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TEMPERS flared in Victoria Falls on Thursday last week during public hearings conducted by legislators on the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission Bill after the public were told Parliament staff capturing their contributions were not conversant with local vernacular languages.
The hearings were almost derailed after the public protested on hearing Parliament’s Hansard staff could not understand Ndebele, Nambya or Tonga, which are the local languages.
This occurred during a joint sitting of portfolio committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and the Senate Thematic committee on Human Rights and Peace and Security that took place in Victoria Falls and Hwange.
The United Nations Development Programme and Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust funded the hearings. Head of delegation and Harare West MP Jessie Majome (MDC-T) told participants during a meeting in Victoria Falls that they were roping in an interpreter to translate their contributions. This angered participants.
“Our contributions will be lost during translations. You knew very well that you were coming to areas where Ndebele, Tonga and Nambya are the languages but you failed to make a provision,” said Ishmael Mpofu.
Another participant said roping in an interpreter was time consuming. “We’ll spend the whole day here,” he said. Majome later abandoned the use of an interpreter and opted for recording machines.
“I want to apologise on behalf of the administration of Parliament. Yes, I agree that we should have people who speak all the 15 recognised languages but for now this is what we have.
“We’ll continue using recorders and the translation will be done when we’re back in Harare,” said Majome. During the proceedings, Majome had another exchange with another participant after she tried to distance Parliament from the Bill, blaming the Executive.
This was after the participant blamed the government for coming up with a Bill which he said left a lot to be desired particularly given “excessive” powers conferred on the responsible minister.
“Hon Majome don’t be defensive. You’re all part of the government. Even the minister whom you’re saying is responsible for the Bill is also a Member of Parliament,” said the participant. Another participant said the Bill did not specify the context and the motivation in bringing it.
“What has happened? Why do we need the Bill? We’re talking of peace and healing but the Bill doesn’t tell us what has transpired.” by Zvamaida Murwira. Source: chronicle