Minister Meyer on Human Rights Celebrations
On 20 March, Minister Meyer visited the Afrikaans Taal Museum and the Taal Monument in Paarl. The visit, which took place on the eve of South Africa celebrating Human Rights Day, follows the minister's recent call on the Portfolio Committee on Arts and Culture (National Assembly) to consider the principles of redress, reconciliation, diversity and delivery for all in drafting a Language Users Bill for South Africa.
During the visit, the minister learnt from the Afrikaans Taal Museum that Afrikaans is being taught and promoted at learning centres and universities in 21 countries. 21 March is Human Rights Day and is therefore a perfect opportunity for the government to demonstrate that it is committed to respecting people's human rights, including their language rights.
Minister Meyer reiterated that there is a bigger issue at stake here. Language is a fundamental human right protected in the South African Constitution. He said, "It is my duty and responsibility to protect this right in the interest of all language users in South Africa. I will therefore approach the Human Rights Commission on Human Rights to ensure that the citizens of our province and South Africa are not robbed of their right to language diversity within a multicultural society."
The above follows the recent decision by Minister Meyer to launch a legal process to challenge the constitutionality of the SA Language Users Bill as it appears in its current form. In the interim, Minister Meyer welcomes the postponement of the Language Bill in the interest of having more constructive dialogue about the human rights aspect of language as enshrined in the Constitution.
South Africa is a constitutional democracy with a Bill of Rights that provides for equality on the basis of, amongst others, language.
Minister Meyer added, "It is indeed sad that on a day when we should be celebrating our multi-lingualism, this right is under attack from the ruling party. I also want to appeal to the national minister to show his commitment to the development of indigenous languages by establishing an Indigenous Language Museum with the sole purpose to actively promote historical marginalised indigenous languages as required by the Constitution."