Looking at The Official Languages Bill which was tabled before the South African Parliament on Tuesday
By: Mdumiseni Cele
The Official Languages Bill which was tabled before Parliament on Tuesday by Minister of Arts and Culture Mr. Paul Mashatile, has won the support of all political parties.
In tabling the Bill before the House, Mashatile said, "the Bill we are tabling today is a product of popular participation, as well as country wide consultations with all stakeholders." He added that through this Bill Government aims to promote the equitable use of all Official languages and in the long run, we will endeavor to equally promote the use of sign language. As a result of this Bill South Africans will now have an opportunity to use the official languages of their choice in interacting with government. Very interesting and looking forward to see how is that going to work!
This Bill will also make a massive contribution towards the national effort to promote multilingualism. The Bill seeks to provide for the regulation and monitoring of the use of official languages by national government and public entities for official purposes. The Bill also provides for the establishment and functions of a national language Unit and departmental languages units.
He further said, “That Through this Bill we are giving effect to the provisions of Section 6 of the Constitution. Section 6 of the Constitution not only identifies 11 official languages but also obliges the State to take practical and positive measures to elevate the status and advance the use of indigenous languages.” While on this 11 official languages issue I just want to point out the fact that on Sunday I had a friend from USA, Los Angeles while we were sitting in one table talking different languages. Obviously, he didn’t notice that we were switching from one language to another. When I explain to him that we have 11 official languages, he didn’t believe it and he said, “It’s very fascinating that we know more than one language. That the beauty to living in South Africa.
The minister said, said, “In terms of the Bill language policies by national departments should among others identify at least three official languages to be used for official purposes”. Now this begs the question. Which are those three official languages and who is going to let his or her indigenous language dies? I always jock that isiZulu is South Africa’s official language and without realizing I’m offending other fellow South African. There is been lots of complain with regarding those so called experts are tampering with our language and introducing fake grammar. Effort should be taken to protect our language from those semi-educated professors.
Mashatile added that the, “The Bill requires that when identifying these three official languages, national departments must take into account its Constitutional obligation to take practical steps to elevate the status and advance the use of indigenous languages whose historic use and status was diminished. "We wish to reiterate that this Bill provides for the establishment of a National Language Unit that will amongst others advise the Minister of Arts and Culture on the policy and strategy to regulate and monitor the use of official languages. It also provides for the establishment of language units in every national department, public entity and national public enterprise to advise the national department on the development, adoption, and implementation and monitoring of its language policy. He said through the The Bill also gives powers to the Minister of Arts and Culture to monitor the use of official languages, by getting reports from departments on the activities of their language units.
The Minister is required, on an annual basis, to table a report to Parliament on the use of official languages for the provision of government services, said Mashatile.