NOW you see it, now you don’t . . .
Then you feel it!
That could be a way to describe how local businessman Tavengwa Zidya, popularly known as Mafridge, was punched by – of all people – former Highlanders chairperson Johnfat Sibanda at the Bosso clubhouse last week.
Patrons were treated to an impromptu “mini-boxing match” pitting Sibanda and Zidya who traded blows over an undisclosed dispute on the eve of elections at the country’s oldest club.
Sibanda is said to have shown a surprising turn of speed, feinting this way and that.
Zidya raised his hands to block anticipated avenues for Sibanda’s punches but they landed cleanly on exposed areas.
It quickly became clear Sibanda had a skill set beyond the comprehension of his opponent.
Zidya was stopping Sibanda’s punches with his face.
The fracas reportedly erupted last Saturday night, hours before elections to choose the club’s chairman, secretary-general and committee member the following day at the same venue.
According to witnesses that include journalists, candidates that were canvassing for votes from the multitudes of Highlanders members that were drinking at the clubhouse, Sibanda punched Zidya several times in the face after the two had seemingly exchanged harsh words.
“Johnfat walked into the clubhouse and started greeting, mixing and mingling with Highlanders members who were seated in groups while enjoying their drinks when Ziyda approached him. They exchanged a few words, but I doubt it was pleasantries because they seemed to argue over something and Johnfat said to Zidya ‘ngizakutshaya wena’, twice.
“The next thing he punched Zidya several times and the guys that were closest to them intervened and stopped the fracas. It was embarrassing to say the least, watching two respected members of the club fighting like that,” said a source who watched the drama unravel.
The following day Sibanda lost the chairmanship to Kenneth Mhlophe by 61 votes with Morgen Dube retaining the secretary-general post while Kindman Ndlovu was elected the new committee member.
Highlanders members pride themselves in engaging in robust but non-violent debate in the run-up to the elections before electing office bearers they think will lead the football club to great heights.
It’s the first time that a candidate vying for the highest office at the club has engaged in a violent confrontation with a member.
Those familiar with Bosso’s annual general meetings and mid-year meetings tell stories of fierce yet constructive and non-confrontational debate among members with nothing coming close to fist fights.
“I think they both owe the club an apology, they disrespected the institution by behaving in such a manner at the clubhouse — the home of Highlanders. Imagine visitors coming to drink at the clubhouse and witnessing that kind of behaviour, it’s a disgrace,” said a fellow scribe who witnessed the incident.
Sibanda reportedly stayed at the clubhouse while security escorted Zidya out of the building to prevent further escalation of the “fight”.
Zidya tried to downplay the incident when called for a comment.
“It’s people who were not there (at the clubhouse) that are creating stories about a fight between Johnfat and myself. Nothing happened, we were just drinking beer, chatting and that’s all,” he said.
Sibanda, however, had a different version of events about that night.
“He (Zidya) had been drinking the whole evening and started pushing me around for no reason. I don’t know what his problem with me is and that’s all I can say for now,” said Sibanda.