Draft constitution riles San people


THE San community in Tsholotsho is fuming over reference to their language as Koisan instead of Tshwao in the draft constitution, saying this showed they were not consulted during the outreach exercise.


Koisan refers to an ethnic group, the community leaders have argued.
Davy Ndlovu, the director of Creative Arts and Education Development Association — an organisation that represents the interests of the San people — yesterday said the community regards the mistake as serious.

“Chapter 1, Section 6, subsection 1 of the draft constitution states Koisan as one of the official languages, which includes Chewa, Chibarwe, English, Kalanga, Nambya, Ndau, Ndebele, Shangani, Shona, Sign Language, Sotho, Tonga, Tshwana, Venda and Xhosa,” he said.

“As far as we know the San people’s language is not Koisan — that is the ethnic group. Their language is called Tshwao and it varies with contexts with some calling it Tshao/Tsoa, Chwa/Tshwa, Chuwau/Tshuwau.”

He said in Zimbabwe the San speak Tshwao or Tshoa Coded as ISO 639-3: HIO and the people are called Tshara-Tshao.

Ndlovu said there was no language called Koisan and the error by Copac in naming their language as such proved that the parliamentary team did not reach the San community during the outreach consultations.

“If Copac met the San people it could have obtained the right language to put in the constitution,” he said.

“The San are now confused and do not know if they should vote for this draft constitution during the referendum because our language is not Koisan.”

Ndlovu said there were a lot of contradictions in the draft, which the San people spotted.

“Chapter 4 Part 2 under the Declaration of Rights Section 63, states that every person has the right:
“(a) To use the language of their choice; and (b) To participate in the cultural life of their choice, but no person exercising these rights may do so in a way that is inconsistent with this chapter,” he noted.
“San people survived through gathering and hunting.
“Will they be allowed to hunt and gather as it’s their culture or they will be arrested for (something called) poaching? Copac must clarify this if the San people are to vote for the draft.”


  1. This is an academic aurgument vanhu acho havambozivi kuti kune nyaya yakadai, pakuvota apa vanongovhota. yes they could have been an error but dismissing and aurguing that it shows no consultation of the san was done is gross error pachayo

  2. this Ndlovhu guy is out of line,during the precolonial era,hunting and gathering was an integral and huge part of life for al blacks,of course we have moved on should we go back to hunting?seriously now,on issues of such magnitude one should be heard to speak reason,we are in an era where we are fighting to conserve nature not destroy it,the few animal species left must be conserved where is the contradiction then,move on the rule of life is that everything changes!on the language issue is it a big issue to say shona is an official language,as we know there is ndau,chikorekore,karanga,zezuru,manyika,chishangwe etc,if u meet someone from masvingo its very easy for them not to understand manyika,or korekore,or to say sotho is an official language,what if there is pedi(norhten sotho) and sotho (southern sotho),if its such a big issue instead of running to the press why didnt he go to copac,where was he when the consultations were being done in Byo,if he as reported represents the san,the he is doing a mess of a job,he should have pointed this out during the consultations.confused fellla!

  3. I do not understand why Karanga, Zezuru and Korekore are missing. I’m certainly Karanga and I do not see it in the COPAC so count me out. I will not vote YES. I’m tired of being called a Zezuru PF when I’m not.

    • Actually Shona is regarded as a language with many dialects which include karanga, zezuru, korekore, manyika, kalanga and ndau. So by including shona, all the different dialects are covered.

  4. Laba baThwakazi sokungumbedo nje kuphela. Izimbizo zesisekela mbuso zabizwela umuntu wonke ngesigaba nasigaba, akukho imbizo ayabizelwa abantu ngomhlobo. Manje masebethi they were not consulted sekusisho ukuthuini lokho?

    I suspect these baThwakazi did not attend the outreach meetings, that is why they now say they were not consulted – but consultations could not have been possible at an individual level. As for igama leli lolimi lwabo – yinto encane leyo, lingashintshwa nje kufakwe eliyilona eliqondile, akukho nkinga!

  5. Brethren, the doc is a draft , let all these oversights be corrected, gentleman, Ndhlovu may have a point. It is their democratic right. Cde Mzimba shares my view, there was no need to run to the press…..unless if the issue has been oversensetized as usual. Ku Botswana pane varikudya from potraying the Khoisan issue as a human rights matter. As a nation we dont want some amongst us to ride roughshod over sensitive issues…my opinion.

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