Sepedi / Sesotho sa Leboa as official language: Report on submissions made during public hearings

Constitutional Review Committee

20 April 2010
Chairperson: Mr B Mnguni (ANC; Free State)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee discussed the report on the submissions made during public hearings on Sepedi versus Sesotho sa Lebowa in Mopani and Waterberg Districts. Members agreed that more consultations were needed in order for a decision to be made. They would also take into account the need for more independent, research that had to be conducted by a language sociologist. The report was adopted.

Members also discussed the minute of 17 March 2010, which looked at submissions that were received in 2009. A Member noted that many things were incorrectly recorded in the minute. The Committee agreed that the minute would be redrafted and then adopted.

Meeting report

Opening Remarks
Ms D Smuts (DA) informed the Committee that she had invited another Member from the Democratic Alliance, Ms A Lotriet, to the meeting. Ms Lotriet was a language expert.

The Chairperson welcomed Ms Lotriet to the meeting.

Adoption of Report on Submissions Made During Public Hearings on Sepedi vs Sesotho
The Chairperson noted that the hearings were well attended, especially by professors, lecturers and councilors. The Committee had informed the communities in Limpopo that it would come back to Parliament to deliberate on the matter. The Committee would probably have to invite some stakeholders, as Members had not had time to interrogate all the submissions that were made. Once the submissions were properly interrogated, the Committee could make a decision on whether they would propose if the Constitution should be recorded in Sepedi or Sesotho sa Lebowa.

Ms Smuts was under the impression that the Committee would take consultations further. The Committee could not rush the matter, as it dealt with issues that ran deep and spoke to the nature of South Africans' identity. There might be a need for further independent and qualitative research. Was the Committee taking this idea on board?

The Chairperson assured Ms Smuts that the Committee would definitely take the idea on board because this was a really important matter.

Ms Lotriet commented that she had read the documents and found that if additional public hearings were held, the Committee would just hear more of the same things that they had heard before. It was quite clear that people spoke from their own perspective, experience and language. She found that the type of research that was done, to a large extent, was compromised because the speakers of the languages actually did all the research. This meant that there was a bias. She strongly proposed that the Committee consider having additional, independent research that would be done by language sociologists.

The Chairperson stated that the Committee would look into that suggestion.

Mr N Koornhof (COPE) moved for the adoption of the Report.

Mr D Bloem (COPE, Free State) seconded the adoption.

The report was adopted.

Adoption of Outstanding Minutes
The Chairperson stated that the Committee had to adopt the minutes from the 17 March 2010. The minutes covered the discussion that Members had concerning submissions that were received in 2009.

Ms Smuts stated that there were a few submissions that were not correctly reflected in the minute. For example, concerning the inclusion of animal rights in the Constitution, it was felt that the matter was appropriately dealt with by legislation and not by a constitutional amendment. This was agreed to by the Members. Therefore, the minute should reflect so. Also, the minute seemed to confuse submissions that were made by Mr Bruce McLeod and Mr Jerome Veldsman. This, simply put, was incorrect. Mr MacLeod’s submission drew upon Advocate Frank Jenkin’s legal opinion, which said that the Constitution was secular and reference made to the Constitution in the preamble had a different function. It was important to note that the Committee had agreed to turn down Mr McLeod’s proposal. It was important to capture this in the minute. She suggested that the minute be redrafted before the Committee could approve it.

The Chairperson noted that the Committee agreed that the minute should be redrafted. He said that Members should read through the minute so it could be discussed at the next adoption of minutes meeting.

Other Matters
The Chairperson stated that Members had to discuss the schedule for meetings. The Committee was proposing that they sit on 7 May 2010. There were four submissions left that had to be discussed. The Committee would have the meetings on 7 and 21 May 2010. The Committee also wanted to invite the stakeholders from Limpopo to make their presentations to the Committee. This would happen on 29 May 2010. He asked all the Members to be present even though he knew that some of the meetings would be held on Fridays, which was problematic for some Members. The meetings would start at 9am.

The meeting was adjourned.



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