August 19, 2017

News:

Language policy kicks in

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Promoting local languages . . . MEC for the Department of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation Mathabo Leeto

Promoting local languages . . . MEC for the Department of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation Mathabo Leeto

The Free State Official Languages Act came into effect yesterday.

The new law which was proclaimed by Premier Ace Magashule as the Free State Official Languages Act No.1 of 2017 in the Provincial Gazette on May 12, requires all provincial departments and public entities to ensure fair use of the country’s official languages for improved communication in all spheres of society.

South Africa has 11 official languages and several unofficial ones. English is the most widely used language for official and commercial purposes but it is the fifth most spoken home language.

According to Census 2011 figures, the predominant languages in the Free State are Sesotho, which is spoken by about 64.2 percent of the population and Afrikaans, spoken by at least 12.7 percent of people in the province.

The other official languages in the country are: isiXhosa, isiZulu, isiNdebele, Setswana, siSwati, Xitsonga, Tshivenda and Sepedi.

In a statement released by the provincial department of Department of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation this week, The Act applies to all Free State provincial departments and provincial public entities.

The main objective of the law is to regulate and monitor the use of official languages for government purposes as well as promote equitable treatment of the official languages of the Free State and ensure good language management for efficient public service administration.

“The Act gives expression to the Free State Provincial Government language policy adopted by the Executive Council,” said the statement issued by the department’s spokesperson Tankiso Zola on Tuesday

“It empowers the MEC for the Department of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation Mathabo Leeto, to establish a provincial language unit to advise her on policy and strategy relating to the above mentioned objectives; and an interdepartmental language forum to promote coordination, cooperation, and consultation between provincial departments and public entities on the use of official languages for government purposes,” read the statement.

In terms of the Act, every provincial department or entity must appoint a Language Official to advise its Head of Department or Accounting Officer on the implementation of the language policy and to compile a report for submission to the MEC.

Further, the Heads of Departments and Accounting Officers in the provincial government are obliged to report to the MEC on the implementation of the language policy in their departments and entities annually. The MEC will, in turn, report annually to the provincial legislature on the status and use of official languages for government purposes.

All municipalities in the province have been assisted by the department to develop their own language policies.

In her 2017/18 Budget Vote Speech, Leeto said her department would further assist the municipalities in the implementation of their language policies over the coming year.

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