It is hard to be an isiZulu speaker in the Democratic South Africa. This week I was reminded how insignificant I am and how my language does not matter despite that it is the official language of the Republic. The National Consumer Tribunal sent me a letter that in its totality can be summed up as saying “take your fuc$%ing isiZulu and get lost”.
In 2013 I had written to Woolworths about issues of my account, I wrote in isiZulu, Woolworths showed me a middle finger! They responded in shocking ungrammatical and poor syntax isiZulu. I ended up at the National Credit Regulator (NCR). The NCR did not disappoint it also showed me a middle finger! I am still trying to recover from the letter written by Nosipho Zikishe! I reported this to the official Takalani Mudau and she subverted and protected her staff and ultimately told me in polite bureaucratic terms to “F*%k Off”! Oh Well I was referred to the National Consumer Tribunal (NCT).
At the NCT I was showed flames! For a minute I took my pen and wrote “Dear Ta’mkhulu Robert Sobukwe, I am an African and I still do not matter, please tell utata uBiko that his blood is still red and fresh, if you happen to meet your teacher ntate moholo Makhaola Bolofo, tell him that indeed the battle is not over, la lutta continua”
I wrote to the NCT in isiZulu asking for assistance, you must know that this organisation works under the auspices of the National Credit Act which in its section 63 and 64 stipulates that we the citizens of the Republic can and must be addressed in our languages if we so wish. Moreover, there is the Use of Official Languages Act 12 of 2012 which lay down that the government entities, enterprises and national departments must choose 3 or more languages of governance and must have a language unit. In the Language Policy of the NCT in section 8.2.2 it states “The NCT has adopted eleven (11) official languages of the Republic of South Africa as its official languages for the purposes of this policy” and it further stipulates in 8.2.4 that:
“The NCT will endeavour to address queries from members of the public in their language of choice, provided that a member of the NCT speaks the language. If a member of the NCT staff does not speak the relevant language, the NCT will arrange appropriate interpretation and translation services, within twenty (20 working days from receipt of the request”
Thus I expected that the NCT being an extension of the Justice system it is capacitated and ready for speakers of isiZulu. Little did I know that I am opening a can of worms!
My application was ignored. I phoned the offices after two weeks to find out what happened. The first consultant engaged me and then dropped my call. The next attempt to call was in vain. As people picked the phone and dropped it. I phoned in some guy’s office and spoke in English. Aha only then I was assisted. He asked me to resend the email. I did and the application was launched. I insisted to be addressed in isiZulu and whatever paperwork must come in isiZulu, and then the matter was handled by Elliot Nyoni. Shame, he tried his best, until he was irritated and decided to drop me.
I processed all the other documents they requested, despite them being in English. I only refused to sign the one they call CONDONATION. Apparently this one is to request that the NCT consider my matter because I filed late. Remember that I wrote to them in isiZulu and for two weeks they ignored my email? Yes, now I must request them to consider because I was “LATE”! I refused, this was to say because I wrote in an unimportant and insignificant language I must suffer. Had they responded to my email on time and had all the documents in isiZulu, my application was going to be on time. Now I must sign a CONDONATION! What am I condoning? That writing in isiZulu is superfluous?
I spoke to Preneshen Moodley over the phone, ironically that day I was within a Woolworths shop. He told me to proceed to the equity court but they can’t deal with my matter if I do not sign this condonation form. I told him they are discriminating against my language and this is unconstitutional. He told me they do not have a capacity and I should be concentrating on getting my matter to be considered, not justice for my language and the 22% of the population of the Republic who are isiZulu speakers. Preneshen was happy that I was going to F-off and consult PanSALB or the Equity Court of the Commission for CRL. He said it with so much pride “Go ahead, if you think that will work for you”. Indeed I contacted the toothless watchdog PanSALB and till this day they are still trying to find their way around this. Shame poor Dr Monareng who inherited this limping organisation, he is still trying to give it the Physiotherapy so it can walk properly again. So I am patient.
The NCT apparently sent me a Notice of Incomplete Filing in July, Preneshen making sure that I eff off. I accepted my fate and worked with PanSALB to try and at least get justice on my language rights. Surprisingly enough the NCT wrote me a letter yesterday and it was in isiZulu. Goodness me! The errors in the letter and the quality of the language actually put the last K of the F-word! As if to add insult to injury, this letter really reminded me that I do not matter, that my linguistic rights are a far-fetched idea in this country. I remain a disempowered citizen and I ask a simple question how does a 70 year old consumer who speaks no English supposed to go through all this frivolous paperwork when she wants justice?
I took the letter and red-penned it. Now tell me that our constitution says all eleven languages share a parity of esteem. Is this it? I will call PanSALB and here from them what do I do in this case. Will I ever be served by an institution with respect and dignity as a taxpayer and a citizen in the republic? For now, I take my Zulu and Fu$*k off, because a plate of discrimination has been served hot and fresh out of the NCT’S kitchen. Solomon Mahlangu’s body is turning in his grave.