The Government of Zimbabwe in conjunction with the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference, ZCBC and the National Constitution Translation Committee, recently launched the four translated versions of the national constitution Amendment (No.20) Act 2013.
The four versions include Shona, Tonga, Kalanga and Ndebele. The launch was attended by the Bishop Chairman for Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, Rt. Rev. Rudolf Nyandoro, The Permanent Secretary for Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Mrs. Virginia Mabiza, CCJP Coordinators, Catholic Parliamentary Liaison Office and government officials.
The Permanent Secretary for Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Mrs. V. Mabiza commented ZCBC and the National Constitution Translation Committee, NCTC, for the job well in translating the constitution into the languages of the people. Mrs. Mabiza said such efforts cements the government’s thrust to uphold the constitution.
“The launch of these translations of the constitution epitomizes our firm commitment to our duty to promote and uphold our constitution which is the supreme law of the land. The constitution regulates how the country operates as it stipulates individuals and organizations, rights, limitations, duties and expectations, among other things. Accordingly, the necessity of translating such a supreme law into local languages becomes vital,” she said.
She said although the translation of the constitution was constitutional, it was facilitated by the need for everyone to enjoy and exercise their rights fully and for the constitution to yield results, there was need for translating the document to all official languages.
“It was realized that in order for every individual to enjoy and exercise his or her rights fully and for the constitution to yield results, there is need for translating the constitution to all official languages. This will then ensure that the citizens are fully aware of what their rights are and how they can be implemented. This noble initiative of translating the constitution is perfectly in line with the view point of the constitutional implementation,” Mrs. Mabiza said.
The significance of the constitution lies in Section 2 which entrenches constitutional supremacy in Zimbabwe. But Mrs. Mabiza stated that the constitution would only live up to its mandate if only it becomes a living and helpful document and implemented among people.
She said: “Its implementation should be coupled with adherence to the provisions of the rest of the constitution thereby promoting peace, good governance and stability in our nation.”
Mrs. Mabiza said there was need to mobilize resources to translate the remaining 10 indigenous languages as well as sign language by July 2018. She encouraged people of Zimbabwe to abide by the constitution as esteemed by the new dispensation.
“A critical component of this includes ensuring that there be compliance with the constitution in all respects. The significance of compliance with the constitution cannot be over emphasized, particularly given that Zimbabwe is entering an electoral period where the notion of free, fair, credible and uncontested elections is crucial.”
The Bishop Chairman for Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, Rt. Rev. Rudolf Nyandoro said the Catholic Church has taken a lead in translating the constitution because they consider it paramount to take the constitution to the people as enshrined in Section 6(3) of the constitution.
“According to Section 6(3) of the Zimbabwe Constitution, the state and all institutions and agencies of government, at every level, must ensure that all officially recognized languages are treated equitably; and take into account the language preferences of the people affected by governmental measures or communications . This is why we feel that the constitution should benefit people at every level and of every language. The church recognizes the dignity of every person and that should be reflected by making the constitution available in all languages,” said Bishop Nyandoro.
The Bishop took the issue further when he engaged CCJP Coordinators at the Training for Trainers of the Translated Version of the Constitution workshop by challenging them to implement the constitution in the different dioceses.
“The Constitution is a very important document that should be known by all people. Besides, the constitution plays a major role in bringing transformative knowledge about people’s rights, unity and development of our country. This is what the church advocates for. We are suppose to work together with different arms of government in developing our country. Therefore, let us take advantage and occupy the enabling space currently available,’ he said.