Language barrier lands MP in storm

A public consultation meeting in Bulawayo, Thursday, on the setting up of a youth commission turned chaotic after some of the participants accused the chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Youth, Sports, Arts and Recreation, Mathias Tongofa for failing to articulate issues due to a language barrier.

The committee is currently holding public consultations in all provinces in response to a petition on the setting up of a Youth Commission.

The petition was submitted by Believe Guta of Kadoma on 12 November 2018.

 The Youth Commission seeks to investigate whether all institutions of Government and its agencies are implementing the provisions of section 20 of the constitution which speaks of youths as people between the ages of 15-35 years.

Tongofa had to rely on committee member Honourable Elizabeth Masuku to interpret some of the issues raised by the participants.

Speaking during the poorly attended meeting, the participants also blamed the committee for poor communication techniques that led to poor representation of diverse youths in Bulawayo.

“We accept this commission but as it is the chairperson is failing to understand what we are saying because of language issues.

 “If this commission will be effective we want it to have a diverse representation of youths even those from rural areas to be part of the commission so that they can also have issues affecting them addressed,” said  Decent Sibanda.

He said even though they support the commission they do not want it to have balanced representation.

“We want equal representation from all tribes,” he said.

Another youth, Pray Nleya said they failed to freely express themselves because of the language barrier.

“As it is we are reserving some of our comments because we see that the chairperson of this meeting is having difficulties in understanding the language that we use.

“We ask that Bulawayo Members of Parliament (MP) be also part of these committees next time,” Nleya said.

“This is not a tribal issue but at the end of the day this Youth commission is for all the youths in the country and we want a situation where our issues are understood.

“It is better to speak with the MPs that we voted in so that when we vote no confidence for them they know the reasons,” he said.

Meanwhile, another youth participant Mabutho Nyoni said the commission should be given powers to investigate other ministries.

“This commission should have the powers to investigate and evaluate all other ministries and even some sections of the constitution because at the end of the day people who suffer most are the youths,” Nyoni said.

“That commission should have powers to monitor, evaluate and make sure that all certain provisions of the constitution are being implemented and devolution of power is one of them”.

However, Honourable Elizabeth Masuku said Parliamentarians choose which committee they want to belong to.

“In Parliament, there are many committees and one chooses for themselves which one they want to belong, all these people here chose for themselves to represent the youth.

“The difference is that you are saying the chairperson does not understand the Ndebele language, but as a committee, we travel around with our chairperson assigned to that certain committee but we will note it down,” Hon.Masuku said.

Tongofa said the committee is yet to sit down and deliberate on the findings from the public hearings.

“ By and large we have not set as a committee to deliberate on what we are finding but the general trend is most people are supporting the commission but some of them want to go into detail but what we want is the principle,” Hon Tongofa said.

“Most of them are saying the commission will be necessary as they do not see the necessity of some commission already in place as they do not see what they are doing.

“The fear that the one we want to establish won’t be performing since there is no Youth Act guiding the operations of the ministry but we are saying the powers come from the youths,” he said.

He said the terms of reference and composition of the youth committee will be deliberated by the National Assembly after public consultations have been concluded.

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