Kabwila says Malawi Parliament should use vernacular  languages for deliberations

Malawi Parliament should consider conducting their deliberations in vernacular languages debates in order to narrow the gap that exists between policy makers and communities on the ground, lawmaker Dr. Jessie Kabwira of Malawi Congress Party (MCP) has suggested.

Kabwila:  Time to allow MPs speak their dialect

Kabwila: Time to allow MPs speak their dialect

Kabwila who is Malawi Parliament Committee’s Chairperson on Women Caucus and a Member of Parliament for Salima North West Constituency made the call on her arrival from the sidelines of the SADC Parliamentary Forum which Malawi and other 12 countries held last week in Ezulwini, Swaziland.

The MCP spokesperson who was  elected Southern Africa Development Community (SADC)’s Women Parliamentary Caucus Chairperson, pleaded with lawmakers to consider deliberating their debates in local languages for an effective communication.

She told journalists in the capital Lilongwe that the conference agreed to advocate the use of vernacular for Parliament debates if the region is to benefit from its quest for social-economic growth between member states’ policy makers and implimenters.

“You find that all policy document and deliberations are done in English, and yet only a few of us can analyze and translate them into practice and usage to the general public who most of them don’t understand due to high illiteracy levels.

“It’s high time therefore our Parliament started conducting deliberations in a language most accessible to our voters in rural areas where we are operating from. The use of vernacular has taken grounds in other countries including South Africa, Tanzania and Botswana which are in SADC. So, why not with Malawi? This the reason I’m setting the ball rolling that the rest of members in the August House can buy the ideas as soon as possible”, urges Kabwila.

Lecturer at Mzuzu University, Crispin Mphande,  noted that most legislators are not contributing anything because of the same language barrier.

“ Nonetheless, they would have contributed if given the chance to express their opinions in their mother tongue,” said Mphande.

Historically, since Malawi adopted English as an official language, in most official meetings, vernacular languages are not considered.

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23 thoughts on “Kabwila says Malawi Parliament should use vernacular  languages for deliberations”

  1. MKUPHWASIKA says:

    Local languages!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. MKUPHWASIKA says:

    She didnt say anthu azilankhula Chichewa bwanji kodi nanunso?Read again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Kwadanji says:

    Zomwe akuchita Kabwila ndi zomwe imachita ministry of Education, adopting any novel idea to change syllabus so long as a donor dangles money. One day they will tell you that this is a better assessment method and they will come tomorrow and say but the best method is this one. One Phillip Business with his Malata and Cement Subsidy programme was on air last night. Visiting beneficiaries in Mzimba Solola. I can tell yu the guy struggled to communicate with old gurus whose only language id Tumbuka. One old lady asked a youngster to translate Chichewa into Tumbuka for her to respond. She said “mundiyowolereko” meaning please interpret for me. This is one but an isolated example. So my question to Jessie is, which language will be spoken so that everyone in the villages in Malawi understands?

  4. Chimbolo Chidyenji says:

    Gogodasi ali ndi mfundo. Kabwila is a lecturer in English. She knows that there are some words which are well understood when said in English than Chichewa. The diction in Chichewa is very limited. You can’t compare with languages like Swahili which have a rich diction such that the entire science subject can be taught in Swahili. Some objects are also respectable when mentioned in English. For instance, if you say she pulled her husband’s penis, it becomes lighter than saying the same in Chichewa.

  5. Gogodasi says:

    Issa, don’t be myopic. There is a difference between a country that was under colonialism and those that colonised others. In other words, colonial legacy is what is dictating the systems of other countries in the world like Malawi. The countries you have mentioned have never been colonised and they had to develop their own systems from scratch and yet our parliamentary system is patterned after the British system and France’s former colonies in West Africa and elsehwre in the world for instance followed suit. I am afraid I would not buy your argument because Malawi has no influence over any country in the world not even in SADC while those countries you have mentioned have a greater influence. Go to Asia today, you will find that countries like Pakistan, Indian and others there are learning Chinese, but the Chinese would never learn Hind or Urdu – this is the point. One thing you should know about South Africa is that it is a power house in this region and if we are not careful it can exert its influence to a point where we shall have no ground to stand on other than maintaining our tradition that we learnt from the British. I am however, not suggesting that everything that we learnt from the British is good, but if we feel we can change certain things, it must come from us and not copying from what other countries in the region are doing – that will be suicidal. What is the language used by Mozambique, Angola,East Timor and Guinea Bissau? Of course it is Portuguese and there are several advantages to that. The question we should ask ourselves is that why is it that countries that were under France have the majority of their citizens speak Frenc with ease just like Portrugues and not English. Once we find the answer to this question, deliberating in English in parliament would not be an issue. Go to Liberia today, you will find that all Liberians speak English even in the villages – this means the educated and un educated and why not Malawi? I can gladly tell you that it is because of thinking like Kabwila who are not foresighted that are making things to be the way they are. I do appreciate one has to be progressive in their thinking, but in the manner Kabwila is doing – wangotengeka without looking at pros and cons.

