Dokora dragged to court over national pledge

HARARE - An Epworth dragged Education minister Lazarus Dokora to the Constitutional Court over a proposed new government curriculum compelling children to salute the national flag and recite a pledge of patriotism.

The pledge that opposition parties say is fascist is going to be introduced when schools open next month.

In his application, Mathew Sologani, who is represented by David Hofisi from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), said the proposed national pledge is an infringement on his freedom of religion, expression and equality among other rights.

Sologani, a father of three minor children, cited Dokora, Mashambanhaka Secondary School and Chizungu Primary School heads and Attorney-General Prince Machaya as respondents.

He said he made the application after one of her daughters told him that she had been given a pledge by her teacher, which she was asked to memorise and be able to recite at the beginning of next term on May 3.

The pledge reads, “Almighty God in whose hands our future lies: I salute the national flag, united in our diversity, by our common desire, for freedom, justice and equality, respecting the brave fathers and mothers who lost lives in the Chimurenga/Umvukela, we are proud inheritors of the richness of our natural resource, we are proud creators and participants in our vibrant traditions and cultures, I commit to honesty and dignity of hard work.”

He said his religious beliefs did not allow him and his children to partake in the national pledge, adding that he is a devout Christian and a member of the Apostolic Faith Mission in Zimbabwe (AFM) denomination.

“Based on the tenets of my faith, I am not permitted to worship or pray to anything or anyone other than God,” he said, adding that the Bible does not require him to have other “gods”.

He said the so-called national pledge was in fact a “prayer”.

“This solemn avowal of divine faith is deeply religious in nature. It addresses a deity directly (Almighty God) and is thus, to me a prayer. That is to say, it is an address to a supernatural power/deity,” Sologani said.

He further said that the national pledge also exalts various secular elements like the national flag and mothers and fathers who lost their lives during the war of liberation.

“Worship, to me, is reserved for God and for nobody and nothing else. While it is laudable to extol the virtues of the diversity and even those of the liberation struggle that is not done in the context of prayer” he said.

He said the national pledge confuses honour with worship and was an offence to his convictions.

“My religion is central to all aspects of my life and affects how I relate with and understand the world. I would not easily be amenable to partaking in or receiving a religious instruction that is contrary to my own belief. In the same vein, I would not take lightly any attempt to foist on or coerce out of my children any religious observance or invocation contrary to our beliefs,” he said.

Sologani claimed the national pledge was discriminatory and had the effect of casting those who do not believe in it in bad light, portray them as unpatriotic and make them feel like second class citizens.

“It is my deeply held view that religion is too personal, too sacred, too holy for it to be perverted by State formulated prayer and State endorsement,” he said.

Sologani is now seeking an order barring Dokora from compelling school children to recite the national pledge.

“Consequently, 2nd and 3rd respondents (Mashambanhaka Secondary School and Chizungu Primary School heads) shall not compel school children, including applicant (Sologani)’s children, to recite the national pledge as formulated or require any punitive consequences on those that elect not to recite the pledge,” Sologani said.

Comments (3)

I think restricting the pledge to God infringe of other religions. There are those in Zimbabwe who belive in Mwari/Musikavanhu, Allah, Budha, etc. This is not fair on them. I would change this to: "I salute the national flag of Zimbabwe, united in our diversity, by our common desire, for freedom, justice and equality, respecting the brave fathers and mothers who lost lives in the Chimurenga/Umvukela, we are proud inheritors of the richness of our natural resource, we are proud creators and participants in our vibrant traditions and cultures, I commit to honesty and dignity of hard work.”

JSC - 19 April 2016

I think this prayer or whatever they want to call it is something that is not needed at all, there a certainly a lot of other very big challenges that the govt of bob needs to attend to......is he trying to please the war veterans or what? Let's be serious guys or are these guys trying to divert attention from the crucial situation in the country.

misty - 19 April 2016

Zim. needs leaders who know what priorities are , not leaders who make sure they appear in newspapers daily , like Dokora. Let me help Dokora with priority setting . 1 - education must be affordable to all children . 2 - teachers must be fully qualified for their jobs . 3 - teachers must remunerated in time and above the poverty datum line . 4 - the minister of education must spend his energy on ensuring that the 3 top priorities are followed . Simple , does it ?

zimbo dance - 4 May 2016

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