Deception and misdirection must not be the tools that govern our sociopolitical construction. Politics and football must be kept apart; we must have the clarity of what Highlanders Football Club is. A lack of clarity of what this great institution is will actually kill Bosso; Highlanders fans have to figure out how to shape the identity of the institution now and into the future.

Col Tshinga Dube ZANU PF candidate donated bus to Highlanders FC
Col Tshinga Dube ZANU PF candidate donated a bus to Highlanders FC

Let us not trust our eyes above all else, let us stop seeing what we wish to see, or what we believe we should see while ignoring what is really there. If we continue to try and market Highlanders as a political powerhouse that it is not, this prestigious institution will be exposed to the political vulnerabilities and sink along with the political organisations that we attach it to.

The more we try to convince ourselves that Highlanders represents more than just a sporting institution in Matabeleland, the greater the danger of submerging ourselves in a permanent pool of ignorance and costly confusion.

Highlanders football club does not, and will not represent a political wave of opinion in Matabeleland because it is not designed to be the political capital of Matabeleland. The confusion of the role and identity of Bosso as an institution in Matabeleland only benefits the political elite, the rich and powerful who will exploit the situation to manipulate the economically weak and vulnerable supporters for political support.

Clearly, Bosso is a football club, thus a sporting institution, like the many that we have in Matabeleland, only bigger and perhaps older. Its close ties with the monarchy is no secret thus the slogan ‘The team of the nation.’ Its targeting by ZANU PF was predictable but unacceptable.

We must separate sport from politics because confusion is the luxury that Matabeleland can ill-afford; we need to ensure that while removing politics from Highlanders, we are also removing Highlanders from politics. A merger of the two, deliberate or otherwise, compromises the integrity of either institution.

In Highlanders, fans/ supporters must demand a purely sporting institution that maintains sporting credibility and stays off possible political affiliation. While accepting and respecting the right for individuals within the club structures to hold different political views, the challenge among Highlanders fans and supporters is to resist the exploitation of the institution for political gain by powerful individuals.

The Highlanders football institution must not be added into the several institutions in Matabeleland that have allowed themselves to be platforms for the ZANU PF monster to be curiously turned into a pet. How safe is this pet?

I am not naïve to the fact that Bosso, like all sporting institutions, needs financial support to survive, but that support need not come at any cost. Compromising institutional values just for a bus with a life expectancy of probable less than 5 years, at best, will taint Highlanders’ long history in Matabeleland and threaten its future association with the region. Fans will have to review their own involvement in the running of the club. Whenever individuals with money are allowed unfettered power over people with less money, the potential of exploitation remains significant. If ZANU PF linked individuals use their ZANU PF links as leverage for accessing funding or donations or to advance loans to the Club the outcome will be the gradual loss of the very soul of the institution.

The bus donated to Bosso
The bus donated to Bosso by Col. Tshinga Dube

Let us not fool ourselves, that bus donation was not just another donation; bad company corrupts good morals! Let us not be deceived, getting a ZANU PF-tainted ‘free gift’ was the most expensive decision in Highlanders’ history. At times one would rather be poor but retain their values, integrity and dignity. Taking ‘gifts’ from ZANU PF is the beginning of a rapid journey down a steep slope to moral oblivion; the values of the institution will soon have to pass through the ZANU PF filter gates resulting in the club being remote from the communities that it has long identified with and communities who have always prided themselves with their association with the team.

The delusion that Bosso is beyond a mere football team has succeeded because many are willing to listen to it. Let not Highlanders be the fault through which ZANU PF executes its social engineering agenda in Matabeleland. Matabeleland will respect Bosso when Bosso starts to respect and identify with Matabeleland sensitivities again; Matabeles must feel no obligation to identify with an institution willing to compromise its values for a bus and risk being dragged down the sewer with it.

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