By Mashudu Netsianda
Bulawayo-based lawyer Mr Nqobani Sithole is suing the Registrar-General over errors and misspellings of IsiNdebele words on the Zimbabwe passport.
Mr Sithole, who filed the application at the Bulawayo High Court in his personal capacity, said a number of spelling errors on the passport, caught his attention and he attributed the mistakes to the RG’s Office.
In papers before the court, the Registrar-General was cited as a respondent.
Mr. Sithole wants an order declaring the incorrect use of IsiNdebele language inconsistent with the equitable treatment of IsiNdebele language in terms of section 6 (3) of the Constitution.
He wants an order directing the Registrar-General to correct some of the words and phrases used in translating English into IsiNdebele language in the travel documents.
Some of the phrases that he is challenging include: “Ukuthathelwa labo ababe belayo”, which he wants substituted with “ukuthathelwa lowo ozabe elayo.”
Mr. Sithole said the words “okunga fanelanga” must be replaced with a single word “okungafanelanga” with “we pasipoti” being substituted with “wephasipoti.” He argued that the word “ivhiza” was not proper and should be replaced with “iviza” and “ukuphatwa” with “ukuphathwa.”
Other words that Mr. Sithole wants corrected are “emphahleni” which he said should read “empahleni”, “kwaloko” should be substituted with “kwalokho.”
He said “isidhindo” should be substituted with “isidindo” and “epejini” with “ephejini.”
Mr Sithole said in the event that the Registrar-General challenges the application, he should pay the legal costs.
The Registrar-General Mr Clement Masango is on suspension following theft charges arising from allegations of abuse of fuel coupons worth more than $100 000 from the Central Registry. He is also facing criminal abuse of office charges. Mr Henry Machiri is the acting Registrar-General.
In his founding affidavit, Mr. Sithole said the basis of the application was to invoke the High Court’s jurisdiction as set out in section 17 (1) (c) of the Constitution.
“I am a Zimbabwean citizen and entitled to a number of rights and freedoms including freedom of movement and residence as set out in section 66 (1) (c) of the Constitution, which encompasses the right to have a passport,” he said.
“The same Constitution in section 6 (3) (a) guarantees every person’s right to the use of a language of one’s choice.
“I am a native speaker of IsiNdebele language, which not only defines my culture, but millions of others in Zimbabwe.”
Mr. Sithole expressed concern over the incorrect spellings of IsiNdebele words and phrases by state institutions and agencies, saying it reflects a lack of respect for the language.
“I am very worried that a trend has developed in Zimbabwe about a seemingly determined effort to decimate, mutilate and generally treat with disdain my language IsiNdebele by the Registrar-General. Recently, police did the same when social media was awash with pictures of a sign post at Magwegwe Police Station showing Magwegwe written as Magwegewe,” he said.
Police later issued an apology to members of the public after messages started circulating on social media showing Magwegwe writing as Magwegewe.
Mr Sithole said the glaring errors on his passport undermine his right to have his language protected in terms of section 6 (3) (a) of the Constitution.
“The single word ‘kayikhululi’ has been wrongly split to appear as if there are two separate words kayi khululi. On pages 46, 47 and 48, in paragraph two after the header of page, the IsiNdebele word ‘akuvunyelwa’ has been wrongly written ‘akuvhunyelwa,” he said.
“On pages 46, 47 and 48, in paragraph two in line two (after the header to the page, the IsiNdebele word ‘kwalokho’ has been wrongly written as ‘kwaloko.”
The RG is yet to respond. The Chronicle