Govt engages churches

HARARE - Government has said it is engaging several churches that raised concerns against the national pledge, following a Constitutional Court (Con-Court) application challenging its recitation in schools.

The new curriculum compels children to salute the national flag and recite a pledge of patriotism.

In the Con-Court application, Mathew Sogolani of Epworth is challenging Primary and Secondary Education minister Lazarus Dokora’s directive to have the pledge recited in schools.

During the case’s hearing yesterday, the court indicated that negotiations are underway between the government and churches, as confirmed by a letter written by the Attorney General’s office in which it sought a postponement of the matter.

“The basis for seeking a postponement is that our client, the minister of Primary and Secondary Education, is currently engaged in consultative meetings with various churches who have raised their concerns regarding the national pledge.

“The leadership of applicant (Sogolani)’s church is amongst the churches that are being engaged. We believe the engagements will resolve the matter that is before the court,” the letter from the Attorney General’s office reads.

In response, Sogolani’s lawyer David Hofisi challenged the Attorney General’s position, arguing that the parties referred to in the letter are not part of the court case.

Chief justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, leading the panel of nine judges, postponed the matter indefinitely to allow the negotiations to proceed.

“…the matter is postponed sine die. The parties are directed to approach the registrar for set down after 30 days from today if negotiations referred to by the respondent (Dokora) in the letter dated the 21st of June have not been concluded,” Chidyausiku said.

In his court papers, Sogolani argue that the national pledge is against his religious beliefs.

“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.

Comments (2)

What is the problem with the Lord's prayer that has been recited since our independence? I believe we are a Christian state or am I mistaken?

tatiro - 30 June 2016

I silence the waves and spirits behind Lazarus Dokora. Devil Incarnate.

VIVA MUJURU - 1 July 2016

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