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South African Languages Practitioners Council Bill Tabled in Parliament

July 25, 2017

Department of Arts and Culture

The South African Language Practitioners’ Council Bill (2013) was tabled in parliament yesterday and published in the Government Gazette last week.

The bill is an enabling legislation which will facilitate the effective implementation of the constitutional obligations concerning multilingualism and the Use of Official Languages Act (2012) by providing for the establishment of the South African Language Practitioners’ Council.

The aim of the bill is to provide for the objects, powers, duties and functions of the council and to determine the manner in which the council is to be managed, governed, staffed and financed.

The council will promote and protect language practice in South Africa by regulating the training of language practitioners and providing for the control of the accreditation and registration of language practitioners.

The other objects and functions of the council which is to be a national public entity and subject to the Public Finance Management Act include the following:
• Maintaining a national record of registered language practitioners.
• To develop, implement, revise and amend a code of ethics relating to the conduct of registered language practitioners.
• Protecting the professional interests of language practitioners
• Protecting the members of the public who make use of services provided by language practitioners.
• Providing efficient and effective language services to members of the public who seek the services of the council.
• Providing and encouraging the provision of opportunities for persons, especially from disadvantaged communities, to enter and participate in the language industry.
• Contributing to an enabling environment for job creation in the language industry.
• Advising the minister on matters affecting the language profession.

The council will consult with related entities including the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA), the Department of Arts and Culture, the Council for Higher Education (CHE) and the National Skills Authority.

The council will be active in promoting language practitioner training and making recommendations on the provision of such training as well as proposing levels of competency testing and the accreditation of qualifications.

The accreditations of voluntary associations that are in the field of translation, interpreting, lexicography, terminology and language editing will also be assessed by the council.

The council’s board will consist of at least eight but not more than 12 members who will each serve a five year term and be appointed by the minister.

The board will be constituted so that it represents a balance of interests of stakeholders including, but not limited to the following: the Departments of Basic Education, of Communications and of Justice and Constitutional Development, the CHE and SAQA.

The board will be responsible for formulating the procedure for accreditation applications and setting the fees applicable to the different categories of accreditation.

Registered practitioners who will be assessed against qualifications and experience to be prescribed by the board will be issued a certificate of registration for a period of one year and an annual fee will be required for subsequent years of certification.

In terms of the bill the minister may, in consultation with the board and by notice in the Gazette, make regulations regarding:
• The training of language practitioners.
• Control over the accreditation and registration of language practitioners.

Transitional provisions allow the council to recognise for a two year period any person admitted and enrolled by any division of the high court as a sworn translator and the accreditation granted by voluntary or other associations prior to the establishment of the council provided that the council may conduct a competency test if necessary.

The council will receive funds from appropriations by parliament, interest on its investments, registration and examinations fees upon implementation of the bill.

The bill was formulated after consultation with related stakeholders including, but not limited to the following:
• The Pan South African Language Board.
• MINMEC and the Technical Committee for Arts and Culture.
• South African Translators’ Institute.
• Department of Justice and Constitutional Development.
• Departments of Basic and Higher Education.
• The South African Local Government Association (SALGA).
• The National Treasury and the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA).

The bill will be referred to the National House of Traditional Leaders as language rights may impact on customary law and customs of traditional communities.

The notice of intention to introduce the bill to parliament was published in notice 606 in Gazette 36557 on 14 June 2013.

The South African Languages Bill (2011) was published in Gazette 34675 on 12 October 2012.