Dismissal of Deputy Minister Simelisizwe Sibanda Raises Tribalism Debate

The recent dismissal of Higher and Tertiary Education Deputy Minister Simelisizwe Sibanda by President Emmerson Mnangagwa has sparked tribalist concerns and fueled public debate.

The controversy stems from Sibanda’s directive to transfer a non-Ndebele-speaking teacher who was teaching an Early Childhood Development (ECD) class at a primary school in Matabeleland North.

The decision to remove Sibanda from his position was conveyed in a statement by Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Martin Rushwaya without providing specific reasons for the dismissal.

“His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe Cde. Dr. Emmerson D. Mnangagwa has, in terms of Section 108 (1a) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe removed Honourable Simelisizwe Sibanda from the Office of Deputy Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development with immediate effect,” Rushwaya said without giving any reasons.

Simelisizwe Sibanda’s directive for the transfer of a non-Ndebele teacher came after parents expressed dissatisfaction with the deployment of the teacher during a visit to Clonnmore Primary School.

The ousted deputy minister referred to the teacher as “uqethu” (weed) and vehemently insisted on the teacher’s immediate transfer. He justified his actions by stating that teachers instructing lower primary school classes should be fluent in local languages, citing government policy to support his stance.

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The deployment of non-Ndebele speaking teachers in predominantly Ndebele regions, such as Matabeleland, has been a contentious issue, contributing to poor academic performance in the province.

This move has further fueled the longstanding debate surrounding the impact of language proficiency on educational outcomes. The controversy has also elicited a mixed response from social media users, reflecting the divided sentiments within the public regarding this issue.

Below are some social media responses;


Masters in climate, masters in environment what what.

If you are a tribalist your masters in climate and whatever else is of no value if you do not understand our constitution and government policy while in government. You are uneducated, period.


I will play Devil’s advocate here, this guy was fired from his deputy ministerial position for ordering the transfer of a non-Ndebele speaking teacher who was taking an ECD Class in Mat S.
Tribalism should never be countenanced, Kudo’s to @edmnangagwa for axing him.


I have been questioning this for a long, i found myself working in Matebeleland without knowing even a single Ndebele word which could have been simply avoided by learning it at school, we need all languages taught at school please

The recent events surrounding  Simelisizwe Sibanda’s dismissal have sparked conversations about tribalism and language discrimination in Zimbabwe.

The implications of these events go beyond education, raising questions about cultural inclusivity and the impact of language policies on social harmony.

The dismissive treatment of the non-Ndebele-speaking teacher has highlighted the sensitive issue of linguistic diversity and its intersection with governance and public policy.


The public response to these events has emphasized the importance of this issue and the need for a balanced approach to promote cultural diversity and inclusivity within the education system. Resolving such sensitive matters requires prioritizing the well-being and educational development of all students, regardless of their linguistic or cultural background.


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