  6. DeadEnd says:

    I agree with Kabwil. her main argument is that the citizens are not able to follow deliberatios in parlimanent becaise of high iliteracy levels. Poor participation of MPs is also an isue, but not the most critical one. When one analyses the comments, the focus is on MPs’ capacity to talk in English. Should nyasatimes also be in vernacula so everyone can understand postings like this?

  7. Issa says:

    Good, I support this one, So many civilised countries use their languages not because they are not educated but communication is a two way process. Countries like Denmark, Switzerland, Norway, China, Russia, France , Germany, Italy, Ukraine, Turkey and many don’t use English because is a borrowed language apart from being C………….

  8. Mwananyanian says:

    Kabwila-Kapasula’s proposal just confirms my previous suspicion: that she just adopts many ideas holus bolus, without even a rudimentary analysis. …and it has taken her only one (allowanceable) meeting/conference to come up with this nonsense!
    This is a nonstarter in Malawi. For reasons some of which are obvious: we are a VERY poor country. And who’s going to pay for the translation services into all the indigenous languages of ours etc etc?
    This girl should have consulted knowledgeable people before throwing this idea out like this. But NO, she’s NOT a team player. Rather a know-it-all. Aaaaaaaa.
    And people cannot analyse issues because of lack of analytical capacity. In schools to start with. And a local dialect will not improve that capacity.

  9. Gogodasi says:

    Mayi Kabwila zomwe mukuganizazi ndi zoti ku Nyumba ya malalamulo kudadze mbuli, mamalo mwake pakamakhala maulendo akunja osantha chingerezi samayenda nao chifukwa sakamwa zokombarana zomwe nthawi zambiri zimakhala m’chingerezi. M’mawlo mwake muzipita ndinu nokha nokha pomanamizira kuti mumamva chingerezi. .Apa mukufuna kubweretsa ndale zoponderezana. Palibe nkhani yapa.kenako mudyambanso kuti ku university maphunziro azikhala m’chichewa. Musaiwale boma m’buyomu linatiuza kuti mwana amaphunzira bwino m’chinenero chake ku praimale, koma ndi MP angati anasiya ana ao ku primary za boma? Nonse munawachotsa ana anu nsikukawaika ku sukulu za priveti chifukwa choti akaphunzire chingerezi chifukwa oterewa ndi omwe amachita bwino ngakhale m’mainterview a ntchito omwe amakhala m’chingerezi. Musatipusitsa ife chifukwa cha kalionera. Asiyeni enao azicha zao, nafe tichite zathu basi.

  10. Kkkkkkkkkkkkkk kodi nchifukwa chake ujeni uyu amangoti phwiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii osayankhula kuopa chingende? Kkkkkkkkkk enafe tikamayankhula ngende moyendamu amakana zoti ndife amalawi

  11. john says:

    I DONT AGREE WITH WHAT DR KABWILA IS SAYING. MAKING A SPEECH IN CHICHEWA OR INDEED ANY OTHER LANGUAGE WILL JUST BRING CONFUSION IN THE HOUSE. FOR EXAMPLE, CHITIPA HAS 13 LANGUAGES, WILL YOU ALLOW MPS TO SPEAK IN THESE LANGUAGES?

    MY EXPERIENCE HAS SHOWN THAT ALOTHOUGH AM A TONGA, I FIND IT EASIER TO COMMUNICATE IN ENGLISH THAT MY LOCAL LANGUAGE. EACH TIME I SPEAK IN TONGA, I HARDLY FINISH SENTENCE BEFORE I SWITCH TO ENGLISH.

    APART FROM THAT, SOME OF OUR LANGUAGES HAVE VERY LIMITED VOCABULARLY SUCH THAT FOR ONE TO EXPLAIN A POINT, IT WILL BE A NIGHTMARE.

    IF YOU WANT, ALLOW PEOPLE TO SPEAK LANGUAGE OF THEIR CHOICE BE IT ENGLISH OR LOCAL.

  12. Mwala mbee says:

    Are you trying to insinuate that non English speaking (would be) MPs are uneducated? Wrong. They could be educated. It is undemocratic to bar non english speaking prospective MPs in Parliment when they are loved by their constituents. Who are choosing our MPs then ?Local people or You English venerators?

