Speaker of the House of Assembly Lovemore Moyo on Tuesday said Parliament had a national languages policy whereby business of the august House can be transacted using the three major languages, namely English, Shona and Ndebele.
However, he said this was not an excuse for people to resort to violence to express their views and that Parliament could not be blamed for failing to translate contents of Bills into indigenous languages because Bills were generated from the Executive and not Parliament.
He was responding to questions from journalists who wanted to know what measures Parliament would take to ensure Bills were made known to the public and translated into indigenous languages for the benefit of non-English speaking citizens.
“Parliament transacts business in three major languages, English, Ndebele and Shona, and it is our desire as an institution that whenever we want to communicate something to the public, we make an effort to ensure we translate that particular document into these languages,” said Moyo.
“However, the process of crafting Bills is different because it comes from the Executive as they are the ones who draft the Bill and gazette it. We do not generate Bills as Parliament,” he said.
Moyo said although the public was entitled to demand that Bills be translated, Parliament had on several occasions held public consultation on Bills written in English without any incident or backlash.
“If people have genuine concerns, they should ensure they raise those through the necessary orderly channels in order to get a response.
“MPs, on behalf of their constituencies, still have a mandate to discharge their law-making duties by educating the public. But, as an institution trying to be inclusive, we will always endeavour to contact the public and improve where there are gaps and deficiencies,” Moyo said.
He said parliamentary portfolio committees had an obligation, with or without public views, to play their part.
“Out of the seven public hearings on the Human Rights Commission Bill, three of them were successful in Bulawayo, Gwanda and Gweru, and it is up to the committee to decide if the information they gathered is enough for them to make reports in the House,” he said.