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Bubi villagers protest minister’s sacking

On Wednesday, villagers in his constituency pleaded with Mnangagwa to reinstate him, saying his expulsion was a harsh decision.

VILLAGERS in Matabeleland North’s Bubi area have protested against the removal of their legislator Simelisizwe Sibanda from his post as Higher and Tertiary Education deputy minister over his remarks against the deployment of a non-Ndebele speaking teacher at a local school in the constituency.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa last week fired Sibanda after he allegedly demanded the transfer of an Early Childhood Education (ECD) teacher, who did not speak IsiNdebele, the mother tongue of most post people in the area.

Mnangagwa did not give reasons for his dismissal, but sources said his remarks caused his expulsion.

On Wednesday, villagers in his constituency pleaded with Mnangagwa to reinstate him, saying his expulsion was a harsh decision.

They called on the president to instead suspend him or demote him as punishment for his remarks.

The villagers made the remarks during a meeting they had at Inyathi business centre.

"Why did the president not call him for a disciplinary hearing and reprimand him?” asked one villager, Max Mnkandla.

“While he may have violated protocols, we cannot run away from this issue as it has been a matter of concern for years.

“The government must address this issue of teacher deployments in Matabeleland because it’s not the first time it has come up and certainly not the last time we are going to hear about it.”

The villagers said they were preparing to send an official petition to Zanu PF and Mnangagwa to plead their case on Sibanda and alleged unfair deployments of civil servants in the region.

There has been an outcry by parents, educationists, activists, and politicians over the deployment of non-Ndebele speaking teachers in Matabeleland.

Critics have said this is to blame for the low pass rate in the region.

In 2022, the Silobela community rejected non-Ndebele-speaking teachers deployed by the government to take early ECD classes in the area.

In May, Zanu PF Nkayi North legislator Sithembiso Nyoni, said the government decentralised the deployment of teachers in response to a public outcry.

Another villager, Senzeni Ndlovu, said the government must address issues raised by Sibanda.

Davie Dube a villager, said Sibanda’s expulsion had a net effect of silencing MPs, senators, councillors and ministers from the region against raising critical issues affecting Matabeleland.

"We have the issue of Bulawayo- Nkayi road, which is in a bad state,” Dube said.

"There is no development in the region...

“The government is failing to address all those issues, and when our elected representatives get fired for raising those matters, it raises concerns about the political will of the government to address such matters.”

"Our MPs will fear to ask for help out of fear of being fired.”

The villagers through their virtual parliament, the Bubi Community Parliament, have also started calling for qualified, but unemployed locals to register with them so as to establish how many people are not employed.

This, they said, is meant to justify Sibanda's genuine point of view.

In separate interviews, Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association secretary for education Ben Moyo said Mnangagwa succumbed to tribal pressure.

Gwanda traditional leader, Chief Khulumani Mathema, said the MP was defending section 6 of the constitution which speaks of diverse languages which must be respected by everyone:

“Sibanda identified a problem in the deployment of teachers which ought to be addressed,” Mathema said.

“We are not respected as people of Matabeleland.”

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