By Pretty Chavango
Binga North legislator Prince Dubeko Sibanda says some Parliamentarians who have never said anything in Parliament are victims of language barrier as they do not speak such languages as Shona, Ndebele or English which are mostly used during debates.
Speaking during the 2018 Finance Bill debate in the National Assembly, Honourable Sibanda said the issue can only be solved by awarding Parliament its budget request of US$98 million for 2018 which will go a long way in helping it hire the services of interpreters.
“…not every Member of Parliament is able to speak in Shona, Ndebele or English. Some Members of Parliament only speak Xhosa, Tonga or Nambya. Now, because Parliament does not have interpreters in those languages, some Members of Parliament have been deprived of the right to participate and debate in this Parliament,” he said.
Hon Sibanda urged Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa to increase budget allocation saying the lack of interpreters in Parliament was causing tribal hegemony and could be addressed by increased funding.
“If the Hon. Minister is saying he is going to give Parliament US$57 million instead of US$98 million, what the Hon. Minister of Finance and Economic Planning is saying is that all Members who do not speak English, Ndebele or Shona should not participate in the debate of Parliament,” Sibanda said.
He further argued that since the constitution recognises 16 languages members should be aided to debate in the languages of their choice.
“I am Tonga, I also enjoy to speak in my mother language when I am debating in Parliament. So as Vendas, when Members who are Vendas want to speak in this House, they should be able to speak in their languages. The only way they can do that is when the Hon. Minister funds Parliament to the tune of US$98 million that Parliament requires so that we cannot continue to be forced to speak in Shona, Ndebele, or English,” he said.