Govt to translate Constitution

HARARE – The Justice ministry yesterday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference (ZCBC) to translate the national Constitution into all 16 official languages.

The country’s new Constitution — which came into force in 2013 — is currently in English, and only provides abridged versions in only eight vernacular languages.

Speaking at the signing ceremony at the New Government Complex, Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi described the MoU as historic and a necessity.

“Government is obligated in terms of Section 7 of the Constitution to promote public awareness of the Constitution by, inter alia, translating it into all officially recognised languages and disseminating as widely as possible.

“It is in accordance with this constitutional directive that government has embarked on a number of programmes and projects to ensure that the majority of our citizens are aware of the provisions of our Constitution,” Ziyambi said.

The initial phase of translation is going to be carried out on four vernacular languages — Shona, Ndebele, Kalanga and Tonga — in an exercise that is expected to be completed in the next three to four months.

The process will involve top jurists and linguists and other independent parties.

ZCBC representative father Fraderick Chiromba said: “This work of translating the Constitution has also made us to have a better understanding of the Constitution itself.

“We thank the government for the opportunity to translate the Constitution. It also helps the people not to just have the understanding of the Constitution but to own it as well.”