For an ethnic minority like the Tonga ICT can be an effective means to reduce poverty and empower them to help themselves. Access to information and knowledge are critical components of attaining development. Information Communication Technology enables access to information that is useful to the marginalized group like the Tonga. ICT also helps in creating strategies and frameworks for reducing poverty by devising ways of providing relevant, useful, need based and timely information to the marginalised groups. Therefore for a community like the Tonga information technology can help the government and developmental organisations in designing good developmental strategies which will efficiently address their developmental needs. Information Communication technology can also act as means to attain sustainable development amongst the Tonga. Sustainable development refers to, balancing the fulfilment of human needs in a way that these needs can be met not only in the present, but in the indefinite future. They can create comprehensive strategies for introducing development initiatives addressing the critical issues of marginalized communities. The vast experience of international ICT experts enables us to formulate roadmaps for initiating multidimensional development projects ensuring their sustainability. Therefore the introduction of ICT in Binga District is a rational developmental initiative as it sought to promote access to information amongst the Tonga.
However the study saw that at the project is now in a dire state. Due to financial constrains the project has been hit by operational challenges. At the time of this study most over 80% of the machinery were not functional due to poor maintenance. Also the internet connection had been cut for a long time thus the project was in near total collapse and in need of funding.
THE STATE’S RESPONSE TO TONGA ADVOCACY
The Integration, Preservation and Promotion of Tonga Language and other Minority Languages
In line with the needs of the Tonga to be recognized culturally and have their language and culture included in the country’s education system the government of Zimbabwe has made significant policy changes in terms of its language policy by adopting an all inclusive language policy which recognizes all languages as equal. Language is a symbol of one’s identity and is a means of communication thus it is essential to development.Language policies are the legal statutes which bind the issues to do with language within a country. Since the attainment of independence Zimbabwe has not had a well-documented language policy.it rather adopted the one which was used by the colonial government. In 1974 the colonial government declared that English was the official language and that the education curriculum would include English as the main language two indigenous languages Shona and Ndebele. This meant that other languages like Tonga had no place in the system. This trend continued after the attainment of independence despite lobbying from various sectors of the society. According to Tsodzo Zimbabwe had no clear language policy. The usage of languages was only talked about in the Education Act of 1996 Chapter 20:04 which only recognised only three languages English , Shona and Ndebele . These were the only languages to be taught in Zimbabwean schools from grade one up to form seven. The act was silent on other languages as if they did not exist. These languages which were not recognised by the education act were the ones which were regarded as minority languages on the grounds that they were spoken by the smaller ethnic groups. Unlike south Africa which has fourteen recognised languages including those that are spoken by the smaller ethnic groups and these are well catered for in their educational policy. The Zimbabwean government only offered a shoestring budget or no allocation at all for the development of marginalised languages. up to the advent of the new millennium Zimbabwe had only one official language that is English and two national languages which were Shona and Ndebele .The effects of the absence of an all inclusive language policy meant that the people who spoke other languages like the Tonga were taught either Shona or Ndebele .this enhanced the chances of cultural and linguistic erosion. Such situation also gave rise to loss of identity to the speakers of these marginalised languages. Hitchcock (2009) language and identity are two entities which cannot be separated from each other as language is known to be a bearer of identity. Therefore this makes it requisite for one’s language and culture to be recognized.
In general, languages might be considered to have two basic functions regarding group identity and group development. Firstly language functions as the bearer of an ethnic group’s cultural heritage and historical records. Thus language is a symbol of a group’s identity and all its history and cultural traditions are recorded in their language. If an ethnic group’s languages is eroded its history and cultural achievements cannot be passed on from generation to generation . Smith (1991) language, religion, customs and pigmentation are as the elements by which people can differentiate ethnic identification .Therefore when ethnic minorities consider the possibility of losing their language they will relate this with the possible extinction of their group. They inevitably would consider it as a symbol of the destruction of their culture and history as well as the sign of their complete assimilation by the larger ethnic group. This would mean a tragic end of the tradition and identity of this group. With this in mind it is evident that language is a very sensitive issue among ethnic minorities. The right of preserving their own language and traditional culture is one of the basic human rights supported by the international declaration of the rights of persons belonging religious, linguistic and ethnic minorities of 1992
The constitutional debate on language started in 2000. It was spear headed by Basilwizi Trust. They sought the help of Tonga elders across the lake in creating a firm footing for Tonga language and culture. Zimbabwe adopted a new constitution in 2011 and unlike the Lancaster house constitution which only recognised which only recognised English ,Shona and Ndebele as the only official languages in Zimbabwe the new constitution states that Zimbabwe has 16 languages. Under section 6.4 of the new constitution it is stated that the government must promote and advance all languages spoken in Zimbabwe whilst creating conditions for their development. The official recognition of minority languages by the country’s supreme law shows a shift in government policy from a non-inclusive language policy to an all inclusive language policy the inclusion of Tonga and other minority languages in the country constitution is a guarantee for the preservation and development of Tonga language and culture.it will ensure that it is recognised and appreciated across the country. Making language and culture a policy matter will gives assurance of governments commitment to fight marginalisation and exclusion which has affected the development of the Tonga for years
The recognition of all languages within Zimbabwe’s boarders also presented a paradigm shift on the media. Media plays an important role in development.in this section the study will look at the media coverage towards ethnic minorities. The media plays a crucial in the promotion of development. The media is a means of communication and a platform where people can get informed and it can also act as a means of cultural exchange. The media also fosters tolerance and intercultural dialogue. The media can also play a negative role which can further stereotypes and prejudices which in turn can result in discrimination and marginalisation of ethnic minorities. With this in mind the media should be pluralistic as it plays a crucial in development
The roles of the media in development are largely to inform and educate and it is through these roles that the media thereby making the society and the leadership aware of the importance and the need to undertake certain processes of national development. The media also plays a role plays a role of persuasion where the media are seen as a virile tool of applying persuasive efforts to influence peoples actions towards a particular direction. The media is also seen with the role of furnishing the public with necessary information to achieve development or change goals. Uchaenya (2003) the role of the media in development lies in their capacity to teach and mobilize to teach and mobilize people through dissemination. The media also charts the course for the public in line with the agenda setting theory n thereby creating in the minds of the people issues that should be should be viewed as priority issues including development programmes and policies. Therefore if the media is pluralistic it promotes development by disseminating information to all the citizens in their respective languages. This also affords ethnic minorities’ access to correct information which is one of the main indicators of development
It is evident that there was an absence of media coverage on ethnic minorities. Most of the programming was done in English Shona, and Ndebele. Up to the beginning of the new millennium there was an absence of programmes which were produced in Tonga on the state media platform. It is only on National FM where there are some programmes which are produced in Tonga but notably there are very few and are not aired