Zimbabwe/ 4.2 Specific policy issues and recent debates  

4.2.5 Language issues and policies

Zimbabwe has three main languages namely Shona, Ndebele and English.  Of the three languages English remains the official language. The issue of language policies is an on-going debate in Zimbabwe. In 1997, African state representatives gathered in Harare, Zimbabwe for an intergovernmental conference on language policies in Africa hosted by UNESCO in order to discuss the question of language planning and policy in Africa. The meeting resulted in the Harare Declaration in which each country represented declared its commitment to the vision for Africa (ocpa.irmo.hr/resources/docs/Harare_Language_Declaration-en.pdf).

There are three main national languages in In addition to the three main national languages; there are fourteen minority indigenous languages as follows:
· Kalanga (predominantly spoken Zimbabwe but also spoken in Botswana)
· Nyanja/Chewa (predominantly spoken in Malawi)
· Tonga (predominantly spoken in Zambia; also spoken in Namibia, Botswana, and Mozambique)
· Nambya (Zimbabwean)
· Hwesa (Zimbabwean)
· Shangani (predominantly spoken in South Africa; also spoken in Mozambique)
· Barwe (predominantly spoken in Mozambique)
· Sotho (predominantly spoken in Lesotho, also Africa)
· Venda (predominantly spoken in South Africa)
· Chikunda (predominantly spoken in Mozambique; also Zambia)
· Xhosa (predominantly spoken in South Africa)
· Sena (predominantly spoken in Mozambique)
· Tshwawo (Khoisan) (also spoken in Botswana, Namibia, and Zambia)
· Tswana (predominantly spoken in Botswana and South Africa) 

The minority groups constitute approximately 10% of the total Zimbabwean population. Six of these minority languages, namely, Kalanga, Shangani, Chewa, Venda, Tonga, and Nambya are officially recognized (Thondhlana: http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/~jar/ILAC/ILAC_4.pdf).


Chapter published: 28-09-2011


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