Is government capable of implementing the Language Act this year?

Dr Pieter Mulder

After years of dragging its heels and it even ending up in court, it seems that government is still not going to implement the Language Act this year, Dr. Pieter Mulder, FF Plus Leader and the party’s chief spokesperson on Arts and Culture said.

Dr. Mulder said during the budget debate of the department of Arts and Culture today that he has doubts about the new chief executive officer of the Pan-South African Language Board (PanSALB) as the position which was advertised had emphasised various management and other skills but said nothing about language capabilities.

“I would have wanted to see someone in that position who is sensitive to language, who feels strongly about language and who would do the work starting from that point of departure,” Dr. Mulder said.

The Use of Official Languages Act was approved in Parliament in October 2012 already and should, amongst other things, promote multi-lingualism and ensure that the state offers its services to the public in the official languages of their choice.

According to Dr. Mulder, South Africa’s government is still struggling to find the right recipe for nation building of which one finds mainly two models: One is the American melting-pot model where only one English-speaking nation is built while the languages and cultures of others are destroyed.

The second model is one in which diversity is recognised and everyone feels at home. Examples of this can be found in countries such as Switzerland and even Ethiopia.

“In South Africa, apparently, a model in which language and culture are not important is increasingly accepted.

“We had to wait 19 years for the Language Act which was recommended by the Constitution. It was a long process to get it accepted and a court battle was necessary to force its implementation. At this stage the target date for the implementation appears to be 1 November, but I am concerned that we will not reach this due to government lacking the will to implement it,” Dr. Mulder said.


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