President mourns Sibanda, Gumede

Source: President mourns Sibanda, Gumede | The Herald

Mukudzei Chingwere and Eddie Chikamhi

President Mnangagwa has sent condolence messages to the Sibanda and Gumede families following the death of Advocate Siwanda Kennedy Mbuso Sibanda last week in South Africa and Highlanders Football Club president Ndumiso Gumede in Bulawayo on Wednesday.

Commenting on Adv Sibanda’s demise, the President said the nation had been robbed of a leading lawyer, professional mentor and veteran of the liberation struggle.

“Ranking among an early crop of black legal practitioners in the then Rhodesia, Adv Sibanda will forever be remembered for saving the lives of many captured guerrillas who, except for his legal skills, would have met their death at the hands of the cruel Rhodesian regime.”

President Mnangagwa said Adv Sibanda would make it his mission to locate condemned cadres and nationalists from secretive Rhodesian dungeons in order to avail legal defence, often pro bono.

“I had the privilege of working closely with the late Adv Sibanda who was part of the Patriotic Front legal team as we put together the framework for the Lancaster House Agreement which enabled political settlement and delivered our independence in 1980 after a protracted war for our national independence.

“He was a fine legal mind who knew how to use his legal skills towards the defence of captured cadres and detained nationalists, thus furthering the ideals of our National Liberation Struggle,” said President Mnangagwa.

After independence as the then Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, President Mnangagwa worked closely with Adv Sibanda as a member of the bench.

He said Adv Sibanda served with characteristic integrity and honour, mentoring many young lawyers into professional and exceptional careers.

“On behalf of our nation, the ruling Zanu PF party, Government, the legal fraternity and on my own behalf, I wish to express my deepest, heartfelt condolences to the Sibanda family, foremost to his wife and children for losing a loving husband and caring father, respectively. May his dear soul rest in eternal peace.”

President Mnangagwa described the late football icon Gumede as a rare breed of an administrator in a game often mired in controversy and corruption.

The former Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) vice chairman died at Mpilo Central Hospital in Bulawayo after suffering a stroke. He was 76.

At the time of his death, Gumede was president of Highlanders, a club that he had served at various intervals and with distinction, firstly as chairman, chief executive and lately, president.

Gumede also served as vice-chairman and chief executive of ZIFA during his glittering career spanning over four decades.

“I received with grief and sadness news of the tragic and unexpected demise yesterday of Cde Ndumiso Gumede after a short illness,” said President Mnangagwa.

He said Gumede left a legacy of success at Highlanders and at ZIFA, which many administrators should strive to emulate.

A football administrator par-excellence, Gumede started off as a school teacher after receiving his training at Gweru Teachers’ College from 1966 to 1968.

His first deployment after college was at Highfield Secondary School in the then Salisbury where he taught Maths and Science from 1969 to 1975.

While teaching at Highfield, Gumede started his leadership romance with Highlanders as the club’s representative in the capital in 1974.

He has been a life-time servant at the club since then, while he was always available to provide leadership at ZIFA, when Zimbabwe were ascending to the peak of their footballing powers during the 1980s and 90s.

President Mnangagwa, who is an ardent Chelsea fan and current patron at domestic champions FC Platinum, emphasised that Gumede was a role model who ensured integrity and professionalism in the game.

“A sports administrator of distinction and a veteran teacher, the late Cde Gumede will be remembered by many for transforming the popular game of football through his competent leadership and professional administration of the iconic Highlanders Club, and when he served on the ZIFA board soon after our independence.

“As its chairman and president, Highlanders Football Club scaled to higher heights, transforming into a household name it is to this day.

“Above all, his strong African roots turned professional sporting into a cultural carnival for which football fans will miss him sorely.

“Always genial and full of jokes, the late Cde Gumede ensured integrity and professionalism in a game which is often mired in controversies of corrupt match-fixing and related ills.

“Those of us wedded to the game will miss him, keenly feeling the yawning gap he leaves behind. On behalf of Government, the football fraternity and on my own behalf, I wish to express my deepest condolences to the Gumede family on their saddest, unexpected loss.

“May they continue to draw inspiration from the late departed’s meritorious service to his country, his people, and to the sporting discipline of football,” said the President.

Gumede first became the Highlanders chairman in 1978 at the age of 33 years, taking over from Landcut Gumbo while teaching at Mzilikazi High School.

He served Bosso as chairman until independence in 1980 when he was appointed to the first ever ZIFA board as a committee member under the presidency of Moroni Mushambadope.

He left ZIFA in 1983 and two years later he bounced back at Bosso after receiving an invitation to fill the vacant post of club chairman following the surprise resignation of Malcolm King.

The late Vice President Joshua Nkomo played a huge part in persuading him to take up the role. Bosso went on to acquire the three properties they own to date; offices along Robert Mugabe Way and the camping house, popularly known as Hotel California in Luveve in 1986 and the current clubhouse in 1987.

Before acquisition of the three properties, Highlanders were using a small room at Big Bhawa in Makokoba as their administrative office.

Gumede returned to ZIFA as vice-president to the late Nelson Chirwa in 1987. In 1989 he stepped down as vice-president and ran for the ZIFA secretary-general post, which he won until he moved to join his wife in Botswana in 1991.

He returned in 1998 and took over as head of the ZIFA secretariat. Gumede was to make another return to ZIFA in 2010 as vice-president to Cuthbert Dube.

He left ZIFA and made another return to Bosso as the club’s first chief executive officer in 2014; a position he held until 2017 when he was replaced by another Bosso son, Nhlanhla Dube. He took over the Bosso presidency on April 16, 2019.

Condolence messages continued to pour in yesterday.

Highlanders chairman, Johnfat Sibanda, said they lost “a natural leader and a teacher — a fountain of wisdom and knowledge”.

“It is difficult to express in words the gratitude and honour that Highlanders FC and football in general owes the late Ndumiso Gumede for his hard work and commitment towards the development of the sport.

“We have lost a man with a good and big heart. The club is poorer without Ndumiso Gumede. On behalf of the entire Highlanders family, I say Hamba kuhle Qhawe. You fought a good fight. Your soul might have gone, but your legacy will live on. It shall forever be cherished,” said Sibanda.

Their biggest football rivals Dynamos also sent a condolence message.

“We convey our sincere and heartfelt sympathy to the Highlanders family and the whole sporting fraternity following the death of club president Mr Ndumiso Gumede. We especially extend our condolences to his immediate family. This is our collective loss,” said Dynamos in a statement.