Wilson Chipangura, Guest Reporter
PRETORIA – The opposition, Democratic Alliance party on Monday filed a complaint with the Human Rights Commission (HRC) against Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande over his defining of Afrikaans as a “foreign” language in South Africa.
DA called Nzimande’s remarks “hateful and unconstitutional insistence”
The DA’s complaint to the HRC follows from the Constitutional Court’s recent judgment in the Unisa language case, which codified into South Africa’s constitutional law that Afrikaans is an indigenous language.
“By continuing to defy the court on this matter, Nzimande is undermining the right to mother-tongue education and violating the rights of Afrikaans speakers to dignity and equality,” the white dominated party said in a statement.
Earlier this year, the DA challenged minister Nzimande, in the new Language Policy Framework for Public Higher Education Institutions, in which he had excluded Afrikaans from the definition of indigenous languages.
“The policy only defined languages that “belong to the Southern Bantu language family” as indigenous. This incorrect, unscientific and hurtful exclusion of Afrikaans has already been used by Stellenbosch University (SU) to further its agenda of abolishing Afrikaans at the institution,” the DA said.
The party had previously written to the minister demanding that the definition be changed to recognise Afrikaans as an indigenous language with status equal to all other indigenous South African languages.
Nzimande is accused of ignoring the request, which has forced the DA to forward that correspondence to the HRC to prove that he “is willfully and deliberately discriminating against Afrikaans”.
“From both a scientific and legal perspective, there is simply no doubt that Afrikaans is as indigenous to South Africa as the quiver tree and the protea.
“This much was confirmed by justice Steven Majiedt, who wrote the Constitutional Court judgement in the case that reinstates Afrikaans at Unisa.
“Majiedt recognises the crucial role played by “indigenous peoples and enslaved peoples” in the development of Afrikaans, and explicitly refers to “indigenous languages, including Afrikaans.”
Justice Majiedt also dismissed the characterisation of Afrikaans as “the language of the oppressor” as “entirely misconceived and [one that] flies in the face of the true history of its origins and development.”
“By continuing to exclude Afrikaans from the definition of indigenous languages for what appear to be purely ideological and political reasons, Blade Nzimande stands in direct defiance of the Constitution and is actively undermining the language rights and human rights to dignity and equality of Afrikaans-speakers.
“The DA calls on the HRC to deal swiftly and decisively with Nzimande to ensure that Afrikaans takes its rightful place as an official, indigenous South African language.
“If Nzimande were to peek out from behind his ideological blinkers for even a moment, he could instead embrace our country’s diversity by taking heed of Majiedt’s description of Afrikaans as “a heterogeneous, rainbow language” that encapsulates “a marvellous paradox of human ingenuity and creativity.
“It is the language of prince and pauper alike, existing comfortably in academia and the professions on the one hand, and in every-day parlance on the other.”