Zanu PF chairman Simon Khaya Moyo last Friday publicly chastised fellow politburo member and Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo for addressing Kalanga-speaking party members at Madlambudzi Business Centre in Plumtree using the Shona language.
Chombo, who was officiating at the installation of 23-year-old Thursus Ncube as Chief Madlambudzi, addressed the meeting while a villager did the translation to Kalanga.
Khaya Moyo later took to the podium and said he would advise President Robert Mugabe that politicians who do not speak both Shona and IsiNdebele must not get Cabinet appointments.
“In South Africa they have 11 official languages, but have three main languages; that is Zulu, Xhosa and Sotho,” he said.
“Here in Zimbabwe we have three official languages, but two main local languages, that is Ndebele and Shona. I must say that it is wrong if we fail to master only two languages.
“Minister Chombo, you should be able to speak both languages.
“I was in Mt Darwin the day before yesterday and I was speaking fluent Manyika language, with a spicing of English words like them. I spoke proper Shona there.
“When you come next time, Chombo, you should be able to speak local languages. We will give you a beautiful woman who will teach you. I spoke with the President that next time any Cabinet aspirant who doesn’t speak both Shona and Ndebele, no job.”
The draft constitution, which is yet to be adopted as the supreme law of the land, proposes to recognise 16 local languages as official medium of communication in Zimbabwe.
These include Chewa, Chibarwe, English, Kalanga, Koisan, Nambya, Ndau, Ndebele, Shangani, Shona, sign language, Sotho, Tonga, Tswana, Venda and Xhosa.
Part of the draft reads: “The State and all institutions and agencies of government at every level must (a) ensure that all official languages are treated equitably and (b) take into account the language preferences of people affected by governmental measures or communications.”