Blinded by English fluency: iLIVE

02 November 2012 - 02:06 By Masitha Hoeane, Pretoria East
President Jacob Zuma and DA leader Helen Zille  File photo.
President Jacob Zuma and DA leader Helen Zille File photo.
Image: ELIZABETH SEJAKE

In the South African electoral system, parties are elected, not individuals. That reduces the political significance of individuals. So why do we have hype about a Jacob Zuma-Helen Zille debate?

The ANC has a pact with the South African electorate, not the president.

For a quality debate to take place, parties should give us their best debaters - and no one may pick an opponent. Also, each candidate must debate in a language of their choice - that is a right.

It is arrogant to predict a winner, as some are doing. The flawed assumption of that line of thinking is that the debate shall be conducted in English.

The language issue has mostly been given lip service, even though it affects every facet of life. People have been adjudged daft, inept and so forth because of their inability to speak English. Language can make a fool look smart and a smart person look foolish. When you speak English, you bow to the master and, concomitantly, to the values and world view embedded in the language.

I am not anti any language, but I do become concerned when language becomes an agent of disempowerment.

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