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Zim debaters conquer the world

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BY WINSTONE ANTONIO
IMAGINE the feeling of flying from Harare to the  United States (US) as Africa’s sole debate student representatives and then return as the International Moot Court champions.

The Moot Court is a simulation of actual court proceedings whereby participants are treated to a fictitious case and argue on the merits as the prosecution and defence.

No doubt, such an achievement by the 11-member Zimbabwe National High School Moot Court squad which resulted it in being crowned world champions needs to be treasured. The 11 beat 15 other teams from Romania, Poland, Scotland, Bulgaria, US and other countries.

The debaters made up of nine girls and two boys from Peterhouse, Dominican Convent, Midlands Christian College and Arundel flew the country’s flag high as they conquered and made history in Zimbabwe’s maiden participation at the eprestigious International Moot Court competition.

The Zimbabwean team has been invited to participate in the European Moot Court and Zimbabwe will be the first African country to participate at the event.

Such a great accomplishment by a great team warrants more than just Presidential congratulatory statement on social media.

“Congratulations to Zimbabwe National High School for being crowned world champions at the International Moot Court. The only African country to participate — well done to all,” President Emmerson Mnangagwa said on Twitter last week.

Was this enough? May be a story for another day.

So, how did team Zimbabwe conquer and bring the crown home?

Non-stop vigorous training, determination, hard work, team spirit, deep and extensive research are said to have paid dividends as they overcame all odds.

At the competition’s finals, the Zimbabwean team was the defence team, against the US, who were prosecuting a fictitious international humanitarian war crime case at the International Criminal Court.

The Zimbabwe team comprised Hazel Chiige, Palesa Sigauke, Ruvimbo Simbi (squad leader), Karl Makahamadze, Kudzaishe Makoni, Rosa Choto Gwisai, Chiyevo Mukonoweshure, Tadiwanashe Choto, Kuziva Khuleya, Sharon Marangwanda and Selumeli Angelinah Thulo.

The future “advocates” articulated themselves well under the critical eyes of an internationally-acclaimed panel of judges.

Speaking at a homecoming ceremony last week at Dominican Convent School, the school’s director of culture Takawira Mapaya said with commitment and determination, it was possible to conquer the world.

“The champions, you have become is a source of inspiration to your peers,” he said to a thunderous applause from the gallery. Such an achievement and success would not have been possible without the sacrifice of the parents who sometimes drove the team to weekend and sometimes evening practice,” he said, while appealing to the corporate world to invest in such young stars who he said represented a bright future for the nation.

“Recently, our debaters failed to travel to the United Kingdom to participate in the Oxbridge debate organised by the universities of Cambridge and Oxford due to financial constraints. We failed to raise about US$17 000 for their flights and upkeep in the United Kingdom.

“Today, another chance has been availed as this team (Zimbabwe National High School Moot Court squad) has already received invitation to participate physically in the European Moot Court as the first and only African country. Talk about people making history, we call upon the corporate world to make history with us as we are investing in the future,” he said to booming ovation from the gallery.

Squad leader Simbi told NewsDay Life & Style that it was a long journey to victory, adding that they got through with hope and in high spirits.

“This was our first International Moot Court competition; it was extraordinary and we conquered the world on Africa Day. Our winning formula was hard work, determination and team spirit as we enjoyed the entire competition experience,” she said.

Advising aspiring debaters, Simbi said: “I just want to say aspiring debaters believe in yourself, use your talent wisely and just go with God’s word because with prayer and dedication anything is possible.”

The Zimbabwe Moot Court team head coach and lawyer Nqobile Dube told NewsDay Life & Style that the team went through gruelling training for a month prior to the competition.

“We would train for close to two to three hours every day before the competition. I am really grateful to Dominican Convent School because they provided the facilities and the parents who would come and collect the students in the evening,” he said.

He added: “I taught the students international humanitarian law which is the law of war. It was really quite an interesting experience working with the team of young Zimbabwean minds. They showed that they can master anything within such a short space of time, what usually takes other law students an entire semester to master, they mastered all that within a space of a month. This testified to the level of talent we have in Zimbabwe.

“It is not only Zimbabwe that has been showcased here, but it’s the intellectual worthy of Africa in terms of intellectual arguments. So, Zimbabwe should never be counted out on any conversation about brilliance, black excellence, Zimbabwe is on that list.”

  • Follow Winstone on Twitter @widzoanto

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