Constitution of Zimbabwe (Amendment No: 20 2013)
To give impetus to the recognition of sixteen languages namely Chewa, Chibarwe, English, Kalanga, Koisan, Nambya, Ndau, Ndebele, Shangani, Shona, Sotho, Tonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa and Sign Language as official means of communication.
To lay the basis for the prescription of other languages as official means of communication through an Act of Parliament.
To give the power to the State and all its institutions and agencies to ensure that all officially recognized languages are treated equitably and to take into account the language preferences of people affected by governmental measures or communications.
Language is pivotal in cultural expressions. Measures brought about by the Constitution are both legislative and regulatory. Previously marginalised and so-called minority languages are now being treated just like the other dominant languages. Use of indigenous languages therefore enhances cultural expressions particularly in the intangible realm. People from all over the country through the constitutional provisions can now fully express themselves in their own mother languages, giving the nation an opportunity to unearth those cultural expressions that were hitherto “suppressed” owing to languages. The situation is further buttressed by the opening up of radio and television stations with some of them dedicated to using indigenous languages as a medium of communication. Furthermore, the Zimbabwean Constitution fully recognizes the role of Traditional Leaders who are considered to be the custodians of the Zimbabwean culture and its attendant expressions both in the tangible and intangible forms. According to the Constitution under Article 16, it is the obligation of the State and all its institutions and agencies and indeed all Zimbabwean citizens to preserve and protect Zimbabwe’s Cultural Heritage while at the same time respecting the dignity of traditional institutions.
The main feature of the measure is informed by the constitutionality of cultural matters. By virtue of making culture matters constitutional, the State party is alive to the fact that culture and its attendant expressions is a fundamental aspect of people’s lives. All aspects of culture including language are therefore matters of constitutionalism. Zimbabwean citizens in their diversity are therefore duty-bound to respect all tenets of the supreme law of the land and through that alone, respect the cultural diversity of the land and their respective expressions. Today in Zimbabwe the diversity of cultural expressions are treated with the same reverence just like other constitutional provisions like human rights, property rights, citizenship and many other constitutional matters.
In relation to culture and its expressions, the constitutional measure ensures that the citizen of Zimbabwe:
- Respect cultural diversity;
- Use indigenous languages in official communication as well as expressing themselves culturally;
- Respect traditional leadership that is the custodian of the country’s revered Ubuntu/Hunhu that is the epitome of the Zimbabwean culture;
- Preserve, promote and market the nation’s cultural heritage in tangible and tangible forms (including cultural expressions) as an important component of world culture;
- Through the respect and elevation of culture, exploit business opportunities presented by cultural industries for the benefit of communities and the nation at large;
- Use the cultural sphere as a sustainable source for life-long sources of livelihoods;
- Ensure that community development at whatever level takes cognizance of peoples’ cherished values, beliefs and ethos;
- Encourage marginalised and often overlooked communities of the nation to fully participate in programmes and activities designed to flaunt national culture;
- Preserve, promote and document cultural practices threatened with extinction;
- Promote peaceful co-existence and harmony through absolute respect for cultural diversity.
Treasury allocation for the responsible Ministry and all its institutions and agencies working in the area of arts and culture.