Zimbabwe Language Policy: Continuity or Radical Change?

  • Lovemore Sibanda University of North Texas


The Zimbabwe government introduced a new language policy in education to change the colonial language policy seven years after attaining independence. So much was expected from the postcolonial language.  The use of English as the media of instruction during the colonial era was problematic. It denied Africans to describe the world in their languages. Native languages were marginalized and neglected. Africans were robbed of their self-worth and identity. It is against this background that the Zimbabwean government African states after attaining independence and sovereignty pursued an agenda of linguistic decolonization. This paper evaluates the implementation of Zimbabwe's language policy after it gained independence from Britain in 1980. We argue that despite the claim by the Zimbabwe government that it is a revolutionary government which would completely overhaul all colonial structures, institutions, and policies, the implementation of the language policy is a continuity, rather a radical change. Colonial language policy fundamentals are intact and present in the current language policy. English is still the dominant language of instruction. Indigenous languages are considered inferior and on the verge of extinction. The policy failed where it matters most—decolonizing the mind. Zimbabwe needs a sound language policy in education to shake off vestiges of a colonial legacy, and allow children to go to school in their languages to achieve the overall goal of education for all. The language policy must be developed through a broad-based consultative process with specific implementation strategies and commitment by government and non-governmental agencies for funding its implementation.