Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Patrick Matibini says he will render a measured ruling at an appropriate time concerning a matter where Times OF Zambia has been publishing some news stories in Chinese.
His ruling was made after Monze Central UPND member of parliament Jack Mwiimbu rose to seek for the Speaker’s ruling on why the cited public newspaper had repeatedly been publishing articles in Chinese and not in any Zambian languages.
About a week ago, there were social media debates about why Times Zambia had been published articles in Chinese and after Information Minister Dora Siliya suggested that they were trying to survive the harsh market.
Mwiimbu told the house that the language was discriminatory to the Zambian people as no one could interpret it and that it was against constitutional abrogation.
“Mr Speaker I rise on a point of order pursuant to Article 23 of the Constitution of Zambia dealing with the issues of discrimination. Mr speaker, it’s true that this country by virtue of the Constitution and the provision I have quoted, the Government of the Republic of Zambia by itself or through it’s agencies should not be discriminating against anyone who is a Zambian or resident in Zambia. Mr Speaker, I’ve noted that the Times of Zambia which is an authority funded by the public tax payer has been discriminating against Zambians and against the majority of Zambian tribes in this country. Mr speaker, I have a copy of the Times of Zambia published on Tuesday October 9th 2018 and it’s edition number 18197. Mr speaker, on page two of this publication, there is an interpretation I presume by the Times of Zambia on an article that appeared on the first page of the Times of Zambia and is being replicated on the second page of the Times of Zambia and the headline [is] ‘SADC mutes DRC peace,” Mwiimbu said.
“And the article Mr Speaker is in Chinese. There has been no such article in Bemba, in Tonga, in Lozi, in Lunda or in any other language in this country of the people who reside in Zambia. We are aware Mr speaker that the official language in this country is English. Why is the government finding it proper and prudent in its wisdom to start interpreting articles that are appearing in the newspapers to interpret them in Chinese.”
At this point, opposition MPs started making gibberish Chinese commentaries as they were heard shoulting ‘Ummmmm Chambia, Chambia, nihou…’
Mwiimbi further asked the speaker if the Minister of Information was in order to allow such a thing to continue happening at the expense of the majority Zambians.
“Is the honourable Minister of Information Mr Speaker in order to remain quiet and not inform us that Chinese is now an officials language in this country and that we can start speaking Chinese? is she in order to discriminate me and other people in this country in preference of Chinese? Is she in order to abrogate the Constitution of Zambia?” Mwiimbu asked.
In his ruling, Dr Matibini said he would render a measured ruling on the subject.
“My ruling is that I need to have recourse to what is being alleged in the point of order, study the same and also render a measured ruling on the subject. So in that regard I will reserve my ruling,” said Dr Matibini.