Senior Sports Reporter
MILTON High School in Bulawayo once the doyen of sports development in the country alongside such schools as Falcon College, Prince Edward and Peterhouse risks losing that status amid allegations that the school’s headmaster is anti-sport, a bad approach to holistic education, which is now fashionable throughout the world.
The headmaster at the boys only institution, William Ncube is being accused of being hostile towards sport, a development that saw Milton being disqualified from the Under-14 provincial tournament played at Gifford High School. The reason for disqualification was that the pupils did not have school identity cards bearing Ncube’s signature. Interestingly Ncube was in Chiredzi last week attending the National Association of Secondary School Heads athletics championships.
According to sources familiar with the goings on at the school, Ncube has since the beginning of the first term been frustrating teachers in charge of sports at the school. He stands accused of lacking appreciation for sports. He has reportedly stripped his long-serving deputy headmistress who is supposed to be in charge of sports, Nosizi Muleya of all powers as she cannot even sign school identity cards that enable the boys to participate in sporting activities.
Milton has been a hub of sporting excellences over the years. The school has been known to be competitive at both provincial as well as national levels in sports such as athletics, basketball, cricket, handball, hockey, rugby and football, producing a long list of sportsmen who have represented the country in international events.
Some of these include Lewis Banda who ran for Zimbabwe at the 2004 as well as 2008 Olympic Games, former Zimbabwe international cricketer, now renowned SuperSport commentator Mpumulelo Mbangwa, ex-Zimbabwe national Under-23 football star Methembe Ndlovu, the late former Highlanders and Zimbabwe Warriors midfielder, Makheyi Nyathi.
During the first week of school opening week, Ncube reportedly cancelled a traditional cricket fixture against Churchill High School.
The reasons given by Ncube, a former headmaster at Luveve High School, according to sources were that Milton should be playing against schools in Bulawayo’s western suburbs.
It is not only cricket that has suffered under Ncube as all other sporting disciplines have been affected. According to sources, Ncube had a confrontation with the school’s sportsmaster, Tawedzerwa Tangawamira early this month when he (the headmaster) dragged his feet on releasing the school bus to ferry pupils to participate in the inter-district competitions at White City Stadium.
It is alleged that Ncube was adamant that Bulawayo central district should provide transport for the athletes yet he knew well that it was impossible as the district had no transport of its own. Ncube is said to have eventually released the bus but the athletes arrived an hour late at White City.
The sources reveal how Ncube who succeeded Misheck Ngwenya as the headmaster at the school last year is against everything that has been done at Milton over the years. The sources alleged that Ncube believed that competing against schools such as Falcon College and Christian Brothers College was “colonial mentality”.
Ironically, in an interview with this publication in 2013 Ngwenya reiterated that the school was dedicated to focus on building a wholesome individual who would be able to balance academic, cultural and sporting capabilities.
“We are very clear about how we want our boys to excel in sports and the volleyball team that we currently have is an example of how much our efforts have paid off. Our core business at Milton in terms of sports is that we want to capture, develop and refine talented youngsters from a point where they are juniors right up to their senior levels,’’ Ngwenya said then.
According to sources Ncube recently barred the school from participating in an athletics relay competition at CBC where they have taken part for years. What made it strange was that he (Ncube) even forced a cancellation of a soccer friendly match against Mzilikazi High School.
Ncube is said to have declared that this year (2015) he would carry out his own policies at the school which are not in line with those of the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education.
“This year Ncube said he is implementing his own policies at the school. He is against everything that Milton stands for, he has even banned the school’s war cry which is our identity,’’ alleged an impeccable source who requested anonymity.
Ncube is allegedly against the hiring of external coaches yet sports such as cricket and rugby have flourished under the guidance of these mentors most of whom are the school’s old boys.
The sources revealed that not much is paid to the outside coaches with $100 being given to a cricket coach for work carried out over a six-week period.
This publication understands that there was a growing concern by teachers at the school in charge of rugby as there is no first team coach in place ahead of the school’s participation in the Power Sales Schools Rugby Festival in Bulawayo early next month as well as the Dairibord Schools Rugby Festival in Harare in May.
Sunday News paid a visit to the school last Wednesday where Ncube was happy to show this reporter some of the sporting facilities at the school. However, an effort to pin him down to give an official response to the allegations were not successful as he pointed out that he was not allowed to speak to the media.
Ncube, however, hinted that his actions were part of a clean-up campaign following accusations from other school heads that Milton had over the years been involved in age cheating, an allegation if proven might see a one-year ban for the guilty.
Sources dismissed that notion saying there was no such occurrence at the school and challenged Ncube to come up with proof.
Fears by former students at the school are that if Ncube continues with his anti-sports policies, Milton will go the same way as Plumtree High School, which used to produce some of the finest sporting talent in the country but has become irrelevant because subsequent headmasters were not receptive to sports.
In response to questions sent to her, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education Sylvia Utete-Masango, promised a meticulous investigation into the allegations levelled against Ncube.
“The issues you have raised have been noted and will be thoroughly investigated by my staff at the Bulawayo provincial office as is our usual procedure. Once I get a full report in this respect, I will give you a considered reply,’’ said Utete-Masango.
She reiterated that sport was an area her ministry was keen to promote in line with the ongoing curriculum review.
“In the meantime, let me express my heartfelt thanks for your interest in this important education sector in general and sport in particular. Sport is an area we are very keen to promote in line with the ongoing curriculum review which is a direct follow up to the ongoing implementation of the Commission of Inquiry into Education and Training also known as the Nziramasanga Report,’’ added Utete-Masango.
Past Milton High School achievers
Athletics: Lewis Banda.
Basketball: Trust Mukwashi, Bruce Jones, Simbarashe Katso, Mpumelelo Hlabangana, Erick Banda.
Cricket: Mpumelelo Mbangwa, Tawanda Mupariwa, Keith Dabengwa, John Nyumbu, Brian Chari, Thabo Mboyi, Brian Vitori, Richmond Mutumbami, Bonaparte Mujuru, Nkosana Mpofu, Mxolisi Dube, Tinashe Mhora.
Hockey: Noel Samu, Edwin Tholana.
Rugby: Brendan Dawson, Wesley Mbanje, Vusumuzi Ndebele, Osmond Lynx, Theodore Weale (also played national team basketball), David Banda, Nkathazo Ndlovu, Mbekezeli Ndiweni, Aubrey Dube, Takura Madamombe, Norman Mukondiwa, Bernard Mukondiwa, George Savada, Lucky Sithole, Lloyd Machanjaira, Tafadzwa Manyimo, Honeywell Nguruve, Lou Corbi, Mike Micklesfield, Brian Beattie, Chris Rogers, Ronnie Hill, Tawanda Mhora, Sanele Sibanda
Soccer: Methembe Ndlovu, Richard Choruma, Nqobizitha Masuku, Mgcini Sibanda, Makheyi Nyathi.