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AfriForum welcomes amendment to languages bill

Organisation says Afrikaans still under threat in the public service

AfriForum welcomes Languages Bill amendment, but is concerned about position of Afrikaans in civil service

AfriForum has welcomed the news that the Portfolio Committee on Arts and Culture amended the Languages Bill to stipulate that the languages used by state departments and related entities, may be any of the country's official languages.

According to Alana Bailey, Deputy CEO of AfriForum, it is a step in the right direction, but much still has to be done to make officials and politicians understand that language is more than a mere method of communication.  "As long as the status of South African languages is disregarded, mutual recognition and respect will remain lacking.  Language is an inalienable part of the identity of an individual and of a community.  Should a language be disregarded, its speakers will experience this as rejection and contempt too," Bailey said.

At the moment AfriForum is investigating numerous complaints against state departments and related entities regarding their use of Afrikaans, or a total lack of service delivery in this high function language.  A form issued by the Department of Home Affairs teeming with spelling and language errors, was for example brought to the attention of senior officials of the department yesterday.  In response to a media enquiry, Ronnie Mamoepa, spokesperson of the Department, said that AfriForum has to translate it themselves if they are not satisfied with the language used. 

"AfriForum has no problem with helping where funding or expertise is lacking, but a response of this nature to an official document in an incomprehensible format is shocking.  It not only bears witness to unprofessionalism and maladministration, but also to many officials' and politicians of the ruling party's negative attitude towards Afrikaans.  We can only hope that the amendment of the Languages Bill is the beginning of a better dispensation.  AfriForum will monitor the situation with care and will promote and protect the rights of Afrikaans speakers wherever possible," Bailey concluded.

Statement issued by Alana Bailey, Deputy CEO: AfriForum, May 10 2012

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