Court Interpreter Training at the Crossroads: Challenges and Future Prospects for Zimbabwe

Paul Svongoro


Zimbabwe’s National Language Policy (1998) and The Constitution of the Republic of Zimbabwe (Amendment No. 20 of 2013)
safeguard linguistic human rights and are both very clear on the need for the provision of court interpreters where the
accused/complainant is not familiar with the language of the courts of law, namely English. Although significant strides have
been made towards fulfilling this constitutional requirement by ensuring that all courts provide interpreters as and when
required, the effort has not been supported by either the availability of a properly designed curriculum to ensure the availability
of qualified interpreters or by the existence of a professional association, which could ensure that there is a professional code
of ethics to which members must adhere or face sanction. This situation does not augur well for the practical intentions of court
interpreting, particularly those aspects to do with the quality of court interpreting in Zimbabwe. It is against this background that
court interpreting remains a contested area, with interpreters on several occasions being accused of misrepresentations and
misinterpretations. This paper therefore explores the challenges Zimbabwe is facing in interpreter training and the prospects
that lie ahead for the future. The paper argues that instead of procrastinating, Zimbabwe should consider trends and
developments in court interpreting in different parts of the world, tailor-make them according to her needs and resources and
move forward. This will be a giant step towards making sure that the rights of the linguistically handicapped with regard to the
use of the language of the courts, namely English, are handled cautiously.

DOI: 10.5901/mjss.2016.v7n2p106

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Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences ISSN 2039-9340(Print) ISSN 2039-2117(Online)

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