by Zama Bekeweni


Building a cohesive multilingual society


Multilingualism SA is a company that was initially established by Zama Bekeweni as a business unit of Smartserve Enterprises (Pty) Ltd. Its primary role was to be a home for sourcing language-related services such as translation, interpreting, transcription services and language editing. Bekeweni’s mandate was also to, in the medium- to long-term, extend this role to that of being a business platform for local and international dialogue on multilingualism. To fulfil this mandate, Multilingualism SA has since been registered as a not-for-profit company in terms of the Companies Act of South Africa.

As a company incorporated for public benefit, Multilingualism SA NPC will under the guidance of an independent Advisory Board:

  • Serve as a dedicated business platform for local and international dialogue on multilingualism; stimulating discussion and debate on language-related issues;
  • Commission research into language in business, provide information on developments and propose solutions to language-related challenges; and
  • Create mechanisms for elevating the work that is being done by business and language practitioners, in so far as language is concerned, to a pedestal that will ensure that such is seen and appreciated as an integral part of the economic makeup of South Africa.
  • Provide language services such as translation and interpreting between all official languages; and simultaneously facilitate the professional and economic development of language workers thus raising their profile to a level where they are recognised as serious contributors to the knowledge economy.

Bekeweni spent the better part of his work life in the language environment; now not less than 40 years. In 1994 he joined Eskom as the first black language services practitioner on the company’s language services team where he later served as language services manager until his departure from the company in February 2015. He holds a BA Honours Degree in Translation and is an accredited member of the South African Translators’ Institute. He is a sessional lecturer at the Wits Graduate School for Translators and Interpreters and a freelance IsiXhosa editor at The Independent Institute of Education, a private higher education institution offering higher education programmes and part of the ADvTech group. He is also an IsiXhosa translator for Amnesty International. He has recently been engaged by Proof Communication Africa to provide translation services between English and some of the other official languages.

Zama Bekeweni, in line with Multilingualism SA’s mandate, attended and participated in the fourth International Translation Day Colloquium which was held on 23 September 2016 at UNISA under the auspices of its Department of Linguistics and Modern Languages. The theme of this year’s International Translation Day was ‘Translation and interpreting: connecting worlds’. The keynote speaker was Dr Djamel Goui of the University of Kasdi Merbah Ouargla in Algeria.

In conclusion, Multilingualism SA invites like-minded institutions to partner with it with the view of confirming multilingualism—not only as an agent for building a cohesive society, but also as an integral and essential ingredient of the economic make-up of South Africa.

Contact details:

Mr Zama Bekeweni

011 394 0622

082 853 5896

Mr Zama Bekeweni

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This edition

Issue 68