Thursday, 28 April 2016

NATIONAL PLEDGE CHALLENGED IN COURT

THE battle to nullify the government’s decision compelling all school children to recite the national pledge has intensified with the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights filing an urgent chamber application at the Constitutional Court for the suspension of the policy ahead of schools’ opening next week, pending determination of the main challenge.


David Hofisi, a lawyer with ZLHR, is contesting the constitutionality of the requirement on behalf of a Harare man (name withheld for professional reasons) who is a father of three school-going children.

While the main constitutional challenge is pending, the lawyers yesterday filed an urgent chamber application to set aside the practice ahead of the opening of schools on May 3.
The national pledge, according to the man behind the challenge, is unconstitutional and against his religious beliefs. He does not want his children to recite the pledge.

The man, who is a member of the Apostolic Faith Mission in Zimbabwe (AFM), argued that the national pledge is a prayer which exalts various secular phenomena including the national flag, mothers and fathers who lost their lives in the liberation struggle.

This, he said, is not his understanding of prayer shared by his faith, which reserved worship to God alone. He contends that the national pledge is offensive to his religious convictions and thus befouls various sections of the supreme law of the country.

Hofisi argued that the man was entitled to an urgent hearing of the matter because he will suffer irreparable harm if his children are compelled to recite a pledge which is contrary to their views, opinions and beliefs.

The man’s children are attending Mashambanhaka Secondary School in Mtawatawa and Chizungu Primary School in Epworth, respectively and headmasters for the two schools were listed as respondents together with Education Minister Lazarus Dokora and the Attorney General of Zimbabwe Advocate Prince Machaya.

The urgent chamber application is yet to be set down for hearing. herald

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