Ndabaningi Sithole

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Ndabaningi Sithole
Ndabaningi Sithole
ChurchUnited Methodist Church
Personal details
Born(1920-07-21)July 21, 1920
Nymandlovu, Bulawayo
DiedDecember 12, 2000(2000-12-12) (aged 80)
Philadelphia, USA
ResidencePhiladelphia, USA
SpouseVesta Sithole
ChildrenName of children if known
  • Religious Leader
  • Politician

Ndabaningi Sithole was a Zimbabwean politician and religious leader from the United Methodist Church. He had his political career with a number of political parties such as the Southern Rhodesia African National Congress.

See A History of Zimbabwean Elections.


Ndabaningi Sithole was born on 21 July 1920 in Nyamandlovu, in Matabeleland North Province and he died on 12 December 2000 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of America (USA). He grew up in the Nyamandlovu area but eventually relocated to Shabani in the 1930s. [1] Sithole's father had secured a new job in Shabani and this propelled their relocation.[1] He was the son of Jim Sithole who was a carpenter, and Siyapi Tshuma.[1] He was married to Vesta Sithole and the couple had five children.


Whilst in Shabani, Sithole was sent to a Wesleylan mission school. However, between 1933 and 1934, Sithole was forced to leave school because his father could no longer afford to pay his tuition.[1] It was then that Sithole was obliged to seek employment as a means to generate income. He thus began to work as a kitchen boy. Between 1935-1939, he attended Dadaya Secondary School as he had enrolled to learn during the evening.[1]

He passed his standard 6 and was a favourite of many because of his intelligence. In 1939, he obtained a bursary tenable at Waddilove Mission School for two years.[1] It was then that Sithole was trained to become a primary school teacher. Whilst being trained to become a qualified teacher, Sithole also began to study for his National Junior Certificate by correspondence, which he passed again. In 1953, he obtained his Bachelor of Arts General Degree with the University of South Africa by correspondence again.[1]

Teaching career

Sithole began to teach at Dadaya Mission School and whilst he was teaching, he also studied for hie Matriculation Exemption Certificate by correspondence.[1] In 1958, he was appointed the principal of the Chikore Central Primary School.[1] The following year he was appointed president of the African Teachers Association, a position which he held up to 1960.

Religious career

Other than his teacher training, Sithole was also trained to become an accredited preacher. Before he received training, Sithole had long shown his passion for preaching. In 1948 at Tegwani Training Institution, he had proved to be an accredited preacher for the British Methodist Church.[1] In late 1950, he left Tegwani to join the United Methodist Church. In 1953, he was appointed to be part of the teaching staff at Mt Selinda Mission.[1] Between 1955-1958, Sithole was enrolled at the Andevor Newton Theological School, Massachusetts, where he studied theology.[1] Upon his arrival in 1958, he was ordained at Mt Selinda Congregationalist Church.[1]

Political career

The publication of African Nationalism in 1959, a book written by Sithole began his political career as an African nationalist leader. On 9 September 1959, Sithole became a member of a multi-racial political party in Southern Rhodesia, the African National Congress. This was largely because they were political parties led by Africans. With the inception of the National Democratic Party (NDP) in 1960 led by Joshua Nkomo, Sithole became the treasurer of the party.

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In 1961, the NDP was banned. This resulted in the formation of another political party called Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU) which was also led by Joshua Nkomo. This party was however marred with conflicts and disagreements and this in turn led to the formation of Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) by nationalists such as Enos Nkala, Robert Mugabe, Herbert Chitepo as well as Sithole. ZANU PF was formed at Nkala's Highfield residence in 1963.

In 1964, ZANU had its first congress in Gwelo, (present day Gweru) where Sithole was elected to be the first president of ZANU. Sithole was arrested in 1964 and was released in early 1975 but he had already lost his position as the president of ZANU. This was a decision which was made by senior ZANU PF leaders who where in prison in Salisbury. Most of these were members of the High Command and Dare ReChimurenga (War Council).

Sithole was deposed on the basis that he had capitulated to the suggestion of Kenneth Kaunda during the period of Detente who was opining the view of letting the war to come to a halt in preference of the attainment of independence through negotiations. The deposition of Sithole saw the ascendancy of Robert Mugabe to the helm of ZANU, a position which he has held up to date.

Although Sithole was deposed, he never went into oblivion. He formed his own party ZANU-Ndonga which was also said to be moderate. Sithole's party also had its military wing known as Madzakutsaku.[2] The Madzakutsaku were alleged to be on the pay roll of the Rhodesian led government.[2] The population at large could not distinguish between the so called genuine freedom fighters and these Madzakutsaku. It was only after people listened to their commissars and heard their songs which enabled them to identify these Madzakutsaku.[2]

On 3 March 1978, Sithole signed the Internal Settlement with Ian Smith together with Abel Muzorewa, Chief Jeremiah Chirau and other nationalists who were viewed as the moderates. [3] The Internal Settlement led to the creation of Rhodesia-Zimbabwe and it was supposed to allow the attainment of independence on the dictates of the settlement.[3] This settlement was discarded by ZANU and ZAPU. During the Lancaster House Agreement of 1979, Sithole was also present representing the moderate nationalists.

Career After Independence

In 1983, Sithole went into self imposed exile in Silver Spring, Maryland, USA and he returned in January 1992.[1] The following year, he became a member of parliament as he was elected by his tribal people to represent them.[1] In 1996, he was a candidate for the presidential election but he withdrew.[4]


Assassination Allegations

In 1997, he was accused of conspiring to assassinate Mugabe. Punishment was meted upon him and he was sentenced to two years in prison. He however never served his sentence as a result of health problems. Sithole returned back to the USA.


In his absence, his party won a seat in the parliament in June 2000. Sithole's party still exists but its vibrancy is limited to Sithole's home town.

Book Publications

  1. African Nationalism
  2. Obed Mutezo
  3. The Polygamists
  4. Roots of a Revolution
  5. AmaNdebele kaMzilikase
  6. Frelimo Militant


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 , The Rev Ndabaningi Sithole, Colonial relic, Retrieved:17 June 2014
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Tarwireyi Tirivavi, Ndabaningi Sithole was no hero, The Herald,Published:3 September 2012: ,Retrieved:17 June 2014
  3. 3.0 3.1 John Day, Sithole The Politician as Author, University of Zimbabwe, Published: 1979, Retrieved:17 June 2014
  4. ,Zimbabwe President's Last Rival Withdraws From Election, The New York Times, Published:16 March 1996, Retrieved:17 June 2014

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