Minister Paul Mashatile aims to promote multilingualism through the SA Languages Bill

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25 Jan 2012

CAPE TOWN: Speaking at the Portfolio Committee on Arts and Culture in response to public hearings on the South African Languages Bill, Minister of Arts and Culture, Mr Paul Mashatile, emphasized the importance of multilingualism.

"Language is in Chapter 1 Section 6 of the Constitution which shows it's importance. Those who wrote the Constitution envisaged two primary legislation, the establishment of PANSALB to address multilingualism in society as well as legislation on the use of official languages in the provision of government services."

"Official languages must enjoy parity of esteem and must be treated equitably. This is what the Bill hopes to achieve."

Addressing concerns about various provisions in the draft bill, Minister Mashatile agreed with members of the Portfolio Committee to tighten certain provisions, in keeping with the spirit of the Constitution.

Referring to the Constitutional requirement that 'government must use at least two official languages', Minister Mashatile stressed that indigenous African languages must be among those used as official languages and not just English and Afrikaans which has been a concern from the public. This may mean, that as the Department refines the draft bill, consideration be given for a minimum of three languages to be used for government communication and access to information and services. This would apply to national government departments, national public enterprises and entities. The Bill will also specify and promote the use of sign language.

The Department of Arts and Culture will report back to the Portfolio Committee on Arts and Culture on the 1 February where engagement on the South African Languages Bill will continue.


For more information, kindly contact:

Lisa Combrinck at: 082 821 4886

Kalay Maistrie at: 083 257 8583