By Judith Sibanda
Victoria Falls, April 29, 2016 – PRIMARY and Secondary Education minister, Lazarus Dokora says government would not bow down to pressure by rights lobby and religious groups demanding the abandonment of the country’s national pledge.
Dokora said Thursday that in crafting the controversial prayer, government stood guided by the country’s Constitution.
The pledge acknowledges the Almighty God as the supreme authority of mankind, salutes the national flag and further honours the country’s long gone liberators.
Primary and Secondary schools learners will be expected to recite the pledge of the oath saying: “Almighty God, in whose hands our future lies, I salute the national flag United in our diversity by our common desire from freedom, justice and equality. Respecting the brave fathers and mothers who lost lives in the Chimurenga/Umvukela and national liberation struggles.
“We’re proud inheritors of the richness of our natural resources. We’re proud inheritors of the richness of our natural resources. We’re creators and participants in our vibrant traditions and cultures. We commit to honesty and the dignity of hard work.”
However, the pledge has been met with strong resentment from parents, church groups, rights activists and opposition parties who feel this infringed on children’s rights to freedom of worship.
Opposition PDP president and lawyer Tendai Biti offered to take on the government within the courts if someone came forward to challenge it.
Similarly, teachers felt they were being indoctrinated in order to prescribe the pledge to their students, hence depriving the latter their professional independence and different religious views.
But addressing hundreds of teachers gathered for a Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association (Zimta) conference in Victoria Falls, Dokora said the criticism from the public fell on deaf ears as the government was guided by the constitution.
He dared those still querying the simplified version of pledge to take their case to the highest court.
“Parents are saying why the pledge but the value system is what we have acknowledged and we’ve taken the words from a widely consulted source document that is the Constitution,” Dokora said.
“The preamble to that Constitution has given us the terms and we’ve simplified where the constitution says ‘for theirs’ to refer to those that came before us and they are simply our fathers and mothers who fought in the Chimurenga/ Umvukela…”
Dokora further referred to the Constitution’s preamble which says, “We commit to honesty and dignity of our work” adding that that was what Zimbabweans were committing to”.
He continued: “Who doesn’t want to commit to honesty and who doesn’t want to commit to the dignity of hard work?
“Maybe some of the challenges we have today prove that we might not have been honest to the dignity of hard work and we should have even started earlier.”
Dokora further tried to justify reference to God in the pledge saying the pupils would be acknowledging being “subservient to some superior force”.
“There are others who say why acknowledging God. It’s not me but we are finding ways to teach a value system and doing so by using the Constitution itself; so if you have problems, it’s not problems with the pledge but the Constitution.
“So what you take to the High court or the Constitutional court is not the pledge but the Constitution and of course at the Constitutional court that’s where the experts are and they will be able to help us but otherwise words are taken from that preamble,” said Dokora.