Minister Nathi Mthethwa calls for the establishment of language units in government by 2 November 2014

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27 Aug 2014

The Minister of Arts & Culture, Nathi Mthethwa has called upon all national departments, public entities and enterprises to establish indigenous language units for the public to obtain information in the language of their choice.

“I wish to remind and call upon all government across all tiers to speed up the establishment of language unit as there are less than 60 days left towards the deadline,” said Minister Mthethwa.

The language units staffed by language professionals and other practitioners responsible for translation across all languages should be in operation by 2 November 2014.

This follows the adoption of the Use of Languages Act, 2012 (Act No. 12 of 2012) to regulate the use of official languages by national government.

Section (4)(1) requires all national departments, national public entities and national public enterprises to adopt official language policies within 18 months of commencement of the Act.

The Act was promulgated in the Gazette on 2 May 2013, which means that the final date for adoption of national language policies is 2 November 2014. Section 4(2)‑(4) of the Act and the Regulations in terms of the Act set out the requirements for, and guidelines on drafting, language policies. Both documents may be accessed at the Department’s website.

“We wish to remind all levels of government to establish language units for us to give to the letter and spirit of section 6 of the Constitution which regulates languages and to promote equitable use of official languages in South Africa.

“As we observe 20 years of democracy and freedom, we urgently need to enable all South Africans to use the official languages of their choice when engaging with government and its institutions. This is to ensure equal access to government services and information.

“The Act provides for a regulatory framework to facilitate the effective implementation of the constitutional obligations concerning multilingualism. If we wish to touch the hearts and souls of our people, we must speak to them in their own languages,” said Minister Mthethwa.

Minister Mthethwa said this Act is a very important piece of legislation that allows public at large to access information and assisted using languages that they understand.

For further information and details, call Spokesperson for the Minister of Arts & Culture, Sandile Memela at 0828003750