Nkayi South MP refuses to use English in Parliament

Nkayi South Member of Parliament (MP), Stars Mathe, refused to use the English language during a question and answer session between legislators and ministers in Parliament Wednesday, maintaining she preferred to speak in her native language isiNdebele instead.

The Constitution of Zimbabwe recognises a total of 16 official languages of the country.

Mathe refused to repeat her question after Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister, Monica Mutsvangwa indicated had not fully understood the former’s question which had been asked in Ndebele.

The Nkayi South lawmaker had asked why post-mortem results are required before the burial of the deceased whose death causes would be known, adding the requirement resulted in the bereaved families incurring unnecessary costs.

“I was trying very hard to understand her question,” said Mutsvangwa. 

“I thought it applies to the police when there is a death and somebody is well known for the disease they have been suffering from and whether there is any need to take that person for post-mortem.  I would need your help Madam Speaker.  That is how I got to the question.”

Before Bulawayo proportional representation MP, Thokozani Khupe who had been asked by National Assembly Deputy Speaker, Tsitsi Gezi, to interpret had done so, Mathe she would ask the question again next week.

“Madam Speaker my question was not answered, anyway I will rephrase my question next week,” she said in the august House. 

“Please go ahead with other questions.  I did get that my sister did not get my question very well. I do not want to ask in English, I want to ask my question in the Ndebele language.”

However, Norton legislator, Temba Mliswa immediately came in saying it was regrettable that despite the country’s constitution recognising 16 languages the Parliament still does not have translators.

“Madam Speaker it exposes this Parliament in that we have got 16 languages in the Constitution and up to now we do not have people translating this,” he decried. 

“It is a shame, to be honest with you.  It is a disgrace.  She (Mathe) has a right to speak in whatever language she wants to speak.  There are people out there on television who listen to Ndebele, so do not force her to speak any other language.  We must make sure that in this Parliament there is a translator for the 16 languages which are mentioned in the Constitution.  We cannot be skirting around the issues all the time.  She has a right to speak even in Tonga.”

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