  13. VXX says:

    Kabwila is right. To imprison your local languages in your National Parliament and exalt a language of our colonial masters is foolishness of the highest order. In RSA for example they embrace their local languages in Parliament together with English. It is not good ambition to sweat to speak other peoples languages when those other people don’t do the same. In fact it is morally wrong for a good majority of rural Malawian to miss discussions in Parliament because of Language barrier.

  14. Xander says:

    There is sense in what Hon kabwila is saying, it is un arguable that Chichewa is spoken by wide population of Malawians and for somebody to argue based on tribes for something which is a known fact is really regrettable. I would propose that both Chichewa and English should be acceptable in parliament for effective deliberations; English though being official language in Malawi, it remains a foreign language that came to Africa by a canoe, hence no African can claim to speak it with highest proficiency unless he or she grew up in English speaking countries; of which in case of our honourable members few grew up there. MALAWI PARLIAMENT IS FOR MALAWIANS NOT FOREIGN NATIONALS AND IT MAKES SENSE TO CONDUCT DELIBERATIONS IN MALAWIAN POPULAR LANGUAGE!!!! of which chichewa is.

  15. Gogodasi says:

    Kabwila, your argument that in South Africa, Botswana and Tanzania use vernacular language in parliament and then Malawi should do the same is weak. There are many complications to your suggestion and to mention a few in those countries, take Tanzania for instance use Swahili and which language is going to be adopted in Malawi when you will not have majority support for Chichewa which at the moment is already facing problems to be accepted in other regions? 2. Do you know that we set the standards for those aspiring to become an MP and the yard stick is English language proficiency because as you rightly said, most policy documents are in English then MPs must be able to understand those documents well. 3.The moment you introduce vernacular language, you should expect a barrage of uneducated people aspiring to become MP’s that will make the situation even worse if you say policy documents are all written in English because translating them into vernacular language will extremely be expensive. Don’t be retrospective, we must be ambitious enough as a nation. Your campaign is non-starter mama, think of something better, osatengeka wamva!!!. Ndimakuona ngati wophunzira to be able to analyze situastions, paja ndi wa ma language, you do not have the capacity to analyze things, khope kupita komwe kukupita mphepo. Ask those who did social sciences about the importance of analysis.

    1. Matako says:

      Gogodasi are you just arguing for the sake of arguing?

  16. Dr Manga Sc says:

    Then why do MPs go for English proficiency test ?????????

    1. Matako says:

      Yes. Why? Are we in England?

  17. Mbonga Matoga says:

    Mrs Kabwila mwaphunzila liti chinkhonde, nanga Chisena mumachidziwa? Mwina chiyao chokha mungamveko poti tizibwezi tomwe mukugonana nato pano tija nditi a Chawa.

    The reason why we have English as an official language in parlinment is obvious. If you say that you should communicate in Chichewa would that please the Nkhondes, Nyakyusas, Lomwes, Yaos, Tumbukas, Senas, Ngonis, Mang’anjas etc?

    1. kawawa says:

      Indeed, whose mother tongue? Tanziania has not been a good example in using parliamentary vernacular for development. Has there been any research on this argument? Probably only Local Government meetings should take use particular local languages. For those of us from Mpherembe would want Chingoni; while in Luchenza we want Elukuluku. Speaking in tongues never united the church for development until Paul argued for a common language.

      1. john says:

        KABWILA, CAN YOU TELL US WHICH LANGUAGE SHOULD BE USED IN PARLY INSTEAD?

        YOU THINK AMBWENUMBWENU ALORA KUTI MUZILANKHULA MCHICHEWA AND LEAVE ASIDE THEIR TUMBUKA? AS I WRITE THIS, TUMBUKAS REFUSED TO OFFICIALLY RECOGNIZE CHICHEWA AS A NATIONAL LANGUAGE AND YET BY DEFAULT IT IS JUST THAT. THEY EVEN WROTE A VERY BIG BILL BOARD AT THE ENTRANCE OF SOME SYNOD OFFICES IN MZUZU SAYING “NO CHICHEWA IN THIS REGION”

        EEEISH! THIS IS A NON-STARTER!!

      2. victor says:

        Join the discussion
        Do you all know that most of our MPs do not participate in talking in parliament because they can not speak English? Only those have gone to school are ably to participate. You are old enough and have seen this. Kabwira is right unless you think in favour of your brothers and sisters who have problems or do not participate in the talking in parliament. You do not need the herbalist to prove for you.

    2. Matako says:

      Fokof! We all speak chichewa. Tizilankhulo tinato you can speak in your bedrooms

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