgment and was, therefore, not in a position to read it in front of the members.
“I should have been given on Monday and read it,” said a seemingly emotional Sibanda.
“If I was satisfied I was going to appeal there, but saying I should read it now you are putting me in the wrong position.
“I cannot come and start reading where I have a query where do I ask in front of the people? I cannot do that; it’s impossible. You should have given me telling me that we have disqualified you, there is your judgment. If there was something we were going to discuss before we came here. Now you are bringing it here and you want me to read it.”
Prior to him being asked to read the judgment board chairman Mgcini Nkolomi had asked Sibanda for permission to have the ruling read out.
“We are asking the concerned member to give us permission because these are private and confidential issues about the club. Some of these things the press did not know about so we want to be given that permission,” he said.
Sibanda last week contested the issue of having three of the six members of the nomination court but Mnkandla said they had spoken to them on the day telephonically.
Mnkandla said: “It is very unfortunate that things are turning out to be what they are. When Ncube and Sibanda left the office when we had agreed and they had said they should have been told. I read the whole judgment. I read it and he said he had heard. I saw it in the paper and noticed things had changed. I was surprised.”
It was only after this response that the matter was put to rest with the house agreeing that he will be a member, but will not be allowed to contest.
“We agreed that we would give him an opportunity to talk and give his views. We agreed that if the others did not come because they were elsewhere we would have a phone conference,” he said.
Mnkandla said despite having discussed the issue with Sibanda on Monday their stance did not change and he was told the findings which he agreed to.
“We told him he would not be in good standing because we would lose this and that. I am afraid to say it because he did not come. If he does I will give him the judgment and he will read it out We will give it to you. We can also open the Zifa files and show you,” he said.
Mnkandla said since Sibanda was not in good standing he would tarnish the image of the team and they could fail to get a sponsor.
“Do you think he was supposed to be arrested and go to jail? There is a lot at stake that can become a problem for us. We do not have money. We want to look for a sponsor, but this man has an issue that will cause problems he should wait for a while we are doing it for Highlanders not for anyone. We are following the constitution. What if we agreed and then next week the sponsor leaves,” he said.
Sibanda remained adamant that he was not given time to read the judgment.
“You wrote notes and said the notes should be given to me and I would study them. How do I respond to them without seeing them? We agreed that the only thing that we tell them is that I was disqualified and everything else we would tell them at the meeting.
“We know the issue about Obadiah Tarumbwa let us talk about it and let people know about it,” he said.
He continued: “The board and the members talked about this six years ago and I got a judgment from the board that was there. They stated clearly that I was banned from Highlanders for three years. I agreed and after two years I appealed and the board lifted all those things and they gave me my card as I was a life member.
“Today are you saying I am no longer fit to be at Highlanders. I feel the mistake is on you. You should have told me that I am banned. Whatever you want to do at Highlanders you are no longer required. If you had told me that I would not have wasted my time.”