Daniel Nemukuyu Senior Reporter
GOVERNMENT on Monday signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference (ZCBC) that will see the church spear-heading translation of the Constitution of Zimbabwe into four vernacular languages.
The church has since engaged legal experts and top linguists to translate the supreme law of the country into Shona, Ndebele, Tonga and Kalanga, but the work is now subject to scrutiny by the Government before being adopted.
Section 7 of the Constitution obliges Government to translate the supreme law into 16 recognised languages, including English. Zimbabwe has been operating with only the English version since the Constitution’s inception in 2013.
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi represented the Government, while Father Fradreck Chirombe signed the document on behalf of the ZCBC at the signing ceremony in Harare. Minister Ziyambi said the church’s initiative was a noble one, adding that it promoted constitutionalism in the country.
“The commitment and undertaking by the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishop’s Conference to partner the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs in promoting public awareness of the Constitution through translating it into our vernacular languages and disseminating constitutional and legal information is a noble enterprise,” he said.
“It is without question that this partnership will not only enhance constitutional knowledge among Zimbabweans, but will also entrench the culture of constitutionalism, which in turn leads to the building of a just, free and prosperous nation.”
Minister Ziyambi said his ministry would render the necessary support to ensure the success of the translation work.
“My ministry will render the necessary support towards the success of this project. My dedicated officials will be an important arsenal during the life of this partnership,” he said.
Speaking at the same occasion, secretary for Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Mrs Virginia Mabiza said other stakeholders should chip in to ensure the translation of the Constitution into the remaining 11 other recognised indigenous languages.
“In order for the people of Zimbabwe to benefit from the provisions of the Constitution, by and for whom it was made, it is important that the supreme law of the land be written in a language that they understand,” she said.
“This speaks to the need for Government and other relevant stakeholders to embark on projects meant to translate the Constitution into vernacular languages.”
ZCBC secretary-general Father Chirombe said the church was committed to supporting the Government in the project.
“Our work is credible, genuine and quite good. We have engaged top jurists and linguists to assist in the translation of the Constitution of Zimbabwe into the four recognised local languages. We are prepared to support the Government to disseminate the constitution and legal information to all people and to help them understand it better,” he said.
Attorney-General Advocate Prince Machaya hailed the church in playing a crucial role in promoting constitutionalism.
“The undertaking by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference highlights the importance of the church in the governance of the country. For that reason, we are grateful to the Catholic bishops for supporting the Government,” he said.