Nyasa Manufacturing Company (NMC) has threatened to pull out its K500 million five-year sponsorship for Big Bullets over concerns of abuse of club funds and infighting among executive members.
The power struggle in the Bullets camp reached a climax yesterday when club chairperson Sam Chilunga stepped down.
NMC, Bullets’ newfound sponsors, who are pumping in K100 million annually for five years, have since summoned an emergency meeting set for Monday at the company’s offices.
The infighting at Bullets has been rife since the appointment of Chilunga as chairperson last year to replace Kondi Msungama, who was removed by supporters.
Two camps emerged with one comprising elected members treasurer Alex Gondwe, general secretary (GS) Titha Mandiza and treasurer Noel Lipipa seen to be loyal to vice-chairperson Sadik Malinga. The other camp comprises appointed members Chilunga and deputy GS Kelvin Moyo.
In the latest episode, the two camps are fighting over a financial report on Zimbabwe’s Dynamos international matches.
In a strongly worded letter signed by NMC board chairperson Konrad Buckle, the sponsor has warned that they will pull out if the infighting does not stop.
Reads Buckle’s letter in part: “We have been following events surrounding the club in the media newsprint and the social media. The bad publicity and infighting is very clear in the contract. It’s a breach of the contract [with serious consequences].
“As the chairman of Nyasa, I am very concerned with the bad publicity the team is getting, which is directly affecting us as a partner. We, therefore, would like to warn your board and executive committee that you risk the embarrassment of losing another sponsorship if this does not stop.”
Buckle observed that Bullets’ infighting was the reason the club stayed for 10 years without a sponsor.
He said: “We were also aware that for last 10 or eleven years nobody wanted to sponsor Bullets for exactly the same reasons, infighting and lack of leadership. The corporate world does not trust the leadership of the team. Regrettably, it seems nothing has changed regarding the management and welfare of ‘The People’s Team’ and the blatant misuse of club earnings and funds.
“Let me remind you that Nyasa Manufacturing Company is a brand and we would not want our brand to be affected or associated by such infighting, lack of discipline and lack of expertise to manage a business.”
Buckle noted that efforts to mediate the warring factions had failed.
Wrote Buckle: “We have privately discussed this pertinent issue with several neutral parties and we believe that this infighting between the current chairman, Sadik Malinga, Alex Gondwe, Titha Mandiza and Noel Lipipa is detrimental to the club management, welfare and future of this amazing football team.
“Currently, there are no funds to pay wages, and this [is coming] immediately after a international game that has brought in revenue for the club and pride to the nation.
“As you know, this is a partnership of which we are contributing vast sums of money and resources and we are failing to see the benefit with this turmoil. There is now a cloud of doubt regarding this investment. Our sales have declined in the past weeks due to the ongoing negative publicity.”
Bullets sources said the infighting has reached alarming levels with members of the two camps threatening to sort each other out.
According to a Bullets executive WhatsApp group, Lipipa fired financial committee headed by Isaac Norman for allegedly failing to submit a report to the office of the treasurer on the games’ proceeds.
However, Chilunga’s camp argued that the committee has to report to the board as stipulated in the Bullets constitution and not treasurer.
The verbal war on the WhatsApp group also saw Mandiza challenging Chilunga to a duel over their differences.
Yesterday, Chilunga and Kelvin Moyo announced they would step aside.
“The situation is not healthy. There seem to be no way forward. People have mediated on the rift in the executive, but nothing is changing,” Moyo told players during yesterday afternoon training session at Kamuzu Stadium.
When asked about the developments, Chilunga said: “As of now, I have stepped aside. I am withdrawing my services.” n