Zama, an accredited member of the South African Translators’ Institute and head of Multilingualism SA, has spent the better part of his work life in the language environment – not less than 35 years, to be precise. He entered this field through his employment at the Department of Justice, interpreting between English, Afrikaans, isiXhosa, and Sesotho. During his career as a teacher, he specialised in teaching English and Afrikaans at secondary school level.
He worked for a number of progressive law firms during the 1980s, where he served as interpreter and client liaison clerk, interpreting between English, isiXhosa, isiZulu, and Sesotho. He also had a stint at the then Independent Mediation Services of South Africa (IMSSA), where he interpreted between the languages mentioned earlier and from Sepedi and Setswana into English and Afrikaans.
In 1994, Zama joined Eskom as the first black language services practitioner in the company’s language services team. He led the language services function of the company until his retirement in January 2015.
One highlight of his career at Eskom involved his ability to successfully pilot company language policies that incorporated the principles of multilingualism. The latest policy crafted in line with the Use of Official Languages Act was approved by the Executive Committee of the company in November 2014 and signed off by its Chief Executive Officer in the same month.
In 2009, he was awarded a certificate of recognition by the South African Translators’ Institute (SATI) for putting his knowledge and expertise at the service of the Institute and the profession by acting as an adjudicator for the 2009 SATI Prize for Outstanding Service Translation.
He was recently commissioned by the Western Cape Provincial Parliament (WCPP) to
- assess different types of Parliamentary documents that have been translated from English into isiXhosa.
- provide the WCPP with a comprehensive report indicating the quality of the translation and any gaps that may have been identified.
- make recommendations on how the WCPP can address the identified gaps.
It may be worth noting that Zama served two terms on the Council of the Vaal University of Technology, where he had the opportunity to preside as chairperson of the Finance Committee, the Investment Committee, and the Building and Projects Committee.