The current politics of African languages in Zimbabwe

  • Maxwell Kadenge University of Witwatersrand
  • Victor Mugari


The Zimbabwean sociolinguistic situation has for long been dogged by the lack of a holistic and well-articulated language policy. This situation is not peculiar to Zimbabwe, but common throughout Africa. This article examines the implications and complications of the new constitutionally enshrined national language policy in Zimbabwe. To a larger extent, the new policy is a result of protracted activism by minority ethno-linguistic communities in Zimbabwe. However, the shift from recognising three official languages to sixteen would be an end itself if stakeholders do not proactively engage with the policy and develop effective strategies for successful implementation. Adequate financial resources, political will and stakeholder buy-in are needed for the successful implementation of this policy. This article maps the way forward for Zimbabwe’s language policy and planning efforts. 

Author Biographies

Maxwell Kadenge, University of Witwatersrand
Maxwell Kadenge is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Linguistics, School of Literature, Language and Media at the University of the Witwatersrand. His research interests fall under the areas of language politics and multilingualism, phonetics, morphosyntax and phonological theory.Email:
Victor Mugari
Victor Mugari is a Senior Lecturer and Programme Coordinator in the Department of Linguistics of the University of Zimbabwe. His teaching and research interests are in the areas of syntax and its interfaces with morphology, semantics, sociolinguistics and bilingualism.Email:,