Use of Local Languages in Public Institutions Not a Labour Offense

Filed under: Special Comments |

Joyce Nonde Simukoko

Zambian languages are allowed in service institutions to communicate with clients or members of the community who otherwise do not speak or write in English. Knowledge of Local Languages in public services is key to effectively serve the members of the public.
This is very important in public service! English could only be used with community members who would start their engagement in English. This means that whatever your tribe/mother tongue, PUBLIC servants must strive to speak the local language in the area where they operate. It may be a school, a clinic, hospital, social welfare, police, lands or other public institutions that service the public. This is very important in order for our public workers to be relevant in communities or departments they serve this nation.

Majority of the members of the community especially in rural areas do communicate in local languages as they seek public services in which english would be a big barrier if used on illiterate citizens and this would be tantamount to poor public relations and poor service delivery.

Elite members of the community must understand and appreciate that public service attention to the members of the public is diverse and must NOT feel insulted when civil servants speak in a local language of that particular area or region! No Zambian language must be criminalized or alienated.

If indeed a medical personnel has been suspended for using one of the offocial regional local languages, then it is unfairly done and the relevant Trade Union needs to move in and defend and protect workers against any form of INJUSTICE especially a new era of colonialism.

Trade unions leadership must be relevant and available to their members whenever their services are needed. We cannot allow some Zambians to be alienated in their own country. This is unacceptable!

I call on the health administration in Southern Province to ensure that public service code is adhered to and avoid any form of witch hunting in the public service.

The public must not fuel acrimony and hatred especially against the civil servants who are working tirelessly and under rough conditions to serve this nation. We must appreciate that the ministry of health is currently operating below 50 percent of qualified health personnel and sacrifices of existing health workers must NOT be undermined by our political incubation!

Thank you

Lewis Mwape
Development Activist


5 Responses to Use of Local Languages in Public Institutions Not a Labour Offense

  1. A lope sided comment. Using a local languages is not the usual here. The issue is denying a fellow citizen medical care because he/she does not speak the local language even though you’re able to communicate with that person in a third language. You totally missed the point Mwape and your analysis needs robust resuscitation.

    Vantage Point
    January 4, 2019 at 5:49 am

  2. The health practictioner erred by insisting that the lady with a sick child must first speak the language she was not capable to speak before she could be attended to. That is wrong. She could only speak English to this man because at his level of education English is a must to know. Don’t politicize this matter. A wrong is a wrong no matter what justification you want to put across.

    January 4, 2019 at 1:36 pm

    • He didn’t insist !! Understand that the man was ALONE,and he didn’t deny the lady the service she needed for her child. Don’t ruin this guy’s career,

      January 4, 2019 at 8:23 pm

  3. I watched that video but I did not hear the nurse insisting on the use of Tonga as a condition. If indeed he did then the matter should be dealt with administratively – with a view to counsel him, and not to cause more harm that what he has already suffered.

    Surely, why did the lady not remain silent if at at all she did not understand the Tonga greeting; and how could the nurse have known that she does not understand Tonga? She was quick to pick her phone and start taking pictures instead of establishing proper communication between the two so that she would get her child treated. What about her husband who seems to have taken a “let’s see” approach? Couldn’t he have intervened?

    You go to a clinic in say Western province and expect that people will greet you in Tumbuka. Just know that you do not mean well. No single Zambian language is above the rest – be it Tonga, Bemba, Lozi, Nyanja, etc.

    My view is that we should not over politicise this issues and let it die. A lesson has been learnt by both parties and the public should also know that civil servant need to be appreciated and not demonised.


    January 7, 2019 at 8:52 am

  4. Don’t be quick to judge more especially when you,re not preview to what really transpired. In the video clip it is only the client (the woman) complaining but nothing was heard from the nurse. It may be prejudice to conclude on who was wrong and to what maginitude.

    January 7, 2019 at 10:03 am

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Start: 2019-07-01 End: 2019-07-31