Running proceedings and judgment calls in English infringes the rights of majority Tanzanians who don’t know the foreign language well to use it in legal matters where their lives and well being are at stake.
The call was made to the judiciary system by residents of Mkinga district in Tanga region during a public debate on land rights and land governance issues organised by Haki Ardhi last week.
Contributing on the debate, a resident of Vunde Manyinyi, Gombero ward, Steven Yona Gerald wondered why the district land and housing tribunal, high court and the court of appeal use English while Majority of Tanzanians only understand Kiswahili.
The villagers also said the government should make sure that all contracts entered between the villagers and the investors are written in Kiswahili allowing the villagers to understand the content and terms of reference before signing the contracts.
The psychological effect upon the villagers subjected to the experience is one of humiliation and degradation, the use of English undermines their integrity and intelligence.
Commenting on the matter, Advocate Joseph Chiombola who is also an expert on environment and land use clarified the matter. He explained that all cases in the village land and ward tribunals are heard in Kiswahili as the decisions.
He however conceded that the cases in the district land and housing tribunal, high court and the court of appeal use English. He did not specify on future plans as to whether they intend to maintain the practice or adopt Kiswahili at all levels of the judicial system as the villagers requested.