A MATABELELAND South chief has accused the government of insulting Ndebele people with ‘a new word’ when the country’s constitution was translated into the official language.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
The Ndebele version of the new constitution recently produced by the Justice ministry is titled ‘Isisekamthetho seZimbabwe’ referring to the country’s constitution.
Chief Vezi Maduna Mafu of the Godlwayo area in Filabusi said the correct word should have been ‘isisekelo somthetho’ or ‘isisekelo sombuso’.
“People who did the translation do not know our language and they must correct the mistake immediately,” he fumed yesterday.
“If it is a new word, then we do not want their word, they cannot form new Ndebele words for us.”
Bulawayo-based activist Effie Ncube said there was now a pattern where Ndebele words were misspelt even by government departments.
“We see such mistakes on office doors, public places and government documents,” he said.
“Even private companies have to alter documents after a public outcry of improper translations of the Ndebele language.”
Ncube said he had taken the issue up with the Justice ministry.
“I personally approached the translation committee and they said they will look at the document and address the mistake before more copies are printed,” he said.
“The document, which they produced is a reflection of failure to uphold the integrity of the Ndebele language.”
Nhlanhla Khumalo, the organising secretary of Mthwakazi kaMzilikazi Cultural Association, said the title given to the document was vulgar.
“Any Ndebele person will puke on hearing the word that they used for the Ndebele version of the constitution,” he said.
“They did not consult the Ndebele people and they almost wrote vulgar words.”
However, a member of the National Constitution Translation Committee Paul Bayethe Damasane, defended the use of the word.
“This is not a vulgar word at all, and has nothing to do with the vulgar word ‘z…’.
“It is a word from the noun ‘iseko’, which means the three stones that hold the pot.
“Actually I salute the translators because they coined a new Ndebele word for the constitution because the constitution is an English concept and there was no Ndebele word for it.
“To say ‘isisekelo somthetho’ would be using two words for the Constitution, but they managed to craft one word ‘isisekamthetho’, which means that there is now growth of the Ndebele language.
“It is use of the Ndebele language in explaining new concepts.
“It is not true that people that speak Nambya were the ones that did the translation.”
Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said the translation was done by linguistic experts from universities.