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17 March 2009

First Zimbabwe Debating Championship

Amid grief and tension at the untimely death of Susan Tsvangirai, the wife of the Zimbabwe prime minister, Zimbabwe hosted its first Universities and College Debating Championship from the 9th to the 12th March 2009 in the country’s second city of Bulawayo. The tournament drew participants from the university of Botswana and from 10 Zimbabwe teacher training colleges and universities.

The participating institutions were, the National University of Science and technology, University of Zimbabwe, Africa University, Great Zimbabwe University, Midlands State University, Chinhoyi University of technology, Bindura University of Science Education, Lupane State University, The Zimbabwe Open university, Hillside teachers College, Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Polytechnic and the Bulawayo Polytechnic.

The tournament comprised 16 debate teams and about 50 debaters and adjudicators from across Zimbabwe and Botswana. There were 5 preliminary rounds of debate before the semi-finals and then finals. The tournament run in the British parliamentary format of debating. This tournament comes as a result of growing interest in debating in Africa after the hosting of the first continental championships (PAUDC) this past December in Botswana. Members of the Zimbabwe contingent that was at the Pan-African Debating Championships in December organized the tournament with the support of the Zimbabwean National Youth Development Trust (NYDT) in Bulawayo. Participants from the University of Botswana were invited to help train and adjudicate at the tournament. Motions at this tournament ranged from the Zimbabwean National youth service, genetically modified foods to uplifting sanctions on Zimbabwe.

The University of Zimbabwe from Harare emerged as the winners of this tournament in a final held at the National University of Science and technology. The University of Botswana team comprised of Bruce Ngakile and Anthony Phaladi placed as runners-up. Anthony Phaladi was voted best speaker of the tournament. Trainers at the tournament from Botswana included Justice Motlhabani, Graham Sowa and Tebogo Taylor Mogotsi as an adjudicator.

Other regional debating tournaments are emerging in areas such as West Africa where in October this year Nigeria plans to host the first ever west African championship involving 16 countries in west Africa, these countries includes Mali, Togo, Senegal, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Gambia, Niger among many others. Previously only Zambia, Namibia, South Africa and Botswana have been the only African participants at worlds with South Africa dominating continental Africa debating. The Zimbabwe National Debate Tournament has continued to build hope for increased participation from more African countries in the subsequent world Championships

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