By Ntokozo Magongo
Running a football team in Eswatini is not a stroll in the park. In spite of some factions of the Mbabane Highlanders fans calling for the dismissal of South African Managing Director Chief Ally Kgomongwe from the team, the Pretoria-based businessman is currently footing a monthly bill of E300 000 monthly.
The ‘Black Bull’ monthly salary bill stood at E230 000 last season but with the club adding six new players, the bill has increased to E300 000. This will translate to E3.6 million in a year.
The Eswatini Financial Times has established that in reality, Highlanders will spend more than it can earn this season. A team can only earn E1.7 million in Eswatini per season if it wins the inaugural MoMo Cup (which ended on Sunday with Nsingizini Hotspurs crowned champions) and the MTN League, which is the E100 000 for being first-round winners and E1 million for being champions at the end of the season.
Highlanders have already lost the first cheque of the MoMo Cup that carries E600 000 as they were eliminated by Moneni Pirates in the semi-finals. The ‘Black Bull’ got E110 000.
A source close to the matter told the Eswatini Financial Times that Highlanders was the highest-paying team in the country closely followed by Mbabane Swallows and Nsingizini Hotspurs among others. Highlanders have 27 registered players this season. The new signings, which have contributed to the swelling of the monthly bill are Josef Lekata, former Vovovo FC defender Aristote Tamuzi, Mfanfikile ‘Fash’ Ndzimandze, Musa Dlamini, Bonginkhosi ‘Manyovu’ Dlamini and Tshwarelo Bereng.
A highly placed source said the club boss, Kgomongwe was all out to ensure that the team succeeds and it is unfortunate if some people were calling for his head when there is no one else who can afford to pay such high salaries. The source said the highest-paid player at the ‘Bull’ took home E18 000 while the least-paid player gets E6 000. The least paid players are those still attending school or tertiary.
The calls to axe the current Managing Director, Chief Ally Kgomongwe arose after the painful 4-5 defeat after penalties by Moneni Pirates in the MoMo Cup second semi-final on Sunday at Somhlolo National Stadium. Some of the fans felt that he was no longer interested in the club due to his absence on Sunday.
The ‘Black and white side players were whisked out of the Somhlolo National Stadium after the defeat as fans milled around the dressing room, shouting unprintable expletives to the club management. The Club’s Public Relations Officer (PRO) Mandla Madonsela said he was aware that their Director was spending hugely in running the club but he could not be in a position to confirm figures.
“We are aware that our Chairman is spending big when it comes to the club and our players are motivated because they are getting paid every month. It is unfortunate when there are people or supporters who will go around talking bad about our Director. He is investing his hard-earned money without looking for profits but still, there are people who can not appreciate that, ‘ he said.
Madonsela said there were teams that were struggling financially but as Highlanders, they have run smoothly when it comes to financial matters. He urged their supporters to follow the right channels when they want to raise some concerns instead of turning violent.